Toni Raymus isn’t a writer by trade.
That isn’t stopping her, though, from writing a chapter in the long running saga dubbed “Manteca.”
She builds homes for a living. But her real passion is building a community.
That passion led to the birth last year of the Great Valley Bookfest. Raymus had the pleasure of stopping by bookfests in Decatur and Savannah while visiting her daughter who was attending Emory University at the time in Georgia. She marveled at the involvement of children, families, the young and old, as well as people from all walks of life brought together by the power of reading
Some snickered when she first floated the idea of a bookfest in Manteca.
A bookfest? In Manteca?
That type of a response bothered her. It also strengthened her resolve.
“We create our own self image,” Raymus noted.
It’s true. Keep putting down the place you call home and it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to your attitude.
It also helps mask the truth. Among the 71,000 souls who call Manteca home there are people of all walks of life. They toil in the labs at Livermore and in Silicon Valley. They use the latest technological advances and global economic savvy to squeeze the most out of land they farm. They save lives. They create. They inspire. They are smart. They get paid for an honest day’s work.
And they read.
The valley may not be crammed with people holding four-year degrees, doctorates, and such. Nor is it a cultural and intellectual wasteland as those who have lifetime memberships in the Greek Chorus of Doom chanting non-stop contend.
It is why Raymus knew from the start that a bookfest would be embraced.
But make no doubt about it: The bookfest is only a small part of the chapter she’s penning for “Manteca.”
Raymus devotes energy and money to advancing a repertoire of community endeavors such as the Boys & Girls Club.
Her brother Bob also invests heavily in Manteca beyond his livelihood of building homes. The HOPE Family Shelter is a cause that has benefited immensely from his generosity of time and money.
Giving back is a philosophy and a way of life the siblings learned from their father, the late Antone Raymus. His vision and generosity made possible Give Every Child a Chance.
Like her father, the value of what she does in life is not measured in how many homes she builds and in turn how much money she earns but in what she leaves behind for others to build on.
That doesn’t mean she isn’t pragmatic. You can’t invest money in good deeds if you don’t make money. She personifies, for lack of a better term, the good capitalist.
And like all good capitalists she is not short on savvy or common sense.
She openly admits endeavors such as the bookfest help her sell homes.
“From a selfish standpoint, you want a community that has (amenities) that people desire so they will want to live here,” Raymus pointed out.
She also has a desire to help her neighbors improve their lot in life.
And that means more than just providing funds for worthy causes and establishing endeavors such as this weekend’s bookfest at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley.
Raymus is one of the managing partners of the 1,049-acre Austin Road Business Park. The project has the potential of adding 9,139 direct jobs with an annual payroll of $45.4 million. And, yes, it includes housing as well as additional retail. One can’t buy a decent home without a decent job. You can have all of the government policies in place you want but at the end of the day people need good paying jobs to secure housing.
And a skill necessary to secure a good paying job is reading.
“You can’t succeed without it,” Raymus said of reading.
Perhaps no one understood that better than her father.
He often told of how as a young child he didn’t understand the writing in front of him at the rural Manteca school he attended after working in the morning helping with the cows on the family dairy. His frustration grew to the point he hated school.
A teacher took it upon herself to help tutor the young Antone after school. She inspired Antone and helped turn on a light that allowed him to push the envelope.
Because of that kind act and his grasp of reading, Antone was able to succeed in life to the point that he was able to give the community a free tutoring service that helps struggling students succeed.
But what Antone left behind is much more than that. He blessed Manteca with a daughter and son that understood what strength they weave into the community’s fabric today will lead to new chapters written by people yet to come.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 249-3519.