Friends in need are friends indeed.
Richard “Richie” Guillermo and his three children, all under the age of four including twins Abbigail and Gabriel who are turning two this month, are experiencing the truism of that old adage first-hand.
After his 38-year-old wife Michelle “Shell” Jones-Guillermo died suddenly a few days ago following surgery, the unemployed plumber who had been a stay-at-home Dad since he got laid off about two years ago, found himself wondering how he was going to cope raising his three young children without a job and without a car. The week before Michelle had surgery, their van which was their only means of transportation broke down.
But what Guillermo and his children have is a wealth of caring family and friends. Those people who love them are now mobilizing a series of fund-raisers to help the young family in their time of need. Some relatives are hosting a Texas hold ‘em poker tournament in Stockton. Jakkie Arellano at Main Street Café in Manteca has started a children’s clothes collection at her restaurant at 1464 W. Yosemite Avenue across from the Save Mart shopping center.
And on Thursday, Oct. 21, from 4 to 7 p.m., a drive-thru tri-tip and chicken meal with all the trimmings will be held at the parking lot of Fagundes Meats in Manteca with all the proceeds going to help the Guillermo family. This fund-raising effort is being organized by Richie Guillermo’s childhood friend, Brian Corcoran, a correctional officer working at the Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy.
“We’re best friends. We grew up together since kindergarten at Sequoia School and then at Manteca High. We graduated in 1997,” Corcoran said.
“I’m just trying to help him and help his kids. I’m married and I have one kid of my own, so I just know what he’s going through,” he said.
“Some relatives and a lot of people” have been helping the family by bringing groceries, Corcoran said. “And I’m just trying to do something so some people can donate, if they want to donate and get a dinner at the same time, so we’re not just asking for money.”
Part of the proceeds will hopefully help Guillermo fix the van, Corcoran said.
“They had a van but the transmission went out, and right now he has no money to fix it up. He’s trying to find work but right now, the economy is bad,” added Corcoran.
After his friend was laid off, his wife found a job as a waitress at a restaurant in Stockton, and they reversed roles with Guillermo becoming Mr. Mom, he said.
“The family is in great need financially,” said Guillermo’s mother, Junie Manding, who has been her son’s pillar of strength and someone he has been relying on to help with the children.
“We are a strong, proud family with a lot of faith, support and love, along with extended family and friends to see us through this difficult time,” Manding said.
She fondly recalled her late daughter-in-law as a person who “had a generous and big heart (who) loved her family and friends, but her greatest love were her children and husband.”
Her favorite saying, said Manding, “and how she lived her life was ‘live, laugh and love.’ She is deeply missed by all.”
The family has been through a lot of challenges and grief in the past year alone with the deaths of four loved ones including that of the late Jowell Griggs who was Manding’s niece.
Manding said her son and Michelle had been together for five years at the time of her daughter-in-law’s death.
Corcoran said tickets for the Fagundes Meats drive-thru barbecued tri-tip and chicken fund-raiser are $12 for each meal which will include potato, salad, and dinner roll.
Tickets will be available starting on Monday at Fagundes Meats. Corcoran said he and other family members like Manding will also have tickets for sale. The tickets are being donated by Shawn Nausbaumer, owner of J&J Printing in Manteca.
Those who would like to buy a ticket but are unable to pick up the meal at Fagundes Meats can request to have them delivered.
“We can deliver them. We’ll do whatever needs to be done,” Corcoran said.
To order tickets or for more information about this drive-thru fund-raiser and any of the other fund-raising efforts being done for the Guillermo family, call any of the following numbers: (209) 482-5196; (209) 599-8394; or (209) 608-0777.
Fagundes Meats is located on Jason Street, corner North Main Street in Manteca just behind the service station just across the street from Golden West School.