Progress Magazine March 2023

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COMMUNITY SERVICE AMERICAN REd CROSS WIldfIRE PUblIC HOUSE OPERA MOdESTO VOL. 44 | ISSUE 3 | March 2023 MOdEStO chaMbEr OF cOMMErcE IN MODESTO 1302 J St. & 4204 Dale Rd. At Bank of Stockton, we’ve helped people achieve their real estate goals for over 155 years. Whether it’s buying your rst home, re nancing to lock in a lower interest rate or taking out a home equity loan to pay for a remodeling project, our experienced team is always there for you. Bank of Stockton makes it easy to lock in a home loan that’s just right for you. You can apply and get approved online, talk to one of our real estate professionals at 1-844-700-5012 or come visit us in person. Either way, our process is simple and stress-free. Home, Lot & Construction Loans | ReFis | Equity Lines 1-844-700-5012
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A Message From The President & CEO

Celebrating ServiCe

This month’s Progress edition is focused on community service and non-profits. We happen to live in a community rich with organizations and individuals who care and give readily. You don’t have to look far to run into people giving of time, talent, treasure, or a mix of all three in our community. We have a plethora of organizations covering the gamut from art, music, and dance, to youth programs. We have a mix of victim’s services and support, health and wellness, and special needs organizations. Additionally, we are blessed to have all aspects of first responder entities and care takers.

All these are woven through the fabric of our family friendly community. The collection enriches the environment we work in and raise our families. I love the growing list of organizations that fall under the “things to do” category. We have long benefited from the presence of Gallo Center for the Arts, and the State Theatre of Modesto. We have wonderful galleries and museums to take in local art of all sorts, and we have unique to us mural art to visit and be in awe of.

The development of The Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum nods to some of the original culture found here while the creation of Modesto Children’s Museum could not be more exciting. Let’s not forget the beautiful Almond Blossom Cruise curated by Visit Modesto.

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce is excited to share that we have launched our foundation! We have formally submitted our application, bylaws, and articles of incorporation. We have established our inaugural board. We have been assigned our EIN number and while we await our approval designation, are beginning work on our first few programs under the Modesto Chamber of Commerce Foundation name.

We have great aspirations for the work this new organization will do to contribute to strengthening our great community. Please note the foundation roster found inside this edition.

We are weeks away from this year’s Ag Aware Luncheon. This is our annual scholarship fundraiser benefiting the High School FFA (Future Farmers of America) programs with Modesto City Schools and Central Catholic High Schools. If you, or if you know of a contact that would be interested in being an equipment sponsor of the event, and willing to bring and showcase ag equipment, please contact us. We would love to have an array of equipment on display at the event. We have a goal to raise more funds for our FFA students than we ever have before. Please consider attending and/or sponsoring as your way of contributing to that success.

Please take an extra moment to go through our calendar list. We have so many great committees, programs, and events upcoming. This includes Member Mix & Mingles, red (new member) ribbon cuttings, and green (sustainability certification) ribbon cuttings. Separately, we will be participating in:

-Facilities Expo March 15 and 16

-West Modesto Community Collaborative’s “The Luck of Collaborative” March 18th

-Earth Day April 22nd

-Love Modesto April 29th – project Ryan’s Fountain. With warm regards,

Modesto ChaMber of CoMMerCe I 4

Each member of the Chamber is important, no matter the size of business. We desire for local businesses and organizations to succeed and thrive. To reach this goal we provide exposure, opportunities to engage with Regional Electeds and community partners, as well as networking with businesses and organizations across industries. We work to better our community by providing up-to-date education and training, certifying qualifying businesses as Green, and providing advocacy on City, State, and Federal levels. The Chamber is a family of dedicated professionals striving to make a difference in their business and way of life. Whatever your business needs are, we invite you to join us.

To execute our adopted mission we have developed an acronym that helps keep us focused. That acronym is “CARES: Community, Advocacy, Relationships, Education and Service.”

C - Community

At its heart, the Modesto Chamber is a community of like-minded business owners who share the vision for enjoying a thriving economy and creating and maintaining our community as a vibrant place to live, work and play. With over 100 years of history and experience in the Greater Modesto Area, we understand what it means to be a business owner and customer in our community, with featured events such as local and regional forums, Ag Aware, Harvest Luncheon, and Family Day. Chamber members get the opportunity to actively engage in and influence the community they live and work in.

A - Advocacy

The Modesto Chamber supports local businesses and is an active advocate for the common interest of its members. The Chamber has an Economic Development Committee and a Government Relations Council. These advocacy committees are dedicated and proactive in representing our members and community. They work to address business initiatives and relieve the regulatory burdens businesses face may face. The Chamber is also honored to certify local businesses and organizations through our California Green Business Network Stanislaus Program. Through this we create more conscientious and sustainable ways of life while lowering the cost of doing business for our community and future generations.

R - Relationships

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce specializes in building relationships and serving as the nexus to businesses, nonprofit organizations, and governmental agencies. With over a dozen Committees, Programs, and Events in which our members can participate, the Chamber offers ample opportunity to meet and connect with other business owners in our community. As a relational organization, the Chamber works with its members to ensure the opportunity to connect and grow in every niche and industry to help build and cultivate long-lasting relationships among business owners and community partners alike.

E - Education

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce values education and offers members the opportunity to stay on the leading edge with new and emerging information and training that will set your business apart from the rest. In partnership with Modesto Junior College, the Chamber is pleased to offer an assortment of trainings applicable to any business or industry for credited completion through our Chamber University platform. Our Chamber also works with members to provide a platform to speak to their own industry expertise and invite other members to learn from those leading our local industries.

S - Service

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce offers its members a wide range of opportunities to promote and engage their business across industry and community lines. The Chamber Weekly E-Blast, Website, and our Progress Magazine provide opportunities to advertise and promote your business, keep up to date with articles about local businesses in our community, and stay in the loop about up-and-coming Chamber and community events. Our Chamber also offers indemand materials, such as Member contact list, Federal and State compliance posters, export document services, and so much more. Chamber members can also personalize their business profile within our website and have access to our Member-Only Information Center, where members can connect with other members, boost their social media presence, promote job postings, public events, and member-to-member discounts.


Mission stateMent

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to serving the greater Modesto Area, regional businesses and community prosperity through advocacy, collaboration, access to leaders, economic development, connectivity and business education.

executive coMMittee

Chairman - Michael Gaffney, PG&E

Past Chairman - Steve Rank, Rank Investigations and Protection, Inc.

Vice Chair, External Operations - Michael Moradian

Jr. - Peace of Mind Pest Control

Vice Chair, Internal Operations, Treasurer - Patricia

Gillum Pat Gillum CPA

Chairperson Elect - Kirstie Boyett Zacharias, Executive Director at American Leadership ForumGreat Valley Chapter

board of directors

Garrett Ardis- Huff Construction Company Inc.

Brad Blakeley, Edward Jones Investments

David Halvorson Jr.

Debra Hendricks - Debra Hendricks Consulting

Amy Jefferies - Gianelli Nielsen

Warren Kirk, Doctors Medical Center

Rachell Le Viege - Lift-A-Hand Home Care Agency

Eric Mangal, Grimbleby Coleman CPAS Inc.

Brian McDermott

Kymber Miller- Sysco Central California Inc.

Peggy O'Donnell, Mid-Valley Productions

Edgar Perez - F&M Bank

Jason Pineda, Freshpoint Inc.

Bill Robinson, Principal Financial Group

Kari Santos - I.J. Larsen Pumps

DeJeune Shelton- Modesto Junior College

Madhu Singh, Bank of Stockton

John Villines- Modesto Gospel Mission

President & CEO

Trish Christensen

Modesto Chamber of Commerce

Publisher: Modesto Chamber of Commerce

209.577.5757 •

Graphic design: 209 Magazine

209.634.9141 •

Printer: 209 Magazine

209.634.9141 •

distribution: 209 Magazine


advertising sales:


© Copyright 2021 Modesto Chamber of Commerce. Some parts of this magazine may be reproduced or reprinted, however, we require that permission be obtained in writing. 209.577.5757,


Administrative Assistant, Stephen Shaw

Sustainability Coordinator, Jolene Camarena

Events Coordinator, Felicia Lopez

Membership Coordinator, Lizeth Rocha

Staff Accountant, Jaime Lastra

Modesto ChaMber of CoMMerCe I

March 2023 | CONTENTS disclaiMer: The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce. ProGress MaGaZine 1114 J Street • Modesto, CA 95354 209. 577.5757 • Fax 209. 577.2673 • coMMunitY 4 Message from the CEO 7 Calendar 8 Announcements 10 American Red Cross advocacY 16 Haven relationshiPs 18 Society for Disabilities 19 March Milestones 20 President’s Tier 27 Soiree Recipients education 28 Ag Aware service 29 Downtown Street Team 30 St. Luke’s Family Practice 12 mOdESTO gOSpEl miSSiON 22 wildfirE publiC hOuSE 15 dOublETrEE by hilTON 17 OpEra mOdESTO 13 ThE STaTE ThEaTrE 9 Of miCE aNd mEN


5 economic deVelopment committee

*Register on website, in person & Zoom 11:30 A.M.


18 Women in Business coffee & conVersations Location TBD

*In person & Zoom 11:30 A.M. Register on website

21 amBassador & Welcome team meeting

*In person & Zoom 8:00 A.M

*In person & Zoom 11:30 A.M. Register on website

*See website for more detail. Find Zoom Registry links and more at Please note that calendar events and details are subject to change.

community MARCH 2023 april march
9 rising
lunch &
15-16 central Valley
rising professionals – mixer Location TBD 5:00PM – 6:30PM Register on website
Uranday 1114 J. Street Modesto
– 1:00pm
facilities expo
Centre Plaza
8:00 AM – 9:00AM Register on website
stanislaus green team meeting SunOpta Levi Pomerantz- Continuous Improvement Manager
*In person & Zoom 12:00 P.M. Register on website
17 amBassador & Welcome team meeting
18 West
20 ag aWare 2023 MJC- Ag Pavilion 11:30 AM- 1:00PM
*In person & Zoom 8:00 A.M
modesto neighBorhood JoB fair
AM- 2:00 PM
21 goVernment relations council
21 Women
York 5:00
Register on website 24 Bio-one
Modesto 8:00
23 multi chamBer
22 earth day Graceada Park- Modesto 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM Recycling & Sustainability Event
in Business mixer
of New
PM – 6:30PM
& red cross Blood driVe
J Street
AM- 4:00 PM
4215 Bangs Ave Modesto
PM- 7:00PM
economic deVelopment committee
*Register on website, in person & Zoom 11:30 A.M.
17 goVernment
relations council
Grewal Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors

Vendors, sponsors sought for graffiti festival

In the summer of 1973, a movie premiered featuring lots of cars, lots of music and some little-known actors -names like Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams and Candy Clark. The filmmaker, George Lucas, was comparably obscure. Fifty years later, we know this as the inception of “American Graffiti.”

On June 10-11, 2023, North Modesto Kiwanis will host its 24th annual American Graffiti Festival & Car Show, a celebration of Modesto’s cruising legacy. It brings car lovers and music fans from throughout the Central Valley and neighboring states.

The weekend kicks off June 9 with a classic car parade/ cruise downtown and on McHenry Avenue.

This festival is the consummate community effort. It is organized by Kiwanians, with help from many other organizations and individuals. Businesses play key roles as sponsors and vendors. Collectively, we raise thousands of dollars to return to the community in the form of grants to non-profits serving youth, college scholarships and a major Christmas basket program.

Those who want to be involved in our 2023 event –whether showing a car, volunteering along the parade route or serving as a sponsor or vendor – are invited to check our website, or email

Central West ballet Celebrates 35th anniversary first Valley Credit Union

Celebrate the best performances of Central West Ballet for one night only on March 11.

They’re bringing back all the favorites, from the Marie Gallo Ballet to the hilarious bar fight scene from Pirates, Cowboys & Damsels! The evening also features the world premiere of a new ballet and original music played live on stage by composer Dale Trombore.

In honor of the 35th Anniversary, all tickets are $35.00; join patrons for champagne in the lobby before the performance! Tickets available at For more information, visit

Modesto-based Valley First Credit Union added veteran communicator Daren Williams to the credit union leadership team as director of corporate communications.

He will oversee all communications involving the credit union, including a broad and diverse range of business, employee, member, and marketing communications.

Williams has more than 35 years of experience working as a communications professional, most recently as senior director of Global Communications at the Almond Board of California, which brought him to Modesto in 2018.

Williams’ previous experience includes 12 years with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in Denver, 10 years at Fleishman Hillard International Communications in Kansas City, and nine years at Agri/Washington, a Washington, D.C.-based public affairs firm.

A native Kansan, he began his career working on former Kansas Senator Bob Dole’s 1988 presidential campaign.

8 Modesto ChaMber of CoMMerCe I community
Darren Williams

Gallo Center Rep Presents Steinbeck Classic In March

When the non-profit Gallo Center for the Arts opened in 2007, community engagement was a core element of its mission. This has been evidenced each season with a commitment to arts education that has helped introduce hundreds of thousands of area schoolchildren to the wonders of the performing arts. The organization took another step forward in community service when it founded the Gallo Center Repertory Company in 2016 to provide opportunities for local actors, directors and other theatre creatives.

Since then numerous stage productions have been successfully presented by GCRC, and this month (March 17 – 19) brings yet another example with our presentation of John Steinbeck's literary classic, Of Mice & Men, directed by Michael Lynch.

With its themes of friendship, loyalty, and tragedy, the timeless tale follows two migrant workers, George and Lennie, who dream of owning a piece of land and living off the “fat of the land.” Lennie, a gentle giant with brute strength, is a man-child who is obsessed with things soft and cuddly. George is cautious about who Lennie associates with, as his overgrown childlike tendencies often lead to trouble. The story takes a tragic turn when Lennie accidentally kills the ranch boss’ promiscuous wife, and George is faced with a moral dilemma.

The production features an incredibly talented local cast, including Sebastian Godina as George and Justin Ledezma as Lennie. Godina, a young actor currently studying at Stella Adler in Los Angeles, brings depth and nuance to George’s character, while Ledezma, a local actor who has been seen on stage at the Stockton Civic Theatre many times, delivers a heart-wrenching performance as the gentle giant Lennie.

Of Mice & Men is a powerful and thought-provoking production that that has resonated with audiences for generations.

The show features mature themes and content, including violence and profanity, but it is a mustsee for anyone who appreciates great theatre and powerful storytelling.

Tickets are available at

All audience members are invited to join a special talkback after the Sunday, March 19 performance, where you can discuss the play's continuing relevance, artistic impact, and historical significance with local community leaders and the creative team.

We hope to see you there!

9 community MaRCh 2023
Sebastian Godina (left) and Justin Ledezma in Of Mice and Men, the Gallo Center Repertory Company production to be presented at the performing arts center March 17 – 19.

american red Cross heart of the Valley Chapter turns Compassion into action

Since our founding by Clara Barton on May 21, 1881, the American Red Cross has been dedicated to serving people in need, and though it has been more than 140 years since, our mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering hasn’t changed. Today, people continue to come together in innovative ways to serve and give hope during life’s emergencies. This commitment has always been at the heart of what we do. The Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. Down the street, across the country and around the world, the Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families.

The Red Cross Heart of the Valley Chapter, with a deep local presence in Merced, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, serves people facing emergencies every day. Embracing the diversity of our staff, volunteers, and the people we serve is vital to this work. Powered by 543 dedicated volunteers and generous donors who work on behalf of the Red Cross exemplify the spirit and mission of this organization, over the last fiscal year we have:

-Helped 557 families through 543 disaster responses, the majority of these home fires.

-Collected 31,763 units of lifesaving blood from 1,350 local blood drives.

-Provided 1,357 critical community services to members of the military, veterans and their families.

-Trained 8,225 people in First Aid/CPR/AED and 1,110 people in aquatics and water safety.

Today, as throughout our long history, the Red Cross depends on generous contributions of time, blood, and money from the American public to support our lifesaving services and programs. We invite you to learn more and hope you will feel inspired to become involved with the Red Cross. Visit to learn more.

10 Modesto ChaMber of CoMMerCe I community

When it comes to managing your risk and maximizing your insurance coverage, you need to know your options. We take the time to understand you, your business and your unique needs. We offer the expertise that will lead to the best solution. Our partnership with HUB International gives us access to new and specialty markets while still being the area leader in self-insurance or group captive programs. Together, we can find the right option for you.

11 march 2023 community Risk & Insurance | Employee Bene ts | Retirement & Private Wealth 800-942-2729 • 209-550-3783 Giddings, Corby, Hynes Lic# 0144783

Volente Coffee Roasters – Coffee With A MissionTM

This year the Modesto Gospel Mission is celebrating its 75th year serving the poor and homeless in Stanislaus County. And its first social enterprise is catching fire. What is it? Roasting coffee beans.

A social enterprise is a business that focuses on promoting social or environmental welfare instead of making or maximizing profit. The Mission has spent the last few years establishing its first social enterprise –roasting and selling bagged coffee beans.

Development Director Scott Pernice came up with the idea, and at first the executive team thought he was crazy. What does coffee beans have to do with helping the homeless? But as the leadership and board prayed and thought through the project, Volente Coffee RoastersTM was born. “Volente” is from the Latin phrase Deo volente, which means “God willing.”

Providentially, as the Mission’s development department was working on its business plan, the Mission’s CEO Jason Conway came across an article about a new program for nonprofits that was launching by the Stanislaus Community Foundation and the Porges Family Foundation in 2021. Profit with Purpose was the 10-week social enterprise accelerator for local nonprofit organizations, and the program paired the Mission team with Matt Henderson, a wine and beverage executive who helped mentor and guide the Volente business.

Matt was intrigued by the concept and caught sight of the vision, generously providing his knowledge of beverages, sales, and logistics; two years later, Matt is still providing ongoing consulting and mentoring free of charge to the Mission team.

Now the Volente roasting room is up and running on the Mission campus, and roasted coffee beans are currently being sold to local individuals, churches, and businesses.

Interest has been high, and the Mission team is currently having discussions with lots of groups from local government agencies to cafes and restaurants about providing coffee on an ongoing basis. All proceeds go back into the Mission’s programs for its guests.

But success is not primarilyabout generating revenue. More importantly, every bag of coffee is roasted by homeless men and women in our long-term residential program, giving them valuable training and experience in business aspects of sales, food processing, logistics, equipment maintenance, sales, sanitation, customer service, and work ethic. We believe this will serve as a valuable resource for these individuals as they re-enter the workforce, to better equip them to provide for themselves and their families.

At this point in time, Volente has 4 offerings, all with Latin names to continue the theme: Lumen, Magnificus, Nox, and a decaf offering, Absum. All of these selections are ethically sourced and sustainably produced.

For those of you who drink coffee, why not purchase a bag of coffee that is affordable, tastes good, and helps those in our community who struggle with poverty, homelessness, addiction, and mental health.

You can purchase Volente coffee at www.volentecoffee. com Try the coffee with a mission.TM

12 ModesTo ChAMbeR of CoMMeRCe I ModChAMbeR.oRg community

Intermission at The State Theatre

Intermission is defined as “a period during which action temporarily ceases.” And isn’t that what we all need, a period of time when the action of the day finally ceases, and we can relax and unwind with a glass of Ruby port and a slice of chocolate cheesecake before enjoying a feature film or a live performance at the historic State Theatre? A moment like that would be precious. A place like that would be iconic.

The State Theatre is proud to bring you that place: Intermission.

Intermission, by the State, will be a flexible community space designed for fun and function, entertainment and education and it will also be beautiful. Staying true to S.Charles Lee’s 1934 art deco design, we, with the help of a revered neon artist, will be extending the iconic neon as well as the under-lighting, so aesthetically Intermission will feel as though it has been there all along.

Intermission will be a place to gather before and after films for a small bite, a drink, or a discussion afterwards. With a catering kitchen and a full bar, we will also be working with local chefs and restaurateurs to provide food for events and receptions.

During the day, Intermission will be a centrally located meeting space for those who need a quiet, comfortable place to relax downtown.

Intermission will also function as a learning center for the State Theatre’s film and youth education programs. Building upon the success of our annual filmmakers’ boot camp, we seek to expand our film-education offerings on a year-round basis for adults and teens as well as build a Poetry Slam Academy for 9th-12th grader that will culminate in live performances.

Intermission also gives us much needed space for our successful paint & create nights and allows us room to event-size even more films and to connect with our community in fun and creative ways.

Intermission at night, with a full bar and an elegant interior, will be a place for game nights and jazz nights, poetry and open mics, date nights, themed nights, comedy nights, and tastings.

The opportunities for Intermission are endless, but our primary goal is simple: We want to make Intermission the best part of your day.

13 march 2023 community

West Modesto Community Collaborative Navigation Project

Do you reside in 95351, 95354, or 95358 and need referral assistance for public benefits, job training, behavioral health, food, or housing? West Modesto Community Collaborative has partnered with the Stanislaus County Community Service Agency to offer the Navigation Project to families and individuals who need referral assistance. As project coordinators at West Modesto Community Collaborative Liliana F. and Jasmine C. are here to help navigate you with finding the right resources to help alleviate any hardships.

High prices have created financial hardships for many Stanislaus residents. After Covid-19 it has impacted many families and individuals leaving some homeless or even living paycheck to paycheck. The Navigation Project began in March 2022 and has helped over 75 families with multiple resources. As project coordinators, our goal is to fulfill every request needed by helping families and individuals find resources either within West Modesto Community Collaborative or by referring them to an outside agency within Stanislaus county. Through these applicants, we continue to see high demand for food, housing, and utility assistance. As we continue to see the demand for these resources we also see the lack of funding in these areas however we are thankful for agencies like Second Harvest of Greater Valley, CVOC, and Community Housing and Shelter.

As an agency, we make great efforts to promote programs such as the Navigation Project by attending local community events such as local health fairs, school events, resource fairs, vaccine clinics, and even the local Modesto Farmers market! All these efforts to promote the program are a necessity to ensure that we can reach all and any community member. We understand that sometimes it is hard to stay informed with the different resources and events happening

however we are committed to reaching individuals and families through local community engagements. Not only will you find West Modesto Community Collaborative staff at these events but you will also see our trained outreach volunteers informing the community about the Navigation Project and the other programs offered within our organization.

Applying is easy! All you have to do is either go online to and under the programs tab, click on Navigation Application or follow us on Instagram @westmodestocollaborative and click the link in our bio. The application is available in both Spanish and English and consists of a few questions. We encourage those who are interested to apply regardless of income, citizenship status, or level of impact.

To learn more about who we are and the programs we offer visit our website at westmodestocollaborative. com, follow us on all social media platforms @ westmodestocollaborative, or give us a call at (209)522-6902.

14 Modesto ChaMber of CoMMerCe I community $18 Just per year visit and click the to have 209 Magazine delivered to your door! WE’VE GOT THE 209 COVERED. SUBSCRIBE DECEMBER/JANUARY 30 $4.95 tothe Snowy Stops IRISH PIFFTHE DRAGONMAGIC TOAST FEBRUARY/MARCH2019 ISSUE CoverPhoto ContestWINNER $4.95US Cover-84P.indd 1/21/2019

Leadership modesto

As the 40th Leadership Modesto Class, also known as, “The Best Class Ever”, we are ready to delve into the City of Modesto and Stanislaus County.

Inspiring, motivating, humbling… proud…a few words I would use to describe our Leadership Modesto’s first outing into the Community. We went wide-eyed into Community Services Day on February 3, 2023, with excitement at seeing one another again, enthusiasm at the possibility of learning and engagement in this process. What came out of this day could not be as easily defined.

Our first stop of the day was Without Permission. This grass roots 501(c)3 organization is determined to end Human and Sex Trafficking. They have assisted 764 people to exit this modern-day slavery trade and 91% of them call Stanislaus and San Joaquin County home. This means these are OUR children…say it with me… OUR CHILDREN. This is not a problem of others; this is our problem and only working together can we assist this organization to reach more, assist more, do more.

The bus was eerily silent as we began the journey to our next stop, thankful to have 15 minutes to process and debrief with our hosts. The message for today is about Servant Leadership, Debbie Johnson is the definition of a Servant Leader. Her passion is evident in the language she uses, the stats she shares and the personal connection she shows. I am grateful she is here, in our County making a difference…selflessly.

Our entire day was filled with amazing story tellers and community organizations doing the work to make life better. We went to Food Initiative of Greater Stanislaus County, Community Hospice, Modesto Veterans Center, Center for Human Services and Modesto Gospel Mission. It is at the Gospel Mission that we learn about an absolutely amazing person. We call him Mike, with his blessing and encouragement.

Recently, Modesto Gospel Mission began creating micro-enterprises so when their residents left, they could make a living wage and support themselves. The Mission believes in no handouts, only hand ups and have 90 people in recovery currently. One such microenterprise is coffee roasting and a coffee company, Volente, is the result. Volente means God Willing.

The men in this program are learning how to roast coffee, make sales, inventory, operations; what it takes to run a business.

Mike told us his story while roasting coffee beans on a shiny silver roaster. You could hear the humbleness of his voice as he described how lucky he was. He spoke of, “trying to help everybody”, having served alongside the men in recovery in the Day Program, New Life Program and Caretaker. Now we can add Master Coffee Roaster to his list of accomplishments.

They currently roast beans from Papa New Guinea (Magnificus) and Honduras (Nox) with a mix of the two called Lumen. Volente opened for sales in December 2022 and our group could see remnants of holiday baskets and orders getting ready to be filled. You can find this coffee at Austin’s Coffee House in Ripon and Shelter Cove Church in Modesto. Something tells me, we will soon find this coffee all over Modesto, and we should… God Willing.

At the end of our Community Services Day, again, silence persisted. Lost in thought about how we could make the biggest impact in our community with our class project. In the end, we know the 40th Class of Leadership Modesto has already impacted twenty-one lives. Each one of us in this class.

Thank you Modesto Chamber for allowing us the opportunity to learn more, engage more and finally, do more.

15 march 2023 community

HAVEN’s In Their Shoes

HAVEN is a local non-profit that provides services to domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking victims in Stanislaus County. This past year alone, HAVEN provided services to almost 2,600 individuals all at no charge.

HAVEN is hosting its annual “In Their Shoes” walk on April 1, 2023. In Their Shoes is the current iteration of the Walk a Mile event. HAVEN wishes to highlight ALL survivors of sexual abuse and the name change is inclusive of all the shoes they wear.

Our prior focus leaned into men's use of violence against women. This has been the heart of our movement for decades and was the core of the International Men's March, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. The importance of that approach to our work is still relevant and needed. But it's not the only facet, and it doesn't reflect the experience of all survivors in our community.

If we truly want to serve all the survivors in our community, we need to be intentional in how we talk about abuse, how we design services towards healing from abuse, and just thinking about abuse from broader perspectives and different facets.

We are not eliminating the red shoes that so many people love. The red shoes are still there, and we invite anyone who wants to come march in red heels because that resonates with them.

But at the same time, we are making space to expand beyond the red shoe so that anyone can come wearing shoes that express who they are and how they want to walk on the path of awareness and healing.

The change in our walk's name and image is just one way of manifesting making space for ALL the stories of survivors in our community.

Our staff is dedicated and devoted to providing crucial assistance to our clients. We need your help to continue providing these essential services. HAVEN aids with emergency shelter, support groups, youth education and support, restraining orders, a 24-hour crisis line for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Your help is vital in continuing our mission to support all survivors of sexual violence.

Please consider sponsoring, participating, or donating to this event. You can register, sponsor, or donate online at HAVEN has provided vital services to survivors in Stanislaus County for over 45 years, often when they are at their most vulnerable.

To sponsor In Their Shoes, please contact Kathleen Rowe-Glendon at (209) 284-4732 or by email at For event-specific questions, please contact Brandy Van Horn, Event Coordinator at (209) 284-4539 or by email at

16 Modesto ChaMber of CoMMerCe I advocacy

Opera modesto Thrives - 40 Years Serving the central Valley member highlighT

In 1983, Modesto High School graduate and international opera singer, Erik “Buck” Townsend, founded Townsend Opera Players, beginning his “impossible dream” of a professional opera company in the Central Valley. Before he passed in 2008, Buck expressed his wish that another MHS graduate and international opera singer, Roy Stevens, take over the company.

Fast forward to 2018: the company was again in need of new leadership. Stevens was finally able to step in. After working pro-bono for 8 months, along with his wife, Annalisa Winberg (also an international opera singer), he became the full time General Director of the newly renamed company, Opera Modesto.

In 2023, Opera Modesto celebrates with a 40th Anniversary Gala Concert at the Gallo Center (April 30)!

Under the leadership of Roy & Annalisa, Opera Modesto has become well-respected locally, regionally, and beyond. Its nationally unique Story Into Song Literacy Initiative was recognized by Opera America with an Opera Innovations Grant, and has received significant support from the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. The 2023 Literacy Initiative was focused on the writing of Edgar Allan Poe and featured two one act operas, The Tell Tale Heart by famous rock drummer Stewart Copeland (The Police) and the world premiere of CSU Stanislaus professor Dr. Deborah Kavasch’s Annabel (based on Annabel Lee). The destination weekend included the first ever West Coast Poe-Con. Six performances were given for 2,000 middle school, high school, college and homeschool readers of Edgar Allan Poe from three counties.

Opera Modesto’s literacy opera movie, The Race, based on stories from Aesop’s fables and also composed by Dr. Kavasch, stars 19 Central Valley teens. It has won more than 80 international film festival awards from around the world and is now available with subtitles in English, paired with 15+ other languages (also an ASL version), and accompanied by a graphic novel in the same language combinations.

One of Buck’s highest priorities was to touch the lives of youth in the region through singing, opera, mentorship, and special opportunities. Roy & Annalisa have revived and expanded the youth opportunities through the various programs of TOP Young Artists, including the annual Summer Opera Institute for teens.

The future looks bright for Opera Modesto, as it continues to touch lives and provide joy in the extended community, while also providing a point of pride for Modesto and the valley. Buck’s “impossible dream” lives on.

17 march 2023
Pre-Gala Celebration
April 30, 2023 from 2:30 to 3:30 pm $25 each or 2 for $40. 40th anniversary Gala Concert
April 30, 4:00 pm $20 to $89 Tickets available

Society for Disabilities Earns Non-Profit of Year Award

Imagine that you are unable to participate in activities that others take for granted due to a disability; maybe things you’ve only ever dreamed of or things you used to do that are no longer attainable.

Now imagine that there’s an agency that can enhance your life with activities, experiences and equipment. That agency is us!

Recently named Non-Profit of the Year by the Modesto Chamber of Commerce, the Society for disABILITIES continues to serve one of the most vulnerable populations in our community. We were thrilled to receive this honor and grateful for the spotlight that it shines on our important work.

Since 1947, the Society has successfully enhanced the lives of our clients – sometimes very quietly and “under the radar.” We are working hard to become a well-known resource in the community for people with disabilities by sharing our story every chance we get. Our agency provides Adapted Sports programs like snow skiing, water skiing, bowling and baseball (Miracle League of Stanislaus County).

We hold one-day special events like Day on the Farm, Society on Ice and the Special Needs Ball – inclusive and accessible experiences tailored to the needs of our participants. Our Medical Loan Closet holds 5,000 pieces of equipment like hospital beds, wheelchairs, Hoyer lifts and bedside commodes – which we loan out for little or no cost.

And our Endless Possibility Thrift Store is where we train clients on retail skills while creating a revenue stream to support our programs. We partner with other agencies like UCP and Aktion Club (the high school chapter of Kiwanis) to provide social events, game nights and dances.

What’s next for this 75 year+ organization? Currently, we’re working to add music and art to our portfolio of opportunities. We’re recruiting volunteers – people who want to help us enhance lives while giving back. We’re seeking outlets for our message – speaking engagements and opportunities to share our mission. And, of course, we’re always looking for donors – people who will invest in our mission to serve others. We are looking forward to a bright future - full of experiences and events that bring smiles and laughter to our clients – and to our volunteers. Are you able to help by giving your time, treasure or talent?

Contact us at

18 Modesto ChaMber of CoMMerCe I Relationships
mEmbEr highlight

to t H is M ont H' s M i L estone M e MB ers H i P s

70 + years

Lakewood Me M oria L Park/Funera L Ho M e i nc.

40 + years

Modesto n uts Pro F essiona L Base B a LL

tH e Parks Grou P

t.V.G. c onsu Ltin G

Merri LL Lync H , Pierce, Fenner & sM it H i nc.

30 + years

c rossPoint c o MM unity cH urc H o F Modesto

Va LL ey Heart a ssociates Medica L Grou P

Va LL ey First c redit u nion

Law oFF ices o F Mayo L & Barrin G er

P H i LL i P s Li GH tin G & Ho M e, i nc.

war M erda M c Pa Grou P

u nited c ere B ra L Pa L sy o F s tanis L aus c ounty

c enter F or Hu M an s erV ices

Boo M ers Modesto

20 + years

Better Business Bureau o F s acra M ento

s tanis L aus Partners in e ducation

Brenden tH eatre c or P.

s tanis L aus Hea Lt H Foundation

r izo-Lo P ez Foods, i nc.

oPP ortunity s tanis L aus

s tanis L aus c o MM unity Foundation

10 + years

s a M aritan Vi LL a G e

r ank i n V esti G ation and Protection, i nc.

r oss w. Lee, i nc. w ri GH t i nsurance aG ency

c HG

5 + years

Boys & Gir L s cL u B s o F s tanis L aus

e & J Ga LL o w inery

cH e F s o F n ew y ork

s t. Luke's Fa M i Ly Practice

First t ee - c entra L Va LL ey

5 + years

c o V enant Li V in G o F t ur L ock

Fa M i Ly Pro M ise o F Greater Modesto

209 Ma G azine

Litt L er Mende L son P. c

Pa Pa P o LL oni Mediterranean Bistro Mont P e L ier n ut c o MPany, i nc.

Veteran's Foundation o F

s tanis L aus c ounty

Modesto d irect

1 + years

c a P ita L Pu BL ic r adio, i nc.

Go L den s tate s ta FF in G s erV ices, i nc.

Lancaster Paintin G

H r B r i V er B ank LP d B a c oo L Hand


tait H an c or P oration

d unn e dwards Paints

n aV y r ecruitin G s tation Modesto

w est Modesto c o MM unity

c o LL a B orati V e

r a M ada B y w ynd H a M Modesto/ s ky Hote L s, i nc.

tw FG- i n G rid wa L ker i nsurance


president’s club CirCle Of influenCe

Elit E

E & J Gallo Winery

Kaiser Permanente

K E yston E

Beard Land and Investment Co.

Capax-Giddings, Corby, Hynes, Inc., a HUB

International Company

Doctors Behavioral Health Center-DMC

Doctors Medical Center-DMC

Frito-Lay Co., Inc.

Pacific Southwest Container, Inc.

Physician Referral Service-DMC


Blue Diamond Growers

Crystal Creamery

Doubletree by Hilton Modesto

Fiscalini Cheese Company

IHeart Media

Modesto Irrigation District

Modesto Nuts Professional Baseball

Sutter Health Valley Area

Sysco Central California Inc.

E nthusiast

Alpine Protective Solutions

American Chevrolet

American Medical Response

Astound Business Solutions Powered by Wave

Atherton & Associates, LLP

Audi Modesto Bank of Stockton

California State University, Stanislaus

Care One Home Health and Hospice, Inc.

CareOne Home Health

Central Valley Automotive

Central Valley Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge

Central Valley Nissan

Central Valley Volkswagen Hyundai

Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino

Clark Pest Control

COIT Services Inc.

Collins Electrical Comcast

Del Monte Plant #1

Dhillon Healthcare Group

English Oaks Nursing & Rehabilitation Hospital

Exceed GPR & Locating, LLC

F&M Bank

Flowers Baking Co. of Modesto, LLC

Food Maxx


Gianelli Nielsen

Gilton Solid Waste Mgmt, Inc.

Golden Valley Health Centers

Grover Landscape Services, Inc.

Infiniti of Modesto

International Paper Co.

JS West & Companies

Legacy Home Care

Maxx Value Foods

Mocse Credit Union

Modesto Toyota


O'Brien's Market

Oak Valley Community Bank

Opportunity Stanislaus

Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

Pepsi Bottling Group

PMZ Real Estate

Residence Inn by Marriott Modesto North

Rizo-Lopez Foods, Inc.

Rose Bouquet

San Joaquin Valley College

Save Mart Supermarkets

Seva Hospice

Solecon Industrial Contractors

Stanislaus Food Products Co.

Stifel Investment Services

Storer Coachways

Sutter Gould Medical Foundation

Swingle, Van Egmond & Heitlinger

The Century

The Farmacy

The Parks Group

TSM Insurance & Financial Services

Turlock Irrigation District

Union Bank

US Bank

Valley BMW

Valley Children's Healthcare

Valley First Credit Union

Valley Lexus

Varni Brothers Corporation

Vintage Faire Mall/Macerich Company


Warden's Office Products Center

Winton-Ireland, Strom & Green Insurance Agency

Yosemite Foods Inc.

ContaCt the Chamber to learn more about our president's Club level benefits

20 Modesto ChaMber of CoMMerCe I
r elationships
21 march 2023 RELATIONSHIPS

fiery options at Wildfire Public house

During the springtime in the Central Valley the days and nights could be sunny and warm, or rainy and cool. Wildfire Public House has indoor and outdoor seating for guests where the food and drinks are always fired up and the atmosphere is always inviting no matter the weather.

Wildfire Public House has been open since June of 2019 and is open seven days a week. They have a very lively brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 for $18 lunch specials during the week. On Monday nights they offer guests live music.

They have also expanded operations to catering events like weddings, anniversaries, and fundraisers. They can cater small events to larger events with over 1,000 people.

Although the menu items and custom craft cocktails change on occasion, Owner John Ismail and General Manager/Co-Owner Michael Youkana are dedicated to bringing guests custom creations that stand up to their level of quality, service and cleanliness. And they will always have their customer favorites on the menu.

“I would describe it as a very trendy California menu,” said Ismail about what type of food that is served at Wildfire Public House. “American. Trendy meaning items that you can’t find anywhere else. Items that we came up with based on the culinary creativity and the restaurant experience background that we all have collectively.”

Youkana added, “We get feedback from employees and guests especially the reoccurring guests what they are looking for and what they like. We see what is new and in nowadays.”

The appetizer menu has a variety of edible delights like the Lamb Lollipops that are a guest favorite that are New Zealand lamb chops grilled to perfection with chimichurri pesto and a balsamic reduction sauce.

The Asparagus Cigars are Wonton wrapped asparagus stuffed with a basil oregano cream cheese, topped with micro greens and lemon pepper aioli that are tasty. The Eggplant Parmesan Stack did extremely well as a limited time item that has now made the menu. It is a crispy eggplant with provolone cheese, fresh basil, arugula, in a rich homemade marinara sauce and drizzled with a lemon oil.

They have a variety of pizzas like the Wild Mushroom, Bacon Pickle Pizzas, Pepperoni and one created by Michael called the Italiano with pepperoni, salami, jalapenos, red onions, basil and rich tomato sauce.

They offer a variety of salads and sandwiches like the Wildfire Burger and the Bahn Mi which is grilled chicken, radish-carrot-cilantro slaw, pickled jalapeno, and spicy mayo on a toasted bolillo bun.

The dinner menu has something for everyone from Truffled Gnocchi, Braised Short rib to salmon or the flaming ribeye. The custom menu items are created from scratch and all sauces are made in house.

The elaborate bar area has plenty of seating and there are a number of options from their signature cocktails to the new wine list that has several varietals.

They have a Fiery Margarita Flight that comes with 2 margaritas in strawberry, mango, pomegranate, or guava flavors that are on fire. The Chili Mangorita is a new signature cocktail that was added to the menu that has chili infused tequila that is not only spicy but very tasty and on fire.

22 Modesto ChaMber of CoMMerCe I Relationships
▶ ContInued on Page 23

▶ continued from page 22

They have a loyalty program for their regulars to offer guests reward points on each dollar spent.

“I love what I do,” remarked Youkana. “Being able to come in and work at an establishment where everyone has trust in each other. We enjoy being here and taking care of our guests. It doesn’t feel like a job. We are making people feel happy and welcomed.

It is a good feeling that we are here for our community and able to take care of them.”

Since the beginning they have focused on bringing their customers consistent food quality, fantastic service and a unique environment.

“My favorite part is that every day is different,” stated Ismail. “I love people. I am very hospitable. I enjoy making people feel good and feel happy. I am very fortunate because not only do I have Michael as my general manager partner but we have wonderful employees. I could not do this by myself.”


The Modesto Chamber of Commerce Foundation Board

Modesto ChaMber of CoMMerCe I 24 Relationships
Board Member - Fallon Ferris Modesto City Schools Board Member - Michael Gaffney Pacific Gas & Electric Advisor - George Boodrookas Philanthropia Consulting Board Member - Kristi Ah You Franklin & Downs Funeral Home President - Kristin Mostowski Community Hospice CEO -Trish Christensen Modesto Chamber of Commerce Treasurer - Eric Mangal Grimbley Coleman CPA’s, Inc. Vice President - Theresa Kiehn AgSafe Secretary - Dejeune M. Shelton Modesto Junior College Board Member - Kirstie Boyett Zacharias American Leadership Forum Board Member - Nate Benninger On-Site Health & Safety
25 march 2023 RELATIONSHIPS
26 Modesto ChaMber of CoMMerCe I Relationships

Members Choice Awards & Anniversaries

Members Choice Awards & Anniversaries

Congratulations Congratulations
Individual Registration - $35 Sponsorship opportunities available Online and QR Code registration available GUEST SPEAKER Shannon Douglass The First Vice President of the California Farm Bureau Federation

Downtown Street Teams

Have you ever seen people in bright yellow T-shirts cleaning up our streets, parks and neighborhoods?

Those people are a special Team of volunteers whose efforts keep our community beautiful and safe. Last year, Team Members removed over four hundred thousand pounds of trash, and over one thousand discarded syringes from our streets!

Every one of those Team Members is a person experiencing homelessness who is a volunteer with Downtown Streets Team (DST). Street cleanup is just one aspect of the program. Going out on cleanup shifts helps develop soft employment skills like collaboration and punctuality. Plus, the high visibility of unhoused folks engaged in street beautification helps alter negative perceptions about homelessness.

Behind the scenes, Team Members work closely with DST case managers to set goals, and to identify and remove the barriers that hold them back from their self-identified goals.

Barriers differ from person to person and are often things most people take for granted, like accessing medical care, getting a driver’s license, or retrieving legal documents. DST tracks and records barrier removal as vital steps towards success. Last year case managers helped remove over 500 barriers to self-sufficiency and helped house 31 Team Members.

DST launched in Modesto in 2019 and continues to serve our most vulnerable community members. In partnership with City of Modesto and Stanislaus County, DST is able to serve 50 Team Members at a time, but the demand for services is high. Right now, there is a waitlist of over 40 people eager to exit survival mode and enter goal-setting mode.

DST can really use your help. For as little as $100, you can support a Team Member’s participation in the program for a week. You can shorten our waitlist with a gift of $1,000. If you’re a small business or corporation, a gift of $1,800 can sponsor an entire Team. Please visit our website to learn more www.

Remember to give a friendly honk the next time you see those yellow-shirted Team Members out there cleaning our streets!

29 march 2023
Meggan Clifford

St. Luke’s Family Practice Helping Communities

St. Luke’s Family Practice is a non-profit, full scope family practice (all ages) serving both the completely uninsured and those able to pay in the Direct Primary Care (DPC) model. We don’t take insurance, so we are able to spend our time with patients and paperwork.

Our benefactors (paying patients) have access to us 24/7 and are able to reach us by phone, text or email. We offer same day access to accommodate patient’s schedules, 30-60 minute appointments so we have adequate time to address patient concerns, after hours and weekend care in the office to avoid ER visits when possible, care while hospitalized if needed, home visits and nursing home visits.

Dr.’s Heck and Kiesel are all broadly trained family practitioners, each with their special interests and talents, but all providing excellent, holistic care to our patients. For our “recipients” with no insurance or ability to pay, we offer the same full scope care, free of charge in the outpatient setting. Benefactor members help to support the mission of caring for those with no access to health care.

Our services include but are not limited to physicals, chronic disease management, office procedures (skin biopsies, wound care, women’s health biopsies, sutures, casting and EKG’s), pediatric care, well child physicals, sports physicals, women’s health physicals. We enjoy spending time educating about health and wellness and developing lasting relationships with our patients. During the pandemic we were able to stay open to patients in person and quickly had access to testing and vaccines when they became available. We were able to attend to our COVID patients in the office as well as the hospital, which was a comfort for our patients to have their own doctor caring for them.

The ease of access and ability of our group to spend quality time with patients are some of the most attractive aspects of St. Luke’s. As physicians, we relish the ability to get to know our patients on a more intimate level and play an active role in their continued health.

“To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease”.

30 Modesto ChaMber of CoMMerCe I service
31 service march 2023 Pamela Swift 209.758.8020 Branch ManagerDale Road Laura Weaver 209.343.7633 Branch ManagerMcHenry Cesar Camarillo 209.343.7611 Branch Manager12th & I Victoria Gaffney 209.343.7601 Commercial Banking Officer Lynette Fletcher 209.844.7552 Commercial Banking Officer 3508 McHenry Avenue • 4120 Dale Road • 1200 I Street is now Your local news source. 209MULTIMEDIA.COM Now locally-owned.

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