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Volunteers pay it forward for kids
New councilman, Realtor support 1,500 youth
BGCLUB DAY1 bottom-teleton-LT
Telethon hosts Rex Osborn, left, and Phil Waterford talk on the air on Monday. Live bid board coordinator Linda Ablelt is behind them. The telethon continues tonight. - photo by HIME ROMERO

It is payback time for many Manteca-Lathrop Boys & Girls Club telethon volunteers.

Patrick Rabelo grew up in East Oakland. It was “rough” growing up there, said the eight-year telethon volunteer.

“That’s why I can relate to a lot of young men and women here,” the Manteca Realtor said in between running around Monday night to make the 35th annual telethon into another ringing success. It is the major fundraiser that underwrites programs for 1,500 youth.

“Manteca’s been very good to me, and this is my way of giving back to the community,” said the devoted husband and father. He and his wife Kellie have two children – Anthony who attends Sierra High, and Nathan a junior high student.

“We’ve established our roots here. We’re adopted the Famiy City as our home. We’re not planning on leaving,” said Rabelo who is also past president of the Central Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ve been able to build a successful business because of the support of the community,” added Rabelo who was happy to note that the telethon has been “consistently going up” as the economy continues to turn around after the Great Recession.

He was also happy to point out that the backbone of the Boys & Girls Club Telethon, now in its 35th year, remains strong because “volunteers really pour their hearts out to help this organization” provide “a safe place for the kids to come to” after school and during summer.

Newly elected Manteca city councilman Mike Morowit knows all about that first-hand. While growing up in Hayward where his father owned and operated a business, Morowit spent a lot of time in the city’s Boys & Girls Club facility. He took part in the trips to Disneyland, in the games and sports offered, and watching movies shown at the club.

“I know they do a good job. It keeps kids from the street in the summer,” Morowit said of the Boys & Girls Club programs in Manteca and Lathrop.

He knows the value of these programs from his own experiences, said Morowit who did not only show up at the telethon site but also to personally present a $200 donation to the perennial telethon emcee Rex Osborn.

While Morowit himself has been busy at the business he owns and operates – he purchased the family-owned Miner Mart in the Lincoln Shopping Center on West Yosemite Avenue in 1995, the year he moved to Manteca – the Boys & Girls Club was no stranger to his family. His youngest daughter, Lizzie, 16, and a junior at Sierra High, has been a volunteer at the Manteca club facility. She is also a former Junior Police Academy participant. Morowit’s other daughter, Lauren, is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and is now in law school at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. Miner, himself, is an alumnus of Cal Berkeley where he received a degree in sociology.

As a member of the Manteca City Council – he, along with new mayor Steve DeBrum and new councilman Richard Silverman – will be sworn in at the first council meeting in December.

Morowit said that as a member of the council, he expects to be even more involved in other community projects such as the Manteca-Lathrop Boys and Girls Club.