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31 years of helping build self-esteem

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31 years of helping build self-esteem

Robin Taberna is hugged by Wendy King. King was on Taberna’s first demo team at the Boys & Girls Club in 1983.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED April 22, 2013 12:39 a.m.

Bulletin staff reports

Robin Taberna made a vow in Vietnam that he’s still keeping today some 48 years later - volunteering to make a difference in kids’ lives.

The promise has been kept in the form of free martial arts lessons at the Manteca/Lathrop Boys & Girls Club clubhouse at 545 W. Alameda St. for the past 31 years.

“When I went to Vietnam at age 19, I told myself I would do whatever I could to become a role model for kids so they could get a college education and not have to rely on military service,” Taberna said in an interview 14 years ago.

Taberna has kept his promise with the assistance of his wife, Janis.  At the same time he has helped raise significant money over the years for the club.

On Saturday Taberna was honored during ceremonies in the Boys & Girls clubhouse gym. A wall marker with his name on it was unveiled as a tribute to his 31 years of impacting the lives of thousands of youth through the club as well as the Golden State Karate Association that he founded.

The longtime Manteca-Lathrop resident received the Grand Masters Outstanding Contribution to the Martial Arts Award last year at the World Head of Family Sokeship Council’s 20th anniversary celebration held in Orlando, Fla.

“Kids are looking for male role models,” Taberna was quoted as saying on the 17th anniversary of his free lessons. “It’s the key to keeping kids off the street.”

Taberna worked eight hours a day at the Tracy Depot plus taught his own private karate classes in addition to investing a minimum of six hours a week with the free program. He has continued to teach both free and paid and paid classes since retiring.

All Boys & Girls Club members are eligible to take the tae kwon do lessons. The martial arts classes and all other Boys & Girls Club activities are included in the annual membership fee of $12 per child. The membership fee can be waived in instances of family financial problems.

The benefits to the kids involved range from developing a healthy hobby to improving self-esteem.

The 1964 Manteca High graduate is a member of the Manteca Hall of Fame plus the martial arts hall of fame. He won the world tae kwon do championship in 1979.

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