Local anti-war activist and retired publisher John Fremont doesn’t believe in gambling. So when third grader Eden Lorentzen and her dad, Bob, offered him a raffle ticket on his way into Harvest Market one Tuesday afternoon in December, he declined, telling them as much.
The father-daughter team were selling Prius raffle tickets for the Caspar Creek Learning Community (formerly Mendocino Satellite School), the non-classroom-based K-5 public charter school program where Eden is enrolled. Caspar Creek regularly holds raffles, pet vaccine clinics and other events to make ends meet. Raffle proceeds will pay off a 2003 loan to add a K-1 building, and fund long-needed repairs to the 2-5 building.
Fremont, who works as a Parent Advocate with the Children’s System of Care at the county Department of Mental Health, must have reconsidered while shopping. On his way out of Harvest, he paid $20 for a one-in-2500 chance to win a Toyota Prius or $20,000 cash. The following Sunday, his winning ticket was drawn by guest of honor Penny Honer, co-owner of Harvest.
The hushed gathering of fifty or sixty parents, teachers and students packed into a classroom at Caspar Creek’s Road 409 learning center for the drawing that evening were surprised and amused, however, when the phone number Fremont had written on his ticket stub a mere five days earlier failed to connect as parent Bob Lorentzen tried to call with the news. “I don’t know,” Fremont said later. “We sometimes have trouble with phones.”
The suspense didn’t last long. Later that evening, Caspar Creek teacher Nina Ravitz saw Fremont’s wife, Cynthia Frank, who directs the Mendocino Women’s Choir, at another event, and relayed the news of his good fortune.
Fremont, a former Peace Corps volunteer and Freedom Rider, and co-founder of both the local chapter of Amnesty International and the award-winning Mendocino Coast Peace and Justice Center, had given the raffle ticket to his son Anthony as a birthday gift, along with the admonition, “Gambling is for losers. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Work for a living.”
“Now he wants to learn handicapping,” Fremont joked.
Anthony plans to donate an unspecified portion of the $20,000 prize to a local charity. Fremont added, “Local non-profits are encouraged to apply.”