'Papa' Joe named parade grand
by Lenny Roberts
For his long and distinguished history of volunteering for
the community, "Papa" Joe Silvestri has been named
grand marshal of the 2002 Ojai Independence Day parade.
Each year, the Ojai Independence Day Committee selects the person
it believes has unassumingly contributed to the community with
little or no praise, according to board member Pat Bushman-Nelles.
Silvestri was born and raised in Ojai, served in the military,
and came home to marry and raise five children. He owns Silvestri
Construction, which has been contracted to do many local projects.
On many of the jobs for his church, schools and other nonprofit
organizations, Bushman-Nelles noted that he only charges for
the materials and pays for the labor himself.
"Few have been aware that he is such a generous and helpful
citizen," she said. "There is so much that can be told
about Joe that it will be difficult to condense this information
into a news release.
"Every Fourth of July, you will see two of Joe's trucks
in the parade as a float donated to help celebrate. For the last
six years, his workers have supplied the security for the Optimist
Club and Ojai Beauty Pageant, and he has been chief cook and
bottle washer at St. Joseph's annual fund-raising barbecue for
At the annual Silvestri Construction Christmas party, the rule
is that employees must bring toys or food, which is then given
to needy Ojai Valley families. Always a sports fan, Silvestri
Construction has sponsored numerous teams over the years, and
typically donates uniforms for Little League, softball, basketball
and soccer teams. He also has been involved in 4H for many years,
lending his property to any young person who does not have a
place to keep their animals. Whatever doesn't sell at the Ventura
County Fair, he buys so that no kid feels left out, according
to Bushman-Nelles. He also pays his workers to keep the grounds
clean at his church, St. Thomas Aquinas, and is a staunch supporter
of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, to which he lost a daughter
"The last year has been a challenge to all, and it has made
us realize how important family and friends are to life,"
Bushman-Nelles said. "Joe Silvestri is a good family man
who never tires of giving to this community, and has never been
recognized for being the true hero that he is to family, church,
friends and community."
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
Back to the news