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Place of Refuge thanks first responders
CIVIC Patriots--PIC 2
Darold Gainous picks up a roll from the catered lunch provided by Texas Roadhouse in Tracy. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin

Eight years ago Pastor Mike Dillman wanted to say thank you.

He wanted to say thank you to the police officers that keep the streets of Manteca safe and say thank you to the firefighters that put their lives on the line to protect lives and property.

But when he sat down with members of The Place of Refuge to plan out a memorial Sept. 11 luncheon, Dillman also wanted to say thank you to the municipal workers that play a critical role in keeping the infrastructure of the community humming. They are the people that he said he knew would be part of the equation if anything, God forbid, were to happen in Manteca.

I feel that 9/11 revealed to the country that these people our civil servants are first responders of the highest order, Dillman said. It transcended just police and fire. Everybody became a first responder that morning, and if anything were ever to happen in Manteca, these are people that would run towards the fire. I think that they should be thanked for the work that they do.

And the event was truly a thank you to all of Mantecas municipal workers.

There was Darold Ganious the wastewater worker smiling as he made his way down the buffet line catered by Tracys Texas Roadhouse.

There was Brandi Clark of the Parks and Recreation Department chatting with her coworkers after making the short walk from her office in the Manteca Senior Center to the grassy area out back.

And there were members of Mantecas administrative staff City Manager Karen McLaughlin and City Clerk Joann Tilton and Public Works Director Mark Houghton that chatted up the rank-and-file and showed how close and family-like the citys staff truly is.

The event as a whole was just another in a series of church projects that The Place of Refuge has spearheaded in the community every year including the annual Memorial Day weekend event at Woodward Park and the free Christmas Eve breakfast and, as such, is something that has become second nature to the church members that plan it.

Dillman says that it takes only a few months to put everything together, and that seeing the unity among Mantecas city staffers regardless of the uniform they wear is more than worth the effort that goes into it.

This is our community and we want to thank these people for the job that they do, he said. I think that this day sheds a special light on that and the appreciation that they deserve.