Volunteer of the Month
Marriage and Family Therapist Katie Militello does it all. Originally joining Del Mar Community Connections as a volunteer so that she could lead the Adapting to Life Transitions (ALT) group that supports seniors and their loved ones as they adjust to issues presented by aging, Katie could never just stop there. Katie and ALT co-leader Emily Gilmore were asked by DMCC’s Program Committee this past July to respond to pandemic circumstances with special program Learning to Live with Uncertainty: The New Normal, and they responded with enthusiasm and hard work. Last year, Katie recognized an opportunity in her neighbors’ lack of knowledge of DMCC and she organized a coffee event at her home so that DMCC’s Outreach Committee could make those connections. Whatever DMCC needs, Katie is there, and that’s why DMCC’s Outreach Co-chair Tema Halpern nominated her for Volunteer of the Month.
Katie grew up with the military brat experience, moving with her Air Force father from Germany to Florida, Texas, and beyond. She settled in Buffalo, NY when she got a job with Fisher-Price, got married, and built her family, eventually having three (now adult) children. She was working as a marketing consultant at the time but found that her skills in helping others improve their communication could lead to a different type of career. When Katie and her husband moved to California in 2011 to be closer to family, she determined to earn her Masters to become a Marriage and Family Therapist, and has now been practicing for five years. For Katie, a bonus of living in such a beautiful coastal community is enjoying her outdoor hobbies of running and boogie boarding.
Katie says that she volunteers because “Knowing neighbors is important and helping out where I can and with the skills I have is important,” because she wants the sense of community she never had the opportunity to develop as a child of the military. “I want everyone in Del Mar to know about DMCC and understand its capabilities. We all can one day benefit from the services DMCC provides. It is the definition of ‘Pay it forward.’”
DMCC program leaders help seniors to learn something new or participate in an activity that enriches their quality of life and the feeling of community. Program leaders enjoy being in charge of their corner of the DMCC calendar of activities; Katie says, “DMCC is a wonderful organization because it is volunteer driven. It has a very clear mission and it serves my neighborhood.”
Thank You Katie!!!
Jeanne Waite recently ventured far outside of her comfort zone when tapped by the other members of the DMCC Health and Wellness Team to be the moderator of a COVID-19 Q&A with local prominent virologists. Jeanne’s professional background is in public health, but she was not accustomed to playing talk show host. However, she was so indispensable that Health & Wellness Chair Nicole Holliday nominated Jeanne for Volunteer of the Month. Jeanne also serves as a DMCC volunteer driver.
Born in Boston, Jeanne has called California home since she was a toddler, when her family moved to Los Angeles for her father’s academic work at the UCLA School of Medicine. Jeanne spent a couple of decades in the public and private sectors working in health education and promotion, eventually leaving her professional career to care for daughters Catherine and Julianne. She cared for others’ children as well, serving eight years as a DMUSD trustee and volunteering for various other local educational programs.
For Jeanne, volunteering is just something that people do, “offer gifts, talents, and time in contribution to others.” She recalls accompanying her father to a blood drive as a kid, and that it taught her that you are supposed to offer support to help others. She recognizes that it can be difficult for all of us to ask for help, but that “the world is a better place when we join together to support one another.”
DMCC committee members participate in meetings and contribute ideas and work to support their committees’ projects, and they usually enjoy the teamwork; Jeanne says she likes “sharing a smile and making a difference, even if only a small difference.” DMCC volunteer drivers help seniors who no longer drive due to vision or mobility challenges, using their own vehicles and working on a flexible volunteer schedule. They report immense satisfaction from the relationships with the individual seniors that they help; Jeanne says that for her, it’s about “making new friends, hearing their stories, and learning about life in Del Mar before my time.”
Thank You Jeanne!!!
Jeff Barnouw makes a lot of phone calls to DMCC’s seniors. As part of the Tuesday Lunch Connections (TLC) volunteer team, Jeff regularly phones 25 senior households to check and see how they’re doing and invite them to participate in an upcoming luncheon. Jeff also leads the Retired Old Men Eating Out program (ROMEO), and is a former board member of DMCC. DMCC Secretary (and fellow TLC volunteer) Pat JaCoby nominated Jeff because he fervently tackles any task he agrees to do.
A native of New York City, Jeff comes from an academic family. He completed his BA and PhD at Yale University, which makes him the family exception; both Jeff’s father and grandfather were professors at Columbia University (where his grandson will soon be a sophomore!) Jeff and his late wife Dagmar moved to Del Mar in 1970 to teach at UCSD. Though he also spent 25 years teaching literature and philosophy at UT Austin, Jeff’s heart never left this community.
Serving the Del Mar community is what has kept Jeff happy in retirement. In addition to his volunteer work for DMCC, Jeff is active with the San Dieguito River Park, the City of Del Mar Lagoon Committee, the Del Mar Historical Society, the Del Mar Foundation, the Sandpiper, Camarada, and Bach Collegium San Diego.
DMCC friendly callers check in on their senior neighbors, who are sometimes isolated or vulnerable, in order to provide some social interaction and alert the DMCC staff to any unmet needs. Jeff says, “Working with DMCC is a continual source of pleasure and satisfaction.”
Thank You Jeff!!!
Jenny Meiselman has lived in Del Mar for eight short years, but has spent much of her time here contributing to the community. Originally from Charlotte, NC, Jenny is a psychologist who has specialized in working with children and volunteered in community mental health and disaster relief, but now spends much of her time volunteering to make life better for older adults.
Jenny is known as a contributor of good ideas, a kind and hardworking helper, and a writer of stellar thank you notes. She serves on three DMCC committees: the Health and Wellness committee (which plans our expert presentations and panels focused on medical science and health information), the Salon committee (which plans our popular Sunday Salon series of educational/social gatherings), and the Outreach committee (which engages people in the community that might enjoy getting more involved with DMCC). In addition to her work with DMCC, Jenny volunteers on the board and committees of the Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS). Jenny says she spends so much time volunteering because when she was young her father taught her that “Volunteering is that wonderful space where you can express your gratitude knowing if you can give even just a little, you can help a lot.”
DMCC committee members participate in meetings and contribute ideas and work to support their committees’ projects. Committees are overseen by our Board of Directors, and committee members enjoy the teamwork. Jenny says, “No matter who you meet or where you go in Del Mar, there’s the opportunity to have a conversation with someone about the many and sometimes divergent ways in which residents strive to improve the community. To me, DMCC represents the best of this Del Mar tradition by addressing the needs of its aging population and providing services, programs, and support to the people who need it most.”
Thank You Jenny!!!
Dianne Reppucci-Bierman is a generous volunteer driver for DMCC, always willing to pick up the phone when the DMCC staff is in a pinch with a last-minute request to help a senior get to a medical appointment. Dianne says “I am a firm believer in being supportive and assisting our aging community as much as possible so that they can continue to live more easily in their long-time, well loved homes.”
A lifelong Californian, Dianne is originally from Los Angeles, but has spent the last 12 years enjoying the beaches, restaurants, and climate of Del Mar. Professionally, Dianne works as a real estate broker who specializes in helping seniors find their perfect home. Dianne’s other “pet” cause is supporting animal rescue organizations; she advocates for local shelters, and she and her husband Steve Bierman, MD have three rescue pugs of their own “that we love spoiling.”
DMCC volunteer drivers help seniors who no longer drive due to vision or mobility challenges. Volunteers pick up seniors at their homes, take them to medical, essential, or grocery appointments, then return the seniors to their homes. Volunteers use their own vehicles and have a flexible volunteer schedule. They report immense satisfaction from the relationships with the individual seniors that they help; Dianne says “I love interacting and getting to know the people who I have helped along the way. All of the DMCC clients are incredibly appreciative of the volunteers, so it is a wonderful and positive experience for everyone. I also enjoy the stories shared; they bring me so much joy.”
Thank You Dianne!!!
Marilyn Carpenter has lived in Del Mar for 23 years and has a background in nursing and business administration. Marilyn is originally from Three Forks, Montana, and returns as often as possible.
Marilyn is a former business owner, and running marathons is one of her hobbies, so it may not be surprising that when she agrees to a task, she truly dedicates herself to doing it well. Marilyn is a bus host for DMCC’s Sassy Chassis, and she immediately developed close connections with the seniors who ride the van to get their groceries. She often brings them small treats and makes it her business to ensure that all their needs are met. Since DMCC pandemic response efforts have begun, she has been regularly calling the riders to check in on them. A short version of Marilyn’s volunteer resume includes medical work for homeless, Hospice, American Cancer Society, and Voices for Children. Currently, she also volunteers for the Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) in emergency response. Marilyn says, “I am a fortunate person and as such feel a responsibility to ‘give back’ in some small manner as a thank-you for all the blessings and opportunities that have come my way.”
DMCC bus hosts help non-driving seniors to get on and off the Sassy Chassis, help to organize and carry purchases, and assist the driver in finding directions and wrangling the passengers. Bus hosts are an essential part of DMCC transportation services, and they enjoy the conversation and group setting on the van. Marilyn says she enjoys “the amazing people I have met and continue to encounter in this wonderful community of Del Mar. I'm so happy to be a part of the DMCC team!”
Thank You Marilyn!!!
Klaus Gubernator, organic chemist and founder of eMolecules, has been DMCC's volunteer Computer Tutor since the fall of 2017. Originally from Germany, then Belgium and Switzerland, Klaus came to Del Mar 23 years ago.
Klaus is known for his extensive knowledge of computers and the Internet, and his enthusiasm for people to use it to improve their lives at any age. He has always been generous with his time, both in leading a class for DMCC and in providing one-on-one instruction for those who need personalized help. Recently in dealing with the pandemic crisis, he has augmented his service to DMCC by remotely leading a class once a day in order to teach people how to use videoconferencing platform Zoom. He's also working behind the scenes to make long-term plans to help connect those in the community that are tech-averse, because "Communication is so important for seniors in such difficult times."
DMCC program leaders help seniors to learn something new or participate in an activity that enriches their quality of life and the feeling of community. Program leaders enjoy being in charge of their corner of the DMCC calendar of activities; Klaus says, "At this stage of my career, helping others is my only priority; service above self, in the spirit of Rotary."
Thank you Klaus!!!
Tom Cleworth, a retired mail carrier who worked for the Del Mar post office for 30 years, has worked as a volunteer driver for DMCC since 2012, and has been driving several times a week since his retirement from the postal service in April 2018.
Tom is renowned for his patience, and likely developed it as a lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs. He approaches every challenge with a calm cheeriness that is invaluable during the long grocery shopping appointments that he typically signs himself up to do.
In his time volunteering for DMCC, Tom has driven 2000 miles, over 342 hours, completing 435 trips.
DMCC volunteer drivers help seniors who no longer drive due to vision or mobility challenges. Volunteers pick up seniors at their homes, take them to medical, essential, or grocery appointments, then return the seniors to their homes. Volunteers use their own vehicles and have a flexible volunteer schedule. They report immense satisfaction from the relationships with the individual seniors that they help; Tom says “I get just as much out of this as the people I’m able to help.”
Thank You Tom!!!