Karina Becerra

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Karina loved growing up in Fort Bragg and, unlike many of her contemporaries, never longed to escape. “People here are good to each other. The setting is amazing.”

The second oldest of 16 grandchildren of her mother’s side, Karina was also the second in her family to go to college. “I chose Saint Mary’s in Moraga because they offered a good financial aid package, and my second cousin Mimi was going there.”

Karina has a passion for language and chose to major in Spanish. She took a second major in International Area Studies where she focused on Latin America. She also minored in Italian.

“My first language was Spanish, but my parents stressed literacy in both Spanish and English. I love studying language.” She spent the second semester of her sophomore year in Cuernavaca, Mexico. “I took classes in Spanish and the history of Mexico.” Growing up, she spent a lot of time in Mexico with her family. Her experience as a college student allowed her to delve more deeply into the culture.

The second semester of her junior year, she was able to study in Rome. “I lived in an apartment along the Vatican Wall,” she said with a smile.

karinafamilyAfter college, she moved home to Fort Bragg in 2012 to regroup and figure out her next move. She was 22. “I picked up some shifts at Los Gallitos, worked for Carol Millsap for a year, and took on overnight shifts for Andersson Caregiving, caring for elderly and terminally ill people. This was one of the most significant jobs I ever had, getting to care for people in that way. Each experience taught me something and made me a better person. It reminded me we’re all going to grow old and die. It caused me to be less self-centered.”

Karina also became and remains a volunteer after-hours crisis counselor for Project Sanctuary. “I’ve been blessed with an amazing family and this has given me a different perspective on the human experience. It allows me to step into the shoes of another whose life is in chaos because of sexual assault or being controlled by another person.” Project Sanctuary eventually hired her as a part time bilingual advocate.

In February 2013, she was returning from spending the day in Santa Rosa. “It was ten o’clock at night and I hit a patch of black ice. My car flew off the road, rolled 300 feet down a hill and landed on the roof. I had a gash in my leg and a head wound. I was able to get out and crawl up to the road. Eventually a man in a pickup, returning to Fort Bragg with his young son, stopped and helped me.”

She’s grateful to have survived the ordeal. “The accident made me realize how our lives can change or end in an instant. I used to think I had to stick to a timeline in terms of academic and life goals. I had hoped to be home for a short while, return to the Bay Area, and try to get into grad school. I realized it’s okay for plans to be out of order as long as I’m moving forward and doing things that help me grow.”

When her friend Katrina Caukwell suggested they take a trip to Asia that summer, Karina to readily agreed. Since her time in Italy, she hadn’t done any traveling. “It was a perfect time in my life to spend nearly two months in a faraway place completely out of my comfort zone. It was another amazing look at how people in other countries live.”

karinamexicoShe returned in the fall of 2013 to take a full time position at Project Sanctuary as a client advocate and counselor. When the organization received a sexual assault prevention grant, Karina was hired to conduct community outreach with other agencies—Safe Passage, the Children’s Fund, Gang Awareness and Prevention. “We disseminated information about healthy relationships, especially among teens. I provided in-service to groups like the Catholic church’s youth groups and held lunchtime meetings at the middle school and high school. At Fort Bragg High School, I organized the Youth Leadership Team, a group focused on teen education and awareness, which still exists today.”

Katrina also helped develop the Latino Coalition, an organization that provides a community forum for Spanish speakers. “Our goal is to empower and educate the Latino community and share our beautiful culture with the rest of our community. The Jewish community has guided us in organizing. We eventually want to become a service club. As of now our fundraising efforts support five to seven college scholarships for Hispanics each year.”

In 2016, Katrina was encouraged to apply to establish and teach Spanish and World Culture classes that would be offered at the middle school that fall. She was excited to get the job, but overwhelmed with the idea of creating a curriculum. Her mentor and friend Gail Porcelan came to her rescue. “Gail was my middle school history teacher and my parents’ ESL teacher. She basically handed me everything I needed from materials she’d used over the past 20 years.”

karinasillyHer first year entailed teaching a World Culture and Language class to sixth graders and a couple of Spanish classes to seventh graders. “This year, I had to add a second level Spanish class for the eighth graders. It’s the equivalent of high school Spanish I.” She teaches separate Spanish classes for native speakers. If all that isn’t enough, she also teaches a seventh grade AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) class on critical thinking and study skills.

“My first year, I felt like a blind person, feeling my way around. Thankfully everyone was very supportive. This second year I’m more relaxed and the experience is more rewarding. I love that I get to be silly with the kids—they keep me young. I also love that I can be creative  and make engaging lessons. ”

Karina continues her involvement with the Latino Coalition and is also a Partnership Scholars mentor. “I’ve been matched with three girls since they were in seventh grade. They’re sophomores in high school now. I offer them enrichment experiences by taking them on trips. Last year, we went to New York City.”

She attributes her drive and ambition to her upbringing. “My parents instilled in me the sense of doing my best. My dad reminds us that anyone can be average and we should never be content with being mediocre. I was raised to be an optimist who finds beauty and value in every experience.”

Karina has recently been given the opportunity to expand her skill set and gain further education. Unfortunately for us, this means leaving the area. “This summer, I’ll wrap up my Master’s in Spanish at Sonoma State. My alma mater Saint Mary’s granted me a scholarship to get my teaching credential and I’ll start that in the fall. I’ll also teach Spanish at Saint Mary’s College High School in Berkeley.”

She hopes to one day return to Fort Bragg. “That’s the beauty of home—it will always be here and there will always be something for me to help out with. Ideally, I see myself teaching but we shall see where the road leads.”

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Dewey Turner

deweyheadDewey Turner considers himself a positive person. If you’re fortunate to spend time with him you’ll agree with that assessment. There’s a twinkle to his eyes that gives away his friendliness, a quickness to his wit that gets you laughing. He possesses a tender heart and a deep love of family.

Nineteen years after graduating from Fort Bragg High School, Dewey is living the life he always dreamed. He’s married with two daughters (ages three and thirteen), living in a house he bought a few blocks from his alma mater. He’s the operations manager of FloBeds, a custom mattress business started by his father 47 years ago. For the first time ever he feels balanced, content and happy.

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Dewey arrived with his family from the Bay Area to start sixth grade at Fort Bragg Middle School in 1993. According to him, “I adjusted quickly and made new friends. It helped that I played basketball, which gave me an instant identity.” In high school, he became a star player and his outgoing nature made him the life of the party. He reveled in being a big fish in a small pond.

“I loved growing up here. The teachers and community were supportive and caring. Life was good.”

After graduating in 1999, he went to Sonoma State where he planned to major in kinesiology. He didn’t like the courses and changed his major to communications and radio broadcasting.

“I was blown away by living away from home. I felt free to do anything I wanted. I made a lot of friends. If you lived on campus, you knew Dewey Turner. If you asked the professors about a student named Dewey Turner, they never heard of him.” He laughed. “After a year in the dorms, my partying lifestyle made me ineligible to live in student housing. During my first year off campus, I got into some trouble and had a wakeup call.”

This caused him to realize his purpose for being in college was to get an education, not to party. He began to focus on school and made the Dean’s List.

He also tried out for the basketball team. He hadn’t played for nearly two years—since his high school season ended. “I made the cut from 40 guys to 30 to 20. In the end, 15 got on the team. I was number 16.” He was asked to redshirt, meaning he’d spend the season on the bench.  “After that, I quit. I didn’t want to play at all.”

With the loss of his basketball identity, he returned to his carousing and mediocre student ways. However, he did become the sports editor for the college newspaper and started a radio show—“Hip Hop & Jock Radio.”

Like many people I’ve interviewed, Dewey returned to Fort Bragg after college to figure out his next move. “In 2003 I started work in the manufacturing and shipping departments at FloBeds. I was also the host of the Giants’ games for KMFB.

“I was coasting through life spending too much time partying. After a couple years my dad had a serious sit down with me. He asked me to think about what I wanted and where I was going. I made a complete 180 and dedicated myself to the family business.”

He continued to search for an identity. “I was white-knuckling it, trying to use the tool belt I’d gathered from my experiences to help me make good decisions, yet I was floundering. In an effort to find something to feed my need to be competitive, I played city rec league basketball, but that only got me through the winters. In 2007, I finally found what I was looking for in golf.

deweygolf“I was horrible at it, but figured if I practiced enough I’d get good.” He played five nights a week until dark and most weekends. He joined a golf tour and entered tournaments around Northern California. In 2012, he qualified for the national championship tournament at TPC Sawgrass in Florida and came in eighth among 150 entrants. That same year, he earned the title of Sacramento Player of the Year. In 2013 and again in 2017, he won the Little River Inn Golf Club Championship.

Dewey became the Operations Manager of FloBeds in 2009. Work and golf kept him busy, but his life felt unbalanced. “I always wanted a family and in September 2012 I met a wonderful woman—Jamie Fales. We fell in love and moved in together. She and her daughter Ali changed me. I realized I needed to be needed. The pieces of my life came together. I finally had what I’d wanted for so long.”

deweyjamieDewey and Jamie’s first date included Ali. They went to Mackerricher State Park beach and Jenny’s Giant Burger. “I knew I wanted them in my life forever. Ali and I have a special relationship. She’s truly my first daughter.”

Dewey’s life became more complete with the birth of his and Jamie’s daughter Mackenzie on Thanksgiving Day 2014. “That moment changed my life,” he said with a hand to his heart. “I have two daughters. I’m a dad now and that’s all that matters.”

After the birth of Mackenzie, he slowed down on golf. “I’m a weekend warrior now, also playing a couple times a week during the spring and summer. Jamie and I are a team and allow each other the ability to pursue activities we’re passionate about.

“The Christmas after Mackenzie was born, Jamie got a Fitbit. This encouraged her to start working out. She eventually attended Bethany Brewer’s morning boot camps. Before long she was competing in triathlons and Spartan races. She placed third in the recent 70.4-mile Long Beach Bayshore Triathlon.”

In the meantime, Dewey became the assistant Fort Bragg High School boys’ varsity basketball coach. “I’ve also continued to play rec league basketball alongside my mentor Tim Anderson. Our team, sponsored by FloBeds, has won the last three men’s league titles.”

deweydaveDewey loves Fort Bragg and the life he’s built since his return. “It seems our town needs to find its identity over and over again. So much of our future depends on how the mill site is developed. We need to keep opening our minds to change.”

He appreciates learning the business from his dad. “We’re always trying to innovate in order to maintain our success. Our slogan is ‘Every body’s built differently, their mattress should be too.’ Most of our business is done online and it’s a challenge to constantly figure out how to grow that presence.”

Dewey defines himself as a family man first. He is raising his girls to reach their full potential. Second is his work with FloBeds. “My family and our employees’ families depend on this, and I aim to carry on my father’s legacy. I’m proud to be his right hand, taking over his life’s work.” Then he lists basketball coaching and last being a golfer/basketball player—two things which a short time ago held higher priority on this list.

Thank you Dewey for returning home and adding to the rich texture of our coastal community.

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