Jim Ott's Blog

This blog is a collection of columns I've written for Bay Area News Group newspapers serving the East San Francisco Bay region.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Volunteer rides with a heart for community

This column was published in the Tri-Valley Herald on June 10, 2008.

A few weeks ago, Jerry Pentin was riding his bicycle along Calaveras Road near the Sunol Regional Wilderness. Like most of his excursions along this favorite route, the ride was scenic, but uneventful.

That is, until a mountain lion stepped onto the road 25 feet ahead.

“I let out a loud and long ‘Wow!’” said Pentin, who lives in Pleasanton.

This startled the lion, which simultaneously looked at Pentin and crouched, then scurried across the road to jump 8 feet onto a hillside. It then jumped up another 8 feet and looked down at Pentin as he came to a stop to admire the cat.

“I've spent my life in the outdoors of California,” said Pentin, 51, who owns Spring Street Studios, a video production firm that has served most of the big companies in Silicon Valley. The studio has also shot hours of wildlife footage for a diverse clientele.

“I've shot video of desert tortoises, rattle snakes, ospreys, and sharks,” Pentin said, “and I’ve encountered bobcats and lynx along with lots of wild critters over the years.”

Since Pentin started cycling a few years ago, he has seen raptors, elk, a fox, a coyote, and now the mountain lion. “I even had a bald eagle fly right over my head just a few weeks ago,” he said.

While Pentin enjoys cycling for exercise and has ridden over 1,800 miles this year alone, he’s become something of an advocate for cycling in Pleasanton.

“I’m currently the vice chair of the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee,” said Pentin, who also serves as a Parks and Recreation commissioner since 2004 and is the liaison to the East Bay Regional Park District. “The advisory committee has been formed to create a master plan to make Pleasanton a friendlier place for bicyclists and pedestrians," he said.

Community involvement is a way of life for Pentin. As a member of Rotary since 1984, he has participated in numerous community projects, and chaired for three years an annual event where local service clubs worked together to provide repairs and litter clean up throughout Pleasanton.

In March 1997, he was appointed to the Pleasanton Golf Course Committee by then-mayor Ben Tarver after a meeting with Tarver and council members Sharrell Michelotti and Kay Ayala.

“We thought it would take between a year and 18 months for the committee to complete its work on Callippe Preserve,” Pentin said. The course opened eight years later in November 2005. “Not exactly a short 18 months."

Pentin, who served in the Marines and is distantly related to the famous feuding Hatfields, was also appointed to the Veterans Building Task Force, which oversaw renovation of the historic hall, and he has participated in various other committees over the years, including Trails Ad Hoc and the Kottinger Place task force. “One of my favorite task forces involved public art in the downtown,” he said.

Along with donating his time, Pentin often involves the talented employees of Spring Street Studios in creating videos to support fundraisers.

“I'm proud of the work my studio has produced over the years with non-profits,” he said. The videos have raised tens of thousands of dollars, especially for wheelchairs, many of which Pentin has personally delivered with other Pleasanton North Rotarians in Nicaragua, Peru, Bolivia and Mexico.

Pentin credits his wife of 24 years, Josine, with allowing him to dedicate so much time to volunteer work. “I’m blessed to have found someone who understands my passion for community,” he said, adding, with a twinkle in his blue eyes, “and she's pretty darn good looking too.”
When he’s not serving others or pursuing his goal to cycle 3,660 miles this year, Pentin enjoys supporting his daughter and her pursuit of golf. “I’ve traveled with Joi to more than 100 tournaments over the years, many that take us all over the United States,” he said.
Pentin first gave his daughter a set of clubs at age four. She showed a knack for the game, and now, at 16, has played in three Junior World Championships and in two Walmart 1st Tee Opens at Pebble Beach, along with other national junior tournaments.
“I enjoy serving our community and participating in my various roles in life,” Pentin said, “but my favorite role is as Joi’s dad.”


she said...

great read! -few thoughts here,

1) amazing this ONE person is accomplishing so many wonderful, healthy, creative, exciting things
albeit, w/support of wife/family/friends/peers

great legacy in progress

2) equally amazing how smoothly YOU were able to incorporate so much information into this one article, when it could easily fill a thick book

and lastly.. this is the same person who recently did a closing commentary ~few more words~ for in a word, yes?

advocating/celebrating reading..

i had my children watch..

wonderful segment!

THANK YOU! love, ~s.

Jim Ott said...

Yes, this is the same fellow who appeared recently on "In a Word" to share his thoughts about the importance of readng. It's a message many have forgotten. Glad your kids watched!

Keep an eye out for Mr. Pentin around town, sometimes at Tully's after a bike ride, but usually doing good community work.