STOCKTON – Four San Joaquin County transit projects will receive funding from about $350 million in state grants.
STOCKTON – Stockton is struggling under a huge financial burden, an unacceptable crime rate, and the lingering effects of the “economic tsunami” that was the recession.
Habitat for Humanity has helped dozens of families in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties achieve their dreams of home ownership.
Ceremonies may be less traditional, budgets may be tighter, and the recession may be taking its own sweet time in abating, but one thing is for sure: people still want to get married.
I have to share a story about a stranger coming to the aid of a desperate young man stranded at an airport in Phoenix. Since 9/11, stories of rude behavior have been flying around about airline employees and the way customers can be treated. I have been on the receiving line of some of the bad treatment. Not fun. When the opposite happens we must give thanks to those involved and that is exactly what prompted this piece.
A young, newly discharged Marine was traveling to Southern California from Michigan to attend a court hearing. Several months prior the Marine was issued a DUI citation in San Diego and then he had moved home to Michigan with his bride. The Marine suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and is an outpatient with the local veterans’ hospital in Michigan where he is trying to put the trauma of several tours in Afghanistan behind him.
Nonetheless, he knew he must pay his debt to society; he was prepared to face the judge and move on in life. The thought of hundreds of strangers accompanying him on a plane for five hours horrified him; he had been living in his father-in-law’s basement in seclusion since his honorable discharge. He mustered up the courage to face his fears and boarded his plane in Detroit, which was scheduled to stop in Phoenix then onto LAX.
Well, the Santa Anna winds had a different agenda that day and the plane was rerouted to Las Vegas for refueling, then back to Phoenix. The Marine had $25 dollars in his pocket and a prepaid hotel waiting for him near the Long Beach courthouse, but he was stranded in Phoenix with no credit cards and no license, as a DUI pretty much strips you of that.
The panicked young man called me as I’m the only person he knows in California. I could hardly recognize his voice as fear had taken over. I asked him to get off the plane in Phoenix and go to the person at the gate to ask for a room voucher so he could calm down, regroup and reschedule his flight. He did. The attendant told him that rooms were not for rerouting a flight and there was nothing that could be done. Then he really lost it as he had been on the plane for nine hours by that time.
I asked him to ask for the attendant’s supervisor and hand the phone to him. I knew we had little time to calm this situation down. This is when an angel landed at our feet – Leroy Laughlin, the customer service manager at Southwest Airlines. Leroy took the phone and before he could speak I warned him of the situation and the possibility of a complete breakdown of this young man in the middle of his airport.
Thank God Leroy understood – he has a nephew dealing with the same problems as our young Marine – and he leaped into action. He had the young man lay down on the airport seats, gave him water, and talked him through the most horrifying moments. Leroy assured the young man that he would be OK. He booked the Marine a room, re-booked his flight, personally drove him to the complementary hotel room, stopped off on the way and bought him dinner, and then handed the Marine $20 from his own pocket, all the while keeping in constant contact with me by phone. I was getting a blow-by-blow recap of the entire exchange. The Marine calmed down as he knew that someone, albeit a complete stranger, had him safely in his wings.
An angel, I’m convinced.
The next day the Marine woke at the hotel, had a complimentary breakfast, a free ride to the airport, and a new flight to LAX.
Our Marine made it to the postponed court hearing, received his sentence, and was ready to start his journey back home to Michigan. Leroy instructed the young man to phone him after court and he would schedule another flight for him back home via Phoenix.
Again, Leroy took control and scheduled the Marine back to Phoenix from the Orange County Airport. Leroy again met the Marine at the gate, drove him to the same hotel – and the same room so he would feel safe – gave him more money, and took him for another dinner, all complementary. And he kept me completely informed. Leroy’s actions were simply the acts of a person reaching out to another human being.
Our Marine is safely back home with his wife and looking forward to starting his life, which includes plans for college. Leroy, you gave him hope. Blatant acts of kindness, a complete stranger going above and beyond the call of duty, you’re my hero. A man with the heart of a lion. When the whole world starts to react to each other as you have displayed, then we will know peace. How could war or hate ever survive in this environment? You’re an example of a loving human being, stepping outside the corporate rules and diving head first into humanity. I will never forget your generosity and the caring you so willing gave Nick, our young U.S. Marine. Thank God for you Leroy, you’re the best. Whenever possible, I’m flying with Southwest Airlines and I hope to meet Leroy Laughlin in person.
We should all treat our servicemen and women with the respect they so greatly deserve. They believe in America and so do I.
Happy Birthday to my husband, Rich Calone! When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday this year, he smiled and said, “Cake and ice cream, good health, happiness, and the opportunity to work another 20 years, because I was blessed to have a job I love.”
I hope your birthday wishes comes true, you deserve it!
God Bless America,
Local county fairs are still going strong in the Central Valley despite evolving demographics, lost funding, and shifting run dates. In the Central Valley, the San Joaquin County Fair and the Stanislaus County Fair have changed with the times to maintain their popularity throughout the recession.
MODESTO – Two Modesto organization fighting hunger in Stanislaus County will share $50,000 in grants to help in their efforts.
STOCKTON – A 34-year-old Stockton man was arrested today on a $50,000 bail misdemeanor warrant alleging he failed to comply with a written public health order concerning his treatment for tuberculosis.
STOCKTON – The regional transit district will provide free shuttle service for seniors wishing to attend the 2012 Senior Awareness Day event at Micke Grove Park in Lodi.