Fundraising event honors late counselor


Cinthia Loera

Widow Rachel Gonzales poses with her children around a photo of Manuel Gonzales Jr. at the scholarship fundraiser event. Manuel passed away earlier this year and was a counselor at Bakersfield College for 37 years.

Mason J. Rockfellow, Photo Editor


A scholarship fundraiser with live music at the Huddle in front of Bakersfield College’s Memorial Stadium was held to build a foundation for the Manuel Gonzales Jr. Memorial Scholarship and honor his memory.

Manuel Gonzales Jr. who worked as a counselor at BC for 37 years, died earlier this year on July 27.

In honor of Gonzales, his family and BC got together to create a BC scholarship in his honor.

“He loved to help students,” said Andrae Gonzales, 33, son of Gonzales. “It’s a way to honor him and his legacy by continuing his work.”

With Gonzales’s family, BC, and Children First Campaign teaming up, they made the spaghetti and meatball fundraiser happen before the football game on October 10.

Spaghetti and meatballs was chosen because it was one of Gonzales’ favorite meals.

“He loved his spaghetti and meatballs, so he was remembered for that,” said Andrae. “It’s funny because he’s probably one of the only ones in our family who really liked spaghetti and meatballs. [Laughs] So that is what we are doing today in his honor.”

The fundraiser was accompanied by live blues music performed by Ben Thomas, known as Mississippi Ben, 75, on guitar; Gilbert Perez, 67, on drums; and Nino Macias, 73, on bass. The whole group sang with Ben taking the lead.

The Manuel Gonzales Jr. Memorial Scholarship is going to try to give five scholarships each year.

They would like to give a scholarship to BC students, a Cal State student, and college transfer student either from BC or straight out of high school.

They would also like to give a scholarship to a nursing student.

Andrae said that there is an emphasis on the nursing scholarship because of what nurses did for his father and his family.

Gonzales had Guillian-Barre syndrome and was in long-term care for the three years and what helped make Gonzales’ days good were nurses.

“We want to support those students who want to go into nursing, because we need good nurses,” said Andrae.

Son of Gonzales, Marc Gonzales, 30, said that he really likes the idea of the scholarship and thought that the fundraiser was put together well.

“It is perfectly in-line with what he supported,” said Marc. “They did a really good job.”

Gonzales’s grandson, Nick Gonzales, 21, a graphic design and fire technician double major, plans on finishing out both majors and then will decide on a career. Nick is also pleased with the scholarship.

“He wanted to help kids and students to get through college and even help start,” said Nick.

Andrae is hoping to make the spaghetti and meatball fundraiser an annual event.