LATHROP — During the Lathrop School Christmas program just over two weeks ago, parent Pablo Chavez was telling Principal David Silveira how proud he was of his four children.
Before his family could ring in the New Year, the young father was fighting for his life at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto following a sudden brain hemorrhage.
On Tuesday, after a week at Stanford, he was taken off life support after a few days of being in a coma. Some of his organs have been donated, giving hope and new life to patients who have been waiting for a donor.
The story is bittersweet. The young father who was in his early 40s left behind a wife and four children. The two younger ones are in third and fifth grade at Lathrop Elementary. The third child is a senior at Lathrop High, and the oldest is a freshman at Delta College in Stockton. Wife Ofelia cleans houses for a living, whenever she can.
At the time of his sudden illness, the family was in the process of moving to another home because the owner of the home where they were staying wanted to sell the house.
That, on top of the tragic death of the family’s sole breadwinner, has mobilized the community of Lathrop in a way that has not been seen in a long while. A family friend has stepped forward and talked to the landlord about paying the rent until Jan. 9. One of the churches in town offered to pick up the next rent payment for the family, if the landlord agreed.
And on Saturday, Jan. 21, members of the school staff and a host of Lathrop residents who have heard about the Chavez tragedy are volunteering their time and effort to hold a spaghetti dinner fund-raiser to help the family. The event will be held in the Lathrop School gymnasium on Fifth and O streets from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 each or $20 for a family of up to six members.
“We have so many family members that have lost dads, moms, or sisters but we never hear about their needs,” said an overwhelmed Silveira.
“Everybody just came together because of what happened,” he said.
Residents like Toni and Jaime Hernandez, Shauna Elliot, and Rosie Pena got together with Jaime Sanchez and then contacted Silveira to inform him about what they were planning to do for the Chavez family.
“So I got my staff involved,” Silveira said.
One of the people involved in coordinating the spaghetti dinner benefit is Lathrop School Vice Principal Karen Olsen.
“Some families contacted Mr. Silveira and he spread the word,” she said.
Although school is still out because of the holidays, teachers got together along with members of the community including the Lathrop Spartans (formerly the Lathrop Titans football team), Lathrop High School, various youth groups and churches, “and we decided to pull together to help the family,” Olsen said.
Lathrop Christian Center Pastor Larry Baca and Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church are also “doing something” for the family, Silveira said.
All the money raised from the dinner will go to the family, Olsen said. “We’re trying to get everything donated. We have community members and staff taking on different tasks. Some members are cooking the food, some are taking donations, and others are doing the paperwork.”
She is also in the process of setting a trust account and is waiting for the right time to get together with the family to get that done.
Silveira said the family has been involved in many school and community activities including the Lathrop Spartans. The Chavez family is also an active member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, he said.
Tickets to the spaghetti dinner are available starting today. To obtain tickets, or for any other information, call the Lathrop School office (it will be open starting Tuesday, Jan. 10) at 858-7250.