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del webb virus thanks

Being the most at-risk group, the ways in which the residents of Del Webb Woodbridge can thank the first responders and essential workers keeping the community humming was limited.

That doesn’t mean they didn’t find a way.

On Wednesday hundreds of residents in the sprawling age-restricted neighborhood of 1,400 plus homes in north Manteca took their front porches at 3:30 p.m. to hold up signs and cheer for the healthcare workers, first responders, and retail employees that are putting their own safety on the line so that people can receive the supplies and the care that they need during these trying times.

Born out an idea that Del Webb resident Dave Perry saw online in Europe – where residents went out onto their porches at the same time to clap and cheer for the healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients – the small gesture began as something for just one neighborhood to participate in but quickly spread to the wider community.

For neighborhood block captain Bob Collister, the event is a chance to thank those who are working during the wider shutdown.

“Most of us here are self-quarantining because being people in a retirement community, we are the most at-risk,” Collister said. “We wanted to come up with a small way we could say thank you to these healthcare workers and that’s what we’re doing – we’re saying thank you for your selfless service and putting your lives on the line for us.”

For about 30 minutes on Wednesday, residents went outside with homemade signs to show their support for hospital workers, firefighters, paramedics, grocery store staffers and other essential workers that are still at work despite the persistent and growing threat that COVID-19 presents to the wider community.

While the idea came from one small Del Webb enclave, Del Webb Woodbridge Homeowners Association Executive Director Breda Flategraff wanted to make sure that all Del Webb residents had the chance to participate and say thank you to the people who are sacrificing their own safety for the well-being of others.

“We thought it would be a good opportunity to make a sign or light up your Christmas lights or raise your flag or do something that shows support at this time for all of our essential workers,” Flategraff said. “I think it says a lot about our community – there’s a lot of caring, kind people who look out for others that are always willing to do what they can to help.

“I think this speaks volumes for our community and about our community and the type of people that live here.”

According to Dave Perry, who came up with the idea initially, the plan was for the 24 families who live in the area they call “The Horseshoe” to band together and do something that would send a message to the workers who are keeping people safe and the economy moving forward.

The fact that the wider Del Webb community got on board, Perry said, didn’t surprise him – especially considering the fact that the community consistently bands together during tough times.

“We wanted to reach out to the other block captains to see which neighborhoods wanted to make this something that they could participate in,” Perry said. “I know that a lot of the people in the community are going to be out today, because we all tend to get together in times like this.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.