Thumbs up to Violet Huckleberry, 94, who takes the prayer “give us this day our daily bread” to heart. Every day she sits outside her garage in southeast Fresno giving away bread to anyone who needs it. An ordained minister, hospital chaplain and prayer line volunteer, she told The Bee’s Megan Ginise, “I want to help people. I want to help all I can. I give all the time, but I know one thing, I can’t outgive God. God gave it to me, I figure he’s going to take care of me. And he does. And doing this, I hope, is the right way.”
Thumbs down to Johnny Alexander Quenga, 28, for aiming a laser pointer at a Fresno Police Department helicopter. He admitted to repeatedly striking Air 1 with a green laser attached to an airsoft rifle, the Department of Justice said. As a result, the airmen experienced visual interference, flash blindness, after-imaging, a persistent headache lasting several hours, and dizziness, the DOJ said. Two Fresno police officers, who were responding to calls to assist in the investigation of the laser incident, also were seriously hurt when their patrol vehicle was broadsided at a busy intersection in northeast Fresno, the DOJ said. Quenga is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 19. This crime is a triple header: malicious, senseless and stupid.
Thumbs up to 75 local dentists, hygienists and assisting students for joining forces to help hundreds of children from Fresno and Central unified school districts receive free dental services during TeamSmile at Fresno State on Oct. 24. For the eighth year, the team has helped the kids with free cleanings, cavities, root canals, tooth extractions and education. For many of the children, it was their first dental treatment. In an area of such high poverty, smiles cannot be taken for granted and toothaches are miserable. Because education and health are tightly connected, it is a bonus that students see a real college campus in action and get free tickets to a Fresno State football game. The cost to produce the event is about $11,000 for the organizers. Their efforts are much appreciated.
Thumbs up to the students at St. Anthony’s School in Fresno for raising $2,000 for their popular custodian Vicki Ornelas, and surprising her with gifts, flowers and cheers. Ornelas is recovering from cancer surgery. Student government commissioners approached Maryclaire Polacek, moderator, with their idea and soon K-8 students were planning for Ms. Vicki Day. The privilege of free dress for the day was offered for $1, and students contributed their cash and coins. Ornelas was brought to campus, St. Anthony’s cheerleaders created a special cheer just for her, and students showered her with dozens of cards and hugs. This school gets an “A” for compassion.
Thumbs up to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and Valley Clean Air Now for sponsoring a free smog check from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Fresno Fairgrounds, 1121 S. Chance Ave. The Tune In & Tune Up testing requires drivers to have owned their car for six months. If the vehicle doesn’t pass, the owner will get a voucher for repairs. Details: 800-806-2004. This is a big money saver and helps clear the air.
Thumbs up to Univision for giving away 5,000 books in Spanish and English to promote literacy and underscore the value of being bilingual during a California State University education fair Oct. 24. Another treat was the appearance of undefeated professional boxer Jose Ramirez and Fresno State President Joseph Castro and other Latino celebrities who support reading. Spanish speaking professors were on hand to answer questions from parents. This is just the third CSU campus to host such an event. We hope there will be many more family friendly events encouraging education.
Thumbs up to West Hills Lemoore for snagging a five-year Title V grant worth $525,000 per year, for a total of $2.6 million. “It’s a tremendous achievement,” President Don Warkentin told the Hanford Sentinel. “The staff has worked very hard on the application for this.” The money is earmarked for institutions that serve Hispanic students, and it is intended to increase access to student services and success for low-income students. Congratulations!