Friday, April 23, 2010

From Bali to Bengals…and more!

Ever want to meet the Prince of Bali?

Or get some football pointers from J.T. O’Sullivan of the Cincinnati Bengals?

Or learn some poker tips from Rich Lederer, the father of national Poker champions Annie Duke and Howard Lederer?

Now’s your chance!

Volunteer San Diego is holding an online auction, "Give Back, Get Back," which launches April 29th and runs through May 15th. The auction features some unique, one-of-a-kind items and experiences, with all proceeds going to support Volunteer San Diego. Check out some of the wonderful items at:,_Get_Back.html.

You can also vote for your favorite items!
We want to encourage you to spread the word about the auction, and vote for your favorite items: each time someone clicks on the vote icon on any auction page or votes from Facebook it increases the chance that a particular auction will show up on the home page. You can vote as often as you want!

And speaking of launching….

If you’re thinking about getting away, here’s an idea for you:
Volunteer San Diego, in partnership with our generous friends at Holland America, is offering some lucky donor a 7-day Holland America cruise for two to Mexico or the Caribbean. Any donation received before May 15th qualifies for this trip. Auction purchases over $100 qualify as well. Visit our website to find out more at

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Many Small Influences Create Change

My name is Omar Passons, I am the volunteer President of the Board of Directors for the North Park Community Association (NPCA). The NPCA’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for all who live, work, and visit North Park through a combination of social and service actions. We seek to promote improvements in our community by encouraging as many people as possible to give whatever time they can because we understand that 100 people giving even a couple hours of their time can be a tremendous benefit for our community.

In the past twelve months, we have worked with neighbors, local government leaders, and businesses to achieve some important milestones for North Park. We helped remove over $20,000 worth of graffiti vandalism from our homes and public streets. Together, we removed several tons of waste from our streets and alleys with community clean-up efforts. And we came together as a community to raise the money for free summer concerts at Bird Park so that even in challenging economic times our neighbors were able to enjoy our open space and the friendly atmosphere that is typical of our neighborhoods.

In 2009, the NPCA began a long-term effort to help make physical and other improvements to our community’s largest public park, and after more than six months we worked with the School District and the City of San Diego to allocate more than $600,000 in resources that will help transform a large portion of this great community park. Through our Key Neighbor program and new collaborations, we’ve started working with dedicated volunteers from Pt. Loma, Ocean Beach, Normal Heights, Otay Mesa/Nestor and Pacific Beach to elevate our grassroots community improvement goals.

The thing about North Park specifically and volunteering in general is that it is not just about these distinct, measurable achievements. Our community cares about making improvements from within and about living in a place where you know your neighbors, can walk to great shops and restaurants, and where the spirit of giving in service to our neighborhoods really matters. It is that spirit that encouraged two of our neighbors to almost single-handedly repair a run-down street corner. That spirit also convinced one of our neighbors to run an anti-vandalism campaign that protects our businesses and residents with over 20 Key Neighbors. And that same spirit has fostered years of commitment from dozens of locals to improve access for our disabled neighbors, increase walkability, and the highlight the historical character of our neighborhoods. The NPCA is one volunteer organization, but in North Park great volunteer work is also done by the North Park Historical Society, the North Park Planning Committee, the University Heights Community Association, the Altadena Neighborhood Association, the Redwood Neighborhood Watch Group, the Burlingame HOA, the North Park Action Team, and dozens of individuals that I see out on walks picking up trash, passing out flyers, staffing booths, and helping our young people.

Many people don’t know that North Park actually stretches from down around Switzer Canyon all the way to north of Adams and from the 805 to Park. This is the area that the City uses to plan and the area that the NPCA focuses its volunteer efforts on. We have many small neighborhoods with their own individual character across North Park, and together we are working to create and maintain the type of community that is welcoming to all and a great place to live.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Casino Night by Chris Huntley

For two years, I’ve enjoyed the incredible thrill of serving our community through projects arranged by Volunteer San Diego. As a busy husband and father of two little girls, and working full time in life insurance, I simply don’t have a lot of time to donate. That’s where the benefits of working with Volunteer San Diego come in to play, as their service projects are numerous and flexible to boot. Their projects seem to fit into any schedule and any area in which you’re passionate to serve.

The particular project that suits my schedule and passion for service is the Casino Night at Country Hills Healthcare in El Cajon. As someone who loves blackjack and poker, I can’t think of a more diverting way to bring a smile to a senior’s face. And smile they do. We typically play blackjack and bingo, but I tend to stick around the blackjack table.

My favorite duty is dealing. You’d be surprised by the high quality of play by the blackjack participants. Perhaps some of the residents there are former “high rollers”. Many of them know how to play the odds, such as when you should hit and when you should stay, and it’s not unusual after a night filled with doubling down, splitting, and getting paid on blackjacks, for them to clean me out.

It brings a smile to my heart too how much they mean business. They’re only playing for nickels, but you’d think some of their social security checks were on the line as competitive as they get. Just watch out if you’re dealing there, because if you miscount when you’re adding their cards (which I frequently do), they catch you every time, and let you know about it.

I’ve personally gotten a great deal of satisfaction every time I’ve gone, and thank Volunteer San Diego for orchestrating such a creative event. The residents love their casino night and truly appreciate the volunteers’ efforts at VSD. I know I feel appreciated and always leave with a smile. So next time you check the schedule and see Casino Night at Country Hills Healthcare, I highly recommend you sign up for the project, come out and visit us, and come ready for a blackjack of an experience.

Chris Huntley is a volunteer at Country Hills Healthcare and our first featured Guest Blogger Celebrating Volunteer Month. Please visit his blog at

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Homework Helpers Projects seeking Bilingual Tutors

I like to think of myself as a “Citizen of the World,” not just as an estadounidense. When I moved from the wind-swept plains of Iowa to San Diego, I encountered the World. San Diego is an extremely unique place: it has a bustling port, it hosts fragile, diverse ecosystems, and it is along an international border. All these things make it a fertile place for future “Citizens of the World” and Volunteer San Diego wants to help nurture them. Our College-Rolando Homework Helpers project is looking for Bilingual Spanish-English speakers and French-English speakers, and our newly-minted North Park Homework Helpers project is looking for Bilingual Spanish-English speakers.

If you are bilingual and want to help others with the language and their school work, please attend College-Rolando Homework Helpers or North Park Homework Helpers.

~ Nathan Kieso, Community Organization Liaison, Volunteer San Diego

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