When the tsunami wreaked death and destruction upon Indian Ocean countries in 2004, valley residents stepped up with an outpouring of cash and goods.
And when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and the Gulf Coast nine months later, scores of Modestans went to New Orleans and to relocation centers in Texas to help the victims. Thousands more donated goods and money.
So it isn't surprising that many people and organizations here are contributing to the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Nor, with 550,000 people in Stanislaus County, is it surprising to find numerous connections among valley residents to the Caribbean nation and the Jan. 12 catastrophe. The spectrum ranges from fear and trepidation to professional response to pure goodwill.
Salida's Lisa Birch still awaits word on the fate of her husband, Jim, a landscape architect who went to the capital city of Port-au-Prince on business and arrived just three hours before the earthquake struck.
"Nothing yet on my husband, but we are not giving up," Lisa Birch said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, others from the valley are involved in the relief effort.
Former Modestan Anita Menghetti and ex-Turlock resident Rachel Grant are working to get food and supplies to the victims. Menghetti is a 1979 Modesto High School graduate who traveled to more than 40 countries with USAID, a federal agency that provides disaster relief overseas. She now works for the State Department.
Grant — known as Rachel Rodriguez West when she graduated from Turlock High in 1985 — arrived Tuesday in Haiti as a member of USAID's Disaster Assistance Response Team.
Local churches are raising money and, in some cases, sending teams to Haiti to help. Among them is local minister and Bee community columnist Tony Belarmino of Turlock, who soon will go there as part of an Assemblies of God task force of crisis chaplains. These chaplains will work with rescue and relief workers as well as with Haitian victims.
Modesto-area companies including Save Mart, Dot Foods and Burlington Coat Factory are among the businesses sending food and supplies to the survivors.
Others are connected to the disaster in different ways.
Former Ceres resident Mary Chew went to Haiti more than two years ago as part of Christian Haitian Outreach. She now is with a group called Youth on a Mission, working with young women at a Haitian prison. She's been trying to adopt two Haitian children but has encountered numerous obstacles in the courts.
Since the earthquake, some adoptions have been expedited and she hopes hers will be, too, said her sister, Rhoda Chew of Merced.
Meanwhile, Lonny Davis of Ceres was only 100 miles away in the Dominican Republic city of Santo Domingo when the quake struck. President of the Ceres Rotary Club, he spent 10 days there with 13 other valley Rotarians to deliver and distribute 185 wheelchairs through a Rotary International program.
Rotary redirected 25 of the wheelchairs to Haiti and will send more soon, Davis said.
"I was sitting on a plastic chair in a restaurant in Santo Domingo, and it started going like rubber under me," said Davis, who returned to Ceres early Tuesday. "Having been in earthquakes, I knew right away what it was. But we didn't realize where the epicenter was until we got back to the hotel.
"The next day, we started seeing (refugees) showing up in Santo Domingo. You could read the trauma on this one gal's face, and I asked if she was with the relief effort. She began talking about the Hotel Montana (which was severely damaged) and the devastation."
Devastation crying out for help. And though the economy here stinks and people are struggling financially, many are finding it in their hearts to give to those who are much worse off.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2383.