San Rafael, CA – The Marin County Board of Supervisors celebrated the spirit of volunteer service on May 7, recognizing three outstanding individuals and, for the first time in new categories, two exemplary volunteer teams.
Interns and volunteers from the Civic Center Volunteers program gather during the May 7 Board of Supervisors meeting.
Family, friends, and County staff members attended the 2018-19 Civic Center Volunteers
afternoon ceremony. Board President Kate Sears, who calls the volunteer and intern programs “truly a gift for the County,” presided.
Volunteer of the Year: Kathy Norwood of Fairfax helps older residents of Marin live independently. For the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) home-delivered meals program, she makes home visits, assesses eligibility, conducts wellness checks, and keeps records. She gets to know clients, and if she observes needs, connects them with additional resources. Norwood, a registered nurse, shares tips about healthy eating and food safety during her visits. Since 2015 she has volunteered more than 750 hours to the County. She said the meals delivery program is close to her heart because her mother-in-law used a similar program and stayed independent for years.
Intern of the Year: Aline Tanielian of Novato served in the Community Development Agency (CDA) alongside Fair Housing and Federal Grants Division employees. The UC Berkeley graduate student studied Marin housing policy history, transformed technical reports into clear presentations, and created GIS datasets that refined staff’s understanding of underserved communities. She suggested new approaches to housing policy data and helped ensure that non-English speakers had access to information. Based on her positive experience, she plans a public service career focused on housing equity.
Outstanding Staff Supervisor of Volunteers: Because every volunteer and intern must have a staff supervisor, County workers play a key role in the volunteer program. This year’s honoree, Veronica Acosta-Tabas, is a legal process supervisor in the District Attorney’s Office. Acosta-Tabas creates a learning environment that allows students to discover the link between accurate document processing and justice. When working with volunteers, she notes skills and may connect individuals with further opportunities in the DA’s Office.
Youth Team of the Year: The Fairfax Teen Shelvers include Adam Almedilla, Max Duran, and Rocket Williams from Oak Hill School in San Anselmo. They fulfill their volunteer roles skillfully and demonstrate the value that individuals with diverse perspectives add to the County workforce. They serve at the Fairfax Library, shelving up to 200 items per visit, keeping things orderly in the children’s room. Marin County Free Library staff member Aaron Fong said the young men bring an infectious spirit of enthusiasm to the branch. Their job coach is Oak Hill Assistant Teacher Adria Withrow.
Volunteer Team of the Year: The Ombudsman Team with Marin HHS quietly and effectively serves vulnerable patients in local nursing homes and assisted living centers. The nine members are honorees Meredith Burrell of Novato, Joan Clemmons of San Rafael, Ray De Leon of Greenbrae, Arlene Heitner of Mill Valley, Robin Meisel of San Rafael, Terry Norton of San Anselmo, Kathleen Safford of Mill Valley, Ken Sharpe of San Anselmo, and Joey Thyret of Mill Valley. In 2018 alone, they made 365 unannounced visits, investigated more than 125 complaints, advised local facilities 55 times about care issues, advocated for patients, and solved problems, causing at least one happy client to say, “I feel like I won.”
Internships Coordinator Joy Fossett said students investing themselves in their roles benefit by practical learning as they are introduced to possible public service careers. “It is exciting to see,” Fossett said. “It’s notable that our Intern of the Year – honored for unpaid service – now has a paid County role and plans to work in the public sector.”
Some 8,200 volunteers and interns were active last year in County departments, collectively serving more than 250,000 hours. For 40 years the Civic Center Volunteers program has connected residents with their local government. Volunteers extend the work of the County’s paid staff, allowing more service to residents than would otherwise be possible. “Volunteers have an important impact on our community’s life,” said Program Coordinator Anne Starr.
Opportunities are available now. For details and to apply, see the webpage for volunteering and internships or call 415-473-7407.