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InterView Magazine

Ready and Willing to Serve

        Banning residents, and Inter Valley members, 75-year-old Salvatore “Sal” Tolone and his wife Irene met almost 30 years ago while working in the same office. “After our first date, I knew I was going to marry her because we blended so well when we danced,” remembers Sal.
        There is symmetry to their love story: this is the second marriage for both of them and they each have three daughters from their previous marriages. All six of the Tolones’ daughters were in their wedding party.
        Now retired, the couple has been married for 26 years, and dancing is still one of their passions. If you know where to go, you might find them dancing the Foxtrot or swaying to Sal’s favorite song, “Lady” by Kenny Rogers. “That song is meant for Irene and I,” says Sal. The Tolones love to go dancing. Whenever there is a dance at one of their local community centers, Sal and Irene are there. Sal says that dinner dances are a great way for anyone to have an inexpensive and fun night out. “For $10 a person you get a really nice dinner, a DJ, and dancing—and it’s just great.”
        They often attend dances at the Calimesa, Redlands, and Plantation community centers. “They know us now,” Sal laughs. They also have friends who enjoy going to the dances, and they will often go as a group. “Community dances give couples an opportunity to “get gussied up and go out,” and though they have never taken any formal dance lessons, that has never slowed them down. “You just go back to how you danced in the 40s, 50s, and 60s and just put it together,” says Sal. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Ready For Anything

        Both Sal and Irene are also active in their neighborhood Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. In 2004, Sal, Steve and Janice McGill, Karl Benink, and Andy Sendis—Serrano Del Vista residents—recognized the importance of having  professionally trained team of neighbors so they attended the CERT program training and became nationally certified in the CERT program. “Once they got the meetings set up at our Clubhouse, I attended the classes and got certified in the program, too,” said Irene.
        CERT members are trained to help as “first responders” in areas like search and rescue, first aid, triage, and responding to the needs of people in the community who may be hurt—until emergency professionals can get to the scene. The Serrano Del Vista CERT program teaches regular classes to train community members how to be prepared and able to respond in the event
of an emergency.  Sal and Irene are part of their neighborhood community of 34 government trained CERT members and an equal number of volunteers. Banning’s mayor, Debbie Franklin, also CERT trained, is very supportive of the Serrano Del Vista CERT Team’s disaster preparedness efforts.
Pictured L to R back row: Serrano Del Vista CERT Coordinator, Steve McGill, Jerry Jackson & John Parton. Bottom row L to R, Carol Mclaughlin, Irene & Sal Tolone with Banning Mayor Debbie Franklin.

Keeping active together

       The Tolones enjoy being together, in fact, Irene says, “we do everything together, and love it. We have respect and love for each other—it keeps a marriage together”
        In addition to dancing, Sal and Irene stay active with frequent water aerobics classes at the pool in their gated community of Serrano Del Vista. The Tolones also enjoy going tent camping whenever they can— “the real deal,” Sal says—at Lake Perris or Lake Skinner.
        Irene encourages Sal to take almost daily walks with her. “We keep ourselves fit,” says Sal, “and sometimes it’s hard…you have to force yourself to do it. The only way you’re going to be healthy is by staying active.” Irene, who Sal affectionately calls his “social director,” is also part of a weekly card club. She and five other women meet every Monday to play cards and socialize. She is also an avid gardener with a very green thumb, and their garden is a “marvel” according to day at a time. The clock doesn’t mean anything to us.”
          Irene, who Sal affectionately calls his “social director,” is also part of a weekly card club. She and five other women meet every Monday to play cards and socialize. She is also an avid gardener with a very green thumb, and their garden is a “marvel” according to Sal.  
         For Sal, who collects antique watches, and Irene who loves to crochet, each day is filled with new adventures. “We take [life] one day at a time. The clock doesn’t mean anything to us.” 
        What advice do Sal and Irene have for those who want to live happy and full lives? “Think positive in your life! Go for your yearly check ups, and watch what you eat.” Sal also advises to take pleasure in the little things. “Find something you enjoy,“ says Sal, “and getting out and being active is  fun."

What is CERT?

    The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a national program that educates communities in disaster preparedness, team organization, disaster medical operations, disaster fire suppression, and search and rescue operations. Certified members and volunteers act as first responders in the event of an emergency, working with local Fire and Police departments. 


  • Have a “go bag,” a disaster supplies kit, on hand with food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours
  • Have and emergency escape plan for disasters and communicate it to all loved ones
  • If you or a loved one are housebound, wheelchair bound, sight or hearing impaired— make sure your CERT community or police station knows ahead of time. Provide them with your address and your needs, so they are able to come and assist you if there is an emergency
  • Visit the CERT website at community-emergency-response-teams for more tips and resources about how to plan and be prepared for emergencies, and to find a CERT program near you
  • For a quick check list of emergency and disaster preparedness, go to Inter Valley’s website at
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