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Educational Foundation dinner honors musical duo
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One of St. Anthony of Padua School’s major benefactors is holding its 17th annual dinner fund-raiser on Thursday, May 5, at Chez Shari restaurant in the Manteca Golf Course.

 Tickets are now available for the evening event hosted by the St. Anthony Educational Foundation which is a non-profit and tax-exempt group separate from the school and the church. The dinner menu, to be served buffet-style, will consist of rosemary chicken, pork loin with mushrooms and rosemary, mashed potatoes and gravy or rigatoni.

“Other than a bottle of wine on the table, there will be soft drinks,” said foundation board member Lenna Lewis. The bar will be open for those who want to purchase additional wine for their meal, she said.

Dinner tickets are $50 per person and may be purchased in advance by calling (209) 239-2944 or (209) 613-3085. The social hour with hors d’oeuvres will be from 6 to 7 p.m. followed by dinner and the program.

Each year, the dinner honors an outstanding person, couple or family in the community who have gone above and beyond their normal duties or service for the parish and/or the school. This year, the foundation is honoring husband and wife music ministers Gilbert and Emelie Diaz. Both have been active for many years in St. Anthony’s music ministry with Emelie serving as a member of the parish staff at one time as a music director. She continues to be in that capacity on a voluntary basis. Gilbert has also been active as a cantor at Sunday Masses. They have been active in a host of parish and school programs and activities, as well. Emelie has taught music at various Manteca Unified schools as well as at St. Anthony School. Gilbert, an engineer, worked at the former NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc.) in Fremont and is currently working for Tesla Motors which purchased the manufacturing plant after it shut down more than a year ago. The Diazes have three grown children.

The couple follows a long line of honorees whose names sound like a Who’s Who in Manteca. Among those who have been previously recognized by the foundation include the late real estate developer and philanthropist Antone Raymus, George Perry of George Perry & Sons, members of the DeGroot family, the late Bert Van Ryn and his family, and Sister Ann Britto who was last year’s honoree.

While the annual dinner fund-raiser is now in its 17th year, “the foundation has existed much longer than that,” said Lewis.

Money raised by the foundation is “spent only for St. Anthony’s School,” she explained. The last couple of years, St. Anthony’s School students were able to go to their science camp field trip, thanks to the infusion of funds from the foundation, Lewis said.

Likewise, the school’s fourth-grade class also has been able to take part in the San Joaquin County Historical Society’s Valley Days at Micke Grove where the students experience going back to pioneer days. “It’s very educational,” Lewis said.

“And one year, we bought them (the school) computers for the computer lab,” she added.

The evening program at Chez Shari will feature a surprise guest speaker. The honorees also will be serenaded with a couple of songs by a surprise performer.

For further details about the dinner, call (209) 239-2944 or (209) 613-3085.