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When Diane Carter, Anthony Alrid and Wayne Johnson were down, they received help. Now they volunteer their time and energy to repay that kindness. When you peruse today's Book of Dreams, you'll learn about agencies and charities that help people endure difficult times.
For more than two decades, we have turned to you each holiday season and asked you to open your hearts and wallets to the less fortunate in our area. And every year, in good times and in bad, you have responded. This is the 23rd edition of A Book of Dreams, and we are asking once again for your support.
Richard Mejia, a single father, raised his daughter, Hope, since birth. He also worked as a food pantry volunteer in February until his car broke down. Mejia and his daughter also participated in the Milk and Education Program at the Inter-Faith Ministries. "I wanted to give something back," Mejia said. "My time is all I have, so I volunteered at the food pantry."
Maria Silvia Negrete, 40, gathers with her children, from left, Alexandra Gallegos, 9, Carlos Manuel Gallegos, 5, Armando Gallegos, 3, Rodrigo Gallegos, 16, and Juvenal Gallegos Jr., 7, at their home in Modesto.
U.S Army Pfc., KirkPatrick Lane stands with his grandmother, Cleda Lane, as she holds the American flag she received at the funeral ceremony of her husband, veteran Kirk Lane.
Pathways is a transitional living and supportive services program for young adults ages 18 to 22. The Modesto-based program serves the homeless, and many of the participants are former foster care youth who have limited financial and emotional support.
Hutton House is a state-licensed temporary shelter for runaway, homeless and youth in crisis ages 13-17. It provides services in a residential setting for eight youth at a time for a maximum of 15 days. Day services are available for youth and their families. Crisis line is available 24 hours a day.
Jeanne Green lost just about everything when her house burned down. She's now a senior assistant. "Anytime I needed them, Catholic Charities assisted (with) transportation," said Green, pictured at right with transportation and volunteer coordinator, Sandy Lynn Ewen.
Leon Celestine, 63, says most days he would gaze out his window. Celestine, at right, had his leg amputated around April and has been a recipient of Howard Training Center's Meals on Wheels program for a little over a year.
Lorraine Cordell, 49, says she's an Air Force veteran who ended up being nearly homeless after a nervous breakdown and found her way to the Salvation Army shelter. "I never made it to the street so I was very lucky," she said. "Here I attend counseling. I go to workshops called life skills where they teach you how to live once you leave. They teach you how to live in communities, which a lot of people don't know how to do."
A Central Valley summer is brutal without air conditioning. But David Gonzales didn't have it until his caregiver, Sherri Caldwell, called Advancing Vibrant Communities. AVC provided and installed the unit in the dead of summer. "I am grateful for the air conditioner because we needed it badly," said Gonzales.
Loretta Lyn Simmons helped out at United Samaritans before she found herself in need of services. She volunteered in the clothes closet and worked as a caregiver. But in 2009, Simmons, at right, became homeless, living in her car. When her client died, the reduction in income left Simmons unable to retain housing. She began using United Samaritan services, eating meals from the lunch trucks, using the clothes closet, laundry facilities, showers and the emergency food box program.
In these difficult times, the Family Support Network of Oak Valley Hospital still provides dozens of programs based on the needs of families with infants, children and aging parents.
Teresa Barcelles, 47, had some trying years recently. "I lost my house to foreclosure a couple of years ago; ended up losing my job and my vehicle and became homeless, staying in abandoned houses," said Barcelles.
David Sterling, 60, pictured on A Book of Dreams cover, had no friends and no family to turn to after being released from the hospital. He arrived at the Modesto Gospel Mission weighing barely 100 pounds in his hospital gown.
Haven Women's Center of Stanislaus is a catalyst for individual empowerment and societal change. Among many things, the Modesto-based Haven promotes safety and healing for women and children who have experienced domestic or sexual violence.