Volunteer of the Month
Debbie Ershler is generous with her time and caring. She is an Essential Transportation volunteer for DMCC, part of that group of volunteers that use their personal time and resources to ensure that non-driving seniors are able to get rides to fulfill the necessary functions of life, like going to medical appointments and doing their grocery shopping. Debbie often picks up van hosting assignments, which means that she provides physical assistance to the riders as they board or disembark from the van, carries their shopping bags, and helps to maintain a positive social environment on the van. DMCC Transportation Chair Judy Schuckit nominated Debbie for the award this month, citing “her kindness, willingness to ‘be there’ for our seniors, and contagious enthusiasm. I’d also like to nominate her for ‘Bus Host Extraordinaire!’”
Originally from Seattle, Debbie moved to Del Mar from the Mission Hills area in 2011. Her working career was in human resources, working for department store giants Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, then for Dyson. Now a grandmother, Debbie is “obsessed” with her 2- and 5-year old grandsons. She spends a lot of time with their parents as well, describing her daughter and son-in-law as a wonderful support to her.
When asked why she volunteers, Debbie cites longtime DMCC volunteers Rosanne Holliday and Judy Schuckit as her inspirations: “They make such a difference with their volunteer work, and they’re both such good friends.”
DMCC Essential Transportation volunteers are always the most needed volunteers, and they make an enormous difference in the lives of the individual seniors they serve. Debbie’s perspective is that “I love the wonderful people I have met. They are so bright, so kind, so full of life, and so inspirational! It’s an honor and a pleasure to get to spend time with them!” To learn more about Debbie or volunteering as an Essential Transportation volunteer for DMCC, visit www.dmcc.cc/volunteerofthemonth.
Thank You Debbie!
Sandra Hoyle is an event planning machine! She is chairing the small committee planning the DMCC Annual Benefit Gala, normally a thankless task – which is why DMCC President Bob Gans nominated her for this honor: “Sandra is one of those rare community volunteers whose activities and accomplishments seem to defy the limits of a 24-hour day. I’ve worked with Sandra for years on a variety of projects in Del Mar, and have always been amazed by her energy, abilities, and competence. Our entire board is so grateful for her service to DMCC.”
Born in Philadelphia, raised in New Jersey, and college-educated in Maryland, Sandra landed in Florida for a long period of time before coming to Del Mar 16 years ago. Sandra’s professional background was in Montessori elementary education and event planning. Since having children, she has been a stay-at-home mom who volunteers part time: “Though my husband Randy and my kids would say my volunteering is full time!” Ranging from the ages of 22 to 10, Sandra’s kids Jolie Ana, Catherine, Emerson, Livvi Belle, and Theodora are all working to be as impressive as their mom. But sometimes it requires extra work on Sandra’s part – for instance, Sandra arguably has a sixth child to care for now that one of her daughters has gone off to college and left behind a sourdough starter that Sandra must keep alive!
Sandra’s relationship to volunteering “began as a way to meet people when my oldest was a baby and I loved it. Now it feels like part of my DNA.” In addition to volunteering for DMCC, Sandra has served various roles for each of her children’s schools. She has also served on the board of the Del Mar Foundation, including as their president. She has been in leadership and advisory roles for the National Charity League and Rady Children’s Hospital.
DMCC has many events, and volunteers always help plan, organize, promote, and operate every single event. Sandra’s perspective is that “The best part is that everyone is welcoming, kind, generous and happy to participate – all with the same objective – to help and serve the senior community of Del Mar.” To learn more about Sandra or volunteering as an event volunteer for DMCC, visit www.dmcc.cc/volunteerofthemonth.
Thank You Sandra!
Kianna Black is DMCC’s first volunteer of the month who was not yet born when DMCC was founded in 2000; at 17 years old, the Francis Parker senior is the youngest person to ever win the award. For the last few years in her free time Kianna has been independently creating word games and puzzles for DMCC seniors who are interested in maintaining their brain health. DMCC Executive Director Ashley Simpkins and Assistant Program Director Kara Adams nominated Kianna for the award because she worked in the DMCC office over the summer, doing any task that was needed: “Kianna is a bright, positive presence – and DMCCers love to spend time with her!”
Kianna keeps herself pretty busy. She and her family spend quality time playing tennis, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, or visiting her grandmother here in Del Mar. Kianna’s dad is originally from Australia and they often travel there. Kianna has a full school schedule as well and is ambitious and optimistic about what the future will bring: “I hope to pursue my studies in the field of Neuroscience as I am fascinated by how the brain functions in different individuals. I am passionate about learning about brain disorders and how we can best treat them to extend people's lifetime.”
When asked about volunteering, Kianna describes it as an eye-opening experience, saying “volunteering gives you the opportunity to put yourself in other people’s shoes and develop relationships with people that you would not have been able to engage with otherwise.” She has assured DMCC staff that she plans to come back to volunteer again in the future!
DMCC administrative volunteers help staff with mailings, organization, and other office-based tasks that are essential to making the programs and services happen. About her experience, Kianna says “My favorite part of DMCC is definitely the people and the community that they have all cultivated in the Del Mar neighborhood. I love the environment at DMCC as I can always sense the friendship, love and compassion that the seniors have for one another.”
Thank You Kianna!
Nate McCay has been a volunteer at DMCC for many years; in fact, he is a past president of the DMCC Board of Directors and was named Volunteer of the Year in 2017. However, Nate’s most recent work as a volunteer driver and bridge instructor has earned him the title of August Volunteer of the Month. He is always willing to help out at the last minute when a volunteer is needed in a pinch. DMCC Transportation Committee Chair Judy Schuckit nominated him for the honor this time, because (on his birthday!) Nate recently stepped in at the last minute to drive the weekly Grocery Van on a day when the regular part-time driver was unavailable due to illness. Judy noted that “Nate is a DMCC Giant!”
Originally from Ames, Iowa, Nate earned a Mathematics Education degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a J.D from Drake University. Upon receiving his degree, he worked for a small well-established law firm in a rural county in Iowa. It was a community environment where people were willing to help anyone they saw in need. Nate continues close relationships with this family which includes his wife and daughter, as well as his sister and brother. After short stints in Fallbrook and Carmel Valley, Nate moved to Del Mar in 1997 and currently lives here with his wife Jackie and their dog Atticus.
Nate is always willing to step in at the last minute when a unique or difficult volunteer task arises. Nate says, “getting acquainted with people is enlightening and pleasant.” He finds peaceful satisfaction in assisting others. DMCC Executive Director Ashley Simpkins remarked “DMCC is so fortunate to have Nate on our team – he’s the guy who can do it all.”
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. For his part, Nate says “DMCC gives me a chance to volunteer in an easy and comfortable way. Everyone around is here to help.” To learn more about Nate or volunteering as a volunteer driver or program leader for DMCC, visit www.dmcc.cc/volunteerofthemonth.
Thank You Nate!
Melissa Gans is an experienced knitter, but also has a great ability to make friends out of strangers, which is why she was the perfect person to lead the new (and very successful) Knitting Circle weekly activity, and why she has been named July’s Volunteer of the Month. DMCC Program Committee Chair Sheila Sharpe and Program Committee Member Susan Halenza nominated her for this honor because “Melissa is delightful, a wonderful teacher, and very knowledgeable and creative about knitting.”
Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Melissa attended Allegheny College and moved to New York City, where she lived for the next 15 years. She worked in publishing, went on to earn her Masters in Education, and taught elementary school. Melissa and her husband Bob met while volunteering for the Special Olympics and eventually she became a stay at home mom to kids Seth and Leah. The family moved to Del Mar in 2000: “I can’t believe we’ve been here for 23 years!”
In addition to Melissa’s work with the Special Olympics and DMCC, she has served on the board of the Del Mar Garden Club for a decade. She also just really loves sharing the art of knitting with people. Inspired by crafty loved ones (her father was a woodworker and her mother was a quilter), Melissa learned to knit while studying abroad in Germany during her junior year of college. “All of the German girls knitted, even during university lectures. I got to know a knitter in my dorm and she taught me the basics of knitting and purling. I have now been knitting for 41 years.” Melissa loves to pay it forward, telling us “We have knitters of all levels, and I am happy to say that our new knitters are doing so well and have already completed wonderful projects. After accepting that everyone makes mistakes and to keep going nonetheless, they have become confident knitters. Every “mistake” makes your piece unique! We gather for 2 hours every Tuesday (from 2:30-4:30) and we have a great time chatting and knitting together. I am there only to facilitate and make suggestions. I have learned new techniques as well, which is the whole point of a knitting circle.”
DMCC is able to offer so many great activities because of our volunteer program leaders, who use their unique skills and interests to create opportunities for engagement and socialization. They report satisfaction over having control over their corner of the DMCC activity calendar. Melissa offers that “My husband and I have been involved in many different Del Mar organizations throughout our years here, but our favorite has been Del Mar Community Connections. Through DMCC, we have met some of the most delightful and interesting people in Del Mar. Swapping stories with everyone is so much fun.” To learn more about Melissa or volunteering as a program leader for DMCC, visit www.dmcc.cc/volunteerofthemonth.
Thank You Melissa!
Lucy Zizka has volunteered for DMCC for a long time, and among other things, has for many years been the leader of our weekly bridge game every week. Lucy is especially suited for this assignment because she is a great communicator, coordinating the expectations of her growing number of game participants with the needs of DMCC as an organization – and making sure everyone still has a good time! DMCC Program Committee Co-Chair Sheila Sharpe nominated her for this honor because “The staff sings Lucy’s praises about her competence, dedication, generous long service, and what a dream she is to work with.”
Originally from Ferndale, Michigan, Lucy and her husband Bob recently celebrated 60 years of marriage. Lucy spent her career as an educator, teaching middle school math for 36 years. They raised their son Bob III who now lives in Rancho Santa Fe and convinced them to move to Del Mar in 2005. Grandson Bob IV now lives in Sacramento.
Lucy’s love for volunteering stems from her enjoyment of working with people. She shares that “I worked hard my entire teaching career and I wanted to keep busy in a way that helps people.” In addition to her current volunteer activities with DMCC, Lucy used to serve as our computer tutor, for which she won Volunteer of the Year in 2018. In addition to her DMCC activities, Lucy combines community service with her love of music by playing bassoon in the Coastal Communities Concert Band and serving as their treasurer.
DMCC is able to offer so many great activities because of our volunteer program leaders, who use their unique skills and interests to create opportunities for engagement and socialization. They report satisfaction over having control over their corner of the DMCC activity calendar. Lucy says that for her part, “DMCC has a staff and a board that really care about helping seniors and others in the community to have fun and stay safe and healthy.”
Thank You Lucy!
Katie Militello has become an indispensable part of DMCC’s team. She has a dedication admirable in any volunteer, and recently used her unique professional experience to help DMCC’s Board of Directors prepare for an essential strategic planning retreat. For the very first time, two different board members made the same Volunteer of the Month nomination: President Bob Gans and Secretary Tema Halpern simultaneously and independently nominated Katie. Bob noted that “The DMCC Board is currently engaged in preparing a long-term strategic plan that we are very excited about, and which we will be sharing with the community very soon. Katie is an expert in this area, and the extensive time that she devoted to this process on behalf of DMCC has been invaluable, making her the clear choice for volunteer of the month. We are so grateful for her contributions.” In addition to Katie’s instrumental help with strategic planning, she recently created and started facilitating the Writing Your Story workshop, making her a DMCC volunteer program leader for the second time.
Katie Militello moved to Del Mar with her family in 2011 from Buffalo, NY to be closer to her mother’s California-based family. The Del Mar racetrack was Katie’s grandmother’s favorite place. A Harvard-educated MBA who worked as a marketing consultant, Katie decided to harness her exploration of the needs of others to become a Marriage Family Therapist. Katie worked at hospice for several years, and found working with seniors and clients at their end of life a truly a moving experience. Katie’s first experience volunteering for DMCC was in facilitating the Adapting to Life Transitions support group for challenges related to aging.
Katie’s volunteer work is focused on assisting the older adult population. “Secretly, I’m volunteering with DMCC to understand the key to longevity and what keeps people vibrant, engaged and contributing throughout their lives.” Katie’s alma mater has conducted the Harvard Study of Adult Development for almost 80 years, tracking the health of 268 sophomores starting in 1938. It is one of the world’s longest studies of adult life in which researchers have collected data on participants’ physical and mental health; the study’s primary conclusion is that more than anything else, close relationships are what keep people happy throughout their lives.
DMCC is able to offer so many great activities because of our volunteer program leaders, who use their unique skills and interests to create opportunities for engagement and socialization. They report satisfaction over having control over their corner of the DMCC activity calendar. Speaking of her own experience volunteering for DMCC, Katie says, “It feels like I am gaining more than I am contributing because of the value in connecting with so many people I might otherwise not meet.”
Annie Duval is uniquely positioned to provide help to DMCC. As the lead of Del Mar Voices, an ongoing oral history project through the Del Mar Historical Society, Annie was called upon to help DMCC create the Gordon Clanton Memorial Award. DMCC board member and Development Chair Mary Walshok nominated Annie for recognition, saying that Annie “was the perfect person to champion the opportunity.”
Annie was born and raised in Seattle and has always lived on a coast of some sort, including Lake Michigan and Maine. Annie loves to sail, and ultimately chose to dock her life in Del Mar because of the village atmosphere and the woodsy feel. Annie has had a fascinating variety of professional experiences, including everything from cooking and yoga instruction to working for a medical research nonprofit in its development office. Annie’s longest professional experience was working for SAIC, a tech company – and even got to be part of its nuclear fusion project.
Somehow Annie found the time to raise two kids in Del Mar: Giovanna who lives in Michigan and Tadz who lives in New Mexico. They still love to visit Annie and her husband Dave and bring the three grandkids. Annie is a major fitness buff who has run marathons and competitively rowed and she is an advocate for healthy eating. She loves shopping at the Farmers Market and sharing her passion for healthy cooking.
Annie’s volunteer work is focused on her community because she cares about helping her neighbors. She served on the Del Mar Woods board, and of course her work with the Del Mar Historical Society is how she ended up working with DMCC. “I find it very satisfying to help create a caring and positive community.”
The Gordon Clanton Memorial Award was created in 2021 as an effort to honor DMCC’s late board member and his lifetime of intergenerational educational efforts. Funds that were donated in the wake of Clanton’s passing were used to create an annual award for an undergraduate sociology student who will work with the Del Mar Historical Society to collect the wisdom of the older generations in Del Mar. Annie’s work in coordinating DMCC, DMHS, and San Diego State University was key in creating the opportunity and selecting the first award winner. Annie says, “I enjoy being part of a team, and I have been fortunate to assist Del Mar Community Connections, whose dedication to bringing support services and information to Del Mar’s Seniors is inspirational.”
Kristen King is a positive person who is always willing to help at the last minute. Since signing on as a volunteer driver last year, Kristen has made herself available to cover senior transportation needs that pop up unexpectedly. DMCC board member and Transportation Committee Chair Marilyn Carpenter nominated Kristen for recognition, saying that she “has really stepped up to the plate! She is enthusiastic, she is able to adapt to eleventh-hour requests, she is proactive in determining if there are rides that need to be covered, and the DMCC riders so very much enjoy her company.”
Kristen wasn’t born in California but has lived in the San Diego area since she was four years old. A child of a Navy doctor who was stationed on the USS Vulcan, both her parents were medical professionals. Kristen herself worked in early childhood education and raised three children of her own – Nicholas, Mitchell, and Libby, who are now adults. Kristen loves living in Del Mar, citing “gratitude daily for all of the ways this community fills me up.” She spends her free time traveling, walking her dogs Hazel and Sage, and spending time with loved ones.
Kristen’s volunteer resume starts all the way back as a young girl enrolled in dance classes who entertained senior nursing facility residents with ballet recitals. She was then a candy striper at her parents’ hospital in high school, with a placement on the senior floor, and it was there that she discovered the joys of “hearing their stories, learning about history, and comforting them.” Besides her volunteering with DMCC, she’s also a member of the venerated Del Mar Garden Club.
DMCC volunteer drivers use their own vehicles to help individual seniors who no longer drive to get to medical appointments, grocery shopping, and other essential errands. They report gratification with the flexible schedule and the friendly relationships they develop with the clients. Kristen says, “It is truly a joy to help seniors through DMCC overcome barriers to enjoy a fuller life.”
Thank You Kristen!
Barbara Ann Paulovich
Barbara Ann Paulovich is especially good at being part of a team. Since joining DMCC’s Social and Good Times Committee a couple of years ago, Barbara Ann has helped enormously in planning and operating annual events such as the Cookies and Cocoa Holiday Party, the Spring Ice Cream Social, and the flu clinic held every October. DMCC board member and Social and Good Times Committee Chair Linda Chisari nominated Barbara Ann for recognition, calling her “the best committee member one could hope for! She shows up at all meetings, offers great suggestions, and cheerfully participates in the events our committee organizes. She’s especially good at making sure that the hot chocolate she serves is tastefully decorated with peppermint and marshmallows!”
Barbara Ann has been a resident of Del Mar for over half a century. Born in Minneapolis, in her early adulthood she worked as an airline stewardess; then airport ticket agent; then executive secretary, moving all around the country with her late husband Ken. They even lived in London and Tokyo for short periods. During all the jet-setting, they managed to raise a son and daughter, who each graduated from Torrey Pines and UC Davis, and both still live in California.
Barbara Ann’s parents set her up from an early age to do whatever she could to help her neighbors for free: “they had me shoveling the sidewalk for the older ladies across the street, and I also helped babysit a disabled kid a few hours a week so that the mom could have a little free time.” Barbara Ann has practiced that custom throughout her life, at home and abroad, volunteering for school programs, hospitals, and especially church-based programs that help the less fortunate or military families. She has tutored, sewn quilts, started arts and crafts groups, hostessed teas, organized gift drives, worked at thrift shops, prepared meal deliveries, and much, much more.
DMCC special events happen because of the dedication of volunteers. Social and Good Times committee members meet whenever they’re planning an event, and work as a team during the planning stage and at the event itself to make it special and fun. Barbara Ann says “How could one resist the name of the Social and Good Times committee! I enjoy working with the other committee members, tossing ideas around and coming up with a plan. It is rewarding to watch guests who might not otherwise get an opportunity to interact with each other enjoying the event – and hearing laughter is such a plus!”
Thank You Barbara Ann!
Lois Higgins is an excellent example of a community member who draws on her personal interests in order to give back. Starting around a year ago as a volunteer driver for DMCC, she has recently started leading the Sand Striders beach walking group, helping to expand free fitness options for Del Mar seniors and providing a great opportunity to socialize and enjoy the beautiful local scenery. DMCC board member and Program Committee Co-Chair Sheila Sharpe nominated Lois, noting that “We at DMCC are very lucky to have Lois’s enthusiasm and flexibility.”
Lois has been a resident of Del Mar for over 40 years. Before retirement, she had a long career in project management and planning for a utility company, overseeing coordination and customer service with major home builders and residential customers. She draws a lot of pride from the younger generations of her family, citing her step kids and granddaughter that attended Del Mar schools, and the fact that she just became a great grandmother for the first time!
Currently, Lois also volunteers for Casa de Amistad, serving local kids through education and mentoring programs. In the past, she has volunteered for hospice services. When she’s not volunteering, you can find Lois reading, going to the gym, walking on the beach, or cooking and entertaining for family and friends.
DMCC is able to offer so many great activities because of our volunteer program leaders, who use their unique skills and interests to create opportunities for engagement and socialization. They report satisfaction over having control over their corner of the DMCC activity calendar. Lois says “the mission statement of DMCC is something that spoke to me. I enjoy helping people from children to adults and usually get more out of the time spent with them than I give to them.”
Thank You Lois!
Melissa Russell and Lauren Wright
Volunteering for DMCC means being part of a larger team; this month’s honorees showed us how teamwork is done! As part of serving on the Outreach committee, Melissa Russell and Lauren Wright took the lead in designing an impressive new brochure that provides a basic overview of DMCC, describing our services, activities, and volunteer opportunities for the uninitiated. Outreach co-chair Tema Halpern nominated them, saying “While working full-time and caring for families, Lauren and Melissa managed to devote time and talent to producing a brochure that we are proud to hand out to the community. We are so fortunate to have them involved in our outreach efforts!”
Melissa is a San Diego-area native, having grown up in Rancho Santa Fe. After an early career in advertising and marketing, Melissa became a Realtor in 2003 and has worked in real estate since then. Three years ago, Melissa moved to Del Mar, closer to her mother who has lived here for more than 30 years. Melissa volunteers because “I feel gratitude for the care and activity that DMCC volunteers and staff have provided for my mother, and it has been so fun and inspirational to witness other DMCC volunteers helping people. I want everyone possible to know about the wonderful opportunities that DMCC provides.”
Lauren lives in Ocean Beach and has worked for Del Mar-based company JR Resources for 13 years, helping businesses to source fun and useful promotional items. Lauren’s husband and 4-year-old son keep her on her toes, and they will be adding a little girl to their family early next year. Starting as a volunteer driver, Lauren found that she could make her work experience useful to DMCC by assisting with graphic design. It was important to her because “I was very close to my grandmother and saw how important programs are that assisted her in independence so that she could remain in her cozy little home – I wanted to help others experience the same happiness and support. Plus, I’ve met so many fantastic and interesting individuals through my work with DMCC!”
DMCC has a variety of committees to serve on that promote a variety of interests and provide the opportunity to work in a team setting. The Outreach committee works together to get the word out about DMCC in order to increase program and activity participation and recruit new volunteers. To learn more about Melissa and Lauren or volunteering on a DMCC committee please visit dmcc.cc/volunteerofthemonth.
Thank You Melissa and Lauren!
Beverly Boggs has not been volunteering for DMCC for very long, but she always does so with a positive attitude and a smile on her face. When a last-minute volunteer is needed to help with a mailing or administrative task Beverly can be counted on to step up to the plate. Her dedication and hard work with DMCC fundraising mailings are why Development Chair Mary Walshok nominated Beverly for Volunteer of the Month.
Beverly is a second-generation Californian who grew up near San Francisco in the East Bay area. Both her mother and sister were in the nursing profession, but Beverly was far more interested in business, specifically real estate; by the age of 21 she owned her first rental property. After 10 years working for attorneys and attending night school, Beverly decided to attend college full time at Portland State University where she graduated with degrees in Business and Psychology. Beverly set her sights outside of the gray weather in Portland and decided to move to La Jolla in 1985. Two years later, appreciating the serenity of Del Mar, she purchased a home and has lived here ever since. Beverly has worked as a licensed realtor in Del Mar since 1989. “I find joy in helping people with one of their most important decisions.” Beverly’s partner, Ron, is a retired scientist from Salk Institute.
Beverly is fairly new to DMCC, but she has been giving back to the community for many years. While living in the Bay area, inspired by her mother’s volunteer work with terminal patients, Beverly volunteered at the County Children’s Shelter. “My mom set a wonderful example of service to others.” She has also been a longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood and volunteered at their Mira Mesa clinic.
DMCC administrative volunteers help to expand the capabilities of the organization by assisting with large mailings, and other administrative tasks. Beverly says there were two experiences that motivated her to volunteer for DMCC. “I was motivated after talking to DMCC Board members and hearing their enthusiasm for their volunteer duties and after watching DMCC’s Secrets of Longevity program where they discussed the joys of volunteering. I was happy to discover DMCC and am grateful for all the programs DMCC offers.” To learn more about Beverly or volunteering for DMCC please visit dmcc.cc/volunteerofthemonth.
Thank You Beverly!
Linda Otchis will make herself useful however she can, but the best quality she has as a volunteer is that she will make you her friend the instant you meet her. In her volunteer work for DMCC, she serves as a volunteer driver, helps with mailings, serves on the Outreach committee, and really, just helps out wherever she can. DMCC board member Judy Schuckit nominated her for this honor because “Linda is just so friendly and easy to work with, and really contributes to a shared sense of community.”
Linda’s roots are in Rochester, NY, but she moved to Los Angeles at the age of four. She grew up there, eventually meeting her husband Wayne. Together they raised three boys (Linda even took a turn as a Cub Scout leader) and she worked in Wayne’s tax accounting practice for over 40 years. When their sons became adults, the family spread out; Linda and Wayne have lived in Del Mar for 20 years now, and their sons and four grandkids live in Colorado and Texas.
Linda and Wayne do a lot of traveling. Those fortunate enough to be friends with the Otchises received daily travelog emails this summer as they treated two of their grandkids to individualized European sightseeing trips, documenting everything from Pisa to Normandy. But Linda also likes to give back. In addition to her volunteer activities with DMCC, she helps seniors to “keep their lives active and interesting” at Seacrest Village in Encinitas.
DMCC volunteer drivers use their own vehicles to help individual seniors who no longer drive to get to medical appointments, grocery shopping, and other essential errands. They report gratification with the flexible schedule and the friendly relationships they develop with the clients. Linda also credits the company of fellow DMCC volunteers, stating “I have met many very friendly and dedicated volunteers who have encouraged me to become more active and take on additional responsibilities. This community involvement is one of the things that makes Del Mar such a special place to live.” To learn more about Linda or volunteering as a volunteer driver for DMCC, visit www.dmcc.cc/volunteerofthemonth.
Thank You Linda!
Michael Leiderman is the kind of volunteer every service-oriented organization wants on the team but can be difficult to find. He has relevant professional experience, youthful ideas and energy, and most importantly, a personal drive for the cause. Michael started as a volunteer driver for DMCC transportation programs, then followed up by creating a monthly chair exercise class that is both fun and vital for the seniors in the community called Move with Michael. DMCC board member Marilyn Carpenter nominated him for this honor because “Michael provides such a valuable service for our seniors. Having the availability of structured movement and stretching routines is a real treat for them because they value the exertion as well as the group camaraderie.”
Michael is a local; having grown up in Poway, he now shares a home in Solana Beach with his wife Shannon and their Maine coon Nacho. During his childhood, Michael’s dad worked as an administrator at a nursing home, which led to Michael appreciating older generations even from a young age. As it turns out, it was also good professional training for him; not only is Michael a professionally certified physical therapist who has enjoyed treating patients of all ages, but he became a partner in a local business focused on senior services called Partner in Aging with a mission “to enable seniors to age with dignity, purpose, and joy.” In that role, Michael and his colleagues do everything from connecting their clients to independent caregivers or social companions, to providing house calls for medical and physical therapy services, to helping them search for appropriate communities, to home accessibility modifications, and more. “It’s important to me to empower families with information, support, and resources to navigate the many complexities of senior care.”
DMCC is able to offer so many great activities because of our volunteer program leaders, who use their unique skills and interests to create opportunities for engagement and socialization. They report satisfaction over having control over their corner of the DMCC activity calendar. Michael says that for his part, “I really enjoy meeting interesting people with wisdom. I also work from home most of the day, so it gives me a great excuse to get out of the house for a couple hours and be near the ocean.” To learn more about Michael or volunteering as a program leader for DMCC, visit www.partnerinaging.com or www.dmcc.cc/volunteerofthemonth.
Thank You Michael!
Stephen Groban, MD is one of those volunteers who instantly makes an impact when he joins the team. A recently-retired psychiatrist, Steve joined DMCC’s Health and Wellness team, contributing his expertise and professional connections to help produce the Premiere Speaker Series and serve as moderator when needed. His willingness to jump right in and be part of the team is why Health and Wellness co-chair Nicole Holliday nominated Steve for volunteer of the month.
Steve grew up in New York City and spent his adolescence in the Midwest. A resident of Del Mar for almost five decades now, Steve spent three of those decades in in private practice. He spent the final twenty years of his professional career balancing work as a clinical professor at UCSD and as medical director of the Residential Drug and Alcohol Treatment Unit at the VA hospital. Meanwhile, he and his wife Deborah raised an impressive family; their son Zachary is well-known in Del Mar for being the owner of Rusty’s Surf Shop, while their son Joshua serves as a justice on the California Supreme Court.
Steve isn’t the only member of the family to get involved in the Del Mar community. Deborah served on the Planning Commission and Council and brother-in-law Lou Terrell served as mayor. Zachary was on the Business Support Advisory Council and is on the board of the Del Mar Village Association. Steve cites inspiration from their examples, looking forward to doing more for his community in retirement, “now that I have the time.”
DMCC has a variety of committees to serve on that promote a variety of interests. The Health and Wellness Team meets regularly to contribute ideas and plan the Premiere Speaker Series programs, which introduces engaging experts to discuss the latest medical issues. Steve says he likes being part of the Health and Wellness team because “DMCC is a truly remarkable organization with the services it provides for the seniors of Del Mar.”
Thank You Steve!
Emily Gilmore, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, has contributed her professional expertise to DMCC for three years by co-leading (along with Katie Militello) our support group for challenges related to aging, Adapting to Life Transitions (ALT). If you meet Emily, you immediately learn how kind and calming she is. Throughout the pandemic, ALT has continued to meet over Zoom or on DMCC’s patio, however they can provide support to the older adults who need it. That spirit of determination is why DMCC president Terry Kopanski nominated Emily for volunteer of the month.
Originally from Newport Beach then Palm Desert, Emily began her professional career in office administration and later as a bookseller. As a practicing psychotherapist, Emily has worked in hospice settings, elementary education, higher education, and in private practice. Most recently, Emily has made her skills available to clients through a life coaching business, because her goal is to “help people make peace with change, plan their next steps, and move forward in their lives.” Emily has been married to her husband Jim for over 30 years. They have a son who lives in the area and a daughter who resides in Oregon.
Emily gives back to the community by volunteering for a variety of organizations. “I feel strongly that we need to help one another in this world, and I am grateful to have been able to volunteer over the years—in my kids’ schools when they were young, and for Planned Parenthood and Mama’s Kitchen in the past. I recently started volunteering for Feeding San Diego, which I am enjoying and plan to continue. To me volunteering is part of being a well-rounded person and having a fulfilling life.”
DMCC program leaders and instructors use their unique 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 overseeing their corner of the DMCC calendar of activities and meeting Del Mar’s remarkable seniors. Emily says, “I love interacting with the people DMCC serves, and getting to know more about them and their fascinating lives! I also appreciate that the organization is providing a truly beneficial service to the senior population in our community.”
Thank You Emily!
Dan DeNike has only volunteered for DMCC for the last couple of years, but when he makes a contribution, he does it with his full heart. Dan can be counted on to work hard at special events, and at last year’s holiday party, he even put on a red suit and pretended to be a jolly old friend. That is why Social and Good Times committee chair Linda Chisari nominated him for volunteer of the month.
Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Dan has a business degree from Missouri University and a degree in International Relations from Naval War College in Rhode Island. Dan started his record of public service by serving his country for 28 years; he had a full career as a Navy pilot, amassing 7,000 hours in the PC3 Orion, taking on test pilot and instructor pilot roles, and retiring with the rank of Captain in 1987. In his civilian career, he worked for Mesa Distributing. Dan was blessed with four sons who are now spread across the West coast and have given him five grandchildren. Dan has now lived in the area for 17 years and he and his partner, fellow DMCC volunteer Marilyn Carpenter, frequently care for his two grandkids who live in San Diego.
Dan is that rare volunteer at the special event who lifts the heavy box or stays late to clean up. Or he’s asked to do something he’s never done, gives it a try, and does a great job of it (like playing Santa Claus!) Dan says, “I have been very blessed in my life. Helping and reaching out to others in need is my way of paying back.”
DMCC event volunteers attend our high-profile community activities like the holiday party, ice cream social, or flu vaccine clinic, and do whatever needs to be done behind the scenes to help pull it off. Event volunteers find it fun and rewarding to see so many seniors come together. Dan says, “DMCC is an amazing organization. Quite frankly, I have never witnessed such a dynamic program to help their community. Everyone that I have met appears to contribute 100%+ towards providing services and assisting the people of Del Mar.”
Thank You Dan!
Del Mar Garden Club
The Del Mar Garden Club is well known for its many projects that have beautified the Del Mar
community over the last few decades. Starting in 2020 and continuing into 2021, DMGC
branched out during the holiday season to assist Del Mar Community Connections with bringing
some love to senior citizens in the community. They have done such an incredible job with the
partnership, now called “Project Joy,” that DMCC board member Nicole Holliday nominated
them for Volunteer of the Month – the first time a group or organization has been awarded
with the designation.
The Del Mar Garden Club was founded in 1989 by Marnie Mahoney along with a group of
friends residing in 92014 who loved gardening. Marnie’s idea was to have meetings and field
trips, keeping it "simple, informative and fun.” The club has done many community projects
over the years, and today you may see members maintaining five gardens around Del Mar: the
library, the Post Office, Crest Rim, the Del Mar Community Building (DMCC’s headquarters), and
the 15th Street medians. The club has 45 members. According to DMGC president Mara Bickett,
“Being outside in nature, touching plants, touching soil, feeling the sunshine and breeze and
smelling the earth, flowers, foliage… there is a big endorphin surge! Also, we socialize, get some
exercise and vitamin D, and make the world a more beautiful place.”
In December 2020, when Covid cases were suddenly spiking again, DMCC had to quickly pivot
from a planned drive-through holiday party to a safer way to spread holiday cheer. The Del Mar
Garden Club stepped in at the last minute to make gift deliveries. The act of helping DMCC
cheered up the DMGC members during a rough time, and they came forward again in 2021 to
formally begin Project Joy as a Del Mar holiday tradition. “We felt Project Joy would be fun not
only for the recipients but also the Garden Club members. Turns out we were correct!” says
Project Joy leader Jill Gartman. Project Joy volunteers brought great ideas to the table,
designed a beautiful gift that included a wax amaryllis bulb and a small box of chocolates, and
provided the volunteers to assemble and deliver the gifts. Their efforts resulted in some very
DMCC partner organizations supplement DMCC’s efforts in the community by rallying their
organization’s talents and interests to benefit senior citizens. Jill Gartman says of working with
DMCC, “Everyone we interact with is gracious, and DMCC provides a vital service to senior
members of the Del Mar community.” To learn more about the Del Mar Garden Club, visit
delmargardenclub.org. To learn more about volunteer or partner opportunities with DMCC and
past volunteers of the month, visit dmcc.cc/volunteerofthemonth.
Thank You Del Mar Garden Club!