JANUARY,  2009

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My volunteer session at Challenge Ranch was cancelled this month because Ron and Jane, the owners of the ranch, were not available due to a competition out of town.

I felt bad, because along with the volunteers from Volunteer San Diego, a group of students from St Augustine, a Catholic high school in San Diego, had signed up and were unable to attend.

I asked Ron and Jane if we could possibly have the students come by themselves on the following Sunday and I would be responsible for helping to lead the group.

My volunteers for the day (in no particular order)...Vanessa, Jesus, Gerald, Carlo, Eduardo, Junior, Ryan, Aaron, Ryan, Kirk.

This is Brother Kirk, who brought the students out.  He's the Christian Service Coordinator at the school.

He's leaning on the fence we built....looking mighty proud.




I was driving home the other day.  I pulled up in the driveway and then went around to empty some stuff from the car. I then noticed someone walking up to me.

Initially I thought the person was selling something.

He introduced himself as Curtis, and said he had seen my car with my C28 sticker on the back.  He stated that the Lord had told him he should follow me.

The C28 sticker on my car is a "Not of This World" cross...      C28 being a Christian clothing store and C28 standing for Colossians 2:8 

Colossians 2:8 

Don't let anyone fool you by using senseless arguments. These arguments may sound wise, but they are only human teachings. They come from the powers of this world and not from Christ.

Curtis just wanted to share the word of God with me, right there in the driveway, if I had a minute.  Well, I did, so I invited him and his family into the house for some iced tea.

What a great family!  I appreciated both his taking the time to talk to me as well as his passion for Christ. It was very uplifting.

Here's Curtis, his wife Madelyn and their two cute kids Anthony and Kayle.



I'm always writing about how important it is to acknowledge people for their hard work.  As I've stated before, I enjoy writing letters and filling out surveys letting employers know when I've had a good experience.

I recently wrote one for a nice gal, Tyla, who had taken the time to resolve a problem I had.  I had written the company an email, and she responded quickly and had the situation taken care of in prompt order.

I asked her for her supervisor's name and email address.

Below is her supervisor Glenda's response, which she stated I could share.


Good Afternoon Mr. Clayton,

In today’s busy, hectic world it is good to know people take the time to write thank you letters regarding exceptional business service.  All too often, the only letters companies get are complaining, even if the subject is out of the service providers control.  I really want to thank you for the kind words you wrote regarding Tyla’s quick and competent service.  She is one of the hardest working young ladies I have ever known and it warms me to know others appreciate her the way I do.  She is a joy to work with and really something to watch in action. 

Also, I checked out your website and was really impressed by what I saw there.  I want to thank you, first for your many years of service and dedication to school children and second, for continuing service after retirement.  That alone is admirable, but you took that even a step further by networking with other caring and giving people and appear to be providing much needed assistance to your respective communities.   

Thank you all. 

I will post your e-mail regarding Tyla where all in our offices can see that what we do is appreciated and hope it will serve as encouragement to all who read it.

Keep up the good work and don’t stop spreading the good news. 



A nice note back, which also made my day.  You can tell that Glenda has a genuine concern for her staff.



Here's a great video showing no matter how bad you think things are for yourself, there are others out there dealing with a lot more adversity and still making the best of their situation....very inspiring.







As I was leaving one of my consumers, I came across a little gal collecting money (in the rain) in order that she might travel to Africa and among other things, deal with HIV/AIDS prevention and education.

This is J Hye.  She is a member of "Campus California TG."  She hopes to be leaving for Africa in March for a six month period...now that's commitment!

Below is an overview of the program she is involved in.


The Development Instructor program is a “People to People” activity where many people meet under the umbrella of positive change, and where all parties involved, benefit mutually from the activities. In this way all parties develop into a diverse and unified whole around the interest and activities, furthering change and positive development.

The Development Instructor programs are 14/20 months long with 3 very different, yet mutually dependent periods. Here follows a short description of the specific periods;


v      First Period –Training and Work Camp at Campus California TG


A 6 months training and work camp. A period aiming to equip each individual and team of people with the necessary tools, knowledge, experience and understanding to be able to place themselves in middle of the turmoil of which we define as development.


In other words, to be well prepared and able to create a positive change at the development projects of organizations connected to the Humana People to People movement.


v      Second Period – Development work in Africa


A 6/12 months work period at a project in Mozambique , Zambia Namibia or South Africa .


This is when each person involved gives his/her gift to mankind by having a humanizing influence upon development. Let this be fighting the spread of AIDS/HIV, instructing at schools for children, in training future school teachers, in community work empowering families and implementing low-cost “high technological” improvements for example “wood saving stoves”, “latrines”, “small scale water filters” and more. 


v      Third Period – Bring the past experience into the future.


A 2 month period called “ Camp Future ” or simply just the “Third period.”


This period is orientated towards the future and how to effectively use the experiences of the past year to encourage more people to follow in our footsteps and to be inspired. Each participant will use the past experiences to define their future direction in life. This is information work, in the broadest sense of the word, to educate many people as well as ourselves.


The organization is headquartered in Northern California (Etna) and you can find them at http://www.cctg.org



We are not what we own.




We had a small group signed up to volunteer at Challenge Ranch this month, and an even smaller group that actually attended due to the weather.

The crew....Jane, Mari, Steve, Ron, Joe and of course Kimba.

Mari, Steve and Joe, all braved the cloudy skies!!  So did the other three, but they live here:)

Ron recently attended a training class for a program titled "Horses for Heroes."  He and Jane are planning on setting up their ranch in order to work with disabled veterans in San Diego.  They are always looking for others to help....what a great duo.


Just thought I'd take a moment to get on my soapbox and make everyone aware of a situation I run across periodically outside of the grocery stores that a few of my consumers work in.

You remember up above, where J Hye was collecting money in order to help others.  I was more than happy to donate to her cause.

Well there are also a number of companies that purport to be collecting money for various charities. The one pictured below and one sponsoring fingerprinting of children, to name a few.  The problem is that of the money you spend, only 5% actually goes to the charity...so, if you spend $10 on one of their overpriced t-shirts, 50 cents goes to the charity and the company walks away with $9.50!

I've written to the grocery store, but to no avail.

It's sad when a company needs to link itself to a charity in order to increase sales:(




I received an email from the Rock Church inviting me to attend a day long event on Valentines Day...

Join Pastor Miles Saturday, February 14, for 12 hours of prayer and fasting in the Rock Church sanctuary.

We are coming together to pray as a community for the many changes happening in the world today. Ministry leaders and pastors will be leading this time of prayer for our church, our city, and our country. Feel free to join us all day or for any part of this special time of worship and prayer.

I was able to attend and pleased to see the number of people present.




I'm always sharing my experiences with Volunteer San Diego.  We had an organizational meeting with many of the team leaders of the various projects present.  These are the people that take that "extra" step, by volunteering to be at the project and taking charge of it each month.




I was driving home from church, when I happened to drive under a bridge and noticed a couple of people picking up trash.  They didn't appear to be with a group, so I was curious about their story.

This is Gene and her grandson Bobby, a senior at Valhalla High School.  

They returned home from church this morning and decided to do a good deed for the day.

You can see by the size of the trash bag that it was definitely something which needed to be done.

It's always refreshing to see people going out of their way to help others or their community.....wish we could recognize everyone for all of the things they do.  Too often it goes unnoticed and we are not aware of all of the good things going on around us.




MARCH,  2009


Challenge Ranch this month was both unique and brutal....the temperature was in the 90's and we had a bon fire going!

It was that time of year where they get a burning permit and are able to collect all of the brush and burn it.


Here's Drew and Alex....

....and Sunshine and Zane.

These guys worked as hard as any group I've seen out there, and pretty much non-stop.

We collected about 6 truck loads of brush and there had to be that much collected from the day before, when another group from Volunteer San Diego helped out.

The idea of a bon fire is always pretty exciting....that is until you have to continually grab arm loads of brush and walk up to an inferno of 1,000 or so degrees.


We even shared our pizza with the chickens....and rooster!




This is Joe.  I just happened to strike up a conversation with him and he mentioned he was on his way to see a friend at the local convalescent home.  Joe's wife passed away about 8 years ago and he's spent much of the time since helping out others.

Joe spends at least 5 hours per day at the convalescent home, visiting his friend, as well as helping out anybody in need of care when staff is busy.

He will wheel the seniors around, help serve them food, assist them to the bathroom, what ever is needed.

Oh yeah, did I mention he does this 7 days a week!!  Did I also mention that today is his birthday and that he is 88 years young!!!

Something to strive for in my later years.




Some of the best girls I worked with when I was a school administrator, were girls that were into sports, played a musical instrument, or were members of the Girl Scouts.

As a way of showing my appreciation for the work done by the girls who are members of the Girl Scouts of America, I enjoy buying cookies from them and then giving them the box to enjoy.  It's a real treat to ask them which is their favorite and then hand them the box....I figure they deserve it for the time they put in to selling their cookies.

This is Makayla and her mom Nicole.

Makayla is a member of troop #5302.  A group made up of military families in Coronado.  Of course a lot of credit goes out to the parents that spend the time with their daughters, supporting their efforts.

Also want to acknowledge Nicole's husband, Michael, who is presently in Viet Nam, helping to find and identify the remains of lost servicemen from the Viet Nam conflict.




"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin.....
But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."

                                                                                                                                                                                               ~ Alfred Souza ~




APRIL,  2009


I was working at the Coffee Cart with one of my consumers when one of the staff members at the Regional Center came up to me and mentioned she had seen my card.

She relayed an interesting story to me which  occurred recently and had involved her daughter.

Her daughter was at a drive through coffee shop and when she came up to the window to pick up her coffee,  the attendant behind the window stated that the car in front of her had paid for her coffee!!

Later that morning, her daughter stopped for some gas.  She went inside the station office and paid for her gas.  Once her tank was full, she realized she had $2.00 change coming....she left it on the pump for the next patron.

Paying it Forward!!!   Great story!!!




I was traveling up Texas Street today, when I noticed a truck pull onto the road and his entire load of 4x8 sheets of plywood came flying out and stopped traffic behind him.  I pulled over to help.

The sad part was that I was the only one that pulled over....and he wasn't even in my lane.  The two young adult males in the car behind him just sat in their car until we cleared the area for them to continue on their way.  Sort of disappointing.




Now for some good news....I wrote a letter to the supervisors of Carla, an employee at Home Depot, as well as Bill an employee at Ideal Plumbing.  Carla works in the doors and windows department at the Lemon Grove store and Bill covers the front desk at Ideal.  Both of them provided me with excellent service and I was more than happy to take the time to bring it to the attention of their supervisors.




You want more good news....okay, how about this little story....

I found a wallet with money and credit cards in it when I was collecting shopping baskets in the parking lot of the Vons in Coronado.

Usually when I'm at a store and I find something like this, I'm hesitant to give it to a store employee, because more often than not they toss it in a drawer.  I want to make sure the item is returned so I usually do the foot work myself.

Kelly, the manager, actually took the time to find out who the owner was and with a little investigative savvy, she was able to track down Barbara's cell phone number and give her a call.

Kelly is my kind of gal!!  Caring about others.

                                Barbara and Kelly




Here's your Challenge Ranch report for the month.

Our volunteers for today were Brandon, Nathaniel, Nancy, Connie and Bianca.  Nancy was also at the ranch yesterday helping.  Looks like she's helping to show us Nathaniel's dimple today:)


Once again, a great group of volunteers!  Challenge Ranch would be hard pressed to survive without them each month. 




MAY,  2009


The following is a excerpt from a poem written by an obscure Mexican Ventriloquist named Johnny Welch.  Welch had written the poem for his puppet sidekick "Mofles."

Some interesting thoughts on life.....

The Puppet

If for a moment God would forget that I am a rag doll and give me a scrap of life, possibly I would not say everything that I think, but I would definitely think everything that I say.

I would value things not for how much they are worth but rather for what they mean.

I would sleep little, dream more. I know that for each minute that we close our eyes we lose sixty seconds of light.

I would walk when the others loiter; I would awaken when the others sleep.

I would listen when the others speak, and how I would enjoy a good chocolate ice cream.

If God would bestow on me a scrap of life, I would dress simply, I would throw myself flat under the sun, exposing not only my body but also my soul.

I wouldn't let a single day go by without saying to people I love, that I love them.

I would convince each woman or man that they are my favourites and I would live in love with love.

I would prove to the men how mistaken they are in thinking that they no longer fall in love when they grow old--not knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love. To a child I would give wings, but I would let him learn how to fly by himself. To the old I would teach that death comes not with old age but with forgetting. I have learned so much from you men....

I have learned that everybody wants to live at the top of the mountain without realizing that true happiness lies in the way we climb the slope.

I have learned that when a newborn first squeezes his father's finger in his tiny fist, he has caught him forever.

I have learned that a man only has the right to look down on another man when it is to help him to stand up. I have learned so many things from you.





Mother's Day at Challenge Ranch!!

Today's volunteers.

Nancy, John, Beverly, Erika, Alex, Samantha, Erin (a former student), and Roland and Eddie up front.

Arriving a little late were the following volunteers....Angela, Lyle, Yuki, Yugi and Joe....The word out on the street was that Yuki and Yugi were late because they dropped some money at the casino down the street:)

Once again, a lot of hard work completed by a lot of dedicated volunteers....Thanks to all of them.




This is Frank.

He wasn't working today so he decided to give back to an agency which in the past had helped him.

Frank was homeless two years ago when he came across "Building a Solid Foundation."  They have a program for homeless teenagers and Frank was provided with a place to live for a year and a half.

He is now working at NASSCO as a painter and is also taking classes in pipe fitting.  Frank is also taking classes at Cuyamaca College in order to become a computer tech.

Frank also spends time meeting and mentoring kids presently in the program.....By the way, Frank is only 19 years old!


Check out http://www.buildingasolidfoundation.org for more info on the program.  They provide help for both men and women as well as teenagers.




Lift as you climb.




Below is a picture of Ron, one of our regulars at the Coffee Cart.  His office is located in the Regional Center, so I see him on a weekly basis.

One day he mentioned he was going with his family to Uganda for a month this summer to volunteer!!

Well, I had to find out more, so I invited him to lunch in order to hear his story....little did I know, what a story he had.

Ron was instrumental in starting up a local non-profit "Sister Schools of San Diego."  

The organization, which is made up of volunteers,  started up 10 years ago and Ron has been the acting president for the last 5 years.

The Mission Statement of Sister Schools, as written on their website is...

Sister Schools of San Diego is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting cross-cultural understanding by connecting schools around the globe.

Classrooms separated by border, culture, and geography are united through similar interests and common principles. Students participate in collaborative projects ranging from literature and social development to science and technology. By connecting classrooms worldwide, we use the academic setting to conquer ignorance, bridge cultural gaps, and create international friendships.

Ron shared with me some of the outstanding projects some of our local schools have undertaken with their sister schools in places such as Afghanistan, Nepal, Uganda, etc.

It's amazing the ideas kids come up with in order to help their counterparts in other countries.  Building schools, planting trees, helping to develop technology.

Ron will be in Uganda with his family and a number of volunteers this summer setting up computers and technology for a number of kids and young adults, many of which recently returned home after having been kidnapped and forced into being soldiers by rebels.

You may remember "Meagan" from my website, February 2008, she was a volunteer working with Invisible Children Inc.  These are the same young adults that were kidnapped and are now trying to get their lives back together.

As intrigued as I was with Ron's story concerning Uganda...the next tidbit he shared with me had me sitting on the end of my seat.

There was a made for TV movie produced by Billy Crystal telling of a situation both Ron and his wife had been involved in back in 1995 while hiking in Nepal.

In short, a huge storm came up unexpectedly while they were in the Himalayas, which ended up killing 61 of 100 people on the mountain, along with a member of their party.

Their Sherpa guides abandoned him, his wife and another hiker, who eventually died, leaving them to crawl in the snow for three days.

To tell the entire story would take pages....what intrigued me, was how he and his wife never gave up and kept each other alive through this ordeal.  Also, how it changed his life to the point that he quit his private practice as a Psychologist and vowed to spend more time with his family, realizing that in the scheme of things, life is fragile and some things are more important than others.


JUNE,   2009


This looks like it's going to be car repair month....I ran into a couple of situations where people were stranded.

On the left is Rochelle's daughter's car.  Smoke was coming out of the car, so Rochelle pulled it off the road behind where I was parked.  She was not sure what the problem was, so I removed the radiator cap and realized it was out of water. I went into where I was working that morning and got a bucket of water.  It began pouring out of the bottom of the radiator...the radiator was going to need replacing.

The middle picture has Jeff looking under his car.  Both Richard (the SeaWorld security guard in the last picture) and I noticed Jeff trying to push his car off of the road, so we stopped to help him move it to a safe place.  Richard then went and got his truck in order to try and jump start Jeff's car.

It's "people" like Richard that make you feel good about "people."




I attended the Silver Gate Yacht Club's 50th Wheelchair Regatta this weekend.  The Yacht Club has been taking people with disabilities out on tours around the bay for the last 50 years.  I heard there was one person present who had actually attend the first Regatta.  She was 13 years old at the time which would make her 63 for this one! 

There were approximately 750 people who took advantage of the tours this year, and about 56 yachts available to sail them around the bay.

The yacht club not only provided the boats, there was also entertainment, refreshments, and a free lunch for everyone following the tour.

Here are two of my consumers, Anthony and Manny, along with one of the members of the club.



This is Captain Jim, and his boat the "Corinthian," the yacht that my group went on.

Jim has been volunteering his time for this for the last 4 years!

Everything was well organized and there appeared to be hundreds of volunteers, many of which were Marines volunteering their time.

It was a heartening experience.




This month at Challenge Ranch.....

Our group from Volunteer San Diego....Connie, Vanessa, Nick, Jaime Lynn, Jassmine, Sam and Erin (yep that's the same Samantha and Erin from last month...they must really love painting)

We also had a group from the Navy

They are all stationed aboard the USS Benfold DDG65

If you look closely, you'll find Angela, Victoria, Victor, Robert, Sean, Scott, James and Derek somewhere in this picture.

Thank you guys for all of your hard work today and your service to our country!


And these were our late comers....Danielle and her dad Guillermo (this is their second visit to the ranch), Joe (who is always late) and Ashley, (from the USS Benfold)

I've figured out that Joe always comes late so he gets a picture taken all by himself....check out the last few months.

This is a trophy Ron and Jane presented me for my volunteer time:)


We also had a special guest...."Flat Stanley," who has been traveling the country in search of adventure!!




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