July, 2007

Return to my Home Page here. 

Okay, so much for my short hiatus....not long after deciding to take a little time off, I received an email from Sandi, in Arizona.  Seems as though she was talking to a friend about a problem she had.  Her husband's dog was in the San Francisco area and they needed the dog transported to Tucson.  I had recently mentioned to her friend my "adventure" in dog transporting, so her friend suggested she get in contact with me.

Sandi's husband Mark, had attempted to take the dog to Tucson by plane, but was told the container he brought to the airport was too large.  Mark got a smaller one, but when he returned to the airport, he was told it was too small.  Mark had to leave without his dog, which was a present from his kids.

I received the email on a Friday, and the problem was that I was to start a part time job (more on that later) the following Monday.  I then came up with a plan that on Sunday, I would be willing to drive 1/2 way to San Francisco, turn around and drive 1/2 way to Tucson with the dog if Marks's son would travel down from up North and Mark and Sandi met me on my way to Tucson....I guess I sort of became the middle man.  We all agreed to do our share, so Sunday morning at 6am I headed up to Buttonwillow, the 1/2 way point.  I then turned around, came back to San Diego and met Mark and Sandi in El Centro (they left a little early from Tucson and were able to meet me more than 1/2 way.)

This is Cali....she is a puppy.  Part mastiff and part rottweiler.  Look at those eyes.  I never said it was a tough job:)

Matt, Marks son, dropping Cali off at Buttonwillow.

Sound asleep!!

Sandi enjoying a kiss (disregard the look of pain) along with Mark.

Thanks also to Mark and Sandi for their donation of $100 to S.A.F.E. (Save Animals From Euthanasia)

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So I've taken on a part time job (thus the reason for my little hiatus from traveling around the country.)  I'm going to be working for Community Catalysts http://www.communitycatalystscalifornia.org  My job title is Employment Coordinator and I will be working with developmentally disabled adults in the work place.  As I told my Supervisor Hillary, I don't expect to get rich from it, but I know it will be extremely rewarding.  It may put a little crimp into my volunteering, but I hope to continue to share with you the volunteers I encounter.

*

Speaking of volunteers, I volunteered to run an orientation for "Volunteer San Diego," at the REI store up in Encinitas.  I had 17 people, from all walks of life, sign-up for the orientation in order to begin volunteering through the organization!!

Thanks to Brooke, Hubert, Maureen, Ji-Wou, Matthew, Aleksey, Matt, Jason, Neda, Trish, Jessie, Sarah, Mike, Sandi, David, Cindy, and Jen for taking the time to attend the orientation in order to give of their time through the various projects.

As I've said, I'm a small part of what's going on out there....some of the places these folks have already volunteered include...

Habitat for Humanity

Tutoring kids

Preparing meals at Ronald McDonald House

Working at a soup kitchen

Sierra Club

Boy's and Girl's Club

Collecting clothes for orphanages

Helping a family settle in San Diego

Eagle Scout

Carlsbad Marathon and 5k volunteer

Gift Wrap Booth

Tutoring students

FOCUS (Friends of County Animal Shelters)

Prepared tax returns for others

 

 

REI

State Prison (Volunteered:)

Trauma Intervention Program (TIP)

Casa de Amparo

Orangewood in Orange County

Leukemia/Lymphoma Society

Serra Mesa Street Fair

Library Volunteer

Helping out in Special Education class

Teaching classes for Nat'l Alliance for Mental Illness

Oasis (tutoring children in reading)

Neighborhood canvassing for election

Beach clean-up

 

Thanks also to Tim, who handles the Outreach Program at both the North and South County REI'S, for letting us use the facilities.  You can check out their many Outdoor School activities, as well as volunteer opportunities at http://www.rei.com 

 

August, 2007

 

Don't ask for an easier life, ask to be a stronger person.

*

Well, as stated last month, I took on a part time job (so I'm only working "6" days a week...ha ha.)  I'm the "job coach" for 10 adults.  I love them all, they are a very diverse group of individuals.....as we all are!

The interesting thing is that I had an epiphany while sitting through my training with Community Catalysts, the organization I'm am now employed by.  While listening to my supervisor go over my job description, I suddenly felt like I had "self worth"  because I once again had steady employment.  I never realized I had lost some of that feeling inside, until it suddenly returned that morning.    It may have been due to the fact that prior to my retirement I had never been without a job since the age of 16...or maybe it was something else?  I guess retirement can do funny things to you. In any event it was a good feeling and I'm loving every minute of my assignment.  

*

Because most of this month has been devoted to my job, I haven't been able to do the volunteering I may have wanted to do.  I have signed up for at least 3 things next month, but more on that later.  Thought I'd take a few paragraphs to plug a couple of items which may be of interest.

I don't know about you, but I've taken a number of CPR classes and it seems like I can never retain the information I was provided...is it 4 breaths and 6 pumps of the heart, or 5 and 13....just what is that magic combination I can never remember?  Of course it doesn't help that the numbers seem to change each time I go through the training.

Well I was listening to NPR (National Public Radio) the other day on the way to work and one of the guests mentioned that Washington State University had a great little one page site that explained the procedure in simple terms.  I looked it up, and sure enough, it is laid out pretty succinctly. The site is http://depts.washington.edu/learncpr/quickcpr.html  Feel free to check it out.....there's even a short 1 minute video.

By the way, if your wondering it's 2 breaths and 30 pumps.

*

I'm not quite sure how I happened to be thinking about my favorite TV show....maybe it was because of all of the bad stuff on the television anymore.  In any event, here's a plug for what I think television should be more like.  A program on A&E, which was cancelled a few years back due to lack of viewer ship...Random 1.

 

It was a show about a couple of guys who went around the country, looking for people in need.  Once they came across someone, they would set the person up with agencies that would help them with their problem.  I think I have a special affection for the show, because it started on TV just about the same time I began this site.

If you'd like to catch a glimpse of what the show was like, you can click here....http://www.random1.com/video.fsp?id=42930

You can also check out their site at Random1.com where they are currently selling a DVD titled "Lost in Woonsocket," which is an extended documentary about one of their adventures.  I got myself a copy and really enjoyed it!  It's really sort of sad that a great program comes along and none of the major broadcasters wants to pick it up:(

*

It isn't the load that breaks us down, it's the way we carry it.

*

Stay tuned for next month, when I'll tell you of my adventures with the US Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships, S4EA (Sports For Exceptional Athletes) and hopefully I'll have some more information on a young volunteer I heard about that started volunteering at the age of 5!

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September, 2007

 

Here is a picture of the latest group of volunteers who attended one of my orientation meetings.  Another great group of people who are willing to take of their time to give to others!!  

Look closely and you should be able to find Annie, Brian, Annabelle, Joel, Melissa, Megan, Melissa, Chelsea, Amber, Aaron, Erin, Kathy, Catrin, Tracy, Pep, and Paul.....Ahhh, but can you find Waldo?

Once again, below I've listed just some of the many volunteer experiences they have had.  

Served on a Charity Board

United Way events

Kenny Knickelson Foundation of Los Angeles

Vice President of Los Angeles Youth Advisory Comm.

Worked with special needs children

Beach clean-up participant in Hermosa Beach

Volunteering in first grade classroom

Girl Scouts

Volunteered at an orphanage in Africa

Volunteered at a homeless shelter in Seattle

Food a Foot, Los Angeles

Hunger walk

Soup Kitchen at church

Torrey Pines Convalescent Home volunteer

 

Habitat for Humanity

Kansas City Homeless Men's Shelter

Samaritans Purse Christmas gifts volunteer

Mentoring through Big Brothers and Sisters

Mentoring high school students

Greeter and group leader at Pathways Church, Denver

Campus clean-up, Montana State University

Volunteered in convalescent home

Taught English in a library

Taught swimming

Meals on Wheels

Literacy tutoring through YMCA

Americorp tutoring and mentoring

Project Mercy, painting houses in Baja

CASA, Voices for Children

 

And if this weren't enough, they even laughed at some of my jokes.....Neat people:)

 

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Ha ha ha ha....okay, now that I have your attention, I want to share with you a dog surfing contest I attended which was sponsored by the Helen Woodward Animal Center.

The center had a Surf-A-Thon in order to collect pledges for some of the programs they have going on.  Here's a summary of some of the projects they are involved in.

ACES (Animal Center Education Services)
Shelter personnel from around the country and the world experience a 3-day intensive workshop on the best practices for successful animal center management.

Therapeutic Riding The physically and mentally challenged of all ages enjoy the many benefits of horseback riding sessions.

Pet Encounter Therapy Hospice patients, abused children, and seniors receive unconditional love from animals that visit them weekly.

AniMobile The Center’s educators travel in a customized RV with animal ambassadors to Title One/low income schools teaching children responsible pet care and compassion for animals.
If you're interested in adopting a dog or just want to check out some more of the photos I "borrowed" from their website, go to http://www.animalcenter.org

 

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I had a great time today...I was a scorekeeper for some softball games for "Sports For Exceptional Athletes."

At the same time I was doing that, there was also a tennis tournament and a wheelchair softball game going on at the fields next to us....all sponsored by S4EA!!

SPORTS for Exceptional Athletes is a new San Diego-based sports program serving athletes with developmental disabilities ages 5 through adult. They exist to create enhanced opportunities for people with and without disabilities to interact and form lasting bonds of friendship through shared sports and recreational activities in their communities.

The really neat part of the program is that it is for people "with" or "without" disabilities.  It was great to see all of the bonding and great interaction between everyone.  I was really impressed with the program.  Made me want to go home and get my glove.....but then, who would have kept score?

This is Andrew and Ed.  Andrew, my fellow scorekeeper, is stationed at the Fleet Anti-Submarine division at the Navy base.  He has volunteered at a number of different venues including the Malcolm X Library and at the Ronald Reagan Legacy Dinner. He's always available when they are looking for a volunteer.  Ed was our ump.  He also volunteers for Special Olympics as a coach and ref for volleyball, soccer, floor hockey, softball and basketball.  He's going back East soon to ref floor hockey in the pre-games and he will be working the World Games in '09.  Ed also volunteers at the Springs Retirement home where he provides a DVD showing of the service from his church, North Coast on the weekends.  After a question and answer period he leads the group in hymns.  Every other week he stops by and sings hymns for the retirement home also.  I knew he had a sweet voice the first time I heard him yell....."yeeeerrr out!!"
This is Walter Jackson....the man behind the organization.  He kept hopping the entire day!

It was like old home week.  This is Robert and his sister Alyssa, former students from Lemon Grove Middle School.  Two great kids!

Another former student, Chris Brown (on the left.)  He was out snapping pictures for the Armed Services YMCA.  He's the Program Director on the base.

These are not former students, but I wouldn't have minded having them!  They were members of the Key Club at Sweetwater High.  They helped provide the lunches.

If you'd like more information on how to get involved, check out http://www.s4ea.org  There are also plenty more pictures of the tournaments on their website if you haven't got your fill:)

 

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All the darkness of the world cannot extinguish the light of a small candle.

                                                                                                                                                                -Reza Deghati

 

*

As I mentioned earlier, I volunteered to help with the U.S. Wheelchair Open Tournament.  I spent 4 hours at the airport in order to help any of the visiting players gather their gear at the baggage claim and get them on to a shuttle.  The following weekend I helped serve the players breakfast before tournament play....here are a few pictures.

The sad part was that none of the players arrived at terminal 2 (the terminal I was watching) during my volunteer time, so I was unable to meet and greet any of them.  The good news is that I'm able to share this picture I took of the Spirit of St. Louis hanging in the terminal, for those of you unfamiliar with the San Diego Airport.

*

Now a few pictures of the following weekend.

Here's a view of some of the players wheelchairs.  These are not the ones they use on a daily basis....these are specifically for playing tennis.

There were 22 different countries represented.  These were the flags of each of them.

I was unable to get any pictures of the players in action.  It was raining most of the morning.  Here you see a crew trying to dry off one of the courts.

 

Now to the real story...the volunteers who gave of their time to help out....

This is Tanya....she and I were helping serve breakfast, bus tables etc.  Here she is cracking some of the "who knows how many" dozens of eggs for the omelets.

Outside in the cold were Christine (left) and Connie (right).  Christine had been helping earlier in the week to get the shirts and things ready to go.  Connie spends time each month at the jail helping to video tape prisoners reading stories aloud for their children back home...neat program!!
Here we have Juan....the chef and caterer.  He had to leave a little early in order to go down to the Municipal Gym and coach his wheelchair soccer team.  His team consists of 7-18 year olds who are members of the San Diego Adaptive Sports Foundation.  His team will be traveling soon to Denver, Seattle and Berkley.  Juan has been giving of his time coaching for the last 10 years!!  He also makes a mean omelet:)  if you're looking for a caterer, his business is JD Catering and you can contact him at 619-665-7810. 

Below you'll see the fruits of our labor...the athletes enjoying a great breakfast.

*

 

October, 2007

 

 "Be the change you want to see in the world."

                                                                                                                                                     Ghandi

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Friends of Cats was having one of their rummage sales today, so I decided to go out and rummage.  Didn't see anything I couldn't live without (actually I'm trying to get rid of stuff....let me know if you want anything) so I decided to make a donation.

Of course the main purpose was to pet the cats.  Talk about a soothing atmosphere...surrounded by purring kitties.  What more could one ask for?

This is Laurel and Nan.  Laurel, on the left, is the Volunteer and event Coordinator for Friends of Cats.  Nan is a Board Member.  The two of them were out early in the morning (in the rain) setting up for the sale.

This is Arleen.  One of my cohorts from Volunteer San Diego.  She's been a project leader for the last 4 years at Friends of Cats.  She also works closely with the facility because she's a Disease Research Scientist for the County Vets Office.

You know what a sucker I am for cats with a mustache.

I think half of his mustache ended up on the other cats nose.

This guy bullied me into putting his picture up here with the others.

*

Well, my part time job seems to have me working most weekends right now, but there are a couple of interesting things coming up, including playing with puppets (if I play my cards right), and a big event at Friends of Cats.  Stay tuned.

*

I wanted to share the following with you because it was such a nice gesture by one of my father's former co-workers.  

My dad and Al try to meet each Friday for lunch at a local restaurant, "Trellises Garden Grille" at the Town and Country Hotel in San Diego.  They've been going there for years.  The food is great and the service they receive from the guys and gals there makes them feel like kings!  Although I'm not as frequent a guest as they are, I'm greeted with the same enthusiasm (hugs included) by the staff.

They both worked at General Dynamics and I love to tag along and hear them reminisce about all the tales involving aeronautics, there other buddies and life in general.

Well, to make a long story short, Al is an artist (an outstanding one I might add) who works in a number of mediums.  He's done a few drawings of my dad, and he asked me to bring in a photo so he could do one of me.  He actually ended up doing two in pastels. 

I'll tell you, from now on I'm not taking any more pictures of myself....I look more realistic and good looking in his renderings:)

Here's Al...he's either thinking about what to draw when he gets home, or what type of dressing to have on his salad this week....I'll bet it's French, like every other week:)

*

I've learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.
                                                                                                                                                          - Martha Washington

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I stopped by one of my favorite places, Friends of Cats today, because it was Volunteer Appreciation Day and also because Rebuilding Together San Diego was going to be there doing work on the complex.  Rebuilding Together had chosen Friends of Cats as the group they were going to donate time and supplies for.  "Unfortunately," when I arrived Friends of Cats was closed...they had had to evacuate all of the cats the week before due to the local fires.  "Fortunately," I was able to talk with Barbara, the Shelter Manager and she informed me that all the cats were doing fine and the fire had passed them by doing no damage to the shelter.

Below are some photos of the evacuation which Barbara shared with me.  Both the Volunteer Appreciation Day and the work by Rebuilding Together have been rescheduled

All of the cat carriers waiting to be filled.

They transported between 330-350 cats!!

Part of the working crew.

Pamela of Rebuilding Together donated a warehouse to store the cats in.

More members of the moving crew.

The U-Haul being backed in to pick up the cats for their drive home.

In the U'Haul....check out the eyes staring at the camera.  Too funny!!

This is Jim, who both "rented" the U-haul and drove it...What a life saver!

Pamela and Barbara...a job well done!

Back at home....safe and sound.

 

*

 

Volunteered through Volunteersandiego, to help out at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater.  This was only the second time that they have had supplies available for kids to actually make their own puppets following the puppet show.  If you're interested in catching one of their shows, check out http://www.balboaparkpuppets.com

The calm before the storm.

Fritz, one of the volunteers checking out the supplies.

Mingune, helping out one of our puppet makers.

Oliver and Kate showed up to help.  Oliver is is 9th grade at La Jolla Country Day and Kate's an 8th grader at Stella Maris...I love her classic pose!

Here's Kim, also volunteering.  I'm not sure if she's handing this parent supplies or snatching some for her own puppet?

Here's Mingue and Damian showing off the puppet they made together.  Damian named his puppet "Arthur."  By the way, the one on the left is Frankenstein...not Mingune.

Loads of kids.  We worked three shows.

Here's "Big Joe," the puppeteer and Jodi the ticket taker!

Inside the theater.

Portrait of Marie Hitchcock inside the theater...the original "Puppet Lady."

Hey, are you guys volunteering, or making puppets?

Fritz, asking himself "How did I get roped into this?"

 

*

 

 

This was my group of volunteers at the Volunteersandiego orientation this month.  I'm sorry to say that I didn't have them write down their volunteering background, because I was expecting about 50 people vs the 12 that showed up, and I figured I'd have to rush through the presentation.  In any event, they were another great group and if you look closely you'll see Jeff, Chanel, Clif, John, Melissa, Tatiana, Sherri, Shana, Julian Jr, Julian Sr, Flor, and Joseph......well, actually you won't see them all, I just noticed the camera cut off the face of one of my volunteers in the front row.  Too bad to, she was a nice looking young gal....my bad!  If she sees this, maybe she'll email me a copy of her picture and I can put it up here for everyone to see (hate to leave anyone out).... and not to slight the others at the orientation, "You were all good looking."  Except maybe that one guy with the....come on now, I'm only joking:)

*

 

November, 2007

 

The Rock Church recently had a volunteer fair, looking to get people to sign up for a variety of volunteer activities.  I was interested in the Home Repair, or "Helping Hands Ministry," so I attended an orientation meeting.

According to the booklet, the mission is to assist the disabled, widowed wives, single mothers, military wives with deployed husbands and esteem elders who required help.  The purpose is to help with minor electrical, plumbing and mechanical problems, automotive needs, landscaping and moving help when needed...right up my ally.  Unfortunately for me, the teams are going to do their volunteering on Saturdays.  My problem is that the "part time" job I took 3 months ago has now become a six day 40 hr. a week job, with Sunday usually being my one day off...and I'm usually volunteering with Volunteer San Diego on that day.

But I still want to give credit to the group for "their" efforts, since they have been volunteering for some time already.  I'm hoping to maybe be able to help out at some point in the future, if my schedule allows.

That's Tony, our fearless leader, standing at the front of the classroom (moving around) discussing the program with all of the volunteers who showed up that night.  There was to be another organizational meeting later in the week, where more volunteers were expected.

More volunteers.  The two on the right are Dave, another leader of the program and Tony's wife Linda who helps organize and make phone calls to the volunteers.  Because it is not a new group, there are a lot of people already helping who did not attend the meeting.

 

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Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.
                                                                                                                                                           - Joseph Addison

*

 

I was working at Vons today and came across these two nice gals who were volunteering their time handing out literature for the Neighborhood Watch Program.

That's Marilyn on the left and Kathy on the right.  

Marilyn is also involved with volunteering for the Salvation Army and serving lunches at the Senior Center.  Marilyn is also a member of the Rotary Club.

Kathy volunteers at the Burn Institute and also volunteers for her local church.

Another example of all of the great people I seem to come across!!

 

*

I've noticed this gentleman across the street from Vons almost every time I've been over there.  Today I brought him a big bag of aluminum cans (there's a recycling center located in the parking lot)

This picture's not too interesting...it's the bag of cans sitting in my car.  My dad saves them and thought it would be a good idea to let someone less fortunate have them, so thanks dad, "you"  deserve the real credit for this.

This is just another way anybody can help make the day a little brighter for two people...you and the person you are helping.

Try it.

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I signed up with Volunteer San Diego to help the Burn Institute install smoke detectors in the homes of senior citizens throughout San Diego.  The group above were all volunteers who gave of their time to drive around and help.  Sorry I wasn't able to get everyone's names, but we sort of got our instructions and left in all directions!

A table full of smoke detectors, portable drills, batteries and maps.

Dawn giving us instructions

Kathleen, the Director of Volunteer Services for the Burn Institute on the left and Dawn, the Community Outreach Specialist and Juvenile Fire Setter Interventionist on the right.

My partner in crime, Patrick.  Patrick has been in California for a year.  He's a transplant from Kentucky.  He's volunteered for the Burn Institute a number of times.  Also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.

Here we see Patrick installing a smoke detector as Gloria looks on.  Luckily for us, he never did drill entirely through any of the walls.

This is Carol looking pleased as punch...not sure if it was because we installed the detectors or because two "seedy" looking characters were no longer in her house:)

 

*

Friends of Cats had their annual Volunteer Appreciation Gathering this afternoon from 3-7pm, and I was lucky enough to be able to attend and take some photos....not to mention pet a few of my friends (cats, that is)

Everything all set up and decorated.

Some of the awards.

Volunteers beginning to arrive.

A book written by a cat?

Yep, that's right...and here's Eleanor, the person who translated the story as told to her by her cat.  50% of the proceeds from her book go back to cat care organizations.

Our happy chef Louise on the left, along with her sister Barbara, who appeared out of nowhere:)

Elaine is here petting one of the many cats.  Elaine has been volunteering for a year and shows up for a couple of hours each week.  She also takes in foster kittens!!  Her last litters were 5 then 1 followed by a litter of two.  Now that's devotion!

How about Gracie shown here with her boyfriend Phil.  She has been volunteering since 2001!!  She shows up once a week on Saturday or Sunday.  She's got 6 cats of her own at home!

Makayla on the left and her mom Laurie have been volunteering about three hours every week since August!!  Makayla is currently attending Challenger Middle School in Mira Mesa.  Here's the kicker....they are both allergic to cats!!

I'm taking this one with me, as soon as I've purchased my little cabin in Central California

Just checking out all of the excitement.

Cats everywhere....even in the laundry basket.

If you're in town on December 15th, stop by Friends of Cats for their tree lighting ceremony.  It's from 5-7pm with some hot drinks, a violinist and a chance to sponsor a cat by purchasing an ornament.....bring your friends!!

Thanks also to Barb and the staff for the neat bag full of books and the calendar.  It was very thoughtful of you:)

 

*

I received an email from Volunteer San Diego asking if I'd be able to do an orientation for someone who was unable to make it.  I always enjoy meeting the new volunteers, so I accepted and drove up to one of the Borders Book Stores in North County.  I'm used to working out of the back room of REI, so this was a treat.  Sort of like sitting in someone's living room and having a chat.

If you look closely, somewhere in the picture below you'll see Loreen, Kyaira, Cathy, Tracy, Marie, Christine, Ashley, Kim, Donna, Diana, Virginia, Vin and Shawn.

My latest set of recruits have volunteered at such places as....

Qualcomm Stadium

Ramona Homeowners Assistance Erosion

Golden Key park clean up and planting

Food drives

Adopt a Family Xmas Drive

Tutoring 8th-12 graders

Donations Service

Coordinator of Social Advocacy Rally/Workshop

Cooking/Chef for college students

AVID workshops on Diversity

Hands on New Orleans

Habitat for Humanity

2-1-1 non emergency phone lines

Community Church of Poway

Sierra Club

Fallbrook Pop Warner (Coach)

Environmental clean up for Palomar College

KAMP Kwaje/Ate Mentorship Program (Big Brothers/Big Sisters)

LGBTQI Center

Helped students with theater/art projects

Just another of my many wonderful groups of volunteers!!

 

*

Well today was Thanksgiving, so I decided I'd head downtown to find some people that might be in need of a little kindness and food.  One of the best places to go if you're looking for people to help, is right down in the center of things at Horton Plaza.  I was all excited about finding a few people to help, when much to my surprise I noticed a table set up and volunteers handing out food to whom ever was hungry....I was even offered a plate.

I was curious to know what organization had set this whole thing up so I asked the gentleman at the front of the line who was handing out the plates  He said it wasn't any big organization, just a bunch of volunteers that got together.  I asked who was in charge and he pointed to Brian (the gentleman on the left wearing the hat)  seems as though Brian spearheaded the whole thing through phone calls and email....Wow!!

Hopefully I'll come up with some more information as to how you can become involved and share it with you.

This is what I mean about all of the caring people out there.

As if this was not enough, along come Tracy and Steve, carrying bags of dinners,  which they had purchased from Denny's, along with a cooler of drinks, to hand out to the homeless!!  Out of nowhere!!  Taking time on Thanksgiving to help others.

They came all the way down from North County.  Since Brian already had things covered in this area he suggested they head to Balboa Park, which they did.

 

I sort of came away empty handed on this one, except I met some really great people doing some really great things....which after all is what this website is all about.

*

On a side note, as I was leaving I came across 6 young men who were in the armed services...They asked me where they might find a tattoo parlor.  I shook each of their hands and thanked them for helping to defend the freedoms of people throughout the world, and told them I was sorry, I had no idea.  

As I walked away I was wondering why they had asked me of all people, a retired school administrator (who hates needles) and then I noticed my reflection in a window and it all made sense.

I'd probably ask this dude too!

*

I signed up with Volunteer San Diego to work at Challenge Ranch.  The information provided was as follows....Challenge Ranch is in need of volunteers to help with necessary work around the Ranch. Various work include trail upkeep, corral fencing, tree trimming, weeding, drainage projects, gardening, painting, carpentry, etc. Learning opportunities available such as tacting and horses. Attire should be casual- jeans and boots/sneakers. Snacks and water will be provided.  

They were right about the casual attire....Luckily I brought a change of clothes since I had to go to work afterwards.  This was a wonderful experience.  I'll be going back when time allows.

Here's an article from the San Diego Union which will give you a little background...

DEHESA – Back erect and shoulders aligned, 16-year-old Patrick Seveland vaulted
over a red and white steeple like a pro during a riding exercise at Challenge Ranch.


Here disadvantaged youngsters, often from unstable families, learn to ride and groom
horses. Along the way, they learn to respect the animals and themselves.

Patrick, who has been visiting the ranch for about a year, sees a change in himself.

"It makes me feel good inside to know that I finally know something," he said.

Instructors Jane and Ron Tomczak operate the nearly 10-acre ranch, perched on a
shelf of land that overlooks the Dehesa Valley. In addition to English-style equestrian
classes for about 20 children, the Tomczaks host 20 more who cannot pay for
lessons, including Patrick.

He wasn't always keen on riding horses. In fact, he wasn't keen on much of anything.

"I was just kind of . . . a basic defiant kid," Patrick said recently, squinting in the sun
from under his riding hat.

His time at the ranch, he says, has "taught me that I can't only think about myself . . . I
also (have to) think and care about a horse."

Patrick's problems, from his father's struggle with drugs to his own battle with severe
attention deficit disorder, are not resolved. But the horses give him respite.

"It was a relief for me to come here when I was living with my dad," he said. "I couldn't
wait to come out here."

Jane Tomczak, 52, thinks riding calmed and focused Patrick, who is living with the
Tomczaks while his father completes drug rehab. It is the first time the Tomczaks, who
each have grown children from earlier marriages, have taken a child from the
program into their home.

In addition to his skill with horses, Patrick is doing better in school and raised his math
grade from failing to a B.

Now that he's focused his energy, Patrick has a goal: to ride in a horse show at the
Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Jane Tomczak knows the healing power of horses. She describes as dreary her
childhood in Sussex, England, with an "abusive and neglectful" father. But some
neighbors taught her to ride and care for horses.

"I think people saw a little kid who needed a hand," she recalls.

Now she is returning the favor.

How to apply
The Challenge Ranch accepts applications from youths ages 8 to 18 who are at risk
due to family problems, including a parent's drug addiction, domestic violence and
poverty, and need help with self-esteem or motivation.

Selections are made by the board of directors at the ranch. To apply, contact the
Tomczaks at 5973 Stallion Oaks Road, El Cajon, CA 92019 or (619) 445-0598.

Through Big Brothers and Sisters, churches and the county foster care system, the
Tomczaks are seeking more children who could use some fresh air, a break from
chaos at home or just a challenging hobby.

They moved to Dehesa from Blossom Valley in April and incorporated the nonprofit
side of Challenge Ranch in August. A goal is to eventually enroll 100 children.

To that end, the ranch solicits donations from individuals and organizations. It has
received more than $30,000 in cash and material donations during its first year as a
nonprofit.

Ron Tomczak, 55, owns a business that solicits support for political ballot measures
and he often contributes money to the ranch for feed, tack and upkeep. But the
Tomczaks operated without much outside financial assistance for more than four
years.

Their first student was K.C. Conner, who they met through Sunshine Haven, an
organization for families in crisis. Almost five years ago, K.C. was placed in foster care
because of family problems. She told her Sunday school teacher at Sunshine Haven
that she liked horses, and the teacher put her in contact with the ranch.

When K.C. arrived, her eyes were riveted to the ground and she would not speak up,
said Jane Tomczak, who has taught riding for 30 years.

Many kids don't speak to the Tomczaks or the other five adult volunteers at the ranch
right away. But ways of communicating are found.

Tomczak often has newcomers help groom a gentle 30-year-old horse so they can
get used to being close to an animal who will not hurt them.

"I'll come back an hour later and they'll be holding a long conversation with that
horse," she said.

K.C. began spending more and more time after school at the ranch. During the
summer, she makes her way up a bumpy Stallion Oaks Road to care for her assigned
horse almost every day.

"You can totally see the difference in the child from when they start the program to
when they gain that confidence and realize they can control this horse that probably
weighs a thousand pounds," Tomczak said from her perch on a dusty chair in the
ranch's tack room.

"This horse will respect them and listen to them and like them just because they're
doing things right and they're doing things confidently and calmly and nicely."

K.C., now 16 and living with her grandmother and attending El Capitan High School,
cracks a wide grin, showing her braces, and explains how coming to the ranch has
helped her.

"I have a lot more confidence," she said. "You just open up to everyone."

K.C. will compete in a 15-mile endurance race soon on her horse, Tacola, a
Percheron draft horse.

Competition and interaction boost self-esteem, Ron Tomczak said, as he watched his
horses stir up the cocoa-colored soil in the ranch's 90-by 200-foot riding arena.

"We're not trying to just give them a ride on a horse," Jane said. "We're trying to
completely change their way of thinking."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Melonyce McAfee is a community news assistant in the East County office.

Here are Jane and Ron, the two responsible for providing support, encouragement and inspiration for under-privileged children.  The ranch won a 10 news award and has also been featured in San Diego Magazine.  Having worked with them, it's easy to se that they really love what they are doing.

Two wonderful and caring people!!


Our volunteers for today.  From left to right....Dan, Caitlin, Mark, Me, Terri, Trish, Lydia, Sheldon and Lauren.

Jane had put up some information about the ranch for the volunteers to read.

Taking a tour of the facilities.

Looking down on the ranch from the porch.

Jane explaining some of the points of interest.

This is Laura who is a volunteer instructor.  She's here "every" Sat as well as one other day during the week (along with working a full time job)  She was even volunteering 4 days before giving birth!!  Wow!!!!

Here we see Trish chopping away at some of the bushes.

Laura giving students their instructions.

Ron showing Terri how to use the paint sprayer.  Terri's son went to my middle school.  She remembers me telling her son he looked cool when he showed up to school with pink hair!  Small world:) 

Here's Sheldon and Dan try to convince the wheelbarrow to do the work for them.  He's not biting though.

Mark and Caitlin trying to coax the fence to do what they want.

Mark, Sheldon and Dan getting rough with the fence.

Ben has been here helping to volunteer for 6 years now!!  He was a great help.

Dan and Sheldon fighting with the auger.  Dan then went with his daughter to build shelves and I fought with the auger the remainder of the time.

Just wondering what all these people are doing milling around his ranch.

Lydia and Lauren keeping busy by the corrals.

Terri busy painting...I'll bet her son Travis's hair would have looked good that color also:)

Students getting ready for a ride.

Ben taking a turn at the auger with Sheldon.

Lydia helping Ron carry some pipes

Yippee!!  Pizza time!

Lauren, Terri and Sheldon (with his 8th piece of pizza) taking a break.

What a fun time!!  Check out their website at http:www.challengeranch.org.  Or better yet sign up to pitch in and join the fun!!

*

Okay, this is a little different, but I wanted to mention it.  Following my stint at Challenge Ranch, I went to SeaWorld to work with one of my consumers.

While there, a little boy fell and bumped his head.  I offered to help his dad locate some ice.  I went to the concession stand and asked for some ice.  Problem was they didn't have any sort of plastic bag I could put it in.

A gentleman standing by said he might have one, so he looked into the bag on the stroller he had with him, but was unable to locate one.  He did instead discover he had a frozen icepack in the diaper bag.  He offered to let the other man keep it for his son.

This kind soul didn't have to bother helping us, let alone offer his ice pack for free....but he came to our rescue.

Sorry to say, I didn't have my camera with me, but I did get his name "Charles Leonard."  I told him thank you, but he responded, "Don't thank me, thank God."  So that's what I'm doing.  

Thank you God for having people like Charles out there!  Let me tell you, there are a lot of them out there, I run into them all of the time.

*

Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.
                                                                                                                                       - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

*

So, I received a nice note from Cathy, one of the volunteers at my Volunteer San Diego orientation.  I appreciated that she took the time to share with me an idea she came up with. 

Some of Cathy's previous volunteer time included working a couple of weeks gutting houses for Hands On New Orleans, answering phone calls for 2-1-1, tutoring kids at Ande Mtn School in Peru and also a few years staffing teachers and other HR work for middle schools for SD Unified.  Pretty big resume!

In any event, the orientation and my website helped to inspire her to come up with the following flyer for her kids, who had asked what she wanted for Christmas......

“He’s making a list,

to find out who is naughty or nice….”

And I know,he’ll find out

YOU are really nice! 

 When asked what I want for Xmas, I had to think about being a “receiver” of a gift.  I didn’t want to say …. “Oh, nothing”, because I do have wants.  So if you really desire to give me something I want, then you will perform a “random act of kindness.”  You’ll do something for someone because they need the help.  We all need kind words or some assistance at one time or another and no matter how small it is, I’m sure it will be appreciated. 

Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  I read recently: The best minute you spend is the one you invest in someone else.

I hope to inspire you to give me a gift that is worth more than anything money can buy.  What better season?

SO…. If you really want to give me a gift, don’t have it wrapped.  Enclosed is a card to write me a note as I’d love to hear what it is. 

Remember, …….A RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS!  

Happy Holidays!

Love,

Cathy

P.S.  In case you want to know, my inspiration – it’s you, books, prayer, meditation, www.volunteersandiego.org and a website by a volunteer: didmy30.com

 

What a wonderful idea!!!  I'm always amazed at what great people I meet and the fantastic things they are doing.  Feel free to use this idea yourself....Cathy already gave me permission, and I know she'd be happy to share it with everyone.

*

 

December, 2007

 

For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don't enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you're not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn't going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.
                                                                                                                                                                   - Andy Rooney

 

*

 

Here's another idea for you for this holiday season.  One of my consumers works at Von's, and when I'm there as his job coach, I walk past the Salvation Army bell ringers quite a few times.  I don't know about you, but I just don't carry money around with me anymore, so my way of helping out is to keep the bell ringer in good spirits....the happier they are, the more they ring the bell!

Here's Regina, enjoying her mocha something or other?  I don't drink coffee so I'm not sure what it was I ordered for her.

Here's Josephine and her hot chocolate....much easier for me to order, just two words.

Here's my reward....a rainbow in the parking lot.  It's  like I told you, what goes around comes around:)


*

Sometimes I think I must be a magnet for certain situations....The other day while I was working with one of my consumers at the Senior Center, a gas and electric truck pulls up and a workman gets out and comes to the door.  He has a purse in his hand which he found on the sidewalk down the streetBecause we have a police community storefront attached to our building he figures he can turn it in there.  Problem is, it is no longer staffed, although police officers often come in to use our restroom.  I offer to take the purse, which has a wallet, ID, some credit cards and a couple of cell phones inside and turn it into the first officer that stops by that day.

Yep, you guessed it, no officers show up that day and it's a Friday.

Not wanting to leave it over the weekend and figuring the sooner the gal that owns it finds out it has been recovered, the sooner she can stop worrying.....To make a long story short, I end up driving to Del Mar to return it (only had an address and no phone number).  

She (Victoria) was very appreciative....but that is not the point of my story.

Her attitude was that whomever had stolen it, probably needed it.  She had left the purse in the front seat of her car while she walked on the beach.  The perpetrator had smashed the drivers side window with a brick and taken all of the money in the wallet, and she had already called and cancelled her cards.... and her response was that they were probably in need of the money.

I received an email from her later that day, part of which is below

I really appreciate your kindness to drive all the way to give me my belongings !
Maybe it was meant to be that way. That someone through me satisfied his daily need ,and I in return, had a kind person do something for me.

Now that's  the "real" part of my story!  The fact that she felt blessed and was able to have such an attitude about the experience....and went on with her life.  I would hope that I might have the same attitude should it happen to me.

*

It really doesn't matter if the person who hurt you deserves to be forgiven. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. You have things to do and you want to move on.
                                                          - Real Live Preacher, RealLivePreacher.com Weblog, July 7, 2003

 

*

 

I went to the Christmas tree lighting event at Friends of Cats.....good news and bad news...."Bad" news is that my favorite cat, Kelly had been adopted..."Good" news is that my favorite cat Kelly had been adopted!

Refreshments were available (I had something called "wassail" which was excellent....still not sure what was in it) and ornaments depicting the different cats were available for purchase.

The tree was full of ornaments showcasing the many cats.

Here's Laurel showing off some of the ornaments she hand made from photos of the cats.  This is not the first year she has done this!

 

*

Okay, I don't want to leave you all hanging, so I just looked up a recipe for "Wassail."

Christmas Wassail

Serves: 8-12

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon apple cider

  • 25-30 whole cloves

  • 6-10 cinnamon sticks

  • 1 quart pineapple juice

  • 1 6 ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate

Mix all ingredients in a large pot and simmer. Serve hot.

*

This is Dan....he had a problem, in that he and his roommate only had one cable coming into the apartment for their two TV sets.  

It was cost prohibitive for the cable company to come in and run another line, so I went over and took care of it for him.

I'm not exactly sure what he's watching there...but it sure looks "clear."  Not bad if I do say so myself.

 

*

Signed up to work at the San Diego Food Bank, through Volunteer San Diego.  Had a great time and once again met some fantastic people...some of which I have met previously.

Here we are walking over to the assembly line area....I'm guessing we had at least 25 people if not more!

Most of the people there had helped box food before.

I could not believe all of the food they had in the warehouse.

Here's Christine (on the left)....She  was in one of my orientations.  She's been spending time at Friends of Cats recently...neat gal!

This is a picture taken of the assembly line.  I was positioned at the beginning.

Here's that same line, at a complete halt.  They either stopped because the machine had malfunctioned, or they found one of my fingers in one of the boxes:)

This is David, the project Coordinator for the food bank.  He's had this position for the last 2 1/2 years....he said he started out as a driver.  You can tell he really enjoys what he's doing!

He said we packed 600 boxes that evening, which is 18,000 lbs of food!

The food bank receives donations and is also funded by the government.  There are 4 drop off points (Chula Vista, La Mesa, San Diego, and Lemon Grove) each of which opens at 9:00am once per month.  The food is free to "anyone."  There are "no" requirements...they serve any and everybody until the boxes are gone.

Wonder what he's going to do with that box of "Clifford Crunch?"  Actually, what is Clifford Crunch?

Okay, here's Jack...yep the same Jack you've seen on my website volunteering twice before.  He was sitting in for the group leader.

I honestly don't think Jack ever goes home...he's here all throughout the month.  If this were not enough, he was showing me pictures of a child he sponsors in Tijuana.

If that were not enough, he's sponsoring a total of 8 children through 3 different organizations!!

Part of Jack's philosophy is that "You were put on earth to serve a purpose."  One of his favorite books is The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren...a great book!

Once again, someone "really" making a difference.

If you're interested, here are a few of the sites he shared with me....three of which concern sponsoring a child in need...

http://www.sos-usa.org

http://www.yugo.org

http://www.children.org

http://www.buildamiracle.net

along with one I know of...

http://www.christianchildrensfund.org

Following are a few of Jack's favorite quotes from The Purpose Driven Life...What on Earth am I here for?

   Never confuse activity with productivity
Humility is not thinking less of yourself,
 it is thinking of yourself less.
You can give without loving,
 but you cannot love without giving.
Integrity is built by defeating the temptation
 to be dishonest
God determines your greatness by how many
 people you serve, not how many people serve
 you
John Wesley "Do all the good that you can,
 by all means that you can, in all the ways you 
 can, to all the people you can, as long as you 
 ever can

 

*

While many best-selling books offer advice on how to "get" the most out of life, that's not the reason God made you.  You were created to add to life on earth, not just take from it.

                                                                                                                                -Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

*

 

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