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Harvest Hoedown helps fund Madera Community Hospital

Tami Jo Nix/The Madera Tribune

Makin Malady cuddles a female Border collie cattle dog puppy that was auctioned at the dinner.


Supporters of the Madera Community Hospital Foundation gathered for its 33rd annual fundraising dinner dance on Saturday. Held in Hatfield Hall, the Harvest Hoedown aimed to raise money to fund medical equipment.

Preliminary numbers indicate that the 300 patrons who attended the dinner added at least $55,000 to its coffers. The 50-50 raffle alone raised $800, split between the foundation and Dean Farnesi. Master and mistress of ceremony duties we shared by Jim Monreal and Madera Mayor Pro-Tem Cece Foley-Gallegos.

“Just a year ago Madera Community Hospital and Dr. Stephen DeSantis save my life,” said Monreal.

Monreal spent six weeks in the hospital recovering from a staph infection.

“We are so blessed to have such superior quality medical care in our community,” he said. Foley-Gallegos echoed her hearty sentiments regarding MCH.

“As a mother of four active children we have spent our share of time in the emergency room,” she said.

Monreal introduced the hospital’s CEO, Evan Rayner.

“We are constantly upgrading the technology to keep MCH and its equipment state of the art,” said Rayner.

He alluded to the many excellence awards and national accreditations the hospital has to its credit. Foundation president Liz Salas introduced now-retired community outreach coordinator Rae Gomes. Although Gomes has been retired for most of a year, this event was the first opportunity to publically thank her for 25 years of service to MCH. Salas presented her with a beautiful jewelry ensemble of a ring, bracelet and necklace from Leighton’s Jewelers as a token of the organization’s esteem.

One of the ways the evening generates its revenue is through various silent and live auctions. These items donated by local supporters sell for pure profit.

The live auction conducted by professional cattle auctioneer Tim Sisil drew in bidders for some exciting gifts.

A six-night stay in a beach front condo in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for six people and valued at $3,600 was donated by Pablo Aleman and family. A Woodlands progressive dinner for eight will be prepared by Melisa and Chris DaSilva, Diane and Kevin Herman, Carol and Robert Poythress and Patty and Stell Manfredi.

Leighton’s Jewelers donated a $500 ladies western style necklace made with amethyst and quartz.

A Christmas party for 20 guests on Dec. 10 will be held at the Madera County Museum complete with hors d’oeuvre and wine donated by the Madera County Historical Society and friends of MCH Foundation.

A very popular auction item was a basket of goodies from the kitchen of Sheryl Berry that included baked goods, jams and home canned pickles and relishes.

Danny and Rosanne Bonilla donated an autographed guitar from country western superstar Toby Keith complete with a certificate of authenticity, valued at $600.

A pair of Border collie puppies with impeccable bloodlines and bred by Nieuwkoop are the offspring of working cattle dogs in Chowchilla according to auctioneer Tim Sisil.

The evening’s festivities also included a dessert auction and a cowgirl country store that included fresh eggs, penny-candy and gifts among the items for sale.

Formed in 1978 the MCH Foundation is the fundraising arm of the hospital. Since its inception the foundation has generated some $3 million. Its volunteer board members include Liz Salas, president; Jane Kautz, vice president; Celeste Voyles, treasurer; Loreta Bassi, secretary; Mike Diebert, past president; Melisa Bushey, Jim Chin, Peter Garcia, Xavier Gomez, Julie Herd, John Markle, Staci Martines, Ted Pistoresi, Norma Ramos, Martin Vale and support staff Rae Gomes and Sherrie Bakke.

Following the dinner, raffle and auction the floor cleared for some country line dancing lessons by Tammy Velasquez. Live music for the evening came from Madera’s own versatile band, the Yard Dogs.

The original announced dance band was to be the Cadillac Cowboys. The foundation expressed its gratitude to Brett Moglia and the Yard Dogs for stepping up after the untimely death in a car accident of Kevin Blake Willard of the Cadillac Cowboys. Known primarily as a rock band the Yard Dogs performed an impressive catalog of country western songs that made the evening into a boot-scootin’ boogie hoedown.

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