Carl and Dee Wackerly were among the handful of original tutors for Give Every Child a Chance.
They even sported their white GECAC windbreakers from the early days.
Back then, it was primarily a free tutoring program founded by the late Antone Raymus for Manteca youngsters struggling with their classwork.
“We had just retired and were looking for something to do,” said Dee Wackerly at Thursday’s 20th anniversary event of GECAC at the Manteca Senior Center.
She and her husband formerly worked at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore. They learned of GECAC while answering a newspaper ad for tutors.
“We wanted to give back to the community,” Dee Wackerly said.
They tutored for six years, coming away with rewarding memories of making a difference in the lives of young people.
They also kept with pride their well-worn windbreakers with the GECAC logo displayed prominently in the back.
“We wear (the windbreakers) everywhere — even when we travel. People have asked us, ‘What’s GECAC,’” said Dee Wackerly.
GECAC was the vision of Raymus, according to Director of Community Outreach Chuck Crutchfield.
“It started in 1997 with a handful of students.
GECAC has grown by the thousands in the span of two decades, expanding into the neighboring cities and five school districts, offering after-school enrichment programs, homework assistance and one-on-one tutoring and mentoring, to name a few
Longtime Lathrop Councilman Steve Dresser remembered his tutoring days.
“You don’t know how much you impact a life until later in life,” he said.
Dresser was told just that by a mother of two boys he once tutored. “They really struggled with school,” he recalled.
He added: “The mother said ‘thanks to you, both of my sons went on to college.’”
The Senior Center showcased GECAC’s rich history, including the 2009 San Joaquin County Coordinating Council / CTA / NEA Golden Bell Award, the Association of California School Administrators Partners in Education Excellence Award 2005, and Raymus’ 2001 Hearthstone Builders Lifetime Public Service Award.
Dignitaries, elected leaders and those associated with GECAC over the years, including Evelyn Moore, Bill Jones, Carol Davis and current CEO Christina Keefhaver were all part of this special event that helped in changing the lives of many for the past 20 years.
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail email@example.com.