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He’s sold on the difference for kids the Boys & Girls Club makes

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He’s sold on the difference for kids the Boys & Girls Club makes

Floor manager Jay Holmes posts an updated telethon pledge total on Monday.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED November 20, 2012 12:45 a.m.

Jay Holmes knows what happens when a child doesn’t get the mentorship or guidance that they need in life.

He retired as an educator at the California Youth Authority facility in Stockton – the end of the road for juvenile offenders convicted of everything from armed robbery to murder.

So when then Manteca Police Chief Willie Weatherford asked him if he wanted to get involved with a PTA project at Sequoia elementary, Holmes saw it as a way to get his foot into the door to doing more work in the community he called home.

Before he knew it he was helping out at the Manteca/Lathrop Boys & Girls Club.

That was three decades ago.

“It’s all his fault,” Holmes says with a laugh. “But I think what has really motivated me are some of the stories that I’ve heard over the years from the kids that have been interviewed for Youth of the Year and things like that.”

One that sticks out in Holmes’ mind is of a girl that ended up homeless at the age of 14 – couch surfing while still going to school and pulling down good grades. Despite her circumstances she never gave up hope and ended up not only graduating from high school, but going on to San Jose State University.

Knowing that there are kids out there that can use the resources that the organization provides, Holmes said, is what has kept him as a board member and motivates him to give as much of his time as possible.

Come telethon time that means assuming a behind-the-scenes role as the floor manager – taking the pledge cards as they come in, tallying them up and sending them up the established chain that has been refined and perfected in the 33 years the event has been going on.

And when the lights turn on and the phones start ringing, Holmes still gets that same old feeling that brings him back year after year.

“It’s still a rush to walk in and see the TV crews and the club transformed,” he said. “This place becomes a who’s who of Manteca for two days, and it’s great to see that kind of support for the young people.

“They say that Manteca is The Family City, and the kind of response that we see really keeps with that feeling.”

And while he’s been on the Board of Directors for going on 20 years, Holmes also knows what the day-to-day is like inside of the facility itself – having stepped in periodically as the Interim Executive Director on more than one occasion.

Every time he’s held that title he kept the door to that office open so he could have a direct view of the smiling, laughing and bubbling children at play.

“It’s such a good feeling to have those kids that wander in and just start talking to you,” he said. “I haven’t known an executive director yet that has kept that door closed for that reason. That’s why they come to work here – so that they can see that when they come in every day.”

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