Michael Thompson is driven to serve others.
At age 13, the member of the U.S. Navy Sea Cadet Corps regularly volunteers for the Ceres Woman's Club, the "Love Ceres" event and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. It came as no surprise when he was one of two young men nominated for the Ceres Chamber of Commerce's "2014 Young Citizen of the Year" award. However, when the award went to Aiden Moore, his face looked a little downcast.
But someone at the next table over was taking notice. Kion Kashefi, the business development manager for Stanislaus Farm Supply, and operations manager Ed Tobler, decided young Thompson needed further recognition. So they called in Michael on Friday to present him with the silent auction prize their company had won. They surprised the Blaker Kinser Junior High School student with a VIP tour of the state Capital and a $100 gift certificate for a dinner at the Grange restaurant in Sacramento.
The two also gave Thompson encouraging words to live by.
"Sometimes it's good to hear ‘no' or ‘you didn't win' for long-term development," said Kashefi. "We wanted to do this as a way to honor him. In life it isn't always about winning but people are noticing your efforts."
Thompson expressed mild disappointment he didn't get the award but was quick to congratulate Aiden Moore, saying "we both deserved it but obviously he deserved it a little bit more."
"The last thing we want young men like him to think is that you go out and do all this work - I'm sure he's doing it for reasons other than recognition - but we wanted him to see that other people are noticing their efforts. We could see he was pretty down about not winning."
During Michael's visit at Stanislaus Farm Supply, he showed awards and certificates and explained how he helps out in the community.
"I do this because of my great-grandma; she does a lot of community service," said Michael of Evelyn Edwards' role in Ceres Woman's Club. "I help the Ceres Woman's Club a lot with the garage sales and banquets and they made me an honorary member because I help so much."
He also works with the VFW and plans to help out at their Crab Feed next month.
"I expect to do more when I get into high school and more into college and then go into the Navy."
Thompson has also participated in the Junior High Science Olympiad and has been honored as the "Student of the Month," with the Principal's Honor Roll and made Academic Excellence for a 4.0 grade point average a number of times. In the Navy Sea Cadets he was presented the Theodore Roosevelt Youth Medal for Outstanding Performance of Duty in February 2014. That was the same month he was recognized as the Navy Sea Cadets' "Cadet of the Year." The Ceres cadet has also spent time as a cadet cleaning the aircraft on display at the former Castle Air Force Base in Atwater for Open Cockpit Day and marched in the Livingston Veterans parade.
In December Thompson was the winner of a 2014 essay contest and a $200 prize from the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter in Ceres.
"Of course, we his parents, we beam about him but to him he really doesn't think he's doing anything spectacular," said Lynn Thompson. "Even with this charity stuff, through the Woman's Club - he does a lot for them - he loves helping those older ladies. I think because they adore him."
In his speech to Michael, Kashefi said "sometimes it's better to lose. It humbles you, let's you know that life doesn't always go the way you'd like and it's going to prepare you for your journey when you're older and it's going to make you stronger and I think more successful down the road."
He delivered a life lesson to "do your best work - you never know who's looking. There's always someone looking."
The Stanislaus Farm Supply located on Service Road was formed in 1949 with its customers being dividend/shareholders of the company. The company, however, is open to the public. Kashefi said the company is big on giving back to the community, such as attending 12 junior livestock sales between California and Nevada.
"We do a lot of non ag community supporting events in terms of supporting local schools and other things," said Kashefi. "We feel it's an obligation to help set the youth on the right path."
About 130 people work for the company. Stanislaus Farm Supply also has coops in Merced, Susanville and Yerington, Nev.