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I received an email from Brent, who is active with Volunteer San Diego, asking if he might interview me and then broadcast it on a podcast, which he produces for the VSD site.
Brent was interested in hearing about some of my exploits with VSD, and I was more than happy to help him out.
|Here we see Brent sitting in
front of his recording equipment...can't believe he's still smiling after my
Brent is another one of those phenomenal people I've come across....I was going to list all of the things he is involved in right here next to his picture, but I just realized it won't fit!
Check out below, some of the many things he's involved with.
Team Leader for the Mira Mesa Homework Helpers
Team Leader for the Mira Mesa Tutoring program
Volunteers at the Polinski Center BBQ's
Regular Volunteer at the North County Food Bank
On the Board of Directors for the North County Food Bank
On Board of Directors for Volunteer San Diego...Marketing Chair
Interim Leader for Kid's Night Out at Casey's Place
Youth Volunteer Leader for the Natural History Museum
Back up Leader for the Beautified Nature Walks for Teens
Regular Volunteer at the San Diego Food Bank
Former Leader for the Weed Warrior Project
Volunteer Orientation Leader
All this when he's not working his full time job, or listening to me babble into his microphone!! The guy is amazing.
I'll be sure and place a link to the podcast on my site as soon as Brent's got it loaded up. I mentioned to him that I'm interested in doing an interview of him at some point in time...now that would make for interesting listening.
Here's the link to that podcast I promised you. http://www.vsdpodcast.org/?post_id=299530 If you click on the little button that says "pod" right before the title of the podcast, it should load up for you...good luck.
I Volunteered today at St. Vincent De Paul Village, serving the homeless. This place is amazing!! It provides both short and long term transitional housing and rehabilitation programs for over 900 residents and more than 2,000 non residents.
Quiet and empty...the calm before the storm.
Preparing bags of bread for the patrons to take with them when they left.
Let me tell you, there was lots of bread!!
People starting to line up outside.
Yep...you're right if you said, "Hey there's that guy again!" It's my good buddy Jack once again helping out.
Here's my little group of volunteers. We were responsible for serving the drinks.
This is Charlotte. She's the volunteer coordinator for the center. She kept us all on task.
This is Millie, the Team Leader from Volunteer San Diego. She was nice enough to squeeze me in to the event after it had filled.
Kacey on the left from VSD with her friend Victoria! They're happy because they got the easy job...passing out small packets of salt and pepper. Next time that's where I'm standing:)
My little group of bread packagers, juice pourers and servers.
From Left to Right...
Half way through the morning I realized how mean I had been as a kid for making fun of the Lunch Lady. Put a hair net on anybody and they're going to look just like she did. She was not to fault.
Sorry for all of those times I laughed behind your back Mrs. Crabtree:)
We helped to serve over 550 meals today. Charlotte mentioned it's not unusual for them to serve over 1,000 meals on many of the last Saturdays of the month. She also mentioned they are serving 3 meals a day 7 days a week! If you're interested in signing up, you better hurry...this particular event seems to fill up long in advance.
A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.
-D Elton Trueblood
I received an email from Laurel at Friend's of Cats asking if I'd be available to to help set up for a Cat Show at the Del Mar Fair Grounds. Laurel and her group of volunteers were going to bring some cats in hope that they would be able to adopt a few. Laurel had helpers to work at the show, but nobody to help setup....Grunt work, right up my alley.
The Friends of Cats chariot.
Here we are up at the fair.
This is all they gave her to work with.
Here’s Laurel showing off her handy work.
Laurel has an interesting background. She’s a “Reiki Master“….yep, I know, I wasn’t sure what that was either.
Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.
The interesting thing is that Laurel uses these techniques to work not only on people, but also on some of the ill cats at the facility. It has apparently made quite a difference on some of the felines.
Laurel also volunteers one day a month at Sharp Hospital working with the patients there. Quite a background!!
Laurel was kind enough to send me the following pictures from the show since I was unable to make it.
They got 3 of the cats new homes!!! Chip, Lady Marmalade and Witch all left with new families.
Here's "Money" working the crowd.
Chip and his new happy family!!
This is Joan Miller. She borrowed Chip to demonstrate to the crowd how to "dry wash" a cat...hmmmm?
"Nefertiti," the shelter mascot getting the attention she deserves:)
"Witch" with her new proud parents.
"Lady Marmalade" meets her new mommy.
Through Volunteer San Diego, I volunteered to accompany a group of developmentally disabled adults to the theater to watch a movie. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, we were not able to pick them up from their group home. I did though have a nice chat with the Operations Manager Rebecca and a couple of her staff CJ and Cheri while we were waiting.
I noticed from their flyer that next month they have a Valentines Dance, a trip to SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo, the Wild Animal Park and some more trips to the theater planned.
The Community Access Program, which is the organization I signed up to help, is one of the many programs sponsored by the Charles I. Cheneweth Foundation. http://www.cheneweth-foundation.org
Below is some information from their website....a number of fantastic programs!!
Why people don't spay and neuter their animals is beyond me?
Meagan is also involved with the Invisible Children Program. Invisible Children Inc. is an organization founded by filmmakers Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey, and Laren Poole from San Diego. Their goal is to create awareness regarding the plight of the people of Northern Uganda, caught in the midst of a civil war between the government andJoseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel group that makes extensive use of kidnapping children and making child soldiers. Invisible Children Inc. was started after the founders had created a documentary film on the subject, also called Invisible Children. The organization was started in an attempt to give people a way to easily help with the situation in Northern Uganda, after viewing the film.
Meagan is involved with their bracelet campaign as well as handing out copies of the DVD and spreading the word by speaking on the subject. You can get more information at http://www.invisiblechildren.com.
Another person doing great things. Maybe I should start growing my hair back.
Any fool can count the seeds in an apple. Only God can count all the apples in one seed.
~Robert H. Schuller
I have volunteered with Volunteer San Diego to be the "Team Leader" for Jane and Ron at Challenge Ranch one Sunday each month....Today I had my first group. For more information and a description of this wonderful organization, check out my first experience with them back in JULY-DEC 2007.
We had close to 30 people who came out to volunteer, some of which were students earning credit for High School.
I usually like to list everyone's name, but there were too many to keep track of....which I guess is a good thing:)
As you can see, there was a lot of painting, pulling, chopping, cement mixing, digging, brush clearing, and burning going on.....oh yeah, and a rooster who came up and was thinking about pecking at me....just protecting the hen house I guess.
Once again another great group of volunteers! They really made a big dent in the work that needed to be done.
So here's a great "Pay it Forward" story....
As a Job Coach, I'm able to meet a variety of people at the different locations in which my clients work. One such place is Von's. I've gotten to know one of the employees who works at the Starbucks inside the store. I've shared with him my business card and we've talked about how we share many of the same beliefs concerning helping others and giving back.
One morning when I walked into the store he came running up to me and told me about how a women had just come up to him and ordered a drink and then wanted to leave a tip. The stores policy is that the employees cannot receive tips, so instead the woman left $3 and said that she wanted him to give the next person who came by a "free" drink.
Needless to say, I wanted to meet this gal. We checked around the store, but she was gone....vanished into thin air.
My friend Bertrand said he wanted me to have the free drink. I told him thanks, but this had already made my day, so I entrusted him and his fellow barista to finding the next person to honor with this gift.
I didn't see either one of them for a couple of days, but when I asked about how the next person had taken to receiving the gift, I discovered that person also Paid it Forward, leaving money for the next customer!
Looking at the outcome of this simple act, we can see it made an impact on the day of 6 people.....Me, the mysterious woman, Bertrand, his co-worker, the first person to receive the free drink, the last customer.....not to count, the number of people each of us may have shared the story with.
While I'm on the subject of my Job Coaching duties, I wanted to mention once again (I know I've talked about it before) the importance of taking the time to acknowledge people when they are doing a terrific job. We all need that type of encouragement and it can be so simple to do.
I also Job Coach at Regal Theaters. On a couple of occasions I have noticed two employees in particular going above and beyond in their duties. I decided to find out their names and I wrote a letter commending their efforts to their manager, to the corporate offices and then provided the employee with a copy.
It didn't take that much effort on my part, but I'm sure it made their day. I always stop and ask to see a manager when I receive great service no matter where I am. It's a simple task anyone can do and it makes everyone feel good, including myself:)
Another beautiful day out at Challenge Ranch!!
Spotlight on Chris....one of our volunteers.
Following my time at Challenge Ranch, I went and was Job Coaching with one of my consumers at Von's. Here's another Random Act of Kindness I came up with.
I noticed the local Girl Scout Troop out selling cookies. Well, I don't really need any cookies, but I wanted to show my support, so I had the girls choose the type they liked best, bought a box, and let the girls enjoy eating them while they were volunteering their time for a good cause.....see, it doesn't take that much effort...and I think it might even be tax deductible:)
Friends of Cats had a booth out at the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Balboa Park. Unfortunately, I had to work that day, and by the time I arrived, I had missed all of the fun. Laurel sent a few pictures though, so we can all sort of enjoy the festivities!
I signed up with Volunteer San Diego to help the San Diego Audubon Society do planting, pulling, digging or whatever they were in need of. I had a great time....very serene. Sort of like when I'm at Friend's of Cats and it's just me and a purring kittie.
Wow!! 34 people at my last orientation at REI!!
Here they are stuffed into the back storeroom of REI like a pack of sardines.
Brent, Ofelia, Ashley, Ben, Samantha, Sarah, Michelle, Anita, Catherine, Bambi, Roxanna, Karen, Leonard, Sandy, Erin, Casey, Leilani, Ali, Juan, Kate, Lori, Cheryl, Bob, Emily, Matt, Trevor, Britney, Sylvia, Diane, Mary, Pat, James, Yannick, Emily.
They are all really there....some may be hiding behind others or got cut off due to the size of the group, but they were there....trust me.
Now to some of the things they have "already" done.....
Hey, this group could start it's own organization!!! I should be going to "their" orientation:)
As always, I met a great group of caring people that are giving of their time to the community.
Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.
I recently received an email from Jack (yes, that Jack, the one who’s face can be seen at many of the Volunteer San Diego events that I attend)
Jack was inviting me to attend a couple of events in Tijuana. One involved laying the foundation for a home and the other was to visit a group home for neglected, abused or abandoned children, where Jack was sponsoring a young girl. I wasn’t able to attend the home construction event but I was able to schedule some time off to go with him to Grace Children’s Home.
What an eye opener. I haven’t been south of the border in 40 or so years.
It turned out to be a celebration of the homes third year anniversary. There were a number of dignitaries, great food, and entertainment by the children.
The children brought into the program range in age from 2-11 years of age (but that is soon to change as I’ll mention later) and are welcome to stay until adulthood.
The first goal is to provide a loving and supportive atmosphere for the kids. The next goal is to help create a change at the government level by working with authorities to initiate a foster care program which the government of Mexico presently does not have. The final goal is to help the children get into international and domestic adoptions.
If you'd like more information, check out the link to Grace Children's Home at http://www.yugo.org. or you can also view a video about the Baby's Program by clicking this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3hnknyIsDc
As Jack mentioned to me on this trip, The greater the need you help, the greater the "satisfaction" in helping.
Ahhhh, but there's more......
Here's this months groups at Challenge Ranch....
Brad signed up with Volunteer San Diego....Lauren, Amanda and Racquel showed up to help also.
Not too many signed up this month you say...not to worry, because here comes the Navy!!
Here we have Paul, Kimberly, Stephen, Logan, Anthony, Charles, Josh, John and Dale (not in that order), all from the USS New Orleans! Paul had actually signed them all up through VSD.....Great to have them aboard and thanks for all you guys and gal do for our country!
Later on in the afternoon a group of young men from CHOICE showed up to also help!
In one of the recent Volunteer San Diego Newsletters emailed to me, I noticed a short notice about the Lakeside River Park needing some volunteers to help patrol their trail and surrounding area by foot or by bicycle. Sounded like a great way to get some more exercise, so I emailed a few of my buddies with bikes, and invited them to tag along with me once I had gone through the orientation.
The San Diego River flows approximately 52 miles from the headwaters in Julian, all the way down to Dog Beach in OB. At some point in time it is hoped that there will be a trail along the entire route. The section in Lakeside is one of many that will be a part of the entire project.
The Conservancy is presently in the middle of their second phase, which was initially founded in 2001.
The trail is to officially open next month on May 17th, in the afternoon, following their Second Annual 5K Trail Walk/Run.
Although this section of the trail is less than a mile, it is very beautiful and will hopefully soon be joined with sections to the East and West.
For more information check out http://www.lakesideriverpark.org.
A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.
Here's our fearless crew at Challenge Ranch today. Lydia was the team leader and I just came out to lend some support.
Cameron, Lydia, Rose and her daughter Cassie
Talk about the human spirit!! This video describes two people who overcame adversity and made positive changes for themselves and others.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k19OECv0TbQ
I heard an interview with Jim MacLaren, in which he stated his tragedies were a gift. His comment was that, “I don’t care how big of a bulldozer you put on top of my body, I’m crawling out from under it.”
Hey, do you remember Brent? Sure you do....he's the guy at the top of this page. The one who is doing the podcasts for Volunteer San Diego. In any event, I mentioned I'd like to interview him since he's doing so many great things. Well, I finally got an opportunity and her it is....http://www.vsdpodcast.org/index.php?post_id=324003
again, click on the little button that says "pod" right before the
title of the podcast.
Recently I had to help take over the work load of someone at work, so I've been pretty busy. Not much time for anything other than work right now. Since I am required to take at least "one" day off a week, I was able to go out to the Lakeside River Park Conservancy and ride patrol on my bike this morning.
I was listening to a story this morning about a man in Texas who was just let out of prison after serving 27 years for a crime he didn't commit. DNA was used to prove his innocence.
James Lee Woodard is now 55 years old and seemed to have a good outlook on the situation.....He's neither bitter nor angry, and he will not agree that those years in prison were for naught.
"Time is what you make of it," he says. "You're living no matter where you are. I think I came out pretty good. I think I won. I think I'm a winner."
I guess some words to live by might include....It's not where you spend your time, it's how you spend it.
Here's Russell, one of the great adults I work, with wearing his SeaWorld T-shirt prior to our entering the park for a day of fun...You'll remember I have a picture of him earlier, in his Disnelyland T-shirt when we went to Disneyland. He's always dressed for the occasion!!
Here's a picture of a couple of whales at SeaWorld. How anyone can view these magnificent creatures....or any other for that matter, and not think that there is a "Greater Power" responsible for all of the glory around us, is beyond me.
Actually, I think this guy (or gal) is sort of cute, but I had to put something here....didn't want to leave you hanging.
Challenge Ranch time again....
Here's our group from Volunteer San Diego...Diana, Mark arguing with Lauren, Lydia, Pam and Kyaira.
Once again Paul brought out a group from the USS New Orleans. Thanks to Adolfo, Nick, Josh, John, Charles and Paul and his family, Stacey, Trevor and Hannah (Paul forgot it was Mother's Day when he signed up so he brought the entire gang)
Volunteer San Diego had their annual Recognition and Awards Dinner this evening for volunteer leaders.....had a great time and once again met some wonderful people. Never met a volunteer I didn't like:)
Although many volunteers were recognized this evening, this was my favorite group!
These are the SAVY Leaders.
Members of SAVY Leaders, a youth
leadership council, don’t just participate in service projects, they plan,
lead and reflect on those events, identify problems in the community, and work
to develop effective and meaningful solutions.
It was great to see these young people doing such great things for the community!! Good for them!
I also want to thank Volunteer San Diego for the wonderful plaque they presented to me. As always I'm just a small grain of sand on a beach full of volunteers, doing many more wonderful things than myself. Although I'm proud to be a leader, there are many volunteers out there, not in a leadership role, putting in hours to help others. Both Leaders and Volunteers are what make it work....lose one and you're lost. Congratulations to all of the Leaders recognized this evening!
I was working in Coronado today with one of my consumers, when I happened to strike up a conversation with a gal who had participated in the Rock and Roll Marathon earlier in the morning.
If you think training for a marathon is tough, try chemotherapy.
I had a very rewarding experience this morning.
I was at Vons working with one of my consumers...I always try to work along side each of my clients in order to help with their work load or in order to help out their employer.
I noticed a gal sitting on one of the electric scooters the store provides and I asked if she needed any assistance.
Her name was Agnes, and she said this was the first time she's been out of her house to go shopping in 7 years. Just this week was the first time she had spent walking outside of her apartment complex in as long. She had taken a few brief walks in the neighborhood the previous few days, going a little further each time and had now decided to venture out to the grocery store.
In the past her son had always done her shopping for her.
Neither I nor the cashier was sure how to operate the scooter, so we called my consumer, Peter, over and he instructed all of us on the proper procedures for driving it.
When Agnes attempted to move it, it sort of lurched forward so she figured it may be a little too much for her. She decided to just sit in it awhile, compose herself and then decide what to do next.
Shortly thereafter I asked if she'd like a shopping basket. I got her one and told her I'd come find her in the store in a little while to see how she was doing. I could tell she was relieved knowing she wasn't going to be left totally on her own.
Having not really been out in 7 years, she was naturally unfamiliar with many of the items, the set up of the store, and the prices.
I walked around with her and after finding what was on her list, we headed to the checkout counter.
Once there, we encountered a little difficulty, because her checks were new and were not pre-printed with her name and address. There was some difficulty also getting her credit card to register with the scanner since it had also been opened recently.
She was getting ready to return the items, when I decided to step in and put the $10 on my debit card, telling her she could drop the money off at the sore for me the next time she came in. She was so excited and proud of herself about taking this first step of getting out and doing things for herself, I just couldn't let her go home empty handed.... Besides, I had found a $20 bill on the ground a day earlier....I'm sure it was there for a reason, and this must be it (Good Karma).
Agnes sort of knew the route home. It was about a quarter of a mile and luckily it was basically a straight shot down the street.
I got her as far as the main busy intersection at the end of the parking lot and realized the two small bags of items were going to be a little much for her so I decided to walk down the street with her.
We stopped a number of times for her to rest and catch her breath.
We finally made it all of the way to her senior apartment complex. She is the longest residing tenant there, 18 years.
As we walked around inside, her neighbors were coming up to her all excited. I heard cheers and applause. One gal said she was going to start crying, she was so happy for Agnes. The residents had just recently encouraged her to walk out to the mailbox in front of the complex.
One gal jokingly said, "We send you for some groceries and you come back with a handsome young man!" (ha ha ha, neither handsome nor young)
Agnes retorted, "Yep, I still got it!"
I was rewarded with a hug and then headed back to the store.
On a side note, while we were in the store Agnes confided in me that she had prayed that someone would be able to help her that morning.
I'm just glad our paths crossed and I was able to assist her.
This story is about Agnes, and the courage she had to take this first step...not about my involvement. What I did was nothing special nor out of the ordinary. It was something I believe most of us would have done...I just happened to be the one there:)....I'm lucky like that some times.
Agnes checking out the dish soap.
I was at the gym today. I was working out on one of the machines, listening to music through my ear buds, when I thought I heard some sort of a commotion to my right. I looked up and saw a gentleman who had just come to the aide of a gal that was about my age.
She had slipped while on the treadmill. She was still hanging on to the handles while the treadmill continued to run and she was almost parallel with the belt, her knees skimming along it.
I jumped off of my machine and grabbed her on the opposite side of James who was holding her and trying to turn the machine off. It came to a halt shortly thereafter, and two other guys who were right behind me helped James to get her to her feet.
The three of us returned to our workouts, but James was not finished....
I also wanted to mention and give credit to my son, Michael, my daughter Susannah and my daughter-in law Danielle who were doing their civic duty and working the polls today.
I'm not sure why, but I always seem to be at the right place at the right time.
This morning I'm driving down University Ave in La Mesa, when I notice people merging to the left lane in order to get around a car traveling slowly. In front of the car were four runners, one of whom is carrying a torch, and in front of them is a van which they are following. I noticed the words "World Harmony Run" on the side of the van, so I decide to drive up ahead and take a few pictures when they passed by.
When I got home that evening, I checked out World Harmony Run on the internet and found out the following...
The World Harmony Run is a global relay that seeks to promote international friendship and understanding. As a symbol of harmony, runners carry a flaming torch, passing it from hand to hand traveling through over 100 nations around the globe. The World Harmony Run does not seek to raise money or highlight any political cause, but simply strives to create goodwill among peoples of all nations.
Here's a map of their route this year
I'll be interested to see if there's any mention of it in the newspaper tomorrow morning.....I'm betting there won't be....too bad.
If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.
"This months Challenge Ranch Adventures"
I wasn't able to stay for the duration today, because I had to go to work. I was therefore unable to get any group pictures. Did get a few photos of everyone working though....well, some of them sort of working.
As you can see, there was a lot going on today....but also a lot of fun....horse rides, pizza and swimming in the pool afterwards.
I spent the morning volunteering with Volunteer San Diego at the Ronald McDonald House. We were there to help make scrapbooks.
Luckily for me, there were three females present and each of them were talented "Scrapbookers."
First a little background on the Ronald McDonald House from their website.....
The first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia, PA in 1974. Fred Hill, a much-loved tight-end with the Philadelphia Eagles, brought vision and dedication to this effort after his own daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. His idea was simple: provide a "home away from home" for families of seriously-ill children receiving treatment at nearby hospitals. Since that time, more than 250 chapters have opened worldwide benefiting more than 10 million families.
Since opening our doors in 1980, San Diego’s House has provided more than
100,000 nights of lodging for more than 10,000 families whose children face
life-threatening illnesses. Our “home” with 12 bedrooms, laundry and
kitchen facilities provides temporary lodging for families of children with
cancer, leukemia, and other serious illnesses while children are treated at
area hospitals. Located adjacent to Children’s Hospital, our House provides
families a refuge from the hospital and keeps them together during their
crisis -- twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. In addition, we provide a
place where comforting strength and stability are received from other resident
families in similar situations.
The gals that saved the day....Crystal (on the left), Nikki (standing) and her daughter Taylor (on the right.)
This is Ebony, from the Ronald McDonald House....she was our hostess for the morning making sure we had all of our supplies. She also took me on a tour of the facilities. Ebony mentioned they are building a new facility nearby and it will have 47 rooms!!
Oh yeah, Did I mention she is also a former student of mine when I was the Principal of an elementary school. Hadn't seen her in about 20 years, since 5th grade!! She recognized me. Said I still looked the same...."sweet thing," but I'm still not going to change any of her grades:)
When I drove up to the facility, I noticed someone out front raking the leaves. I figured it was the gardener. Turns out there was a group of Volunteers from the First Church of the Nazarene. They were members of a group called "Angels in Blue Jeans."
Apparently over 100 members of the church were volunteering throughout San Diego today at 10-15 various sites.
Barbara, John, Carol, Lee (standing)...Cristina, Jenika, Ronald, Jamie (sitting)
"The best exercise for the heart, is to bend over and pick someone up."