Chuck Sorbet mowing the soccer fields at Veterans Memorial Park. Photo courtesy of Chuck Sorbet.
Chuck Sorbet mowing the soccer fields at Veterans Memorial Park. Photo courtesy of Chuck Sorbet.

Nowadays, Chuck Sorbet, 68, is content sitting on a tractor, mowing the five soccer fields at Veterans Memorial Park.

There was a time when he was a quality assurance manager and vice president for satellite communication uplinks. He was head of the group that ensured the quality and precision of high power amplifiers that provided satellites with critical links to ground, sea and air.

But 22 years at Xicom Technology, JDS Uniphase, Verteq and other companies, involving a daily three-hour commute from Hollister to Santa Clara, wore him out. The pressure caused pain in his head and shoulders. Retired in October 2021.

He soon found a BenitoLink story on aquafit therapy, and six months into retirement he felt better. 

“As a result of joining the water workout class, I met a friend of my wife’s whom I did not know,” Sorbet said. “She steered me to BenitoLink for a volunteer position on the board of directors. I was looking for something to do that would have a positive impact on the community and provide an interesting challenge. I found it!”

He sat in on BenitoLink board meetings starting in January and by March found his niche. Sorbet is now a board member and head of BenitoLink’s Strategic Planning Committee.

After leaving behind “the deadlines, due dates, presentations, report writing and failure analysis investigations,” Sorbet said disengaging from the Hwy 25 commute “was completely liberating.” 

But he was still looking for something. Feeling good wasn’t enough; he felt the need to do good. 

His friend Marty Allen, who is the board vice president and one of the coaches for the Hollister Tremors Youth Soccer League, worked over 20 years in Silicon Valley. Months before he retired, Sorbet asked Allen what he does in the league. 

“I was blown away. Basically, he’s the chief, cook, and bottle washer,” Sorbet said. “He’s running the nonprofit board with the help of other very dedicated individuals, working with support folks for field irrigation. He stripes and mows the field.

“While he initially said ‘yes,’ it took me three months to pry the keys to the tractor mower from him. Now, I mow the fields once a week and I love it!”

For Sorbet, it was “solitude for three hours, resulting in freshly mowed fields for the soccer teams each Saturday.” When atop the mower he enjoys the classics, “headphones and rock and roll.”

“The feeling of seeing the kids playing on fields is awesome! I believe we should all try to contribute to the community when time allows. I’ve lived here for 22 years but really didn’t have time to volunteer. Now I encourage others who have the time—it’ll make for a better community for all of us to live in and enjoy.”

In 1999, Chuck left Irvine to take a job in San Jose.

“Luckily, my older brother lived in Hollister and I decided to stay with him while my wife readied our house for sale and the kids finished the school year.”

“I fell in love with the small town. The population in 1999 was around 35,000. The county was still what I would call rural. It is growing in leaps and bounds. Today it is 41,000 and still growing. I’ve had two Harley Davidson motorcycles and did a lot of weekend riding in the county over the years. We liked the kids going to small town schools as well.”

When he lined up his retirement options, Chuck says he “never considered anywhere else, seriously. All our friends and one of my two children live in Hollister.”


Harvey Barkin is a returning writer who contributed to BenitoLink in 2015. He was editor-in-chief at FilAm Star in San Francisco, a freelance reporter for San Jose Mercury News and various publications....