top of page

Volunteer of the Month

Dutton, Jim May 2024_edited.jpg

Jim Dutton

May 2024

Jim Dutton is a recent addition to DMCC’s Essential Transportation volunteer team and was as unexpected an addition as he is generous. He just joined the team earlier this year, expressing his interest in the assignment immediately after appearing as a featured author to DMCC’s Page Turners group – and he already signs himself up for more appointments than anyone! As an Essential Transportation volunteer, Jim helps nondriving seniors to get to medical, grocery, and other essential appointments. Jim was nominated by board member and Transportation Chair Judy Schuckit, who said “We’re incredibly fortunate to have a volunteer who is so dedicated out of the gate. Volunteers like Jim are what make DMCC’s transportation programs so successful.”

Jim has lived in Del Mar for close to three decades, making a home here while working as a prosecutor for the California Attorney General’s office. He and his wife Heidi, also an attorney for the CA AG in the civil division, raised their sons here. They are each now 32 years old – one following in his parents’ footsteps as an attorney, and the other working for a local nonprofit. They now focus on raising their dog, Wylie E. Coyote: “He lives up to his namesake.”


Jim is spending his retirement indulging in his hobbies of travel and photography. He is also putting his legal expertise to good use, publishing a trilogy of thrillers, which includes Path to Justice, Path to Revenge and Path to Atonement. But he also felt he wanted to spend some time helping out, so “my friend Nate McCay introduced me to DMCC.”


DMCC Essential Transportation volunteers help nondriving seniors to maintain their independence by using their own vehicles to provide personalized rides to medical, grocery, and other essential appointments. These volunteers report enormous satisfaction from the flexible schedule and the quality time they get to spend with their elder neighbors. Jim’s feelings are that “I really enjoy getting to know the riders – they are very interesting and have led inspirational lives.” 


Thank you Jim!

Carol Steblay, Arlene Lighthall, and Jeanie Grischy

April 2024

“As part of DMCC’s Strategic Plan, we are now targeting support of Family Caregivers because it is an increasingly necessary job and emotionally draining; it’s difficult because of the uncertainty of what is required, and how long the support will be needed,” says Vice President of Strategic Planning Katie Militello, who nominated April’s honored volunteers. “DMCC decided it would be most beneficial to collaborate with the Alzheimer’s Association of San Diego, where Jeanie volunteers, to provide a quality support group for family caregivers. Carol and Arlene attended an extensive training program with the Alzheimer’s Association in order to be prepared and knowledgeable regarding the most current resources and understanding of facilitating supportive group dynamics. There were 15 people in attendance at the very first session of the DMCC support group, which indicates how needed and important it is to offer this support. There is no better example of volunteers, who are committed to the community than Carol, Arlene and Jeanie. We are so grateful for their dedication, perseverance and caring of our community.”


Originally from Texas, Jeanie Grischy got her BSN from the University of Texas and worked as an ER nurse and critical care nurse before earning her MSN in anesthesia. She moved to San Diego and worked for the UCSD Department of Anesthesiology for 33 years. When Jeanie found herself caring for her mother who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, “I realized the need for programs and funding for people suffering from this devastating disease and their families.” When she’s not taking her 14-year-old English Labrador to Dog Beach, Jeanie volunteers on the Alzheimer’s Association Gala committee, the Solana Beach Public Arts Commission, and the Del Mar Village Association.

Arlene Lighthall grew up in Indiana, and subsequently all around the world. She has lived in Venezuela and has studied at universities in Salamanca, Spain, Florence, Italy, and Zurich, Switzerland, earning degrees in comparative literature and in foreign languages. Arlene has called Del Mar home for 50 years, taught at MiraCosta College for 22 years, and cared for her husband Richard and her two sons. Though her husband and one of her sons are no longer with us, she speaks with pride of her son and daughter-in-law who are Stanford doctors, and her two granddaughters. Arlene has been volunteering for as many causes as she can since she was just a child, she is notably one of DMCC’s founders: “I am astounded to see how the early efforts of a few women to help seniors remain in their homes have expanded to the vital organization of today. The program for Alzheimer’s caregivers is a fine example of dedication and sensitivity to community needs.”


Carol Steblay grew up in Montreal, Canada, but has lived in Del Mar since 1991; she had a career in secretarial positions and worked in real estate for many years, helping people to realize their dreams. Carol’s large family consists of her daughter, son, daughter-in-law, stepdaughter, six grandchildren – and of course, her husband Terry, who has long been in leadership positions for DMCC. Asked why she donates her time, Carol says “DMCC gives me an opportunity to interact and become better acquainted with many of our neighbors. What motivated us to work on the Alzheimer’s caregiver support group for the past year was to provide resources and comfort in a safe environment for caregivers of dementia-related illnesses.”


The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Support Group meets on the second Thursday of each month at 11:30 at the Del Mar Community Building. DMCC is looking to develop more programs and services to assist family caregivers; to offer your thoughts, please call the DMCC office at (858) 792-7565 or email


Thank you Jeanie, Arlene, and Carol!

Carol Steblay
Arlene Lighthall
Jeanie Grischy

Jeff Barnouw

March 2024

Jeff Barnouw has demonstrated his care for the community for quite a long time and has volunteered for DMCC since 2010. As a member of the Tuesday Lunch Connections (TLC) volunteer team, Jeff personally calls more than 20 households twice a month to invite them to lunch and tell them what to expect. Jeff was nominated by board member and TLC team captain Phyllis Mirsky, who said about Jeff “he’s a key member of the TLC team. His crucial role in calling participants to confirm their attendance is essential in making them feel welcome - and his delightful sense of humor is always a hit.”

Born in New York City to a family of Columbia University academics, Jeff broke with tradition when he matriculated at Yale for undergraduate and graduate studies. On his way to earning his PhD in Comparative Literature, he also studied abroad in Paris, India, and Germany, where he met his wife Dagmar, a fellow academic. They shared a love of European travel and raised a son, Benjamin, who works as counsel to the California state appeals court. Jeff spent 25 years as a professor at UT Austin, and has been a widower since 2008. Jeff’s grandkids are now starting their adult lives with their own success; Jeff will proudly tell you that Nicholas just graduated from Columbia and is working as a banker in public finance, while Natalie is a junior at MIT and a soccer star.


Jeff is spending his retirement giving back to his local community in so many ways. In addition to serving DMCC in a variety of capacities, Jeff shows his love to San Dieguito River Park. He did “dust devil” trail maintenance work at the Lagoon, as well as serving as chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Joint Powers Authority. He chairs the Del Mar Foundation’s Cultural Arts Committee (which plans the First Thursday concert series). He serves as President of the Board of Camarada, and a member of the board of Bach Collegium San Diego. He’s Vice President of the Del Mar Historical Society and he serves on the editorial staff of the Sandpiper newsletter. This list of volunteer commitments is substantial to say the least, but Jeff says “I enjoy being useful and being part of a team. I’m happy to enjoy my life in Del Mar in such a beautiful setting and supportive and stimulating community.”


The TLC Team performs a variety of tasks to serve a nice luncheon in a social setting to the most mature members of the community, in a grant partnership with the Del Mar Foundation. Jeff’s feelings as part of that particular team are that “the companionship and appreciation of our service are rewarding.”

Thanks Jeff!

Jeff Barnouw

Bill Brooks

February 2024

Bill Brooks has been incredibly generous with his time as a DMCC Essential Transportation volunteer since last June. In the last few months he has donated even more time and helped more non-driving seniors than ever before in his dual roles as volunteer driver and van host. Bill was nominated by DMCC Transportation Chair Judy Schuckit, who said “I'm pleased that Bill is being recognized for his enthusiasm and flexibility as a volunteer driver and van host extraordinaire. DMCC is so lucky that Bill joined our exceptional crew of volunteer drivers.”

Originally from Manhattan, Bill was raised by his single mother who worked as a magazine editor for Life, and later for Psychology Today. He was a teenager when they moved to Del Mar, and though as an adult he has lived in other places such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, he is proud to note that it has been 57 years since his family made a home here in Del Mar. Bill has worked in construction since 1980, and at times has dabbled in real estate.


Bill’s other experiences in community volunteering have varied greatly. He read to first graders at Del Mar Heights Elementary, did volunteer work in the San Diego jail system for ten years, and has worked as an usher at the La Jolla Playhouse for 15 years. When asked why he likes to volunteer, his explanation is simple: “I have the time and intention to be useful, and it makes me feel good to help others.”


DMCC is able to offer Essential Transportation services to nondriving seniors because of the donated time and dedication of our volunteers. 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. Bill says it’s satisfying because “DMCC has been good to me and I like to give back.” 


Thank you Bill!

Bill Brooks

Ann Feeney

January 2024

Ann Feeney is the type of volunteer that is always willing to roll up her sleeves to complete a task. As a member of the Social and Good Times Committee, Ann played an integral role in planning DMCC’s Annual Cookies and Cocoa Party. She contributed to the planning, set up and notably, was responsible for making the delicious hot cocoa that was served at the event. She was nominated by Social and Good Times Committee Chair, Linda Chisari, who stated “Ann’s hard work and willingness assist with any task were instrumental in making sure that we had everything necessary to making our party such a success this year.”

Originally from Massachusetts, Ann earned a PhD in immunology from Cornell University. Following her degree, she took a post-doctoral position at UCSD and fell in love with the San Diego area. Later, she moved to Philadelphia for 5 years until an opportunity arose at a small research institute in La Jolla. This prompted her and her husband to move to their home in Del Mar where they raised their 3 sons. After a short time at the research institute Ann moved her lab to Scripps Research Institute for 26 years in which she focused on molecular immunology until she retired in 2018. Ann’s husband, Don Mosier, is a former researcher at the Scripps Research Institute and retired in 2016. Like Ann, he is an active volunteer and has served on the board of multiple community organizations including DMCC. Additionally, he served as a member of Del Mar City Council for 8 years. Ann and Don love to travel and have travelled internationally to Europe, Japan, and New Zealand. They also enjoy hitting the road in their Sprinter van to go camping, often visiting their son in Colorado, or heading up to northern California or Oregon.


Ann is always searching for opportunities to make a difference in the community. Outside of her time as a volunteer for DMCC she is an active member of San Diego350, an environmental group that is focused on combatting the worst impacts of climate change through public policy advocacy and outreach. Through SanDiego350 Ann helped to start the San Diego Building Electrification Coalition, a coalition of over 40 organizations that advocate for reducing the use of fossil fuels in homes and businesses. She has also been a member of the Del Mar Sustainability Advisory Board for 10 years and just joined the Del Mar Parks and Recreation Committee. Ann states, “I enjoy volunteering for groups that make a difference, such as DMCC and these environmental groups.”


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. Ann Says “I am pleased to volunteer for DMCC because I enjoy helping others. The volunteers that I have met through DMCC are wonderful, generous people and all help the seniors in our community. I am happy to help out with such a worthwhile cause.”

Thank You Ann!

Ann Feeney

Debbie Ershler

November 2023

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


Thank You Debbie!

Debbie Ershler

Sandra Hoyle

October 2023

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


Thank You Sandra!

Sandra Hoyle

Kianna Black

September 2023

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

August 2023

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


Thank You Nate!

Nate McCay

Mellisa Gans

July 2023

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


Thank You Melissa!

Mellisa Gans

Lucy Zizka

May 2023

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!

Lucy Zizka

Katie Militello

April 2023

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.”

Katie Militello
bottom of page