Our “Journey to Harvest” writer, George MacLeod, has plenty of reason to be proud of his family and their offspring, but did you know that George has another family? No, it's not anything scandalous! For years, George and his good friend Bob McDonald sent money to the family of George's vineyard worker Juan Mendoza to pay for his children's education. When George first met the family in Michoacán, the children were still in grade school, and public schools in Mexico only went as far as the eighth grade. He recently passed along a letter from Juan's daughter Esme, and you'll see why he's bursting at the seams about the Mendoza children and their accomplishments. Here are a few excerpts:
“Everything is good in my professional life. Recently I won a prize for my doctoral thesis and I am a member of Sistema Nacional de Investigadores Mexicanos. It is like an elite group of researchers in México. Finally I start to see the good results of all my effort and work. Now I am doing a post-Ph.D. at CIQA (Advanced Chemistry Research Center) in Saltillo. I am really happy and proud of my job. Definitely it was not possible without McDonald and MacLeod Friends. It is a true that all the academic accomplishments that Mendoza's Girls obtained are thanks to you!
“Angelica wants to study a new career for teaching in junior school, she loves teaching. In general she and her family are fine. Veronica is the principal in a small team that sells Mary Kay products ... Mireya is watching her baby at home. Santiago is one year old and recently starts walking his first walks. She is for the moment not working. Her husband (Tony) is a hardworking and very responsible man. Little Angelina is working in a kindergarten … She is very happy and is an excellent teacher with a lot of patience for her little students. Ricardo is a student and helping my Mom at the store.”
As George says, “What are the odds - children of a father who cannot read or write and a mother with two years of elementary school and income from grape growing work??? Look at the progress of this large family, funded in part with small cash subsidies over a 20-year project by George and Bob. Enough to bring tears to an old man.” Indeed.
LeAnn Thornton, USO Volunteer of the Year
“Dedicated to providing support to everyone from a young Marine stranded by last minute travel changes to a family navigating an unfamiliar airport on the most difficult day of their life, LeAnn Thornton is always by the side of our troops and their families.
“She is a respected member of the Families of the Fallen team at USO Bay Area and has assisted every single family that has passed through the center this year, rarely missing a mission in the last five years. Her compassion, respect and ability to do what is needed make her an invaluable connection for the families.”
LeAnn lives in South San Francisco where she is a full time employee at the Hillsborough Police Department as Executive Assistant to the Chief of Police. Her father Leo was a 30-year police officer for the South San Francisco Police Department and a veteran of the Korean War as a medic. Marina feels that his service to our country has encouraged LeAnn to work so devotedly for the USO. She also reports that Veteran's Day found LeAnn putting flags on the graves of veterans - that's just the kind of person she is. Congratulations, and thank you for your service, LeAnn!
Why is it that the most heroic people are the usually the most humble, too? Gannon Orton of Kenwood was driving along Highway 101 through Santa Rosa on the morning of Oct. 26 when he saw a motorcycle go down ahead of him, sliding across the road and into the guard rail. Gannon stopped to help, climbing over a fence and down to the creek below where motorcyclist Mike Shea ended up, unconscious and face down in the water. A man who was jogging by and a homeless man under the bridge were already trying to save Shea, and the three men took off his helmet, and tried to position him so he could breathe. According to his wife Jennifer, Gannon “fished a bunch of gunk” out of the man's mouth and moved his tongue aside to clear the airway, and then he rubbed Shea's chest until he started to cough up water and came to. He didn't want to try chest compressions for fear that Shea's chest had been crushed in the fall. Later Gannon told the Press Democrat, “I'm no hero. I was just there. The jogger, he was really the guy.” Maybe so, but without Gannon and his rudimentary CPR skills remembered from a class he took in junior high, who knows if Shea would have made it? Gannon and Jennifer later visited Shea in the hospital, where more than a few tears were shed by a very grateful Mike Shea.
Assistant Fire Chief Daren Bellach
Marjorie Davis celebrating her 94th birthday at Fawn Rescue.
One of our greatest treasures is the indefatigable Marjorie Davis, founder of Wildlife Fawn Rescue. Marjorie turned 94 last week, and as you can see she is still going strong and still helping out at Fawn Rescue. Happy Birthday, Marj!
Cory O’Donnell receives a plaque from Kenwood School Superintendent/Principal Bob Bales.
David and Ginny Freeman taking a break from wedding festivities in Spain.
Bob and Lisa Flores at Revolution Square in Havana.
Pat Randall (left) and Joanne Bender pose with the Press at Blarney Castle.
Well, that's a whole lot of chat! Thanks, everyone, for sending in your news and photos. It's easy to do, so if you have an item for Village Chat, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 833-5155 and chat me up! - AQP