Cynthia Haynes, CEO of the Clements-Lockeford Chamber of Commerce, was honored by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for her volunteer work for the chamber and Hospice of San Joaquin.
Haynes is one of five PG&E employees throughout California to receive the Frederick Mielke Award for community volunteerism. The utility gave her $5,000 to donate to a charity of her choice. She selected Hospice of San Joaquin, which provides medical and care for families of terminally ill patients.
A Lodi native, Haynes has left her mark in Lodi as well as Lockeford, being involved in numerous projects in both communities for close to two decades. She was the city of Lodi's community promotions coordinator for seven years before leaving in 2003 to become tourism director for Placer County.
"She definitely left her mark, even today," said former Lodi Mayor Steve Mann, who is now the city's information systems manager. "The light parade was her doing, the All-Veterans Plaza was her brainchild.
"I get tired just thinking of all the energy she has," Mann said. "I can't think of anyone more deserving of the award than Cynthia."
Haynes, who now negotiates smart-meter agreements with municipalities from Ukiah to Bakersfield for PG&E, began her volunteer service in Lockeford and Clements in 2006, when she became CEO for the struggling Clements-Lockeford Chamber of Commerce, a volunteer position. Timothy Fowler became chamber president at the same time.
Haynes and Fowler developed a vision for Lockeford and presented it to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors. They started a tourism magazine focusing on Lockeford and Clements, and they tried to get Lockeford incorporated as a city so that a Lockeford government would gain its own sales and property tax revenue.
The incorporation effort failed because there wasn't enough sales tax revenue to finance city operations. The community continues to be run by the county.
A continuing goal, Haynes said, is to revitalize Lockeford's business area on Highway 88.
"We have a vision of it looking like the Woodbridge (revitalization) project, but with a difference," she said.
That difference would focus on making Lockeford a tourism area for people going through town toward the foothills and Sierra Nevada mountains, where people can enjoy spruced-up, historic downtown Lockeford.
Furthermore, Haynes envisions Lockeford becoming a gateway to Lodi, incorporating Lockeford's 19th-century buildings, wineries in Lockeford and Victor, and Lodi's upscale restaurants.
Haynes says she spends 300 to 400 hours a year on chamber business, though some of her work is done from her computer in Auburn.
"We don't have any paid positions," she said. "My role is to keep the chamber afloat."
Haynes is also a longtime board member of Hospice of San Joaquin. Through her association with the hospice and employment with the city of Lodi, she became involved in the annual hospice tree-lighting ceremony in Lodi. When she joined the Clements-Lockeford Chamber, she started a similar tree-lighting ceremony to raise money for the hospice five years ago.
The ceremony also includes Lockeford and Clements service clubs, equestrian clubs, schools, churches, fire districts and choir groups.
"The Hospice of San Joaquin is exceptional," Haynes said. "They serve people regardless of their ability to pay."
Haynes credits her grandparents, the late Virgil and Rose Rebuffo, of Lodi, for encouraging her to be a perpetual volunteer.
Her grandfather told her, "Giving is a gift, and giving back is a responsibility."
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.