By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Civic groups saluted in Chamber mixer of holiday cheer
A collection of community organizations was spotlighted in a Ceres Chamber of Commerce mixer of good company, ample food and holiday cheer on Friday.

Held at the Ceres Community Center from 6 to 8 p.m., the holiday mixer highlighted the contributions made to Ceres by a number of groups, including the Ceres Soroptimists, Kiwanis, Garden and Rotary clubs as well as Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children. Other groups which had tables at the mixer included Project YES, the Ceres Chamber, Arc Catering, Sober Grad Night and Boots & Saddles.

"We just want to honor them for all the service they do throughout the year," said Chamber of Commerce chairman Dustin Pack. "It also gives them a chance to highlight their programs."

Violeta Verduzco seized on the mixer to tell about her Turtles and Doves organization she started to help teen mothers in Ceres. A former struggling teen mom herself, Verduzco decided to form a conduit to channel resources that make it easier for moms to both finish their schooling and raise their babies. The group helps supply young single moms with things their babies need, such as formula, diapers and clothing. Verduzco handed out business cards detailing that the group accepts maternity items and baby items on Fridays from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Project Yes's headquarters at 2491 Lawrence Street, room 6. The group may be reached by email at or texted at 209.566.3305.

Members of the Kiwanis Club of Ceres were present in an attempt to spread the word on their club. The club has only eight members and meets on the first Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. and on the second, third and fourth Tuesdays from noon to 1 p.m. at Wise Guys PC Training, 3645 Mitchell Road, Suite C, Ceres. The club has a number of fundraising and service projects that include Christmas for Kids, PAL Boxing, Fill the Truck (with school supplies) and sending Walter White students to science camp. President Don Harris may be reached at 505-9321 for more information on joining.

Members of the Ceres Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter attended the mixer to get more veterans to join despite facing earlier in the day the heavy and somber duty of helping to bury their commander, Stan Andreika. He died suddenly on Wednesday, Dec. 5 from implications of leukemia and a bacterial infection. VFW members James Coverick and Gary Lee Hall were part of the VFW Honor Guard at Lakewood Memorial Park on Friday who provided a 21-gun salute to the former Navy veteran. The new commander of the Ceres group will be Dave Sawyer.

The VFW provided honor guards for 78 veteran funerals at Lakewood alone last year, said Hall.

Ceres pastor Mark Whitehead attended and made his rounds. He walked away with materials from the the Ceres Garden Club and explained he wants to find out more about the care of roses. The club gained attention earlier this year when it unveiled its "Let Freedom Ring" tree planting project whereby trees in Smyrna Park honor all of America's presidents. It was the final project of Shirley Davis who died from cancer earlier this year.

Pack explained that he has enjoyed the Chamber building itself up over 2012, including the strengthening of its relationship with the city leadership. Pack has been asked to stay on another year as chairman by the Chamber board. Should he choose not to, however, vice chairman Renee Ledbetter "is willing," said Pack.

"Our biggest effort is trying to get everyone moving in the right direction for economic development," said Pack. "We're also trying to change the public perception of the Chamber. We're here to help to support business. We want to keep that momentum going."