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Emotional moment at chamber coffee
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It was a weepy moment for Lyn Price, director of the South County Crisis Center, who was surprised at the Chamber of Commerce coffee Wednesday morning with a $5,000 check from PG&E’s Theresa English-Soto at left. - photo by GLENN KAHL
The weekly Manteca Chamber of Commerce coffee Wednesday morning  had a pleasant surprise twist at the offices of the South County Crisis Center on West Center Street.

Funding has been a growing problem for the center.  Doors have been kept open partially by employees refusing to take paychecks – with no money to back them up.  They know they are needed and the work they do is critical, especially with anger management in domestic situations.

Theresa English-Soto of PG&E surprised director Lyn Price with a check for $5,000.  Price was so overwhelmed she broke down in tears.   It has been rough for the crisis center having lost much of its funding.  But they’re like the Energizer Bunny, they keep on moving ahead.  A series of classes will begin again on February 22.

Manteca Community Action Programs executive director Paul Rengh put on a little show at the Chamber coffee when it came time for comments of interest.  Walking out in the middle of the coffee crowd he began with a little vaudeville to tell of a bad dream that he’d had the night before – describing  how it had to deal with a murder and the $3.7 million shortfall in his budget.

In fact he had even worked out the plot and discovered the prime suspect  was the butler who was responsible for the killing – and with a candlestick to boot.  Without a doubt, Paul had everyone’s attention as he extended his story to include a motorcycle poker run.

Of course that run ended at the front door of the Manteca Senior Center where the upcoming murder mystery  takes place with a Mardi Gras Mayhem.  Of course the story of the dream was all tongue in cheek in an effort to publicize CAPS Murder Mystery Dinner set for March 28.  Paul was so jazzed up that he’s probably going to go on that  poker run originating out of Copperopolis at 10 a.m.  that morning and be at the senior center by 5 p.m. to host the fund-raising murder mystery dinner.

Somehow I managed to slide into the driveway of the South County Crisis Center for Wednesday’s coffee with Manteca Police public information officer Rex Osborn having to park some five houses away on Center Street.  You can imagine how badly I felt about that.

It was a good thing though because Rex is one of those guys who finds a need and takes care of it  quickly.  As well as being a news man with a badge he is actually a sworn police reserve captain – filling in at sometimes critical situations on the street.

Wednesday was one of those occasions as he was walking toward the coffee location from his SUV.   Well aware of the countless cars and trucks stolen when owners warm them up in the driveway, he noticed a truck just idling in a driveway with no one in sight.

Osborn said he checked the door.  It was unlocked and a purse was sitting on the seat.  He knocked at the front door looking for the owner.  He said he got a rather cool reception until he told the resident someone was stealing their truck.  The driver shot by him running to their vehicle.

“There’s nobody out here,” he quoted her as saying.  “Of course not, I chased them off,” he said.   It was probably a good lesson and the pickup didn’t have to be stolen for the police department to make its point.

Arvin and Jim Reed have gone out of their way for the benefit of the community more times that I can count – a business that stretches over some 32 years.  Most recently Arvin completely wired the computer bus and donated an alarm system for Give Every Child a Chance.  

They also donated all the low voltage wiring for St. Jude benefit houses in Livingston and Ceres.  Working with McRoy-Wilbur contractors,   they were instrumental in selling more than $1 million in raffle tickets for St. Jude.

Arvin said he went to the South County Crime Stoppers meeting at the police department Tuesday morning saying the location has to change next month.  He explained there is no one there to make coffee for Rex.   As for the police department, he added that  Police  Chief Dave Bricker’s proposed fines for residents having too many burglar alarm calls has drawn his attention.  “Our alarm customers can’t afford any more fines and fees,” he said.

Son Jim said he often gets a special tip when installing residential burglar alarms.  Homemade pickled peppers, jams, candy and cookies have made it back to his truck.  “It’s always nice to get homemade stuff – especially pomegranate jam,” he said.

Bank of Stockton manager John Coburn makes his own coffee at the bank where he has worked for more than 33 years.  He likes it black and it has to be the Hawaiian blend from Manteca’s Jesus Mountain Coffee Co.

But when he’s home he loves his wife Penny’s  fried potatoes, beans and corn bread with a big glass of sweet milk.  “I guess that’s the ‘Okie’ in me,” he chuckled.  “She’s a good woman and I don’t deserve her, but she doesn’t deserve me either,” he said smiling from ear to ear.

The banker said he usually gets that special dinner on his birthday.

Coburn serves on six different boards from Give Every Child a Chance to the Boys and Girls Club and Agape Village, Trinity Church and Boy Scouts of America.  Coburn does so much behind the scenes that few people ever see.  He loves to golf but has little time for recreation with his renovation work on rental properties.    

Through his bank Coburn assisted in supporting the young boy from Nile Garden School who had a bone cancer transplant in his leg by setting up a gratis bank account for his fund raising that brought in more than $20,000.  He also did his part in flying another young cancer patient to a Seattle hospital.

He’s definitely caring when it comes to children with 15 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Coburn recently had surgery and got himself back to work the same day.

“I just love life – I’m a workaholic,” he said.

Coburn added that his bank is currently making a lot of commercial type loans – meeting the needs of the community.  “It’s business as usual,” he said.  “The bank is extremely strong in all areas.”  His Manteca branch has been number one in the system for the last 10 years in deposits and loans, he added.

Cindy Gustafson stands tall in the Comfort Keepers organization.  She was at the Chamber of Commerce coffee Wednesday morning supporting her organization with its theme, “Comforting Solutions for In-Home Care.”

The group meets the needs of growing families, senior citizens and veterans of war-time action.  They are also concerned for the surviving widows who are on low income and are in need of their help.

It was obvious that Cindy has a soft spot for the older citizens – and there is a definite relationship to her own family and to her youth.

Her mother was a single mom and had to work several jobs to support Cindy and her two sisters.  Having no in-home baby sitter, she took the girls to work with her after they got out of school at a convalescent hospital where she worked as a nurse’s aide.

What were the girls to do but visit with the residents every afternoon.  They found many grandmotherly  types who enjoyed having time with the girls.  Cindy has stayed with her heart in marketing Comfort Keepers.  She mentioned the trials for the “Senior Olympics” that will take place in April.  Tennis, pickle ball, baseball and bowling will be included in the area events.

“I do have a heart for it – you are either born with it or you are not,” she said.

Her 14-year-old son is busy volunteering for seniors too.  On Valentine’s Day he will deliver cutout hearts to seniors.  “He has a heart for seniors, as well,” she said.