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Mark Lillis, executive director of The Leaven, is recognized by Rep. John Garamendi during a celebration announcing the opening of a Leaven Center at the Parkway Gardens in Fairfield, Tuesday. Officials plan to open the center later in the fall. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)


The Leaven, in gathering at Parkway Gardens, marks its 10th center

By From page A1 | August 06, 2014

FAIRFIELD — Rep. John Garamendi was there – and so were Golden State Warriors radio play-by-play announcer Tim Roye, Fairfield Mayor Harry Price and Suisun City Councilman Mike Segala.

So many people were present that Garamendi marveled at how Mark Lillis, executive director of The Leaven, was able to introduce everyone Tuesday without a mistaken identification in the crowded community room.

Garamendi said at the Parkway Gardens, where The Leaven will open its 10th center to provide after-school tutoring and other services, that the Fairfield-based group takes on challenges.

“You don’t go where it’s easy,” the congressman said. “You go where it’s tough.”

He said The Leaven has hit upon a strategy that allows the community to participate by opening centers where they’re needed.

Fairfield resident Roye, a supporter of The Leaven, said that as a sports broadcaster you learn about the locker room and its culture. You can see people who had support in their lives – and those who didn’t have the structure others enjoyed.

Youths seek support and structure, Roye said, and Leaven helps provide both.

“That kid has a chance to be successful,” he said of youths the group helps.

Lillis spoke about Leaven’s start in 2009 in Fairfield and how other communities wanted what The Leaven offered. Now centers are in communities including Vacaville, Suisun City, Vallejo and the Southern California city of Rialto.

Kaiser Permanente, Jelly Belly, CarMax and Ford Fairfield support The Leaven financially, he noted.

The success of efforts, said Fairfield Police Capt. Joe Allio, president of the board of directors for Leaven,  can be mapped statistically and told in the stories of participants.

Councilman Segala said “in Suisun City, it’s made great impression.”

“The Leaven is a great program,” he added.

Businesses, police and fire departments, local government, school administrators and teachers, church groups and neighbors work with The Leaven.

“We believe in living out our Christian faith through after-school programs, community activities, family support and nurturing to our neighbors,” its website states.

Fairfield-Suisun School District board member and The Leaven volunteer Judi Honeychurch spoke about how youths at the center complete their homework in the scheduled program.

“They don’t come and just play,” she said.

Honeychurch recalled when school district matters meant she had to miss a few days of volunteering. Youths asked her where she’d been. She was almost moved to tears, she recalled.

Ben McGrew, appointed by the Solano County Superior Court to help manage the 240-unit Parkway Gardens, spoke about calling then-City Manager Sean Quinn on a holiday weekend. The next call that Sunday was from Police Chief Walt Tibbet. Lt. Steve Crane followed with a phone call, McGrew recounted.

“This city has rolled up its sleeves and rolled the carpet out,” he said of how Fairfield has helped turn around conditions at the condominium development.

Mayor Price, when introducing Garamendi, told those gathered that, “you are part of continuing American history.”

“Because this is a renaissance,” the mayor said.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]

Ryan McCarthy


Discussion | 8 comments

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  • 2realAugust 06, 2014 - 6:19 am

    Even price likes to act like he gives a flying f$#& about fairfield.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • truth'nAugust 06, 2014 - 7:42 am

    My neighborhood is ignored, but then we don't shoot and kill each other here. Where are the perks for those of us who abide by the law? I want my 40 BBQ's & a CongressPerson.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Please Mr. Garamendi (StR)August 06, 2014 - 8:57 am

    Tell us .... Why the Chemtrails..... Why are elements of the US Government/Military Industrial Complex..... spraying us with toxic substances..... Will someone please ask him about this next time Mr. Garamendi is in the area? Thank you

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • archieAugust 06, 2014 - 1:41 pm

    way above Garamendi,,,,,,,,,,, that's like asking the white house dishwasher the truth behind JFK or Area 51. pull your head out if you want answers this is wrong format.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • TheGrovesAugust 06, 2014 - 10:38 am

    You're living with the perks. I live at The Groves on East Tabor x Sunset & we hear gun fire almost every single night. Its very unsafe and the complex isn't allowing usage of the pool here ALL SUMMER. Because a few kids broke in it several months ago. Over 300 kids live here & there's not a damned thing for them to do to stay cool. The Groves shut off everyones front yard water access. Also, a good number of times per week the water gets shut off here all day, 1-3x a week. Were trying to save up some money so we can move out of this hell hole. I absolutely can not stand Fairfield. It sucks!! And I can't believe someone would be jealous of those of us living in the worst areas. Oh and we didn't even get a National Night Out BBQ this year. This is the most depressing place to live. So much dispair & chronic poverty. I hate it so much.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • truth'nAugust 06, 2014 - 10:13 pm

    If you hate where you live, the answer is to move. Go back to school, educate yourself, get a better job, take control of your life. Stop being a professional victim. It doesn't pay well.

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  • omydarling21August 06, 2014 - 2:07 pm

    That's good for Parkway. Now they need one in Grande Circle, Dover Villa, The Groves, Rockwell, the brown apartments across from Rockwell, on Crawley, all the apartments by Walmart, and Bristol. Basically every apartment complex in Fairfield. There was never anything to do in Fairfield so anybody complaining now, come on. Its the same old Fairfield and duh the pools are shut down and the sprinklers because there is a drought. If you want to keep your kids cool and occupied and safe then keep them in the house, run the A.C. and get them a hobby or something to do inside. Teach your kids to sew or cook. Buy them a video game or crochet kit or something.

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  • streetAugust 06, 2014 - 3:01 pm

    The Leaven has sites on Grande, at the Groves on E Tabor, down the street from Bristol, and on Phoenix Dr. They have 2 sites in Vallejo, one in Vacaville, and at least one more in Suisun and down south. They run with volunteers, and funding from some big hearted businesses. They are a great group of people trying to make a difference.

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