We’re so happy to have partnered with some of the most impactful businesses and organizations of our community through our American Dream program. Maybe you’ve heard of them — or maybe you’re discovering something new about the place in which you live. Either way, take some time to get know these local gems that make up the landscape of our community.

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Poor And The Homeless Tehama County Coalition (PATH)

A single candle flickers in the darkness. From this tiny flame, many more candles can be lit, yet the life of that single candle is never shortened.

Ordinary people are doing extraordinary work through the Poor and the Homeless (PATH), a nonprofit that provides shelter and nourishment (both physical and spiritual) to those who need it most in Tehama County.

Like most world-changing work, PATH started with the simplest of actions. In 1999, Allene Dering joined a prayer group at a Red Bluff church. One Sunday, the pastor announced that a meeting would be held after the service to explore what could be done to help the homeless. Dering felt called to attend the meeting.

“We were praying for guidance for God’s will for us individually and God’s will for the church,” she explains. “When I lived in Napa, they wanted to do something about the homeless, and I was the loudest one against it. I didn’t know homeless people at the time. All I thought was, ‘I’ve got to go to that meeting.’ It was God’s will for me to do that. God changed my heart.”

She’s been PATH’s leader ever since.

PATH’s initial mission was to shelter the homeless. Three pastors were part of the original group – Tim Soule, Wallace Anderson and Susan Plucker — and several churches allowed PATH to use their facilities. They formed a grassroots group called The Homeless Coalition and became a nonprofit in 2000.

Today, PATH is governed by a 12-member board of directors, representing the faith community, business community, local government and the target group. It operates the only winter emergency homeless shelter in Red Bluff, which is open Nov. 1 through April 30 each year and rotates through local churches. Dinner is provided to those who spend the night. Use of alcohol and illegal drugs is prohibited.

In addition, PATH also operates the Sale House, a sober living transitional home for homeless women and their children. The two-year program is designed to help women become self-sufficient and secure permanent housing. A case manager helps clients set and achieve their goals.

Homeless men can participate in Pathways, which is also a two-year sober transitional living program with a case manager who helps participants achieve self-sufficiency. The men are available to volunteer at community events.

PATH also has a new grant-funded Housing First program, where they house people regardless of their circumstances, then work intensively with them for six to eight months to help them change the behavior that has been keeping them out of permanent housing.

 “We’re getting people off the streets and getting them into housing,” Dering says. “Twenty percent of people who have come to the shelter have been able to get into housing before their time in the shelter is over.”

Most homeless people have income, Dering says, but it’s such a small amount that they can’t live on it and save money at the same time. People can stay at the shelter for up to six months, which gives them the opportunity to build up enough savings for their first month’s rent and a deposit.

“Homeless people are people just like anybody else,” Dering says. “I’ve met some really wonderful people among the homeless. It’s like any other prejudice — one person of a different color treats you badly, so you think they’re all that way. Just because one homeless person did something you thought was horrible doesn’t mean they’re all that way.”

The community can support PATH in many ways, including joining the tax-deductible “dollar a month club,” donating toiletries or food, volunteering to teach a life-skills class, helping in the emergency shelter, or donating stock or memorial funds to PATH’s endowment fund. For more information, visit www.redbluffpath.org .

8 th  Annual RABA Salute to Veterans

Shasta County is home to more than 17,000 veterans — people who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect America’s freedom. Sadly, an increasing number of our veterans are homeless, elderly and at risk, and need help getting where they need to go.

Fortunately, the community has an opportunity to give back to them.

In honor of Veterans’ Day, the 8 th Annual Redding Area Bus Authority (RABA) Salute to Veterans event is planned Thursday, November 9 from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cornerstone Community Bank, 150 E. Cypress Ave. in Redding. This event provides free bus passes to more than 8,500 veterans annually through the Shasta County Veterans Service Office (VSO). This helps veterans get to work, medical appointments, school, shopping and other needed appointments.

“We have a lot of seniors and veterans on fixed incomes who need public transportation to get around,” explains Melissa Estrada, Transportation Planner for the City of Redding.  

Donations from the fundraiser directly benefit the Shasta County VSO, which is the first step for assisting veterans across Shasta County and serves more than 8,500 people annually. The VSO distributes $10 RABA punch cards from its main office and other local veteran organizations, which can be used on RABA routes in Redding, Shasta Lake City, and Anderson.

RABA provides a 50 percent match to all donations received, so for every $100 donated, $150 in transit rides are provided to veterans.

People can donate money online with a credit card or deliver cash or a check to the event. Cash can also be donated any time from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at Cornerstone Community Bank.

“It’s really fun,” Estrada says. “The Veterans Service Office, Enterprise Lions Club, and Cornerstone Community Bank all participate. The Lions Club displays their two large flags on the building and 24 along the sidewalk outside. There’s so much honor on display at the event — from the flags to the community members who show up to support our veterans.”

The Shasta County VSO offers comprehensive counseling to veterans and their families on benefits granted by federal, state, and local laws. These benefits can include disability, pensions, college fee waivers, vocational rehabilitation, life insurance, medical care, home loan programs, homeless housing assistance and much more. The VSO helps develop claims and ensures the required documents are submitted. For more information about these services, call 225-5616 or visit the office at 1855 Shasta St. in Redding.

5 th  Annual CASA Superhero Run

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Real superheroes don’t always wear capes.

Take, for instance, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). These volunteers serve as the voices for children in the foster care and judicial systems, advocating for their needs with the goal of placing every abused or neglected child in a healthy, safe permanent home.

Northern Valley Catholic Social Service operates this program in Butte, Glenn, Shasta and Tehama counties, and since the program began in Butte County in 2001, it has trained 362 advocates who have served 728 children.

While this number is certainly impressive, the current number of advocates are only able to serve about 8 percent of children who could benefit from these services.

So who makes a great CASA volunteer? Perhaps you would! Advocates come from all walks of life, and are citizens in our community who want to make a difference in the world. They are 21 years or older, and they go through a 40-hour training class before they’re sworn in as officers of the court.

Upon being assigned to a case, they are asked to meet with their child once a week for at least an hour. They represent that child’s interests and thoughts through a court report that is filed before each court hearing (about every six months). Their job includes researching and gathering information, monitoring and advocating for progress on the child’s case plan, submitting written reports to the court and advocating for the child in court and in meetings. Volunteers are well supported by NVCSS staff and fellow CASA volunteers.

“I wanted to show my own two girls that they have a mother who does something about a problem and doesn’t just talk about it,” said Corrie Miller, a CASA volunteer since 2014. “I can’t help all the children, but I can make a difference one child at a time. The ripple effect from that is more than I can imagine.”

Those who are unable to serve as volunteers can still lend a hand to this noble effort. The CASA Superhero Run is Nov. 4 at the Redding Civic Auditorium, and all proceeds benefit the CASA program. Little Heroes Dash for ages 10 and under starts at 8:30 a.m. (a cape is included), and the chip-timed 5K Run/Walk and 10K begin at 9 a.m. A pancake breakfast is included for each registered participant. Learn more at www.run4casa.com.

To learn more about the CASA program, visit www.nvcss.org/casa or call 844-25-4CASA.

Tehama District Junior Livestock Committee

Friday, July 14, 2017

Give kids a purpose, and you might be surprised at what they can achieve.

That’s one of the driving forces behind the Tehama District Junior Livestock Committee. Through this nonprofit organization, 4-H and Future Farmers of America youth develop an understanding about the end result of livestock, which is to feed the American people. Since 1996, hundreds of youth have raised rabbits, chickens, steer, sheep, goats, hogs and more. Auction seats always fill up fast with new and veteran buyers who are eager to support youth in our community and enjoy homegrown livestock.

“4-H and FFA are just amazing,” says Mike Collins, the committee’s president. “They build character.”

Raising livestock requires a significant commitment of time and energy, Collins says. When you’re raising an animal, you’re not sleeping in late on lazy summer mornings or taking long vacations away — you’re committed to the creature in your care, whatever challenges may arise. “They’re responsible for it,” he says. “Most parents say, ‘This is your animal — get it ready for fair."' 

Marketing is also a huge piece of the puzzle. “They have to get someone to purchase the animal,” Collins explains. This involves writing letters and having confident, intelligent conversations with potential buyers to ensure top dollar for their animal. “It really brings kids out of their shell.”

Some animals require a relatively short time commitment — small animals like rabbits need to be in the child’s care at least 30 days before the fair, and hogs and goats are with the youth for at least 60 days. Beef has to be in the child’s care for at least 120 days, though most young farmers are buying their steers now for the 2018 fair. And it’s a competitive field — the Tehama District Fair featured 380 livestock this year alone.

Collins and his wife, Teri, have been involved with the livestock committee since about 1982, when their daughter was 6. “Now we’re on our third generation,” says Collins, who has been on the committee since 1992.

And in their view, the investment — while exhausting at times — is well worth the reward.

“If you keep these kids busy, odds are, they’re going to turn out pretty good,” Collins says.

Caliber Office Furniture

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Caliber — it’s defined as a degree of moral quality, or a degree of excellence or importance. For Chris Cable, the name he selected for his business sets the tone for the level of customer service he delivers to his customers.

The owner of Caliber Office Furniture has accumulated more than 20 years of experience in the office furniture industry, and he and his team are experts at helping people find the perfect, affordable solutions to their office needs.

Cable attended high school in San Diego County and moved to Redding in 1992 to attend Simpson University. He began working as a furniture installer in 1995 and went to school at night, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He moved up the ladder to sales, project management and lead installer, becoming a well-rounded expert in every facet of the industry. Unfortunately, in 2010, the company where he was working downsized. Cable seized this opportunity to take a leap of faith and branch out on his own, and he launched Caliber Office Furniture in April 2010. 

“I created it from the ground up,” Cable said. “All I had was a desk – I was renting a corner office in a construction company's office. My warehouse was a 10x10-foot storage unit. We've grown by leaps and bounds. We truly are a little success story.” 

Caliber focuses intently on customer service, environmental consciousness and a sense of community. In his free time, he enjoys geocaching, kayaking and tending to the five-acre farm where he lives with his wife, Cassie, and their two children.

“We treat people above and beyond with our customer service,” Cable said. “Honestly, when we show with brand-new office furniture, they get the feeling like its Christmas Day, and we love it. I stop by to check on them later, which is a little bit of a personal touch. That's the service they expect by buying local, rather than ordering furniture online and having it just end up on doorstep.”

Children First Foster Family Agency

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

All children deserve love and acceptance — and with the help of some devoted adults, Children First Foster Family Agency provides exactly that to our community’s most vulnerable youngsters.

Children First is a private, nonprofit agency committed to helping individuals of all ages realize their full potential and achieve their personal goals. The agency is dedicated to providing a safe, supportive environment that nurtures and inspires the children, adults and families they work with daily. Founded in 1999 by Mike Logan, the agency has grown from one employee to nearly 50, and from one small office to offices in Tehama, Shasta and Siskiyou counties. Programs include foster care, counseling and programs that give children a chance to excel. 

“There is nothing more rewarding than to know that we have provided something to someone who may not have received it if we were not here,” Logan says.

People are often surprised to learn that they have exactly what it takes to be a foster parent, even if they don’t look like a traditional “family.” To get started, potential foster parents just need to be 21 or older and have a stable, loving home, a sustainable income, reliable transportation, citizenship or permanent legal residency, and enough time to devote to the success of their foster children.

Logan moved from Colorado to Yuba City when he was 11 and joined the military at 18. His career took him to the Pentagon, factories, mines and lumber mills before he took on the challenge of establishing and running the area’s first medical model alcohol and drug treatment center at a Redding hospital. He was also the founding administrator for the first Christian treatment center for alcohol and drug addiction in Northern California, where the first immediate care facility for the developmentally disabled was developed.

“As my wife and I were busy building our lives and our future, we realized that there was something missing and we wanted to have children in our lives,” Logan says. “This is when we first considered becoming foster parents.”

Their adventure began with twin 7-year-old boys in 1995, and the Logans wrapped them up in healing, love and support. Today, both boys are married and have given the Logans six grandchildren.

“We have always thought of these children as our own, from the first morning we brought them home,” Logan says. “It was from this experience that the idea of creating a foster family agency came about.”

Logan is also the founder of Children First Counseling Center and Lassen Counseling Services, an agency that was started as a response to the growing need for counseling services in rural Northern California and the desire to change lives by helping people through difficult times.

“I am passionate about protecting children because most often they cannot protect themselves,” says one Children First social worker. “I believe that every child deserves a loving, safe home in order to develop into the best person that they can be. If a child cannot stay with their biological family, then I am passionate to try and help them receive the best treatment and experience in their foster home environment.” 

Anyone who would like to learn more about Children First Foster Family Agency can find more information at www.childrenfirstffa.com .

Shasta County Grand Jurors' Association

Tuesday, April 04, 2017  

Holding governments accountable is a daunting task, but every year, 19 selfless souls step up to the plate and take on the title of grand juror — and a group of seasoned veterans is there to help guide the way.

Established in 2002, the nonprofit Shasta County Grand Jurors’ Association is made up of former grand jurors who promote, preserve and support the grand jury system through training, education and outreach.

When Larry Johnson retired after more than 35 years as an attorney, he was looking for something to keep himself busy. His wife saw a banner soliciting grand jury members, which piqued his interest. He served on the 2012-13 grand jury, and then joined the Shasta County Grand Jurors’ Association. He’s now the chairman of their recruitment committee.

“We actually serve three functions,” Johnson explains. “First, we assist the Superior Court in recruiting qualified applicants for grand jury service. Second, we assist the Shasta County Grand Jury in providing training to grand jurors on interview techniques, investigative techniques, things of that nature. Third, we’ve developed something of a social aspect to the grand jury.”

Grand juries have 19 members. Up to 10 people can be reappointed to a second term, and the remaining members are selected by a random drawing after their applications are reviewed by Shasta County Superior Court judges. “The type of people who want to devote a whole year to this kind of work are usually people who have been leaders in whatever capacity, or they just want to do something for the community,” Johnson says.

The time commitment varies widely, but typically averages 10-20 hours a week. It ramps up toward the end of the term, as members are wrapping up investigations, determining their findings and writing reports. 

“People sometimes misunderstand the role of the grand jury,” Johnson says. “You hear about grand juries and you probably think about criminal grand juries and indictments – that’s a very, very rare function of grand juries nowadays. Ninety-nine percent of the time, what we do is civil grand jury work, where we are a watchdog over local government. We have the authority to look into our city governments, all departments of the county government and all special districts.”

Special districts include water, cemetery and conservation districts, and the grand jury ensures that they are acting within the rules and regulations that govern them.

Each grand jury is free to decide what issues it will look into each year, and its reports on those investigations include a detailed factual statement about the issue or organization, as well as conclusions and recommendations. 

“These are average citizens who devote their time to this,” Johnson says. “It's exciting. I don't know many citizens who have the opportunity other than through a means like this to call before them the members of the government. If you want to talk to the Board of Supervisors, they're going to make time for you. So will the members of our city councils and the heads of special districts. They respect the grand jury, and it's a two-way street.”

Though the grand jury can't make changes itself, they shine a light on problems or areas that need improvement, and heightening the public’s awareness often leads to changes. Their work has led to some big improvements, including creation of the Redding Library and increases in per diem payments for volunteer firefighters, which helped entice more volunteers to take on this challenging job to protect public safety. 

“Most of the time agencies are doing a really good job with what they've got,” Johnson concludes. “Sometimes the public has a need to know that their elected officials are doing a really good job with the resources they have available.”

Anyone who would like to learn more about serving on the grand jury can find more information and an application at: shastacountygrandjury.org . The new grand jury session begins June 26.

Red Bluff Gold Exchange

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

If your watch has stopped ticking, you’re in need of a small loan or you just need a reminder that there’s truly goodness in this world, Jessie Woods has you covered.

The Gold Exchange has been Red Bluff’s premier jeweler, reputable pawnbroker and more since 1994. Woods and her team, who have nearly 80 years of combined experience, have earned a reputation for delivering courteous and knowledgeable customer service. 

At the Gold Exchange on Walnut Street, Woods’ staff loves helping people search for that perfect gift for a loved one. Their inventory includes a distinctive selection of diamond jewelry, a variety of chains, colored stone jewelry for every birth month, Citizen watches and fun sterling silver. The Gold Exchange also buys and sells an array of tools, games, movies, electronics, musical equipment, sporting goods, coins and more through its pawn shop. 

In 2005, Jessie added a spiritual boutique called Angels Among Us, which offers a variety of metaphysical products from sage to drums and crystals. Master goldsmith Cary Freeman refurbishes the shop’s estate jewelry and creates her own line of jewelry for the soul. Her signature piece is the bold, fun, liquid gold waterfall that many consider to be wearable art.

One of the most exciting parts of Woods’ job is working with couples to select bridal jewelry. And once that ring is on her finger, Jessie – an ordained minister — can even perform the wedding ceremony.

However, buying and selling a wide variety of merchandise is secondary to Woods’ passion for serving unmet needs in her community. Her iconic red hair reflects her generous heart — she’s known for spearheading all sorts of philanthropic efforts, from supporting foster kids to seeking donations for food pantries.

Woods’ motto in life is, “Together we can accomplish great things. By holding hands, we create miracles.” This is reflective in her business and her love for her community.

One SAFE Place

Friday, January 27, 2017

 

Building the Sierra Center became a mission for the staff at One SAFE Place after the tragic murders of Sandy Miller and her two small children, Shelby and Shasta. Sandy and her daughters had come to One SAFE Place seeking help for a domestic violence situation, but left because of the shelter’s crowded dormitory style setting (26 people in 3 bedrooms), noise and lack of privacy. Shortly afterward they were found and murdered by her husband. A new facility became the priority, with a residence shelter, co-located client services, and on-site partner agencies. 

Plans were drawn up and a capital campaign was launched. Jean King, executive director at the time, turned to a local bank to seek the funding One SAFE Place needed to build. “The overwhelming support of Cornerstone Community Bank and its belief in One SAFE Place and our vision for the Sierra Center helped allow us to make our dream a reality,” said Interim Executive Director Angela Jones. “We are so grateful to Cornerstone’s support of those who have been victims of domestic and sexual abuse.”

The Sierra Center Residence consists of 13 rooms, with a capacity for up to 52 residents. Individual rooms include a double bed, twin bed and a private bathroom. Clients and their children who have been traumatized by domestic violence or sexual abuse are given the chance to heal and rebuild their lives, with the safety and privacy provided by individual rooms that lock. They also participate in groups where they have the community support of others who have suffered from similar circumstances. 

In the residence, the community kitchen allows for three cooking stations. There are six washers and dryers. The living room is a place for families to relax, and it’s also where counseling groups and activities take place. An important part of the facility is the emphasis on children’s programs — counseling, curriculum and case management.

The increase in the length of stay in residence has grown from an average of 11 days last year to an average of 35 days this year. Many families now have stayed up to 90 days, giving them the time they need to get safe, to heal, to feel supported, to find jobs and to locate housing. 

“Our most exciting new development is that One SAFE Place recently was able to place its first client family into transitional housing,” Jones said.

There are numerous ways to support One SAFE Place, but one of the most fun is its crab feed. The 30th annual event is set for Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Shasta District Fairgrounds in Anderson. Cocktails and auction item viewing begins at 4 p.m., and dining room doors open at 4 p.m. Cost is $50 per person, which includes all-you-can-eat Dungeness crab, clam chowder, salad, French bread, dessert and coffee. No-host beer, wine soda and margaritas are also available. To become a sponsor or volunteer, call Kristi at 244-0118 or visit their website: www.ospshasta.org .

Shasta Regional Community Foundation

Monday, January 09, 2017  

 

The North State is home to scores of nonprofit organizations that pour their hearts into making this community a better place to live, work and play. That power is magnified exponentially by the Shasta Regional Community Foundation.

Concerned with the well-being of future generations in Shasta and Siskiyou counties, the Shasta Regional Community Foundation builds permanent endowments, addresses needs through grantmaking and demonstrates community leadership.

And the Community Foundation is currently celebrating the success of its annual North State Giving Tuesday campaign, which shattered last year's record, collecting more than $750,000 for 96 nonprofits in Shasta and Siskiyou counties — a 77 percent increase over year. More people participated, as well — the 4,504 gifts were a 64 percent boost from last year, and the average gift of $130 was up by $5.

"With the success we saw the first year, we knew this next year was going to be significant, but we had no idea just how significantly successful it would turn out to be," says Kerry Caranci, CEO of the Shasta Regional Community Foundation. "With the increase in nonprofits and the generosity of our community, we really shouldn't have been surprised. We live in such a caring and generous place."

Giving Tuesday is a national initiative that local organizations make their own, encouraging people to "give where you live." Donations were collected on Nov. 29, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick off the charitable giving season. This year's dollars went even further thanks to incentives of more than $80,000 provided by Shasta Regional Community Foundation's Knodel Family Endowment Fund. Outreach and business partners were hourly sponsors and active ambassadors during the drive, encouraging others to do their year-end giving online to benefit organizations they hold dear to their hearts.

The one-day event, with 96 nonprofits and their supporters spreading the word, made for an exciting day fueled by a sense of urgency. "To be able to refresh the webpage and see those dollars going up by hundreds and thousands — people want to be participating in that," Caranci says.

The Shasta Regional Community Foundation's services include gift planning, options for family philanthropy, administrative support to simplify giving and more. The Community Foundation continuously monitors the community to understand the nature of need, the forces of change, available resources and the capacity for growth.

"We always say, you don't have to be a millionaire to be a philanthropist. We can help anybody achieve their charitable goals," Caranci explains. "We are really able to do all of the work for our donors. We're more efficient and time effective than creating a foundation, so more dollars can go to the grant opportunities you wish to see rather than administrative costs.

The Shasta Regional Community Foundation's grant programs include the Animal Welfare Endowment Fund, Burney Regional Community Fund, Community Arts Endowment Fund, Community Disaster Relief Fund, McConnell Fund, Redding Rancheria Community Fund and The Women's Fund. 

"We bring the expertise in administering funds, and convening grant panels to review the applications and work with the organizations to ensure the dollars are spent wisely and most effectively," Caranci says.

Laam Custom Motorcycle Seats

Tuesday, November 01, 2016  

With a powerful engine beneath you and nothing but open road ahead, there’s no feeling quite like revving up a motorcycle and leaving the world behind.

Until the next morning, when the adrenaline rush has worn off and every single one of your muscles reminds you that every thrill comes with a price. 

Fortunately, Seth Laam has a solution for that. The founder and head designer of Laam Custom Motorcycle Seats, he’s made a career out of keeping riders comfortable on their bikes.

“I hand-tailor seats to the person’s height, weight and inseam,” Laam explains. “Working with motorcycles is my passion.”

Combining old-fashioned quality with the latest in technology, Laam pays keen attention to detail and has earned a stellar reputation worldwide. “I’m shipping a seat to England this week,” he said. 

Laam has customized thousands of motorcycle seats over the years, hand-sculpting each one for a one-of-a-kind fit that gets the rider perfectly balanced to ensure the most comfortable ride possible. Customers can also take advantage of the “Ride-In” option, where they drive their bike to the shop and Laam constructs the seat while they relax.

The self-taught artist has loved motorcycles since he was a child, and his passion was fueled by the thrill of speed and the joy of getting away from it all. “They’re dangerous, but fun,” Laam says. “It’s about living life on the wild side — being adventurous.”

And the North State is a great place to take on that adventure. “Highway 36 is world known,” Laam says. “The roads around here are just awesome.”

A&R Custom Butchering

Friday, September 09, 2016

Do big-box retailers have you longing for a more personal touch when you’re buying the foods that you feed your family? Red Bluff is home to a shop that serves up premium quality meats, produce and more, topping off the experience with a laser-sharp focus on customer service. 

Dwayne and Barbra Casteel own and operate A&R Custom Butchering, and they’ve dedicated themselves to its success. Their reputation for taking pride in what they do has helped them build a loyal following of local customers.

“We live in a small community, and you can make or break your business’ reputation in a very short time,” Barbra says. “It only takes one bad customer service experience.”

And the secret of their spectacular service is out: A&R Custom Butchering was recently named Tehama County Business of the Quarter by the Red Bluff-Tehama County Chamber of Commerce and the Red Bluff Daily News. 

A&R offers custom butchering and mobile slaughtering, specializing in domestic and wild game, which is a service appreciated by hunters, ranchers, fair buyers and more. “You tell us specifically how you want it cut up and we get it done,” Barbra says.

The shop has a full retail meat counter, produce, seafood, meat packs, deli meats and cheeses — including specialty items that are tough to find elsewhere, like alligator and frog legs.

Custom orders are welcome. “We have customers that want to buy several of one item, but have it wrapped, say, two to a package. We do that. We want the customer to be happy they came here from the moment they walk in to the moment they walk out,” Barbra says.

In January, they began making deli sandwiches six days a week, including hot pulled pork and hot tri-tip sandwiches on certain days. “I tell our staff that we need to be fast, personable and know our customers,” Barbra says. “We remember their names and we remember what they like. We have to make it where people want to drive out to us — not just to bring them in, but to keep them.”

Dwayne and Barbra were in the same kindergarten class at Antelope School; their sons, Cole, 14, and Shane, 12, also attended Antelope. “We really feel connected to the town,” Barbra says.

Dwayne started learning to cut meat at age 15 while working as a “clean-up kid” in a butcher shop in Cottonwood, where he learned from a man who was born in a meat packing house. “You can’t go to school and learn that,” Dwayne says. “If I wouldn’t have started there, I wouldn’t know that side of the business.”

Dwayne managed Raley’s and Safeway stores before coming to work for Adam and Russ at A&R Custom Butchering, which was then a tiny meat counter in Dairyville. He became a partner eight years ago, and he and his wife became the sole owners of the company last year. 

The Casteels have been married for 15 years, and their sons help with the business during the summer and school breaks. “Our customers absolutely love them,” Barbra says. “It’s nice to have a family-oriented company.” 

And they appreciate the privilege of being able to run a business in a community where their roots run deep. 

“When you’re passionate about your job and you get to come to work every day to a job you love, it’s pretty rare,” Barbra says.

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