Steve Beaver, a board member with the Ceres Community Foundation since 2003, has stepped down effective June 30.
The Ceres Community Foundation is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization which allows the public to make tax-deductible contributions to projects which enhance cultural, educational, artistic, and historic elements of the Ceres community as well as parks and recreational facilities or opportunities. Currently the funds add up to about $150,000.
The group is not the same as the Ceres Unified School District Foundation.
A few years ago the Foundation board rewrote the bylaws and inserted term limits for president in an effort to generate “new blood.” A two-year term was established, giving the ability of the past president to serve for a year to assist in the transition. Dovie Condit Wilson is the board’s current president. For the past year Beaver has served as past president.
“I think we’re in pretty good hands and have some strong members,” said Beaver.
Wilson said there is a need for qualified directors. There are about three vacancies on the board.
Born in Wood River, Illinois, Steve moved to Manteca with his family when he was 10. Beaver has been active in Ceres since coming here from Fresno in 1983. Ceres was his choice for home after his employer, Save Mart Supermarkets, transferred him to Modesto. He retired from Save Mart as its vice president of operations and was in charge of 115 stores under the Save Mart banner.
He was married 30 years to teacher Patricia “Kay” Beaver who battled cancer to the end. Today one of Ceres Unified School District’s newest elementary school is named in her honor. In fact, his daughter, Libby Holmes, is its first principal. Oldest daughter Amy Beaver Peterman, was principal of Central Valley High School and is now assistant superintendent of Educational Services.
“I couldn’t be prouder of them,” said Steve.
In 2004 Steve remarried, to Janet, and together the couple has five children. They enjoy traveling to such places as Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. One of the most memorable trips was taken a few years ago to Scotland and Ireland with two other couples. He is an avid golfer who also continues to enjoy membership in the Ceres Lions Club which he has been a part of for about 30 years and once served as its president.
Beaver feels the work of the foundation continues to make a difference in the community and likes to get out the word to keep it viable. The group occasionally hosts mixers to spread the word and Beaver also recently spoke to the Soroptimist International of Ceres to spread the word about the good works of the group.
The foundation Board meets every other month to oversee collection of funds and disbursements.
The group has contributed funds for such community projects as:
• Maintaining the Presidential Tree Grove in Smyrna Park;
• Ceres River Bluff Regional Park;
• Rotary Grove in Smyrna Park;
• Establishing the Howard Stevenson Memorial at River Bluff Regional Park and $13,000 for maintenance;
• Recreation program scholarships;
• National Night Out.
• Funding for the City of Ceres Centennial Celebration in 2018;
• Collecting funds for the restoration of the Ceres Water Tower. Led by Brandy Meyer, a group of citizens is setting out to raise funds for the tower project since the city does not have the funds for the restoration.
The Foundation began in 1994 when the late Homer Jorgenson organized an effort to raise money in the community in an attempt to purchase the historic Clinton Whitmore Home for the Ceres Historical Society. The group’s efforts failed but the foundation continued to support other notable causes. The city of Ceres was later able to purchase the 1903 mansion for $325,000.
“Homer was actually the one who initially came up with the idea and created this Foundation,” said Beaver. “That was the first big project that this Foundation supported. The concept was if somebody from the public wanted to help with that project and donate money into the Foundation, then we would appropriate that money back to the Ceres Historical Society so they could spend it.”
Beaver joined the Foundation board in 2003 and remembers things being low-key with the expectation that the public would know about it and continue donating.
“A couple of years ago after the economy recovered, we decided we need to be a little more proactive and let people know who we are. There were a number of years there where nobody was really donating any money for any reasons when we went through those tough times.”
The Foundation commissioned the creation of a logo through Ceres High School art teacher Kristin Swanky. Now the Foundation is finalizing plans for a brochure and a website. After the mixer, Beaver said the group will likely make the rounds to speak to service clubs in Ceres to get out the word.
Vice President Don Cool said Beaver will be missed.
“I really admire that guy, he’s a sharp dude,” said Cool of Beaver. “He’s the real deal. I really enjoyed serving with him. He runs a good meeting.”
Cool said the board meets every other month to discuss finances and mull over requests for funding. He gave the example of how the city requested approximately $4,000 for playground equipment at Whitmore Park. The request was approved.
“Anybody can make a donation to us and when they make a donation they’ll put it in a category, like this is a donation for the Howard Stevenson Memorial, or a donation for one of the tree groves or rec fields.”
The Foundation even pays for the chalking of the soccer fields, which Cool said is expensive.
Besides Wilson and Cool, the current board directors are Secretary Dale Singh, Treasurer Suzanne Dean and director Lou Toste.
Persons wanting to make donations to the Ceres Community Foundation may send them in care of the Ceres Community Center, 2701 Fourth Street, Ceres CA 95307.