In Vacaville, former Air Force Chief of Staff discovers the impact of Leaven Kids – The Vacaville Reporter
His day job was to work as a senior uniformed Air Force officer who oversaw a $168 billion annual budget and the organization, training and equipping of 685,000 active forces, guard, reserve, and civilian in the United States and around the world. Oh, and he had to go to the Joint Chiefs of Staff meetings at the Pentagon, where he vouched for the readiness of American air and space power.
His daily work today? Basically, enjoying a well-deserved retirement after a 37-year military career that spanned dozens of duty stations nationwide and around the world.
But General David L. Goldfein, who is a senior adviser for Blackstone, a global investment firm, also aims to do something to benefit the community he moved to after taking off his blue uniform, with four stars. on each shoulder pad. , last seen: San Antonio, Texas.
It’s what brought him and his wife Dawn to Vacaville and Fairfield on Sunday and Monday – to learn more about the important ongoing support of these two towns and the impact of Leaven Kids, the tutoring centers and after-school mentoring centers founded in Fairfield in 2009 and now operate well over two dozen such centers in some of California’s most at-risk neighborhoods.
At a Monday afternoon rally at the Vacaville Police Department Emergency Operations Center, Goldfein sat among Leaven Kids staff, board members and the local community and civic leaders to hear about their involvement with the nonprofit organization, a resource that serves families and encourages children living in challenging areas affected by poverty, crime and high dropout rates.
At the start of the hour-long meeting, Mark Lillas, general manager of Leaven Kids, described the 62-year-old retired Air Force general as a “hands-on” learner eager to learn more about how the organization works – providing love and patience to children who are struggling to learn in school – it works.
Sitting next to Goldfein was retired Air Force General Maryanne Miller, former commander of Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, who said Leaven Kids “grows people’s hearts.
And for a heart to grow, it must, at some point, break, she said, adding, “We are here to fix it. We can fill the world with God’s love. That’s what turns the world upside down — people who care.
Vacaville Police Chief Ian Schmutzler noted the city has three Leaven Kids Centers, and Fire Chief Kris Concepcion, the son of Filipino immigrants, said his support for the organization was “personal.” and that his path in life could have been very different without the people. who cared about him.
“Sourdough makes a huge difference in people’s lives, children’s lives,” he said.
Retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. John Evalle, a former assistant to Rep. John Garamendi who now works for Travis Federal Credit Union, spoke briefly about the importance of corporate partnerships with Leaven Kids, such as teaching children “good financial habits.”
Jeremy White, the pastor of Valley Church in Vacaville, said his involvement with Leaven Kids was both “personal and pastoral”, and he remembered his poor upbringing but remembered the people who cared. him.
In his high school yearbook, he was “definitely not the most likely to succeed,” he joked.
He called Leaven Kids’ partnership with a local church “a simple way for the church to get involved.”
Shortly after, Goldfein, a 1983 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and an honorary board member of Leaven Kids, said he wanted to “replicate the success you have here in San Antonio.”
He also said he wanted to know more about Concepcion and White about the relationship between the city fire department and a faith-based organization with Leaven Kids.
Concepcion spoke about firefighter recruitment and that “diversity is a huge issue in the fire service.”
Working with organizations such as Leaven Kids – which is concerned with providing resources for children living in historically underserved communities – offers a chance “to steer children in the right direction as a career path” in services of fire framing them, Concepcion said.
White told Goldfein that “feeding, educating and loving people is something that any decent, healthy person” can embrace and that, despite a society entangled “in a very divisive climate”, organizations such as Leaven Kids are a place “where we can find commonalities”. ground.”
Noting that he was president of the Vacaville Ministerial Association, White said, “Love is the key,” but love “isn’t just a feeling.” It also manifests itself through action.
“Hopefully that’s a model we can roll out beyond San Antonio,” he added.
Vacaville Supervisor John Vasquez said “community is what the people make of it” and suggested the town is characterized by people who are willing to give.
He also said, basically, what we do in life ripples over time.
In a brief interview after the reunion, amid souvenir photos, Goldfein said he wanted to bring Leaven Kids “to my new hometown. We’re here to learn.
He credited General Miller with “introducing us” to Leaven Kids, and said his future, as it expands in Texas, will be defined as helping to “create success one child at a time.”
“The future is limitless,” said Goldfein, who left the police department parking lot on Merchant Street with the group of community and civic leaders to tour The Alamo Garden Apartments learning center.
Prior to his visit, Goldfein, in a press release issued by Leaven Kids, said, “It’s exciting to go to where it all started and to be able to see the first center Leaven Kids has ever built.”
He said Leaven Kids has proven to be “an invaluable program for children in the most difficult of circumstances”.
Lillis said the retired Air Force general has put “his leadership and community spirit first” as Leaven Kids seeks to expand its footprint throughout California and Texas.
“The enormous experience and undeniable passion that General Goldfein brings to the table allows us to be more strategic when delivering educational services to children in need,” he added. “He will be an important addition to our management team as we seek to grow in San Antonio, Texas.”
“Our community partnerships are integral to our mission and organizational identity,” Lillis said. “The support we have received from the community has been” essential to our success and continues to be an important part of our history. It is critical that our leadership team and advisory members understand the importance of these relationships.