Second Thoughts: Tracy's citizens step up again
by Jon Mendelson / Tracy Press
Sep 16, 2011 | 5326 views | 22 22 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One week ago, Jose Diaz and Sarah Lucero had to face one of the most difficult things a couple can endure — saying goodbye to their son.

But without the help of several stand-up Tracy citizens, they might not have even had the chance for closure.

Paul Anthony Diaz-Lucero was stillborn on Aug. 25, a devastating blow to the young couple. To make matters worse, the 23-year-old Diaz and 22-year-old Lucero didn’t have the money to give their first child together a funeral.

As if the grief of losing a son wasn’t difficult enough.

Luckily, on the afternoon of Aug. 27, Diaz and Lucero happened into Helm’s Ale House, where owner Dave Helm was holding court. He listened to their story, made sure they were fed, and started making phone calls.

That’s where this tragic story takes a turn for the better, and where the good folks of Tracy stepped up.

Singh Dale, the owner of Big O Tires downtown, agreed to open his business Sunday so Diaz and Lucero could host a fundraiser car wash. It was only the beginning.

The Rotary club collected and donated several hundred dollars from its members. Not to be outdone, city employee Rod Buchanan spurred the Sunrise Rotary to give to the cause. Don Cose and Delta Disposal chipped in a couple hundred dollars each, Martin Enos gave $50, and DeVinci’s Delicatessen, the South Side Community Association, and police Capt. John Espinoza got involved. (If I left anyone out, please let me know.)

Lynn and Gerard Gonsalves of Gerard’s Deli, where Lucero and her sister worked in the past and her aunt has worked for 17 years, also gave $200. Lynn described Sarah as a good kid who became a part of the family.

“She’s half my kid,” Lynn said. “It hit home kinda hard.”

Smaller gifts rolled in, too. Collection jars were set up at various downtown businesses, where a dollar here and a quarter there from anonymous donors eventually added up.

The result: Two weeks after Diaz and Lucero first walked into the pub on 10th Street and Central Avenue, their families gathered at Fry Memorial Chapel to mourn the loss of Paul Anthony.

Closure, at last.

“Now that he’s getting a birthday, or, unfortunately, a burial, at least we’re able to take him home with us,” Diaz said.

Both he and Lucero were overwhelmed by the response from their neighbors, many of whom they don’t even know.

“The community of Tracy was amazing. In small words, they were amazing,” Diaz said. “I don’t know who they are … but if they read the paper, they’re getting my thanks. Not my thanks, but my family and, most importantly, my son.”

But according to Herve Chevaillier, a Rotarian and owner of La Bonne Vie Cellars who helped make the chapel service a reality, it’s just the way Tracy is.

When his family’s house on Lehman Road burned down in 1997, people rallied. And it left an impression.

“I was amazed at the generosity of people,” he recalled. “Within two weeks, we had more clothes than we had prior to the fire, and we actually had to donate furniture. … You have to pay back a little bit.”

It was easy, he said, to put himself in Diaz’s shoes and pay it forward.

“I thought it was worth doing something,” Chevaillier said. “I remember when I was first married, and if anything like this happened to me, it would have been nice to have people help.”

There, but for the grace of God, go us all. There’s only a gossamer line between any of us and such a tragedy — you never know when you’re going to be the one in need of help.

Maybe that’s why people were so quick to lend a hand.

Or, as Helm suggests, maybe they just wanted to do the right thing.

“It was a wonderful example of what this community is capable of doing, and what we should be doing,” he said in front of the City Council at its most recent meeting.

Whatever the motivation, I hope it’s something we continue to do, and do more of. The ability is certainly there.

Tracy’s residents have shown time and time again that they are capable of great generosity — it’s one of the things that makes this city a community. Everyone who chips in is a part of it, and deserves to take a bow.

Because the type of gift given to Lucero and Diaz can’t be measured in money alone.

In the grand scheme of funerals, the Sept. 9 service probably didn’t cost much. But it allowed 50 people, two parents, one family, a chance to grieve.

That is priceless.

And no one appreciates it more than Diaz and Lucero.

“There’s no way I can repay what the community has done,” Diaz said. “It is just such a blessing and an honor to be in Tracy right now.”

• Second Thoughts is an opinion column by Jon Mendelson. To share your thoughts, e-mail
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October 02, 2011
As someone who has personally seen Espinoza in action let me tell you his motives are far from charitable. He is a control freak who likes to push his weight about and get his ego massaged when he goes from office to office where women social workers work, and throws his weight about, plays politics, interferes in our work practices, reads us the riot act as if we were his staff......he is far from a community leader, he is everything that is corrupt in the city of Tracy.
October 02, 2011
public citizen

I am a social worker and make less than 15 dollars an hour, while captain espinoza who gets paid big bucks to be police captain uses many hours of his paid day to do free charity work.......

How about I do policing and get paid his salary while he does my job so that there is no lack of integrity on his part.

To volunteer once in a while as a city official to help out is commendable, but to say a police captain is justified spending four or five hours a day going from nonprofit to nonprofit as a social worker while being employed as a police captain is corruption.

If teaching a class is real police work then what are those real cops on the streets doing who don't get the luxury of going from school to school teaching?
October 02, 2011
When I read the last comment about community policing and DARE I think, that sounds all warm and fuzzy. At first.

However after some thought and since this is a pressoid about volunteering well I guess it would be nice to know if he gets paid?

Jon Mendelson appreciate it if you would write more about that in your second thoughts section.

Looking forward to reading more. And thank you in advance!

September 21, 2011
Community policing and the DARE program are real police work and is just as important as catching bad guys.

You guys really need to get over this.

Cynthia, are you really that clueless.
September 20, 2011
I have mixed feelings about the Tracy Press deleting all of tommybahama's comments. On one hand it robs Tracyites of freedom of speach.

On the other hand, it may be explained as Tracy Citizens (and newspaper) stepping up to do a good deed because (in the end) tommybahama could not conclusively prove to be anything more than a deleted comment under an article about doing good for society.

Now would somebody complain and get the DARE cop(s) transferred to the downtown beat?

That might be nice too.
September 20, 2011
It is certainly a feel good story but the author goes too far using penning the phrase "the owner was holding court". That's not bad so far. But wait till you read the comment section. Because then tommybahama goes full apeman and turns another good article into his "kangaroo court" against Janet.

The sad thing about tommybahama is you cannot do legitimate research without finding any shred of any proof of what tommybahama says in any real court of law or in any articles. Nothing concrete that could prove what he says is true. It's really pathetic to find an anonymous tommybahama using himself as an authority on all things Janet.

Given the hatred I could only conclude that tommybahama is a sad little man trying to breathe life into myths about someone he knows little or nothing about but dislikes for some pathetic reason or another.

For the history books tommybahama is like the fisherman who catches a minnow and tells his friends it was a 90 pound trout. And they all lived happily ever after.

The end.

September 19, 2011

Have you been keeping track of his activities chocoholic? From your comments it appears you've been following him around. How else would you know he is "spending hours of teaching in schools, going from one nonprofit to another, and being paid to be police captain?"...blah blah...


Tony, aren't there other article threads you can use to espouse your political agenda. Using this one is somewhat juvenile.

This isn't about the ex police chief, it's about goodwill. Why don't you people show some by not ruining this gesture with armchair quarterbacking an unrelated issue?
September 18, 2011
Well well well we finally get to see where tommybuddybuddybahama stands on this issue. Apparently it is easy to steal from the city if your part of the tommybuddybuddybahama crew? Schmoley help yourself to the honeypot Batman!?!?! Isnt it obvious why tommybuddybuddybahama and crew wanted Jan out so badly?

September 18, 2011
Actually if the Chief approves then timesheets for actual work performed (paid for by the eighty thousand taxpayers of Tracy) should be signed off by the Tracy Police Department. The citizens should be told exactly what they are paying for.

We do not need a song and a dance from tommybahama and raderfan while the Tracy Press looks the other way and pretends these messages are not on their website?

Crime is getting worse by the day while officers play hookey from doing actual work? Well I wonder if Mendelson will keep silent on the matters that we should be taking up in the paper.

Sure people are helping. Helping themselves.
September 18, 2011
You're mistaking Captain Espinoza's involvement with the Mayor's Community Youth Support Network for a failure to do his job.

This has been around for at least three years and Captain Espinoza is the PD when he is involved. Besides, the City Manager has a person in his office who also works with the non-profits in Tracy. Why is she not mentioned as someone with political ambitions or someone who is laying a foundation to become the next mayor?

September 18, 2011
Steve Abercrombie does spend time during the day helping non-profits. He also teaches DARE to the 5th grade students in Tracy. He is a citizen not a city employee.

From what I have seen Captain Espinoza is involved with the community, like Chief Hampton, and other Police Officers. I think that's called community policing.
September 17, 2011
You're right. Steve Abercrombie too. He always helps out the unfortunate in Tracy.
September 16, 2011
I forgot to include Mr. Morales and Capt. Espinoza in my list of names in my last comment.

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