By Greg Hardesty
Residents of Amethyst Street in Garden Grove started arriving at the house just after 6 p.m. Monday evening – parents and children, some with pets in tow – to honor one of their own.
Robert Beserra, who has lived in the five-bedroom house on the corner of Amethyst and Stanford Avenue since 1963, took it all in quietly as he greeted the 50-plus people he knows by sight and name.
Neighbors convened on Beserra’s brick porch to watch Garden Grove Police Chief Kevin J. Raney present him with a Chief’s Coin for Merit.
“I can’t get this many people to show up at my house,” Raney joked with Beserra before the brief ceremony.
Beserra, 57, lives alone in the house.
He roams the neighborhood on a black-and-purple bicycle, a childhood accident (he fell out of a car) rendering him unable to drive.
To Amethyst residents, Beserra is greeter, watchman and gardener.
He sweeps the street after events like the neighborhood’s Fourth of July block party.
He knocks on doors to warn people to move their cars on street-cleaning day so they won’t get ticketed.
He reminds them to take out their bins on trash pickup day.
Also, on two occasions, Beserra found personal property on the street – most recently, on the Fourth of July — and notified police.
“Because of his actions, we were able to successfully return the property to its rightful owners,” said Cindy Nagamatsu Hanlon, manager of the Garden Grove PD’s Community Liaison Division.
“Robert is a real asset to this neighborhood,” said Veba Clark, a resident of Amethyst Street since 1972.
For years, Beserra has earned money mowing Clark’s lawn and doing yardwork for other residents.
Mainly, from behind his wrought-iron porch fence, he watches.
“You can drive down the street at midnight or at 6 a.m. in the morning and he’ll be there,” said Joleen Erickson, a 16-year resident.
Erickson, her husband and three children (twin 19-year-olds and an 11-year-old) were on hand to see Beserra receive the chief’s medal – a program the chief started to honor residents who perform acts of kindness or contribute to the good of the city. Recipients of the Chief’s Coin of Merit meet at an annual dinner where they’re honored as a group.
Raney told the residents he had heard about Beserra for years but, until Monday, he had never met him.
Amethyst has a model Neighborhood Watch program, the chief said — and Beserra deserves a lot of credit.
“I think people feel a little safer knowing that you’re keeping an eye on the community,” Raney told Beserra.
“What you’re doing is working,” Raney said after presenting him the coin. “You’re making a difference.”
Beserra took off his blue Garden Grove cap and saluted the crowd with a wave and some words of thanks.
“Thanks Robert!” a man yelled.
“Good job, Robert!’’ said another.