Volunteer of the Month

Phyllis Mirsky
November 2021

Phyllis Mirsky has been volunteering for DMCC for quite some time now; in the summer of 2020 she retired from the DMCC Board of Directors after a 6-year stint as secretary. Her dedication to DMCC didn’t stop there. For years, she has been working hard on the Tuesday Lunch Connections volunteer team, a carefully choreographed dance of serving beverages and food to Del Mar’s most mature seniors and doing the cleanup afterward. Phyllis has also served many times on the Annual Benefit Gala planning committee. This year, she oversaw the public communications and print materials, an essential job in the age of Covid-19. 

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Phyllis achieved a Bachelor of Science in Social Welfare from Ohio State University and later a Master’s in Librarianship from the University of Michigan. Phyllis’s career as a librarian spanned forty years, working in distinguished libraries such as the UCLA Biomedical Library and the National Library of Medicine. She became one of the most influential health sciences librarians in the world, culminating in being honored as one of the Medical Library Association’s “100 Most Notable.” Phyllis retired from UC San Diego in 2005 as the Deputy University Librarian. Phyllis and her husband Ed have lived in Del Mar for four decades.


Phyllis and Ed are the elbow grease types. They can always be counted on to show up early to an event to help with the setup and stay late to help with the cleanup.

Phyllis says she volunteers because she has a “desire to help where and when needed,” which is why she initially believed she would have a career as a social worker. She still works as a volunteer at UCSD, mentoring first generation students.


DMCC has a variety of committees on which to serve, as committee members meet to share their ideas and expertise in a particular area in order to forward DMCC’s goals in the community. Phyllis says, “it’s the people that DMCC serves that make it all worthwhile.”

Thank You Phyllis!!!

Carly Michaels
October 2021

Carly Michaels has been dedicating herself to volunteer work for DMCC for years and years now; in fact, she already won DMCC’s Volunteer of the Year award in 2016. Lately though, her volunteer work has undeniably earned her further recognition. DMCC Board Member Nicole Holliday commended Carly for her beautiful design of the decorations for DMCC’s Annual Benefit Gala. In addition to her work on that committee, Carly serves on the Social and Good Times committee, drives seniors to medical appointments, and hosts group van grocery shopping trips. Carly even taught her “Sweet Hour” dessert preparation class over Zoom for months over the course of the pandemic and distributed the resulting sweet treats to seniors in the community.

Originally from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey (“Last exit off the parkway before you hit New York!”), Carly went to fine arts school and later cosmetology school and worked in entertainment, fashion, hair design, and makeup artistry. She married her “soul mate” husband Hal in 2008, and they have called Del Mar home since 2011. Carly also has an adult daughter named Holly who lives in Los Angeles and works as a professional competitive tennis player with plans to go into private coaching. Carly’s other child is of the furry variety: a tiny and adorable Havana silk dog named Gladys. Carly likes to spend her free time cooking, listening to music, gardening, taking photos, playing pickleball – and she’ll be the first to admit that she spends a substantial amount of time shopping!

Carly says she volunteers because she feels like it’s a gift for her: “Helping people feels so fulfilling. To make someone happy, to make them feel important, or to help them achieve something is very rewarding. I really enjoy hearing the seniors’ life stories and experiences. You learn a lot if you listen.”


DMCC shopping van hosts spend four hours on an occasional Wednesday and provide physical assistance to seniors boarding and disembarking from the van, help carry shopping bags, and help keep the conversation flowing. Carly says, “DMCC is run really well and they are always open to hear new ideas or how to improve the programs. The people included are amazing.”


Thank You Carly!!!

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Ali Jayne
August 2021

Alison Jayne is one of DMCC’s newest volunteers; in fact, she started volunteering for  DMCC during the pandemic. Though not a resident of Del Mar, she has spent a lot of  time in our community and has strong ties here with local family and friends. When  an opportunity to volunteer for DMCC over Zoom presented itself, she jumped at the  chance to use her expertise in Qigong; a health-system of coordinated body-posture,  movement, breathing, and meditation, to teach a monthly class to Del Mar seniors.  

Originally from New Jersey, Ali earned an MBA in international business and finance  and worked in sales. She met her partner Dena 23 years ago and they established  their home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ali spends a lot of quality time with her  nephews, cousins, and God-children, who fill up her life with love. When she was  feeling unfulfilled in her career, she searched for her ikigai, the Japanese concept of  finding one’s life purpose, which lead her to Tai Chi and Qigong in 2007. When she’s  not teaching these ancient healing arts, she’s developing new skills in areas like  Ho’oponopono, Longevity, breath-work, and Ayurveda. Her hobbies include hiking,  mountain biking, playing the Native American flute and drums, guitar, Japanese  calligraphy, meditation, and gemstones.  

Ali says she volunteers because she is always trying to become a better version of  herself: “It feels so good to know that I’m giving back to the community and sharing  this ancient healing art which improves lives; physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Maya Angelou once said, ‘When you learn, teach, when you get, give.’ I follow her  advice.” 

DMCC program leaders and teachers use their expertise to 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. (To view DMCC’s calendar of activities, visit dmcc.cc/ calendar) Ali says, “I love how the DMCC community are so appreciative for every  class I teach. They give me wonderful feedback and compliments. They also ask the  most thoughtful questions after class.” 



Thank You Ali!!!

Chrissy Fried
July 2021

Chrissy Fried is very kind and caring and has been a volunteer driver for DMCC since 2012. In that time, she has driven more than 4,000 miles in 500 trips, developing close friendships with many Del Martians in their 90s. In the past year, she has been delivering homemade desserts prepared by Carly Michaels during DMCC’s Sweet Hour program, brightening the day of seniors who didn’t get to leave the house very much.


Originally from Belgium, Chrissy attended college and started her career in marketing in Brussels. She met her husband Bob there and married in 1985, and they started their family, eventually moving to Boston with their two kids. After too many cold winters, they moved to Del Mar in 2003, and they’ve been here ever since. Their now-adult kids are both settled nearby in Los Angeles.


Chrissy’s grandmother taught her the value of volunteering when she was young, helping her to knit sweaters for the less fortunate, and even donate a portion of her allowance. Chrissy describes volunteering as a “win-win,” talking of friends she’s made through DMCC with deep adoration. She says, “Some of these people will be in your heart forever – when I visit my friend Marjorie and ask her how she’s doing, she tells me ‘I’m behaving and I HATE it,’ which always brightens my day!”


DMCC volunteer drivers take senior and disabled passengers to medical and essential appointments and report loving the flexible schedule and the quality time they spend with the senior passengers. Chrissy says, “If you ask me what I like about volunteering, it’s a smile, a hug (now that we can hug again), a feeling that perhaps you made a person feel special today!”


Thank You Chrissy!!!

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Carol Steblay

April 2021

Carol Steblay is so cheerful! She dedicates herself to a task and she does it with a big smile. Carol performs many volunteer tasks for DMCC, including driving seniors to medical and essential appointments, but board member and Program Committee Chair Pat JaCoby nominated Carol for volunteer of the month because of the special work she does on DMCC’s program committee. Carol is DMCC’s point person whenever we work with the Alzheimer’s Association, which makes her work incredibly valuable!


Born in Montreal, Canada, Carol moved to California in the mid-1960s, then Del Mar in the early 1990s, and has lived here ever since. Making her living in real estate, Carol felt especially rewarded in her job when she frequently worked with first time home buyers, who needed to put their confidence in someone who could help them navigate a confusing and high stakes process. Carol loves to travel, hike, play tennis, cook, and walk the beach every day.


DMCC isn’t the only organization to benefit from Carol’s hard work and cheerfulness. Carol has been a member of the Del Mar Garden Club for many years, and she oversaw the landscaping redesign project in front DMCC’s headquarters at the Del Mar Community Building, as well as the landscaping at the Del Mar branch library. She has additionally volunteered for the Parks and Recreation committee, the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, and Scripps Green Hospital. It was at Scripps Green where Carol learned how important it is that “a few words of comfort can impact another person’s day.”


DMCC has a variety of committees to promote a variety of interests. Our Programs Committee meets regularly to share ideas they anticipate will be of interest and informative for senior Del Mar community members. Carol says “Volunteering has given me an opportunity to get acquainted with some of our Del Mar seniors and I especially enjoy hearing about their earlier lives in Del Mar.”


Thank You Carol!!!

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Ellen Buzawa
May 2021

Ellen Buzawa is dedicated to her volunteer work with DMCC, and very humble! Though she has served as a volunteer driver for a few years now, her service became especially invaluable during the pandemic, when she was able to remotely help staff with some time-consuming tasks. Of note, she called every senior who needed grocery delivery but was unable to email their own grocery list. She would take their shopping list, have a nice chat, and then email the list to the DMCC staff. Her phone calls kept our machine well-oiled. She has also done the not-so-glamorous job of helping us to prepare countless mailings – and then asks for more, because she just wants to do more to help!


Originally from north of Boston, Ellen moved to Silicon Valley as a young adult and lived there with her husband and two children until 2018, when they moved to San Diego. Ellen worked as a Physical Education teacher for over 30 years at YMCAs and grade schools. Her children are now grown and married; one local, one living in Oregon, and Ellen and her husband are proud grandparents to two grandsons.


Ellen feels she was called to work with DMCC, because she had role models in a mother and grandmother who worked heavily with senior citizens and the homebound. She says that her work with DMCC brings her “joy in my life in ways I did not expect. Each of my riders have quickly become friends and I’ve found it so easy to talk, share, explore, and laugh with each of them.”


DMCC volunteer drivers take senior and disabled passengers to medical and essential appointments and report loving the flexible schedule and the quality time they spend with the senior passengers. Ellen says “DMCC volunteer transportation is a win-win for all in this magnificent community – I don’t know who gets more out of it, me or the riders!”


Thank You Ellen!!!


Lauren Wright

March 2021

Lauren Wright designs gorgeous things. If you’ve received an invitation to a DMCC Annual Benefit Gala in the past several years, you’ve seen her work. Most recently, she was tapped to take heart health tips and self-care tips and turn them into a beautiful Love Your Heart/Love Yourself valentine for DMCC to distribute as a physical and electronic postcard. That valentine spurred DMCC board member Joanne Sharp (no stranger to graphic design herself!) to nominate Lauren as DMCC’s
volunteer of the month.

Originally from Agoura Hills, Lauren has lived in the San Diego area and worked in Del Mar for over a decade. She earned a degree in mass communications from UCLA and uses it while working as a branding strategist and graphic designer for JR
Resources, a national promotional products and marketing company based in Del Mar. She lives in Ocean Beach with her husband and two-year-old son, and enjoys gardening, surfing, and yoga.


Growing up, Lauren had an amazing grandmother who taught her needlepoint, a love for the Dodgers, and the importance of being active and independent. Her grandmother relied on a network of family, friends, and senior transportation programs to remain active, so when Lauren spotted a flyer advertising DMCC’s volunteer driver program, she saw an opportunity to give back. Though her professional schedule made it difficult to remain a volunteer driver for long, Lauren found a way to contribute to DMCC nonetheless, and she has been involved in
special projects ever since. “I am motivated by the folks that volunteer and are associated with DMCC – they are doing caring, thoughtful and wonderful work.”


As a small organization, DMCC relies on volunteers that use their special expertise to help us expand our capabilities. Lauren says, “I am always happy to help with the creative projects that showcase the wonderful ideas and programs that DMCC offers
to keep seniors engaged and independent.”

Thank You Lauren!!!

Denise O'Neil

February 2021

Denise O’Neil’s initial involvement with DMCC was as co-founder of the Adapting to Life Transitions support group for issues related to aging. She has since found a comfortable home on the Health and Wellness team, doing her part to help organize the Premier Speaker Series and lend her expertise to promote holistic connection. DMCC board members and Health and Wellness Team co-chairs Nicole Holliday and Dr. Mark Kalina nominated Denise because in Mark’s words, she is “strong, real, clear and a great advocate for the psychosocial and psychospiritual part of all people.” 


Originally from Boston, Denise has called Del Mar home for 11 years. With a background in public health, Denise spent a couple of decades in clinical research focused on the treatment of autoimmune disorders and cancer. When her scientific interests shifted towards the mind-body connection, Denise returned to school to earn her Master’s degree in counseling, and has now been working as a therapist in private practice for five years. 


Denise’s adventures in volunteering began in college, having been challenged by a professor to do community service. She describes the uplifting feeling she experienced when she would visit a local nursing home to spend time with the residents; “It feels good to do things for others with no expectation or need for getting anything in return.”


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. Denise says, “I feel I’ve been blessed to interact with Del Mar’s seniors. They have had a transformational impact on my life, continuing to remind me each day is a gift from God.”


Thank You Denise!!!

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Larry Brooks

January 2021

Larry Brooks always comes through in a pinch, makes it look easy, and cracks a joke while doing it. As the president of the Del Mar Historical Society, Larry has been a regular presenter at DMCC’s Tuesday Lunch Connections program. When COVID shut down DMCC’s in-person programming, the DMCC program committee was looking for something interesting to fill an hour on the remote activity calendar. We asked Larry to do a one-time Zoom program about Del Mar myths and legends; when the program was even better than we could have hoped, we saw an opportunity and entreated Larry to do a monthly program. Remarkable Del Mar History with Larry Brooks is always fascinating and is presented by Larry with proper citations and a full slideshow of photos.


Larry and his wife Martha are relative newcomers to Del Mar, having lived here for only a quarter century. Born in Pasadena and raised in Avalon and Long Beach, Larry joined the Coast Guard as a young man, retiring with the rank of Captain after 24 years of service. He then worked for Chevron for 21 years as an arctic environmental research scientist. He notes that in his long academic career, the lowest grade he ever received was a D in history!


In addition to his extensive duties as president of the Historical Society and work for DMCC, Larry serves as a block captain for Del Mar Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). When asked what drives him to volunteer, Larry says “free donuts and a desire to give back to the community.”


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. Larry says that when you volunteer for DMCC, “there are no free donuts, but it is a group of good people doing good things.”


Thank You Larry!!!