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Boys & Girls recognizes Hall of Fame members
Dino and Sharon Cunial mingle with the crowd. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Mary McCleary had a chance to see youngsters making the most of their time at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manteca / Lathrop.

“I thought it was wonderful seeing them just play,” she said on Thursday. “They seemed to be happy.”

McCleary attended the first-ever ‘Be a Kid for a Night!’ function sponsored by PG&E, receiving a special invite as a member of the local club’s Hall of Fame.

Described as a modern day Florence Nightingale, she was inducted in 2005 for her service in health care. McCleary, who has lived in Manteca since 1953, worked as a nurse at San Joaquin General Hospital for 25 years and Doctors Hospital for 15.

She continues to stay busy with her involvement in the Ministry of Consolation and Bereavement at St. Anthony’s Church.

Besides the Hall of Fame members – Charlie Halford, executive director, estimated enshrinement here at 140 – major donors were also asked to check out the facility during regular operation hours involving the youngsters.

He noted that the local Boys & Girls Clubs usually accommodates somewhere between 40 to 60 members during this time of year, and 150 to 170 in the summer months.

Cost for a yearly membership is modest but the benefits can be great, according to Jon Cardoza, director of operations / programs.

“What kids get out of it is so much more,” he said.

Included are programs of character and leadership; education and careers; health and life skills; and sports, fitness and recreation, to name a few.

Clare Yeakel also had a chance to tour the facility.

She, too, was enshrined in local Hall of Fame in 2005, receiving recognition for work in education.

Yeakel was employed in the Manteca Unified School District for 20 years, teaching at Sequoia, Golden West and Nile Garden schools.

Her commitment to education also included the local tutorial program, Give Every Child A Chance.

Yeakel observed and even mingled with youngsters in the game room playing bumper pool and the table soccer game of foosball.

“I’m so thankful that our kids have facility such as this one,” she said.

Halford described the local Boys & Girls Clubs as a “safe place to be” for kids, particularly those who are products of tough environments.

He added that youngsters from stable families are also regulars at the facility.

Halford and Cardoza showcased the various functions of the club via power point presentation to the honored guests.

“(The Hall of Famers) are positive role models for our youngsters,” said Halford.

This distinguished group included Chuck Crutchfield (community service), Marion Elliott (education), Jack Snyder (government), Dale Johnson (community service), Sadie Cabral (business), Dino Cunial (education), and, of course, McCleary, Yeakel and Halford.

In addition, they had parting gifts consisting of their enshrinement plaques.

McCleary, for one, had plans of giving her plaque to family. “I’m at an age when I’m down grading,” she said.