By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
In a quiet neighborhood on Aug. 14, 2005, gunshots rang out, shattering not only the silence, but a family as well.
A mother and father saw their son’s car parked in the driveway while their son was a few houses down the street, wounded and clinging to life. He died at the hospital a few hours later.
The memory is still vivid for Michael Warren, a sergeant at California Medical Facility. His son, Gerard Warren, was 20 at the time of the shooting and his assailants have never been caught. Gerard was a young man who steered clear of gangs, violence and drugs.
“It’s like it happened yesterday,” Michael said. “Gerard was a loving person. He loved kids as well.”
The G-Rod Foundation, an organization seeking to better the community and honor the memory of Gerard, was forged in grief at the funeral.
“My mother-in-law wanted to get this started,” he said. “She wanted to do something in his memory. His name was Gerard so we came up G-Rod. It was like a nickname.”
According to Michael, the charitable organization gave the family a positive focus.
“We knew we couldn’t just let it rest and do nothing about it. It was something positive and is keeping his memory alive as well, (and) so we said, let’s do it,” he said.
They regularly stuff backpacks with supplies to give to needy children during a back-to-school fair and block party. In 2007, they distributed 125 backpacks. In 2013, 2014 and 2015, the number increased to 300.
The organization has also provided scholarships to college-bound students, as well as to someone pursuing a career as an X-ray technician – like Gerard was doing before he was gunned down. They’ve also donated to other charities, delivered Thanksgiving dinners to needy families and distributed gifts to people without families who are in assisted living facilities.
“I feel good to be able to do this,” Gerard Warren’s mother, Terrie, told the Vallejo Times-Herald in 2012. “I feel great, even if we can make a difference to just one kid. I feel my son’s life isn’t in vain.”
Terrie said the comment still holds true today.
“My mom and I filed the 501(c)3 (non-profit status form),” Terrie said. “I was in school at the time and my teacher, who was a lawyer, helped me complete the form to get the (non-profit status). We knew education was key so if we could help one person get educated, it meant they wouldn’t be doing other things, like criminal activity.”
She said they’ve managed to secure a few local sponsors.
“We’ve been blessed that the sponsors have helped up keep going on. We don’t have any major sponsors yet,” she said.
The next planned fundraiser for the G-Rod Foundation is a crab feed from 4-8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, at the American Legion, 420 Admiral Callaghan Lane, Vallejo. Tickets are $40 each, available by calling (707) 642-7425 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next back-to-school block party is scheduled for noon to 6 p.m., July 23.
“There is free food, a water slide, bounce houses, backpacks with school supplies and tons of books,” Michael said.
Terrie said CMF’s employees have been there to help.
“We have many employees from CMF who come out and volunteer at the event,” Terrie said. “They are the most supportive group.”
(Editor’s note: Some websites may not be accessible from a CDCR computer.)
Learn more about the group at https://gerardwarren.vpweb.com/default.html