JULY,  2009

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Because I work at a variety of venues, I have the opportunity to meet a number of interesting people on a daily basis.  One such person is Steve...



Steve was born with Cerebral Palsy.  When he turned nine, his parents started sending him to a week long summer camp for kids with physical disabilities up in the Lake Tahoe area.  It became his favorite place on earth. He fished, he hiked with the help of a counselor, had bon fires, played in the lake, slept under the stars and learned he could do whatever he set out to do.

He now lives in Coronado with his wife and two kids.  A few years ago, his wife Elizabeth helped him to realize one of his dreams, which was to reopen the wilderness program which he had attended as a child.  It had closed a short time after he stopped attending and eight years ago he approached the owner of the property to see if he could reopen it.

In 2008, Wampler Kids, a 501-C3 was organized with a focus on creating and sustaining adventures in camping for children with disabilities.

This summer they plan on sending kids to Hawley Lake, (where he attended as a child), down to Baja for kayaking, white water rafting on the American River and rock climbing and cycling in Yosemite.

The committee at Wampler Kids select the children to participate very carefully.  Not only are they all kids with physical disabilities, they also come from disadvantaged families who would otherwise be unable to afford to send them on these types of adventures.  There is no cost to the families.

To find out more information, check out http://www.wamplerkids.org

Thanks to Steve and Elizabeth, a lot of kids will have an enjoyable summer...This is a real story about "giving back."



Wow!!!  Three van loads of Marines at Challenge Ranch this month.  Needles to say, a lot got done!

Here's our group from the Single Marine Program at the Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar. 

Can you find Cameron, Roman, Travis, Alejandro, Efrain, Benjamin, Christopher, Daniel, Katie, Scott, Liz, Luis, Jordan, Sarah, Matthew, Robert, Mona, Veronica, Carly,  Elijah, John, Jason, Swede, Eric, Jayme, Fredrick, TJ, Sherlynn, Linwood, Johanna, and Jerod......how about Waldo?

And of course, our great volunteers from Volunteer San Diego....Mark, Lenah and Joe.

Thanks to everyone who helped out today.  Ron, Jane and all of the kids that benefit from the work you do, appreciate all of your efforts.


When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one and a lily with the other.

                   -Chinese proverb                                                                              



AUGUST, 2009


Hard to believe it's August already....I swapped my duties with Nancy, the other lead up at Challenge Ranch, so that  no sooner was I there with one group and it was time to greet another....and here they are!


Scattered about you should be able to find....Monica, Tony, Anastasia, Aleigha, Leti, Charlie, Nancy, Eduardo, Stephen, Brad, Christian, Brittany, Celeste, and Donnie.

Not to be left out were Breanne and Adrian, who had a little difficulty finding the place (welcome to the club) but never the less showed up and pitched in.

As always, everyone had a lot of fun and a lot of work was accomplished.....We even had a birthday party for Mark.....

      Thanks to all of the volunteers from Volunteer San Diego for all of their efforts!!




While parking my car prior to attending church, I came across the following two groups of volunteers.

They were collecting recycling (plastic, aluminum, etc) and donating the proceeds to World Vision, an agency that helps support the world's poorest children and families in over 100 countries, including the United States.

As of the day I was there, the group was sponsoring 73 children!

For more information on the organization check out http://www.worldvision.org

Right next to them, was another smaller group of volunteers collecting clothing and household goods.

Cars in this line were arriving with clothing and household items.  As you can see, they are filling up two vans, one of which is already reaching its load limit.  This occurs weekly and I was told that both of the vans fill up each week.  For more information on this program go to http://www.shareanddonate.com 

These are just two of the groups volunteering on a weekly basis at the church.  As always, these volunteers are to be commended for their time and efforts.  Many of them are out there each Sunday. 




The things you own, end up owning you.

                                                                                     Tyler Durden, "The Fight Club"




Lest ye think I've been sitting back and relaxing, here are a few items I've taken care of this month....when I'm wasn't working.

Sorry the pictures aren't more interesting....

During the week, I make a daily deposit of the Coffee Cart monies which are collected by the consumers I job coach for.

I noticed that the front door made a loud squeak every time I entered.  I mentioned it to one of the tellers behind the counter and she said it had been doing it awhile....and that it was annoying.

I happen to carry a can of silicone lubricant in my car for my bicycle chain, so I retrieved it and fixed the problem.  

Nothing big, but it goes to show, you never know when you might have an occasion to help out.

I received a call from someone I know, asking if I might take care of a couple of things which needed fixing at her house, including re-hanging a shelf which had come loose from her wall.

Once again, no big deal, but if you're available why not help out....Good Karma!!

I try to check up on my former in-laws on a weekly basis to see if they need anything.

Recently they had a problem with someone tearing down part of their fence in the middle of the night and throwing an egg at their window.

My former father-in-law is 89 and I was concerned about him attempting to fix the fence, so I offered to tear down the old fence and put in a new chain link fence for him.

This is a little more time consuming than the last two volunteer efforts I just mentioned.  Because I work six days a week, it's a little slow going and has taken me every Saturday this month to get this far.

In this case, I'm paying back the "Good Karma" he provided to his daughter and me years ago....What goes around comes around!





We had a "Huge" group out at Challenge Ranch this Sunday!!  There were 16 present from Volunteer San Diego and another 25 or so from the USS New Orleans.

Our group this week consisted of Angela, Marianna, Ivan, Chelsy, Matt, Maeve, Nancy, Angelina, Zach, and Aleksandr...they're all up there if you look closely.  

Our late arrivers were Mark, Lucy and Carlos on the left and Karolina on the right.

Understandable, it is a difficult place to find.

I was unable to get a picture of the group from the New Orleans.  They have been helping out at Challenge Ranch for some time now.  They just returned from an 8 month deployment....it was great to have them back.  If you look through the pictures below though you are sure to see Sarah, Wesdon, Stephanie, Robert, Nicholas, Miranda, Marloar, Joseph, Melissa, Victor, Sandra, Martez, Michael, Cara, Aidan, Herman, Glenn, Alex, Nathan, Jena, Drew, Makaria and of course Paul who was responsible for once again setting it up with his shipmates and their families.  We even had some pony rides at the end of the event.

As you can see, a lot got accomplished once again.  Thanks to all of the hard working volunteers who gave of their time!!




I received a call from a friend the other evening asking for some advise.  They had come across a little bird earlier in the week, which had flown away and now returned two evenings later and was sitting on the pavement by their driveway.

My friend was going out of town the following morning and wasn't sure if the bird was sick, nor what to do with it.  Fearful that if the bird was left outside, the neighborhood cats would get it.

I suggested that they leave the bird in a box in their garage and I would pick it up the next morning and take it to "Project Wildlife."

For those not aware, Project Wildlife cares for injured, orphaned, and sick native wildlife of San Diego County, and releases rehabilitated animals back into their natural habitats.

You can check out their website at http://www.projectwildlife.org 

Their hotline number is 619-225-WILD (9453)

Here are three of their volunteers, Fiona, Irith and Janine who give unselfishly of their time.

I left a donation, and the interesting part of this story was that what I had brought in, according to the volunteers, was a "finch," that apparently had been someone's pet.  This accounted for why it would sit on your finger and had flown back to my friends house after having been let loose the first time.

Luckily, Project Wildlife works with someone who takes care of finches and he was interested in this little guy.

Thanks again to everyone for their help and compassion.




This is Norma.  She eats lunch at the Senior Center.  Norma was interested in attending a 50's Day party but was not sure about being able to afford it so I sponsored her.  It wasn't that much and I was honored to have contributed the funds for her.

I feel blessed that I am able to make ends meet and that I was able to help out.  What may seem like a trivial amount to someone may make a big difference in another's life.




I attended a couple of inspirational services at church this month....click the links below for a brief summary.



Never forget how fortunate you are.




OCTOBER,  2009


Remember Steve from the top of this page?  Well check this out.

Climbing El Cap!!

Talk about inspirational.  I'll keep you posted as to how his adventure turns out.




Looking for a way to make a difference without volunteering out in the field or donating money....how about fostering an animal?

Below...everybody doing their own thing.

Above is Lelani...current foster dog posing for a picture for a calendar.

Above are the current foster kittens looking for the milk bottle.




I was able to help a customer at Vons this week.  She came in and stated she was having some difficulty getting her car to start.  She would turn the key in the ignition and nothing would happen.

Turns out that the problem was that the battery in her key fob for locking and unlocking the doors had died.  As luck would have it, her cell phone was also dead, so she called her daughter from my phone and asked if she could bring an alternate fob from home.

While we were waiting, we went to the drugstore next to Vons in order to replace the battery.  I placed the new battery in the fob and reprogrammed it for her....sure enough, that was the problem.

This is Marilyn, ready to get going with her day...she has a lot to do, her daughter is getting married this Saturday!!




We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

                                                                                                  -Winston Churchill




Remember those three kittens above?  Here are their proud new parents, Kerri and Jonathan!  They just got married and already starting out with a family.






I spent some time helping out at a Spay and Neutering event in Chula Vista.

SNAP logo; vet performing surgery; young girl with kitten. Click image to go back to SNAP's homepage

The event was being put on by SNAP.  It was exclusively for pit bulls, and they had a total of 27 dogs they were able to perform surgery on.

They have a mobile bus "The Neuter Scooter" which they drive to various areas around San Diego.  The cost being only $20 for this particular event.

They have a number of programs available to the public....for more information you can check out their website at http://www.snap-sandiego.org 


First Doggie


Last Doggie




I collected a number of dog crates for the SNAP event.  While I was picking up one, I met Pam and she told me of an interesting thing she was doing over the weekend with her friend Laura.

It involved taking some quads into the desert to find a homeless Boxer dog!  I wasn't able to tag along due to some other commitments, but I wanted to find out more information and get some pictures of the experience.  She promised to email me, so what follows is her account of the event.

Buddy....the Boxer



On October 31, 2009, Laura Bidinger, a volunteer with Emergency Animal Rescue, met up with her daughter, Christina Bidinger, also an Emergency Animal Rescue volunteer at Ocotillo Wells to camp for the night and ride their quads.  It wasn’t until the next morning, Christina told her that one of her friends saw an emaciated Boxer 5 miles from where they were camping on Friday, October 30th.    When approached, the dog ran towards the mountain.  Laura was very upset that no one had told her the night before, and now they were all packing up and going home. 

Laura stayed behind on Sunday, November 1st, to search for the dog.  She called two of the founders of EAR, Jan Picktin and Doug Lake to come from Ramona to Octotillo Wells to help search.  They came immediately with food, water and a trap and brought their junior member, Cheyenne Brugh.  

They searched for 5 hours 5-6 miles along the railroad tracks, under bushes, in ravines, even with binoculars looking towards the rock mountain.  They asked Border Patrol to keep an eye out and gave out business cards.  They asked in town for everyone to help with any information that would help them pinpoint where he was last seen.  With no luck, they drove back to Ramona, discouraged and tired, Laura posted ads on Craigslist to get out the information and to ask for help from everyone who may have seen him over the weekend.  The next day, Becky Sharp, a woman from Pine Valley, called to say that she had spotted him in Ocotillo near Plaster City.  They put food and water out , but could not get near him.  She said he had a collar and tags.  

Laura immediately posted more ads on Craigslist for Imperial County, LA County, and San Diego County.  She called Imperial County Shelter, but no one had called to report their Boxer missing.  She called Border Patrol, Parks & Recreation and the Fire Departments in this area and gave them information and asked them to call if anyone spotted him.  

Laura decided to get a team together to search down in Ocotillo and Plaster City, while another team searched the Ocotillo Wells side again.  They would communicate throughout the day while searching.  Laura decided to have flyers made to hand out to people out riding and camping in the area, and post them at all of the businesses.  Laura called Academy Rentals in Ocotillo on Friday, November 5th, to rent quads to make the search easier.    The owner, Chris Spounias, was very pleasant.  Laura explained the situation regarding the rescue attempts and Chris offered to loan his 4-wheel drive truck for no cost.  Laura was shocked but relieved and couldn’t believe this person would let 3 women take off into the desert with his truck. 

On Saturday, 11/7, Laura Bidinger, Christina Bidinger and Pam Lawless drove to Ocotillo and met up with Chris.  He helped them place flyers everywhere and gave them his truck.  He drew a map of the area to be searched.  

The girls placed food and water stations all along a wash and under bushes for ½ a mile.  They searched with binoculars around the area.  They handed out flyers to everyone who was riding or camped in the area. 

By the end of the day, disappointed and exhausted, they filled up Chris’s truck and bought him some beer as a gesture of appreciation.  Before heading back to Chris’s home, the girls stopped by the Ocotillo Fire Station to have the firemen air up the tires.  They were all very helpful.  Chris made the women dinner and they discussed the day’s events.  Later, the girls headed back to Ramona, again disappointed and exhausted. 

On Sunday, 11/8, Laura received a call from a family of campers from Clairemont, Kristy and Chris LaPage, and Art, Renee and their son Bradley Pifer who were camped on Painted Gorge road…very close to where the search party was on the day before.  They had Boxers with them and spotted the stranded Boxer and encouraged him to come up to the campfire for food.  He had wondered in that morning hungry and tired.  He plopped himself down by the fire and ate and slept.  They didn’t touch him for awhile.  Art made the first contact with the Boxer, who they called ‘Rocky’ and coaxed him close to the camp on Sunday morning. They were able to get close and pet him but didn’t put a collar on him.    They fed and watered him.  Bradley Pifer, their son, then rode into Ocotillo to get Laura’s number off the flyer they had seen the day before in the Old Highway Cafe.  Laura arrived around 10:30am from Ramona and assessed the situation.  He became protective and a bit aggressive when Laura approached with treats.  Laura then backed off and set the trap with smelly, fishy cat food.  It took about 1 minute and he was in.  He finally gave up and was exhausted, but she could tell he was also relieved to be caught and safe. 

Laura called Jan Picktin from EAR while driving to see if they could get him in to Boxer Rescue.  Jan talked to Alice Via from Boxer Rescue in Lakeside, who had been covering the e-mails on Craigslist the whole time.  She was very relieved and grateful that he was safe.  With no hesitation, Alice told them to bring him to her.  Pam and Laura dropped him off with Alice.  They settled him in, keeping him in the trap until later that evening when Alice thought he was settled down enough to take him out.  He was a bit unsure, but walked on a leash.  He is coming along slowly, but remembering how to be a normal dog again.  He loves to go out, but can’t wait to get back in the house to his security.  Buddy is his name now.  Alice Via is an angel who truly knows how to help this lucky dog adjust.  We will keep updates on Buddy because we know everyone followed his story and were so concerned, like we were, with his safety and the hope that we would find him and bring him home. 

So, please, never give up searching for your lost pet.  They can cover many miles and can live on very little food and water when they are trying to survive.  Buddy covered at least 30 miles or more, as we tracked.  Very smart, very Special Boy. 

Hopefully, we will soon be adding the names and pictures of him and his new family.  We will keep you posted.

Special Thanks to:
Doug Lake, Jan Picktin and Cheyenne Brugh                                                                                                                                                    Laura Bidinger, volunteers for Emergency Animal Rescue
Christine Bidinger, volunteers for Emergency Animal Rescue
Pam Lawless, volunteers for Emergency Animal Rescue
Chris Spounais, owner of Academy Rentals in Ocotillo (619) 294-2227
Ocotillo Fire Department
Kristy La Page, Chris La Page, Art, Renee Pifer and Bradley Pifer...Families who found the Boxer and called us
Ocotillo shops and stores, gas station who allowed us to post our flyers


Chris Spounais loaned the searchers his 4x4 in order to find the boxer.

Christine Bidinger on the lookout.

Bait station set up to entice the boxer.

Laura searching the area.

Area near Plaster City, where they searched.

Lookout Laura.

Success at last! Buddy is captured!

Buddy on his way to a new life.

Families who helped, saying goodbye.

"Goodbye" Buddy.

Arriving at Boxer Rescue in Lakeside.

Boxer Rescue Van.

Alice Via, angel from Boxer Rescue.

Buddy at the Rescue.

Hey, this beats the desert!

Buddy looking happier.


Pam Lawless, one of the volunteers.

Buddy after a few meals and freedom at Boxer Rescue.

A great street to live on.

Buddy energized and diggin' out.


Buddy, feeling better following the ordeal:)

He's lucky there were so many caring people willing to make an effort to find him a happy home!!

Brkkk  rrruufff  yyyipppp.....which in Buddy speak means "Thanks guys."




DECEMBER,   2009


The little gal I used to sponsor at Grace Children's Home in Tijuana, Gaby, now has a home and is no longer with the program!

This is Erika, who I am now sponsoring....She is 14, plays the flute, likes soccer and her favorite subject in school is geography.

For information on how to sponsor one of the children, go to http://www.gchmexico.org




You may remember my buddy Jack who I have mentioned before.  He's the one that got me interested in Grace Children's Home way back, when we went down there for a visit.

He has sponsored a number of children from different agencies.  Jack has also helped supplement the cost of an education for more than one child.

I received the following email from him recently....

In 2005, I discovered Build A Miracle, a house building program in Tijuana.
I was shocked to see what real poverty looked like, and felt blessed to be 
able to help.
After participating on some build days for a couple years, an idea came to me
during my quiet time.  Besides building houses, what about providing a college 
scholarship to someone.  Chris liked the idea, so I made a donation to Build A
Miracle in the honor of my mother, a career librarian who believed strongly in 
education.  I knew that Susie, my mother, would approve.
On our next build day, I was introduced to Selene, who lived with her family in 
the area where we were building houses.  She was already in college but her 
family was struggling financially.  The Build A Miracle college scholarship 
program was born.  She worked at the community center in return for her scholarship.
Each build day became more special because I got a chance to spend some time
with Selene.
Her path to graduation took a different turn because of her marriage to Rodrigo and 
the birth of their son, Isaac.  But she continued to study, even though she left the
scholarship program
Thanks to Adolfo, I was able to attend her graduation on 10/20/09.  Attempting to 
describe my emotions and feeling are impossible to describe, so I will not try.
Years ago (and many pounds) ago, I was a pretty serious marathon runner.  I was 
able to run the Boston Marathon three times.  Specially the first time was one of 
the most special days of my life.  I found a replica of the medal I received for running
Boston the first time (in 1989) on eBay.  I gave it to Selene as part of her graduation, 
which linked two of the most special days of my life.
Selene, job well done.  I know that my mother is smiling down at you.
Hopefully there will be more graduations in the near future in my life, but the first 
one was REALLY special.

Senor Jack

 A few days later he sent me a picture of Selene at her graduation, along with a note she had sent to him.

Querido sro. Jack
Dear Mr. Jack
Agradezco grandemente a Dios por su vida y la bendicion que usted a sido para mi familia, cada dia pido a Dios que lo favorezca en todos sus caminos.Agradezco grandemente el conocerlo y saber el hermoso corazon que tiene para ayudar a la gente como yo que al no tener la economia suficiente para estudiar, a personas que Dios envia para asi mejor muestros caminos.

I greatly thank God for your life and the blessing that you have been for my family, each day I ask god to favor you in all your paths.  I greatly thank having known you and the beautiful heart you have to help people like me who doesn't have the economic ability to study, having know people that God sends inorder to improve our paths. 
Sro. Jack su medalla a significado fortaleza y esmero , puesto que no fue facil ganarla y llegar a obtenerla , y necesito un gran esfuerzo , aprecio tan hermoso detalle hacia mi. Y siempre la tengo conmigo puesto que la muestro como un obsequio que se me dio al termino de un largo camino, donde fue en ocaciones tan dificil y en ocaciones tan gratificante.

Mr. Jack your medal has meant strength and conviction, since it wasn't easy to win it and to obtain it, and it took a great effort, I appreciate such a beautiful gesture towards me.  And I always have it with me and I show it as a gift that you gave me at the end of a long road, which was at times so difficult and at others so gratifying. 

En estos momentos estoy feliz , puesto que tengo un hermoso matrimonio y un bebe precioso , en un empleo donde trabajo con niños de 5to y 6to año en un colegio de un gran prestigio de Tijuana.

At this moment I am happy, given that I have a beautiful marriage and precious baby, have employment where I work with children in 5th and 6th grade at one of Tijuana's prestigious schools.  
Sro. Jack  , Deceo ayudar a otros a seguir logrando sus milagros. Y dar de lo mucho que usted trajo a mi vida .
Mr. Jack, I wish to help others to continue achieving their miracles.  And give from the abundance that you have brought to my life.  

Gracias, mi Querido Sro. Jack , siempre estare en deuda con usted.

thanks my dear Mr. Jack, I will always be in your debt.  


Jack is a special guy....I would also be remiss if I didn't mention you can receive more information on the organization he volunteers with at http://www.buildamiracle.net

Speaking of Build a Miracle, this was the house Selene was living in prior to them building her new one.











Looking to the future...who knows?

Life is good....I feel blessed and I hope you do as well.


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