C ambria’s Citizen of the Year for 2009 is Jim Rogers, who has volunteered for eight years to combat hunger and work for other causes in the small
coastal town and its surroundings.
Rogers doesn’t usually get much applause for his charity work, and as his friend Tom Parsons said at the Cambria Chamber of Commerce’s awards dinner Tuesday night, Jan. 19, “If there’s one word that describes Jim, it’s humble.”
But Rogers’ work is crucial for the 250 or so people he and his dedicated helpers provide food for twice a month through the Cambria’s Anonymous Neighbor’s (CAN) nonprof-
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For instance, on the first Thursday of every month, families can receive up to seven grocery sacks full of free food, including two bags filled with fresh produce, one stuffed with milk, eggs and margarine bought at cost from Cookie Crock Market, and, occasionally, another sack full of frozen food.
Much of the donated food comes from the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County, and more is given by members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
The 65-year-old retiree was president of CAN for three years. Since 2002, he’s coordinated the group’s twice-monthly Food Bank program in Cambria and San Simeon, and for a decade, he has been a volunteer CAN driver taking people to medical and dental appointments throughout the county.
Cyclist Rogers also helps raise money for the Cambria Teen Center by coordinating the annual Gene Cerise Memorial County Coast Classic bike ride. Last year, the ride raised $19,000 for the center.
Rogers also leads the kettle crew for the Salvation Army’s seasonal bell ringers. He’s a staging area manager for the Community Emergency Response Team.
The Alfa-Romeo driver and his wife, Tish Rogers, have for 22 years organized an all-Italian car and motorcycle show to benefit the Alameda County Special Olympics. He also works with Allied Arts Association, helps coordinate Hunger Awareness Day and assists at events at the Santa Rosa Catholic Church, even though he’s not a member of the parish.
The Modesto native holds an engineering degree from San Jose State University and worked in computer marketing. The couple retired to Cambria in 1999 from Morgan Hill.
Jim Rogers, who’s clearly embarrassed by all the attention, said he appreciates the award, but his best reward is when a former recipient of the food-distribution program “comes up to me and says, ‘I have a great job now and a place to live, but I want to thank you for everything you did for me when I needed help.’ That really makes you feel good.”