On May 11, the long-awaited dedication of the Rotary Club of Los Banos memorial to Colleen Menefee will take place in front of the Los Banos branch of the Merced County Library, 1312 S. 7th St..
This Wednesday evening, beginning at 6 p.m., the club will dedicate the new memorial to the community – which consists of two benches bolted to a new concrete slab, newly planted trees and a granite marker recognizing Colleen.
Friends of the Los Banos Library will provide refreshments at the grand opening. All members of the community are invited.
It is natural for Friends and Rotarians to work together, as Colleen has been a long-time member of both organizations.
The project has been a long time coming, in the works since Colleen passed away over a year ago. The Rotary Club has received support for this $5,000 project from many sources and deeds, including:
Merced County’s endorsement (specifically Supervisor Scott Silveira, who represents the Westside).
The county operates the Los Banos Public Library, to which Colleen was so devoted.
Approval from the City of Los Banos, which maintains the grounds around the Los Banos Library.
The assistance of the city’s parks and recreation department operations manager, Joe Heim, and his crews, who helped prepare the ground for the concrete.
The volunteer work of Rotarians Manuel Jimenez and Dick Gerbi, who poured and finished the concrete.
The donation by Whitehurst Funeral Chapels of a granite marker honoring Colleen’s service.
The work of Ronny’s Landscaping, who, in conjunction with the City of Los Banos and the Friends of Los Banos Library, redesigned the spaces to the left, right and behind the memorial, adding trees, plants, large rocks and new surfaces.
Donations totaling $2,500 – from 17 individuals and families (including many Rotarians) from Los Banos to Santa Monica, CA, ranging from $15 to $500.
And a major donation of $2,500 from the Westside Community Foundation, of which Colleen was also a member.
During the ribbon cutting on May 11, many people will be proud of this project, which pays a deserved tribute to Colleen, a Rotarian who took pleasure in serving her community and was proud of her library, her trees, her schools. , its arts and its people.
In the weeks and months after the ribbon cutting, I hope young and old will sit on those pews under the newly planted trees and read the books they just pulled out of the library. That would have made Colleen smile.
On another note: May is the time of new life, when flowers of all colors bloom and new green leaves burst from the trees. It is appropriate in May to think not just of new life, but of new chapters in life.
What will be the next chapter of my life? This spring, for some reason, I asked myself this question. I have a hunch that a “next chapter” is coming, but I don’t know exactly what that chapter will look like.
This is how chapters work. When we turn a page, we are not quite sure what we will see. Looking back on my life, I realize that most chapters of my life have been surprises. I didn’t plan them; they just happened. That’s probably true for most people reading this column.
In my 39 years of writing columns, for example, every chapter of that part of my life has happened. To begin with, I never planned to be a columnist.
In 1983, Bill Brehm, then editor of the Enterprise, asked me to write a weekly column. At first I hesitated, but after he encouraged me, I accepted. It turned out to be a handshake deal that lasted four decades.
The Enterprise has gone through many changes since 1983, with several different editors and several different publishers. In any case, I didn’t know if they would want me to continue. In each case, it turned out that they did.
People like Tom Wright, Rhonda Lowe, Kim Yancey, Ron Parsons and now Victor Patton all wanted to keep me and treated me with kindness. For that, I am grateful.
It’s been a frantic rush to write for a newspaper over the past 39 years as the world has changed. Many people get their news from social media these days. Newspaper readership and advertising are not what they used to be.
Nevertheless, I still believe in the importance of a local newspaper. It’s like a public square, a place where a community can find almost everything happening in town in one place.
Focusing on local news also brings together a community, which is now more important than ever. Our country and our state are politically more polarized than ever.
Local newspapers, on the other hand, are mostly apolitical; they simply inform people of what is happening near them, in the municipal administration, schools and community organizations, as well as on the fields and in the gymnasiums.
Another part of my life will also have a next chapter, my work in education, which I have been doing since 1968, when I taught my first class in college.
I have continued to believe over the past half century in the importance of education – especially in community colleges, which today represent the best example of the American dream, open to all with the possibility of becoming everything what a person wants to be. What exactly will be the next chapter of my life in education, I’m not sure.
My family life has also had, and continues to have, many chapters. Over the years, these chapters included people close to me dying and others being born and marriages both expected and unexpected.
There have been chapters in my family life that have seen young people graduating and moving on and other people of all ages redefining who they are. I suspect that my family’s story will inevitably have another chapter before long, to be determined.
I hope, dear reader, I have encouraged you to think about the next chapter in your life. I trust you and will embrace these chapters ahead and move forward – learning from past experiences – with courage and joy.
John Spevak wrote this for the Los Banos company. His email address is [email protected]