By Hayley Thomas
Paso Robles Waste & Recycle C.E.O. and recent Studios on the Park Sweet Art Honoree Dale Gomer holds three elements of his life near and dear to his heart: Family, community and business. However, if you sit down with the longtime local for more than a few minutes, you’ll likely also hear about what might be his greatest art and passion: Football. A former UC Santa Barbara middle linebacker and dedicated youth sports advocate, Gomer’s office walls are covered in photos of area youth sports teams, a testament to the many lives he’s touched.
On Wednesday, Feb. 12, Gomer will be celebrated for his more than 50 years of dedication to the Paso Robles community during Studios on the Park’s annual Sweet Art Fundraising Luncheon. The major Paso Robles Festival of the Arts fundraiser, catered by Cass Winery’s Chef Jacob Lovejoy, will raise much-needed dollars for the free, annual arts extravaganza slated to unfold on May 25 in Downtown City Park.
Studios on the Park Programs Director Sasha Irving said Gomer is a truly worthy Sweet Arts Honoree recipient. The 2008 Roblan of the Year honoree currently serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Northern San Luis Obispo County and has spent decades coaching and mentoring local youth sports teams.
“In the arts, just like with athletics, you never know what’s going to speak to each child or how [the discipline] will resonate,” said Irving. “Occasionally, we come across children where we can just tell that art is their calling…Studios on the Park has only been around for five years, and Dale has been here 57 years. The influence he has had on local children is incredible. He remembers more than their names — he remembers the individual stories of each child. We strive to do the same thing at Studios on the Park.”
The Paso Robles Festival of the Arts helps fund Studios on the Park’s yearlong Kids Art Smart program, which offers free classes to local youth. Since 2011, more than 4,000 public elementary students have visited Studios on the Park and taken advantage of the hands-on professional art classes; Gomer said he shares in Studios on the Park’s core mission to serve local children.
“Applying yourself in [any field] takes so much discipline and tremendous commitment,” said Gomer. “I used to tell the kids I’ve coached that if you can play the game, you don’t have to necessarily be successful, but if you can go through all the training and drills and do the best you can, it will make you a better person, both physically and mentally.”
Gomer said he’s seen positive results take root in local lives, especially when the values of dedication and commitment are applied to schoolwork, sports, interpersonal relationships and life goals.
It’s no wonder, then, that those family values span generations within the Gomer clan. Paso Robles Waste & Recycle has been proudly family-owned and operated for three generations. Gomer’s father, Victor, purchased the waste hauler franchise in 1957.
As a youth, Gomer enjoyed helping out at the family business, working weekends on the landfill alongside his brother, Dennis. His mother, Ida, managed the day-to-day office operations.
After a period of time away from San Luis Obispo County — where Gomer served in the military and attended the University of California Santa Barbara — the small town boy finally returned home to Paso Robles. In July of 1984, Gomer would become general manager of the family business, a decision that led him to eventually take the helm as president and C.E.O. Over the years, sons Jed and Isiah have both had their turn working within the company.
Gomer said he’s fortunate to have a strong family background as well as unbreakable community ties.
“Since the inception of Paso Robles Waste & Recycle, the fundamental element of the company has been the employees,” he said. “Without all of the amazing people that have worked for us over the years, it would have been impossible to service the city of Paso Robles…I believe every business owner has the obligation to serve and support the community.”
Gomer also underscored the importance of improving the solid waste industry. He strives to employ the newest technological advances available.
“In many ways, PRW&R is setting new standards for the industry in terms of innovative technologies and sustainable practices that are unseen at other hauling companies throughout the nation,” said Gomer. The solar-powered business will debut a new, compressed natural gas [CNG] Fueling station in January. The public station will be the first of its kind in North County, according to Gomer.
“We are going to give the community of Paso Robles an opportunity to utilize CNG fuel, which is substantially cheaper and cleaner,” said Gomer. “All in all, we are aiming to make Paso Robles a lot cleaner to live in.”
Creating a greener Paso Robles is also part of Studios on the Park’s overall message. Most notably, the Paso Robles Festival of the Arts was born of a need to raise awareness of the Salinas River Corridor Project, which has benefitted greatly from the Festival’s proceeds.
“From his work improving the local environment to helping local youth, we are thrilled to celebrate Dale Gomer as our Sweet Art honoree,” said Irving. “We are so proud to have his leadership in the community and partnership in this important fundraising event.”
Event Chair, Barbara Partridge is thrilled at this year's Sweet Art choice. "Dale not only personifies Paso Robles values, but also unabashedly models the ability to throw his support to life enriching efforts that range from advocating for a clean environment, to inspiring children with his successful sports legacy, and now to encouraging all of us to foster the arts in Paso Robles through our children."
2014 Sweet Art Fundraising Luncheon dedicated to Dale Gomer
A Benefit for the Paso Robles Festival of the Arts
Wednesday, February 12, 2014: 12:00 Noon
Studios on the Park, 1130 Pine Street - Paso Robles
Tickets $48 Each
Please RSVP by February 1, 2014.