Sheriff Eric Taylor. Photo provided.
Sheriff Eric Taylor. Photo provided.

This column was contributed by San Benito County Sheriff Eric Taylor. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors. BenitoLink invites all community members to share their ideas and opinions. By registering as a BenitoLink user in the top right corner of our home page and agreeing to follow our Terms of Use, you can write counter opinions or share your insights on current issues.

It’s been awhile since I have written for BenitoLink.  I will have a column soon to update you on my office, however, I wanted to share a sincere “Thank You” to Hollister and San Benito County for all the contributions this community has made to my girls.

My wife Jaqueline and I just returned from Burlington, Vermont where we dropped our youngest daughter off at the University of Vermont.  She will be studying early childhood education just like her older sister Katie is at Sonoma State. They both have a passion for teaching, mentoring and coaching children. We just arrived home to an empty house, and it has stirred up some emotion.

In early 2003, Jaqueline and I found out we were going to be parents. At the time, we lived in Watsonville in a small apartment on Pennsylvania Ave. We realized we needed to begin looking for ways to get a larger home for our new family. We were also looking for a safe, close-knit community in which we could raise children with confidence they would be nurtured and cared for. We decided Hollister would be the perfect fit, and it has been.  

As soon as my girls turned 3, we enrolled them in the Preschool Program at Sacred Heart Parish School. They both attended SHPS until they went to high school. We did not lack confidence in the public school system here in San Benito County, but Jaqueline and I were both products of a Catholic Education (me in Watsonville and Jaqueline in Mexico) so we gravitated toward what we were familiar with. 

Immediately, we were welcomed as part of the SHPS family and quickly developed close friendships with other families. That leads me to the first thank you. Thank you to the incredible friendships we made with the Nino, Guerra, Martinez, Rivera, Damm, Mendonsa, Held and Ferry families. You all contributed to my girls being able to experience things we would have never had access to otherwise. From amazing holidays to “brandings” and lake trips, we are forever grateful for your generosity, friendship, and the love you showed Katie and Kelly over the years. 

Thank you also to Dave Lowi and Marty Allen for developing my girls into true team players and athletes on the soccer field for the Hollister Tremors. The transformation they made on your teams gave them the tools to tackle life’s challenges as young ladies. And thank you to all the Tremors families for being such amazing people to spend all those weekends with. We are fortunate to have been part of it.

At the end of our SHPS time with Katie, we had a decision to make. We had planned to continue the private school route and Katie was accepted into Monte Vista Christian School. It was then, another incredible friend of mine; fellow Sheriff’s Captain Tony Lamonica, pulled me aside to pick my brain about my decision. He told me he had recently also had to decide about his own daughter’s high school future and he and his wife decided to give San Benito High a chance. He told me he was very impressed with the school and urged me to give it a shot. He then told me a story about a time where his daughter was injured at cheer, and he was blessed to be working here in town so he could be one of the first on-scene to ensure she was OK. He asked how it would feel to drive to the far side of Watsonville knowing my daughter was hurt.  My wife and I took that story to heart and decided to give San Benito High a one-semester trial. Thank you, Tony, for your heartfelt advice.

Sending my girls to San Benito/Hollister High School ended up being the best decision we could have made. Hollister High School completely transformed my daughters from being slightly introverted, to being confident, assertive, and driven young women. I owe Dr Tennenbaum, Principal Ramirez, and the entire team at Hollister High School a huge thank you for everything they did to help develop my daughters into the intelligent, successful women they are today. From ASB, to Cheer, to Circle of Friends and Link Crew, the qualities HHS instilled in my girls are at the core of what is making them so successful today. They were taught that hard work pays off in advanced, honors and AP courses. They were taught that even though some of our friends have special needs, they should be and are included in every aspect of school life. They were taught, through Baler Cheer, that it is important how you carry yourself, how you represent your school, and the value of community service and hard work. They also felt cared for, loved, and supported every day at Hollister High School. I am forever indebted to Hollister High School and I hope that is reflected in my continued service to the staff and school community through volunteer work.

Another incredible experience my daughters had was their involvement in the San Benito Dance Academy. This is where they were not only part of an amazing family, but they also cut their teeth in coaching and teaching others. San Benito Dance Academy asks their older dancers to teach and mentor the younger dancers by letting them run classes as junior instructors. This experience afforded Katie and Kelly the opportunity to feel pride in developing children into successful dancers. It is and was an amazing experience for young dancers of all ages. Thank you SBDA!

So, thank you, Hollister. Thank you for giving my daughters a place to belong, a place to thrive and a place to reflect back on with fond memories. Memories of friendship, family, community, and pride. 

There is a reason my daughters have chosen a course of study and future profession in where they can coach, mentor, and support children. They have chosen this because Hollister/San Benito County is a shining example of what community is.  This community has shown them the building blocks needed to make others successful. Sacred Heart taught them about love and family. Hollister Tremors taught them to be tenacious and driven team players. San Benito Dance Academy taught them the value of investing in the success of others. San Benito/Hollister High School taught them to be assertive, inclusive, hard working and community oriented. And our friends taught them to bring others in, care for them, and show them things they would have never known were available to them. 

Thank you, Hollister. This community has made my girls better people and I am proud to call this my home.

I am the Sheriff and Coroner for the San Benito County Sheriff's Office. I have over 23 years of law enforcement experience. I am in my 9th year in the San Benito County Sheriff's Office and also served...