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Volunteer Recognization 2023

On April 2023 Community Builders invited our community partners to share stories that highlight the awesome work of their volunteers, in celebration of National Volunteer Month. 

Through all that we've been through, volunteers from across Monterey County has been there for our community. When we were founded during the summer of 2017, Community Builders took its name to reflect the true nature of the work that volunteers do -- build community. 


So TO ALL OUR VOLUNTEERS,  this is for YOU and all the work you’ve done to build a better, more resilient community. 

We just want to share that with everyone else ❤️ 

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We are honored to have such an incredible team of volunteers at Central Coast VNA & Hospice. What makes our volunteers so amazing are the many ways they support our patients and their families. Friendly visitors share time with patients, often becoming part of the family as well as providing respite for caregivers. Other areas that our volunteers support our patients and families are through vigil visits, massage therapy, esthetician services, healing touch, and weekly delivery of fresh flowers. Our local salon owner travels to patients to provide haircuts each month, and our retired CPA connects patients and their families to trusted local professionals. We want to say THANK YOU for all you do!


Last year Alexa stood out to us as a service learner all-star! CSUMB service learners have been an integral part of the Hilton Bialek Habitat and MEarth as an organization, helping us provide the best in community services and environmental stewardship education. Alexa Strachan is originally from Sacramento and currently attending CSUMB to get her BS in Human Development. Alexa was so inspired by her service hours at MEarth, and her work as a swim coach/arts & crafts teacher, that she will be using what she learned for her capstone project this year. “I’ve spent the fall and spring semesters as a swim instructor at the sports center in Monterey.

I’m also starting my capstone project, where I’ll focus on adolescent-age students and how they can learn to use nature to help care for themselves mentally and physically. Alexa has continued her service hours with MEarth as part of her capstone project, helping facilitate field trips with Title 1 schools. 


Parent volunteers are an integral part of the International School of Monterey (ISM) community and help in our school in a variety of ways. From volunteering daily in classrooms to weekend work-days, which take place on selected Saturdays throughout the year to help clean up and fix up our campus, and organizing community-wide events, such as book fairs, Around the World Festival, Spring Potluck, Taco Tuesday Socials and Family Bingo Night, our parent volunteers are an invaluable part of what makes ISM a welcoming community for all. We are incredibly grateful for the work of our volunteers, which helps to ensure that ISM can educate all children toward becoming conscientious,

compassionate and responsible citizens of the world.

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We would like to put a spotlight on a special volunteer at Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley, Barbara Guerrero. She has been a volunteer with MOWSV for many years, delivering meals to our homebound seniors, with her husband, Cecil. Barbara expressed to staff that she wanted to do more volunteering at MOWSV in addition to delivering meals. We were so happy to use her as an ambassador at our SOCOS and NOCOS Socials, congregate meals for seniors living in North and South Monterey County. Barbara attends 2-3 events each month and along with a MOWSV staff member, hands out information about the Meals on Wheels programs and answers questions the seniors may

have. She is bilingual and that skill is so appreciated when attendees to the lunch need translation. Thank you, Barbara, for bringing your kind and energetic personality to the programs at Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley. We are so lucky you chose us to volunteer your time.

Shirley Moon has been the volunteer project manager for Carmel Cares Scenic Pathway Project for the last 2 1/2 years. Starting with the onset of COVID, she has worked more than full time building and leading a team of volunteers and professional gardeners to bring this priceless beachfront pathway to a more pristine state as part of a longer term project to take it from special to spectacular. She now leads teams of Pick Up Posse members on Carmel Beach and the Scenic Pathway that scour the beach every day for litter and act as ambassadors for Carmel.

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Gail Beyatte has been volunteering with California State Parks since 2020 when she began attending monthly public volunteer events with the Natural Resources Volunteer Program. Gail jumped right into the action, volunteering her time at Fort Ord Dunes State Park, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Carmel River State Beach, and Garrapata State Park! She quickly became a regular volunteer, first learning, and then teaching other volunteers how to recognize and remove invasive weeds like wild mustard and ice plant. In 2022, Gail took her volunteering to the next level and signed up to join the "Garrapata Gatekeepers," a team of eight volunteers who regularly visit the many trailheads

(or gates) of Garrapara State Park. Gail and the team pick up trash, clean graffiti, pull invasive weeds, collect native seeds, plant native plants, and generally care for the park. Thank you, Gail- for everything that you do for our State Parks!

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When volunteers join Golden Oldies Cat Rescue—a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to advocating for cats 6 years and older from Monterey County—Brenda Van Riper, Volunteer Coordinator is among the first to extend them a warm welcome. Brenda’s dedication to Golden Oldies stems from her love of cats and the overwhelming need she recognizes for rescues like Golden Oldies to advocate for older animals. Brenda seamlessly manages Golden Oldies volunteer applications and communications, while also performing virtual home visits for the rescue to ensure all foster animals are provided safe shelter in their interim homes. Ever the dedicated volunteer, Brenda manages the rescue's social media channels

while also being a busy graduate student. “I’m delighted I found Golden Oldies Cat Rescue as a way to give back to cats since I have been a cat lover from a very early age. I have always appreciated the company, kind-heartedness, and comfort they have reciprocated,” said Brenda Van Riper.

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Karen serves as volunteer Boardmember for Communities for Sustainable Monterey County and chair of it's local action group in Marina, Citizens for Sustainable Marina. Karen is always there to step up and lead projects and tasks such as leading weekly volunteer service events, organizing the annual Marina Earth Day event, attending monthly litter pickups, managing and watering the Citizens for Sustainable Marina native plant nursery and helping to plan improvements there such as wheelchair-accessible garden paths and sitting benches. Karen volunteers year-round, usually 2-3 times per week to supervise others or work solo to tend to the Oak Woodland Community Garden outside the Marina

Library. Dependable, always on-call, and friendly to all, Karen is the glue that inspires many volunteers to join her and enhance Marina's natural open spaces with trees and a wide assortment of other native plants. Karen also volunteers for Mbay Aquarium as a Sea Otter field tracker, the Ventana Wildlife Society's songbird banding project, Monterey Bay Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers, and the Monterey Bay Calif. Native Plant Society.

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Every Thursday, an enthusiastic group of volunteers comes to help disinfect and organize our food buckets, for the next day delivery to our homebound clients. This group of dedicated volunteers comes to us from the Gateway Center of Pacific Grove. In order to enrich and expand the lives of the participants, Gateway provides this opportunity to promote inclusion, education and awareness to the community at large. We look forward to their help and sense of fun each and every week.

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Ed Renier has been volunteering at Gathering for Women – Monterey since January of 2022. He has been an incredible part of our team, doing dishes and preparing meals for our guests four days a week, as well as picking up supplies at the Food Bank and Smart and Final three days a week. We were so sad to learn he is moving out of California. There will be a big hole in our kitchen crew and our hearts!


Ellen volunteers every Friday morning and focuses her time on exotics and baby birds. She also helps with training new volunteers and lending a helping hand with seabirds. The staff agree she is an amazing example of a volunteer. Ellen, we are so grateful for everything you do for our wildlife and exotic patients. Your knowledge and compassion is so valuable to us. Congratulations on 35 years of incredible service to the SPCA.

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