Volunteers of the Year - Profiles and Photos

Volunteers of the Year for 2012 - honored May, 2013

Rod DeMartini, Rural Food Project

A long-time Catholic Charities volunteer, Rod De Martini has changed the way the organization’s St. Philip Apostle/St. Teresa Rural Food Project is run.

As the project’s coordinator, De Martini oversees delivery of food to over 100 households all over West County. His dedication has led his rural food site to become best-operated site in CC’s network.

“The dignity and camaraderie at his site is inspiring,” says nominator Kenny Moeller. “He is such a great example of someone maximizing what he can do. He uses his experience, brains, and time to make his monthly distribution a community accomplishment.”

  

Teresa Renner

Teresa radiates sunshine, and she is warm and loving with diffucult clients. She gives in special ways - she prepares lunch for the staff once a month, and creates seasonal decorations that make coming in each day a real treat. Teresa is a great spokesperson for our program at Catholic Charities' tours, bringing to life the joy the program gives to both volunteers and clients.

     

Carol and Bill Dickenson

Bill and Carol have been Michele's right-hand volunteers for decades. Bill loves making calls to I'm Home Alone clients, and they, in turn, love his calls. They can tell he is truly interested in their lives. Bill also speaks on our tours and conveys how important the calls are to people who have no family in their lives. Bill and Carol fully host and coordinate an annual luncheon that is a highlight for volunteers and clients -- they love meeting the faces behind the voices they so often hear.

  

Eric “Rap” Radford, Family Support Center

In his seven years of volunteering with Catholic Charities, Eric “Rap” Radford has become an essential part of the Family Service Center’s team. Working as a receptionist, Radford volunteers each week helping the numerous people who walk through the FSC’s doors.

“On two occasions, he connected a case manager with very high-risk families,” says nominator Amy Ramirez. “Because of this, these families were able to get into shelter and succeed.”

Radford’s relationship with FSC started before he became a volunteer: many years ago, he actually brought his family to FSC and credits the program with helping him get back on the right track. Today, he volunteers at the FSC front desk as a way to give back.

“Rap is very consistent with how he handles his responsibilities and always does so very respectfully,” another nominator, Adam Hilton, says of Radford. “He’s considered one of the staff and can always be counted on to hold down the fort.”

     

Humberto Pena, Citizenship

Thirty years after becoming a United States citizen, Humberto Pena still carries and treasures an old citizenship study booklet. Originally from Mexico, today Pena is a proud American citizen who has spent the last six years as a volunteer tutor and application assistant for Catholic Charities immigration services.

Whether he’s driving clients to immigration interviews, passing out fliers at community meetings, or helping out with translation for clients, Pena is quick to go above and beyond his expected duties as a tutor. His positive outlook, encouraging attitude, and sympathetic ear have made him an invaluable member of CC’s immigration services’ team.

“Sometimes he’s like a therapist listening to stories about clients’ home lives, trials, and tribulations,” says nominator Mary Lowe. “When tutor and client meet, they develop a unique friendship.”

“When I work with applicants, I try to instill in them the idea that citizenship is an honor bestowed on us and not to take it lightly,” Pena says. “What they learn in the classes will serve them well in the future. The volunteer work that I do is sometimes challenging and yet it is very rewarding to help where help is needed. God willing, I hope to continue. Just like all immigrants, I was there too, so their experiences are my own.”

  

Kevin and Honora Connolly, Executive Director’s Award

Over the course of more than 30 years with Catholic Charities, Kevin and Honora Connolly have volunteered their time and efforts across a wide spectrum of programs and sites. They’ve worked in Advancement, Homeless Outreach, Respite, the Family Service Center, IHA, and in the Executive Office. They’ve even spent time as event volunteers and as callers for CC’s “I’m Home Alone” program, and Honora still serves on CC’s board.

Not only do Kevin and Honora give generously of their time and talent, they also have made significant donations to Catholic Charities both through joining the Leadership Society and by making legacy gifts of a life insurance policy and a bequest.

“Their participation, attitude, and commitment to Catholic Charities is honorable and sets the bar for everyone else,” says Chuck Fernandez, executive director. “They are nonstop ambassadors.”

     

Catherine Quinn Thomson, EdD, is Volunteer of the Year at Sam Jones Hall, Catholic Charities shelter for single adults, including veterans and victims of the recession.        She shared the following story about her experience of leading art and stress reduction workshops. 

“Our perception of the homeless often comes from fear or lack of understanding of the many different causes of homelessness.  But there is a small voice that speaks to all of us about caring for those around us and not judging them. Not a demanding voice but one that calls out to our best qualities. I encourage others to listen to that small voice and look into the heart of a homeless man or woman. Come and spend time with people at Sam Jones. Share your talents, skills, and interest with them. Listen to their stories. I assure you, you will be rewarded beyond anything you could ever imagine, just by getting to know them. They will touch your heart.”

Catherine’s passion for helping others is evident in many ways.  Since July 2012, she has invested over 200 hours leading stress reduction and art workshops for clients, “burn-out prevention” trainings for staff, and serving on our Advancement Committee.  Members of our Leadership Society, Catherine and her husband Jim have also left a generous bequest to Catholic Charities in their will.  When received, their gift will be placed in our endowment, ensuring that future generations have access to the kind of loving support that Catholic Charities is known for, thanks to special volunteers like Catherine.

     

Olga Scott, Immigration Services

As an Immigration support volunteer, Olga Scott has surpassed her colleagues’ expectations over the last two years. Whether she’s dealing with the public at the office’s reception desk or working tirelessly from home translating documents, she is always cheerful and helpful.

“She’s an excellent example of customer service, and her enthusiasm and sunny demeanor are infectious to the staff and clientele,” says nominator Isabel Ladd, Immigration Services office coordinator.

When she’s not volunteering with CC, the retired County of Sonoma employee teaches CCD classes to children, works with her parish, and rides bikes with her husband – whom she’s recruited as an Immigration Services volunteer, as well.