Merced County thanks volunteers for commitment to worthy causes

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comApril 8, 2014 

When you give, you get back.

Those were the words of District 4 Supervisor Deidre Kelsey moments before she and other county supervisors recognized a group of volunteers who dedicate their lives to a number of worthy causes.

Seven individuals and four organizations were honored at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

District 1 Supervisor John Pedrozo kicked off the recognition program, now in its 15th year, by honoring Richard Macchia of the Livingston police. A school resource officer for Livingston High School, Macchia started the Merced Police Department’s Explorer program and revamped the Livingston Explorer program in 2012.

Macchia has recruited 70 people and spent more than 900 hours on the program. “It’s all about developing the young generation of officers and people who might want to go into the justice field,” said Livingston Police Chief Ruben Chavez, who nominated Macchia for the award.

Pedrozo also recognized the Livingston Knights of Columbus, a group he called instrumental in putting together the city’s Fourth of July fireworks, annual Kite Festival and other festivities.

District 2 Supervisor Hub Walsh was absent Tuesday, but two volunteer organizations were honored from his district: the Merced Volunteers in Police Service and Providence Christian School.

The Merced VIPS is made up of 13 members who volunteer in traffic control, Neighborhood Watch programs and help with data entry. “These are the folks that are in your community making a positive impact,” said Merced Police Capt. Bimley West.

Providence Christian School has been around for just two years, but has already left its mark by getting involved with Relay for Life, Love Merced cleanup events and handing out meals at the Merced County Rescue Mission.

District 3 Supervisor Linn Davis recognized Holly Jenkins, a retired schoolteacher who devotes her time to students at Mitchell Elementary School in Atwater. Davis said Jenkins volunteers several times a day, reading to students and helping them overcome language barriers.

“We owe her a big thank you for devoting so much of her time to helping children in our community,” Davis said.

Davis also honored Jan & Friends, nine senior citizens who sing karaoke to other seniors. For the past six years, the group has entertained at 70 venues, including adult day cares and convalescent hospitals.

The group has 14 karaoke shows planned for this month alone, said founder Jan Gibbs. “We are a bunch of fun-loving seniors entertaining a bunch of fun-loving seniors who happen to be in beds,” she said.

Kelsey honored two individuals, including Emily Ewing, the youngest person to ever receive the award. Youth groups have been honored in the past, Kelsey said, but this is the first time a 13-year-old has earned the volunteer recognition.

Ewing was recognized for her work with animal rescue, which includes organizing bake sales and other fundraisers to help New Beginnings for Merced County Animals. Ewing has raised more than $8,000 since March 2012, said New Beginnings president Sharon Lohman.

“I really admire a young lady that has the gumption for doing what you’re doing,” Kelsey said.

Kelsey also honored Dot Dame, a Winton resident and longtime volunteer for the Sheriff’s Department. Dame has committed more than 15 years working in the Community Law Enforcement Office in Winton, helping with the department’s day-to-day operations.

“I can’t even recap the contributions you’ve made to your community,” Sheriff Tom Cavallero said. “You’ve always been there for us and we appreciate it.”

Board Chairman and District 5 Supervisor Jerry O’Banion honored three individuals: Ludwig “Jerry” Knoester, Lynnette Gerbi and Maria Murillo.

O’Banion said Knoester, who retired from the military, saved the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce by managing it and helping it move to a better office. “I knew this guy when he first came to Los Banos as a commuter,” O’Banion said.

Gerbi and Murillo were recognized for their work with the Friends of the Library and spending hours reading to children during storytime events.

“I know they are movers and shakers over there, and they work hard,” said District 5 Library Commissioner Ginny Farmer, adding that Friends of the Library members repainted the Los Banos library. “The Friends of the Library in Los Banos have done a lot to improve the library’s functions.”

 

Sun-Star staff writer Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.com.

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