Why did you establish your fund?
Back in 2003 the City of Modesto was building a new park behind Orville Wright School in the Airport Neighborhood. My cousin Stephanie Orona had the idea and with some help from Brad Hawn, we were able to petition the city to have the park named in my Dad’s honor. He taught (mostly) 6th grade at Orville Wright for 30 years. Once the park was named in his honor, we realized that a fund would be needed to help us accomplish our goal of continued assistance for the park and the neighborhood.
What does your fund aim to accomplish?
We really just want to continue the love and support my dad had for the Airport Neighborhood and it’s community of families. He changed so many lives and meant so much to Orville Wright, and we want to keep that going for as long as we can. Our fund was originally set up to help maintain the park so that the neighborhood kids have a clean, safe, and fun park to play. We helped beautify the park with plants, trees, and bushes, as well as raising money to build a basketball court. We also provide annual scholarships that are available to students who attended OW that are moving on to college. The fund supports the Orville Wright Little League baseball program (Go Flyers!!) generally by sponsoring a team or two and has helped with equipment in the past. We’ve also recently contributed to the Lee Nicholson-George Rogers Poetry Award, which is a poetry contest open to Stanislaus County residents ages 16-25 through the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center (MoST).
What do contributions for this specific campaign go towards?
The continued goal of maintaining the park, help for the Little League baseball program, the annual scholarships, and any other way the fund can help the people of the Airport Neighborhood.
If you’re forced to sing karaoke, what’s your song?
Forced? You mean, when I get to sing Karaoke? Either “Hard to Handle” or “Cripple Creek.”
What would you say to “sell” Stanislaus County?
I am super enthusiastic about Stanislaus County. We have so much. The diversity of cultures, the amazing talent of our local musicians, poets, visual artists, in addition to some incredible restaurants and bars. We have beautiful parks and an abundance of fun events throughout the year. However, what I love most about our county is that, despite our size, we still have that hometown feel. If you talk to someone long enough you’re going to find something or someone that connects you. I love that. I know we have stuff to fix, and we can only do that together.