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Daily good deed results in unexpected reward

Thursday, August 28th, 2014 | Posted by
Chuck Mahon picks up litter on his daily walk around Cloverdale. (Photo: Will Layfield)

Chuck Mahon picks up litter on his daily walk around Cloverdale. (Photo: Will Layfield)

By Mary Jo Winter / Cloverdale TOWNS correspondent

One Cloverdale senior citizen has received a really cool gift, thanks to the Cloverdale Rotary Club and a generous group of community volunteers.

With his stooped posture and shuffling gait, 68-year-old Chuck Mahon is a familiar figure to drivers on Cloverdale Boulevard, even though most of them may not know his name. Wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat and reflective safety vest, Mahon can be seen every day, rain or shine, picking up litter on both sides of the street between downtown and the Furber Ranch Plaza shopping center.

Mahon is a man of few words and many mysteries.

His friend Richard Robles, who occasionally treats him to lunch, knows that one of Mahon’s favorite meals is French fries with lots of catsup, washed down with cup after cup of black coffee. Mahon retired from Folgers Coffee in the South Bay after 25 years, and says he knows a thing or two about a good cup of coffee.

Chuck Mahon  (Photo: Will Layfield)

Chuck Mahon (Photo: Will Layfield)

Rotary members are always looking for ways to be of service, especially seniors and others whose homes have fallen into a state of disrepair because they are no longer able to do the work themselves or cannot afford to hire someone to do it for them.

A few months ago, Rotarian Richard Winterhalder contacted Marrianne McBride of the Council on Aging and asked if Meals on Wheels delivery drivers could start keeping an eye out for any senior they felt could benefit from this type of help.

Laura Butera, financial caseworker for Council on Aging, identified Mahon, who lives in the Briarwood Mobilehome Park.

The first time Winterhalder stopped by to meet him, a neighbor was cleaning the kitchen while Mahon was out on his daily trash route.

He discovered that Mahon belongs to the American Legion and the Knights of Columbus at St. Peter’s Catholic Church. He also discovered that Mahon is a very private person and not likely to allow strangers inside his house.

Once Winterhalder was invited inside, he found a broken swamp cooler that had leaked and ruined a good deal of the flooring. With no working cooler, temperatures inside the mobile home could climb as high as 120 degrees in Cloverdale’s summer heat.

Rotary members agreed to coordinate the needed repairs. They contacted others with the necessary skills, and pretty soon the swamp cooler was humming away, blowing a steady stream of cool air into the once overheated residence.

Cloverdale resident Al McClintock, owner of Healdsburg Floors, donated more than $600 worth of flooring material, and the Knights of Columbus covered the cost of installation.

Another volunteer, Joe Rafael, got on the roof, repaired all the dry rot and cleaned out the hornet nests.

Lee Menicucci, owner of Napa Auto Parts, says the Knights of Columbus committed $1,000 to cover any unexpected expenses.

Asked about the comfort level in his place now that the cooler has been repaired, Mahon just smiled, looked down shyly and shook his head.

“It’s wonderful,” he said.

City Manager Paul Cayler has seen Mahon voluntarily picking up trash on many occasions, so a few weeks ago he stopped to say thank you.

“He was very modest about it,” Cayler said, “but I wanted to introduce myself and personally thank him for what he does. I appreciate that he is always pitching in to keep Cloverdale looking good as he walks. It is the little efforts that count.”


  • Leticia McRae

    Wonderful story, a good deed doer gets a good deed in return. Thank you for sharing Mary Jo Winter

  • Kim Moore

    Thank you for writing a story about this awesome gentleman. I’ve been watching him for a while now, picking up trash, even small branches, on his daily routine, and I’ve often wondered about him—I hope he knows how many of us truly appreciate what he does! Truly a selfless act…thanks to everyone who helped brighten his day!

  • Scott Jackson

    I’m sure there are many seniors in Cloverdale, as in all communities, that have great need of help. Chuck is as deserving as any. I have known him for all of my 30+ years in town, primarily as we attended and served together in church. I thank all in Cloverdale who helped this unassuming and gentle man with the needs he would never ask for. We live on the edges of Sonoma County, but we have heart here that is unmeasurable against anyone. Love this town!!!

  • Sara Lorenz

    My kids and I see Mr. Mahon nearly everyday walking the boulevard & picking up trash. He truley is an inspiration…walking everyday, even though it is visibly apparent to do so. Stooping down to pick up trash for him is even more so. I admire him & he inspires me to keep moving when I get older, even when physically it becomes difficult to do so. Thank you for sharing this story!

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Mary Jo Winter is our Cloverdale correspondent.
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