The Board of Supervisors thanked 20 volunteers for their service to County government this week as part of National Volunteer Week. Here are a few of their stories and how they are making a difference in their communities.
Certainly, their work has benefitted various department programs and the public, but many volunteers said they have gained from their experience and that is why they continue their work.
Pat Jordon, Department of Animal Services
Nearly every day for the last three years, Pat Jordon of San Diego has gotten up early and gone to the San Diego County Animal Shelter on Gaines Street to walk and socialize dogs that are staying long-term or have special medical needs.
“She has literally saved the mental stability of countless dogs,” said Marlena Young, Department of Animal Services Volunteer Coordinator. “She’s been really caring.”
The dogs that Jordon works with are a more challenging group of dogs than the general dog population at the shelter. She works with dogs that are part of dog hoarding or neglect cases.
Young says not all volunteers have the extra training to work with this group because some dogs have been abused and some are not nice. Often those dogs are housed for several months. Without volunteers like Young, many of these dogs would never have a happy ending; they would languish during their stay and could not be adopted out later when the case was over.
Jordon spends about three hours a day at the shelter, even helping out with scheduling other volunteers and preparing special treats for the dogs.
“It fulfills me,” Jordon says simply. “They have a special place in my heart.”
Hessy Williams, Foster Youth Mentor Program
“I feel like I get more out of this than she does,” Williams said.
She tries to be a balanced, caring role model for the child and exposes her to museums, parks and wholesome fun.
Perhaps, the best endorsement of Williams’ work comes from her foster mentee who said, “She is nice and generous. She can put up with a lot from me. When I grow up, I want to be a mentor like her to make changes in foster kids’ lives.”
John Williams, Poway Library
Do you like what you do? John Williams, who has managed the Friends of the Poway Library bookstore for the past 10 years, said he just loves books and being around people who share his love of reading.
Williams said he worked in a library in school and later ran official libraries in the U.S.Navy, or unofficial libraries on his ship when deployed at sea. He imparted his passion for books to his daughter, who is a librarian in Hawaii.
He gives five hours a day, five days a week working in the store and receiving, sorting and managing its extensive and always changing book inventory. Library officials estimate he has worked more than 10,000 hours.
“(Volunteering) keeps you young. It keeps you invested in the community and it’s fun,” Williams said. “You want to do something you enjoy.”
Charla Cranor, Farm & Home Advisor
The Volunteer of the Year recipient who has served the longest this year was Charla Cranor of Alpine who has worked with the San Diego County 4-H Youth Development Program for 23 years. She estimates she has contributed more than 10,000 hours over the years.
When her children expressed an interest in the program, Cranor got involved. Her children stayed in the program until they were 19 years old and Cranor kept going. Now, her grandsons are getting involved.
She started out as a project leader working directly with 4-H youth members. She has now gone on to take on the role of president of the county-wide volunteer leaders’ council providing leadership for program planning, fund development and communication for the 4-H Youth Development activities within the County of San Diego.
Ultimately, Cranor said, she just stands behind the program and the life lessons it imparts to youth.
“It’s a good mentor program,” Cranor said. “It gives (youth) a healthy place to hang out and it helps them to develop character.”
For a complete list of the volunteers and to learn more about the volunteer program, visit http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/Portal/News/2011/Apr/041311volunteers.html.