A community of giving in Tracy

On Sunday, The Record published our annual Outlook section. In the section, we focused on a theme of “Business not as usual.” In doing so, staff writers, editors and freelancers contributed articles on a variety of topics and people.

I was assigned a story about “business benevolence” in Tracy. Basically that means businesses and business folk who give back in the community on a regular basis. My assignment had some names attached. I started making some calls.

I came across Bill Fields at The Surtec System on MacArthur Drive. The Surtec Adopt-A-Family program gives away food and presents to needy families in both the Tracy and Hayward areas every year. In 2008, they added the Thanksgiving holiday as part of the program. To hear Fields talk about it is to understand how selfless of a program this is. It’s not for him, he’s quick to point out. And it’s a community effort. Here are some photos from the 2009 program, which didn’t fit in print, that Fields had sent along.

I also interviewed Larry Hite, a Tracy-based home inspector who provided free home safety inspections for seniors. He then worked with a group of volunteers funded by the Tracy Hospital Fund at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital, to make needed fixes.’

What didn’t get mentioned is that Hite is also makes regular donations to the Lucky Paws Foundation at Decadent Pets in Tracy. The foundation works to help those in need who can’t afford to feed their animals.  Hite is a self-proclaimed “animal lover.” He said it breaks his heart that people’s pets go hungry when the need to provide basic necessities for one’s self is paramount.

“There are so many people that have been out of work and have lost their jobs,” said Hite. “I know it helps a lot.”

One of the most memorable interviews of the experience came thanks to a 150-pound Burnese Mountain dog named Rio. Rio’s owner Dan Schack is a native of the Tracy community. He takes Rio, a service dog, to see seniors at local assisted living facilities and to see students at local schools.

Rio is a pretty special dog. He even has his own trading card.

But Schack also contributes outside the community. He’s also a volunteer diver at Monterey Bay Aquarium where he works with a program to expose disabled children to the sea otter exhibit first hand. He calls it an “amazing experience,” one of which I could not fit into the story avaliable here.

I love writing for special sections outside what I typically do. I usually get to meet people I wouldn’t have met on a regular beat. And I find out fascinating things about San Joaquin County. This year was no different.

I learned that there’s a great community of giving in Tracy, one not defined by a need for these individuals to be recognized, but by a devotion to make the city a better place for all residents.

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