• Valley Children’s Hospital: A Bright Star in Central Valley

    When it comes to hospital facilities for children, Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, Calif., is simply one of the best. It is the only dedicated pediatric facility in California’s Central Valley responsible for serving more than 1.3 million newborns, children and teenagers in 11 counties. Its dedicated staff of more than 550 physicians and its 358 licensed beds make it one of the largest pediatric health care facilities in the United States.

    According to Valley Children’s Hospital, the facility performs more than 12,000 pediatric surgeries each year, and the Cancer and Blood Disease Center is a member of the nationally recognized Children’s Oncology Group. It is also one of fewer than 10 pediatric intensive care units in the U.S. to have received the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence. And the 2017-18 U.S. News & World Report rankings of Best Children’s Hospitals recognized it as one of the best in the country in pediatric orthopedics, pediatric diabetes and endocrinology, and pediatric gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery.

    Les Schwab’s Bakersfield-area stores are proud to support this indispensable hospital by hosting a donation fundraiser that brought in $14,299. Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to the Central Valley community, who made support for this invaluable hospital possible.

    “It was great to see the stores and communities fundraising for the hospital where their children would actually be going if they needed care,” said Bethany Sowell, development lead, external development, for Valley Children’s Foundation. “We are so grateful to Les Schwab for their participation. They were wonderful to work with.”

    The number of patients using the hospital has increased significantly in recent years, so the donations from Les Schwab’s customers and employees, which were collected over 10 weeks between September and November, are helping to provide life-saving treatments, cutting-edge new technologies and the most compassionate care possible for Central Valley children in need.

    Les Schwab is honored to be part of the Central Valley community and to help support one of its most-important institutions.

    To learn more about Valley Children’s mission and services, visit its official website. To donate or volunteer, please check out the Valley Children’s Foundation's Facebook page.

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  • Youth Ag Leader Grows Career With FFA Role

    As a third generation Future Farmers of America (FFA) member, Lauren Millang brought a family legacy to her role as vice president of the FFA’s California chapter. “I can recall my grandpa telling me about the different contests he competed in during high school and hearing about my parent’s fair animals,” she said. “I’m proud to be part of an organization that is rooted in tradition.”

    Lauren spent a year traveling throughout California facilitating FFA workshops, hosting conferences and learning about the agriculture industry. Over the four years that Lauren was involved with FFA, she found the experience invaluable in developing her agricultural knowledge and her leadership skills.

    “I was blessed with opportunities to attend leadership conferences, compete on numerous teams, hold officer positions and even raise animals for our county fair,” she said. “I know these valuable moments spent in FFA have prepared me for a future career in agriculture and have provided me with the tools and experiences I need to become a successful advocate for the industry.”

    Some of Lauren’s most memorable FFA experiences include the Washington Leadership Conference in Washington D.C., as well as competing at the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Show in Oklahoma and the FFA Nationals in Kentucky.

    Lauren MillangLauren says the FFA offers a place for just about everyone who’s interested in agriculture. “From computer sciences, to raising livestock, crop sciences or speaking contests, students can truly find their niche and excel,” she said. “FFA is a unique organization that truly gives students a hands-on experience.”

    With her move into the VP role, Lauren graduated from a corduroy members jacket that said “Woodland-Pioneer” across the back to a one that says, “Association.” “With this new jacket comes new opportunities, friendships, places and growth,” she said. “Only one word comes to mind when I think of the journey ahead: gratitude.”

    Following her year as California FFA state vice president, Lauren is attending Oklahoma State University to pursue a double major in agricultural communications and business. “I am proud to be involved in an organization that creates the future leaders of the agriculture industry,” she said. “And I am proud to be a future agriculturalist.”

    At Les Schwab, we’re honored to support Lauren's hard work, dedication and leadership both in California’s agriculture industry and its local communities.

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  • Parent Takes Passenger Seat to Teach Son Good Driving Habits

    In honor of National Teen Driver Safety Week in October, we caught up with one of our own seasoned professionals who has had his fair share of experience teaching teens how to drive.

    Matt Clift, manager of one of the Les Schwab Tire Centers in Clovis, Calif., has already taught his two oldest daughters how to stay safe when behind the wheel. Now he’s hitting the road with his youngest driver, Lane, who recently earned his learner’s permit

    Q. Matt, what made you decide that you and Lane should practice for a driver’s license together rather than using a professional driving school?
    Matt: In California, you have to have at least six hours of professional drivers’ school, so we will be doing both. After the first 1-hour lesson behind the wheel at a school, Lane will be able to drive with his mom and me. He has his permit for six months, so between the driving school and practicing with us, he should be ready to go.

    I feel that a driving school is important to teach him the rules of the road; we sent our last two drivers to a school that was run by retired police officers. But at the same time, I think that driving with us will put him in more real-life, day-to-day situations.

    Q: Do you enjoy driving?
    Matt: I love to drive. In fact, when we go on long trips, I would rather drive than fly. You get to see so much more when you can stop in little towns along the way. Sometimes I just drive up in the hills and explore.

    Q. Did you also learn to drive from a parent?
    Matt: I learned how to drive from my grandpa in an old stick shift Chevy truck. He would take (me) to some fields north of the small town I grew up in and let me drive around on the dirt roads. The first time (I drove) on a paved road, (I) was with my other grandpa. I did not have my license yet, but he said he was too tired to drive, so I drove us home. It was a 3-hour drive.

    Q. Lane, as a beginner, what skill do you think will be most difficult to learn?
    Lane: Probably driving on the highway, learning how to merge and being able to judge the other cars’ speed as I am driving in heavy traffic.

    Q. What are you most looking forward to or what are you most nervous about?
    Lane: I’m looking forward to being able to drive to school and to drive around with my friends. I’m nervous, though, about driving downtown with all of the one-way streets and impatient drivers.

    Q. Do you both like the same kinds of cars?
    Lane: We do like a lot of the same cars, but I tend to like newer sports cars while my dad leans more toward older big trucks and muscle cars. We both like street bikes.

    Q. Matt, what do you think is the best advice you’ve given all your kids as drivers?
    Matt: Make sure and give the other drivers plenty of room. You never want to get into a situation where another driver either does something wrong or doesn’t see you and causes an accident. I also tell my kids to never drive aggressively. If someone is trying to merge in front of you, don’t get into a chess match with them, just let them in. It’s only one car, and you’ll get where you’re going just as fast.

    Q. Lane, what was the best piece of advice you received?
    Lane: That I should always pay attention to what is going on around me. You never know what the other person is thinking or trying to do, so don’t try to guess. Just give them the room to do whatever they are doing. He also taught me to walk around the car, kick the tires to make sure the tire pressure is good and that everything looks safe before I get in.

    Q. Matt, where was the first place you drove when you earned your license?
    Matt: I drove to school, and it was an awesome day. It made me feel like I was much more independent and proud to be able to accomplish getting my license. The first out-of-town trip I took was about a 5-hour trip each way with some friends on the weekend just to get out of town.

    Q. Lane, when you earn your license, where will you go on your first independent drive?
    Lane: I will probably drive back and forth to school, but I can’t wait to take a trip back to Washington state to see my sisters, my nephew and some of my old friends.

    Q. What was your proudest moment when teaching your kids how to drive?
    Matt: I was very proud when (my daughters) passed their driving test at the D.M.V. It was great to watch them make progress. How nervous they were their first time driving versus when they passed the test and received their license. This time around, I am looking forward to spending time with Lane and passing down what I have learned over the years. It is enjoyable one-on-one time and makes for great memories.

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