County of Marin - News Releases - Volunteers and Interns

For Immediate Release
May 05, 2023

Top Volunteers, Interns Celebrated by Supervisors

Contributions enhance County’s customer service

San Rafael, CA – The Marin County Board of Supervisors honored volunteer service and intern involvement on May 2 by recognizing the County of Marin’s 2022-2023 Volunteer of the Year, Intern of the Year, and Teams of the Year at a ceremony in Civic Center’s board chamber. 

These MarinShares and Marinterns program participants were presented with formal resolutions of commendation and awards. In addition, two County employees were commended by the Board for their support of volunteers and mentoring of interns. Board President Stephanie Moulton-Peters presided and Human Resources Director Christina Cramer emceed.

The Honorees

Two people share the 2022-2023 Volunteer of the Year award. Marin residents Beverly and Mark Birnbaum serve with Marin County Parks as stewards and park watch volunteers. They focus on a 1.2-mile section of the Pacheco Multiuse Pathway parallel to Highway 101 between Marinwood and Pacheco Valle. According to Parks Volunteer Coordinator Kirk Schroeder, the pair has hand-trimmed more than five tons of vegetation so far. Invasive species on their hit list include french broom, invasive blackberries, and weeds of all types.

Beverly and Mark Birnbaum pose on the bike trail that they help keep clean.Beverly and Mark Birnbaum

The couple became official MarinShares volunteers in 2019, after Mark, a bicyclist, nearly collided with another rider when overgrown vegetation blocked their views. In related efforts, the Birnbaums helped solve a drainage problem by advocating to county parks staff, ultimately leading to a Caltrans project that stopped excess water from flowing from the highway onto the path. The Birnbaums also initiated an integrated pest management treatment plan. Thanks to their continuing contributions, the path is safer, and morale has improved among pathway users and neighbors.

Intern of the Year Sarani Puri is active in the Marin County Free Library and the Board of Supervisors. Sarani, a Redwood High School junior, proposed a homework club to library staff, who welcomed her idea. The free Homework Helpers program for English learners and underserved children began in February 2022 at the Corte Madera branch and has expanded to the Fairfax and Civic Center branches. Sarani has increased outreach to her peers and last summer led a team of interns to refine and expand Homework Helpers.

Meanwhile, in a separate Board of Supervisors internship, Sarani is lead intern on a student team creating content for the County’s Instagram account. She initiated a Volunteer Recognition Monday program that showcases the positive contributions of individuals and groups in Marin, including those serving in mental health, substance use prevention, food gleaning, and other areas. 

The 2022-2023 Volunteer Team of the Year is the Anne T. Kent California Room Team, whose 10 members serve with the Marin County Free Library. The team includes North Bay residents Nancy Castor, Brian Crawford, Phil Danskin, Cathy Gowdy, Lissa Mckee, Jocelyn Moss, Amy Palmer, Brad Rippe, Gary Robards, and David Williams. They serve in a range of roles, including docent and archivist, and contribute diverse skills and expertise.

Length of service within the group ranges from under a year to over 20 years. With the support of Librarian Carol Acquaviva, they maintain biography and clipping files and catalog collections of material about Marin's history. They also provide excellent customer service when patrons want help finding information in the collections. Team members support the California Room mission, documenting the full diversity of voices and cultures that have shaped our community, engaging and educating people of all ages, bringing history to life, and encouraging literacy, learning, and connection.

The Intern Team of the Year is the Restrictive Covenant Project Team. Four high school students — Sierra Garsten, Jack Haubold, Shyla Lensing, and Tula Peltz — have improved Marin’s Restrictive Covenant Project, a Board of Supervisors initiative. The students learned about redlining – an outdated and illegal nationwide policy that prevented home ownership for certain populations – and its influence on Marin communities. They researched the history of restrictive covenants, adding clippings, videos, and articles to the project website.

After meeting with teacher Fatima Hansia from Marin’s Community School, the team is helping to implement project-based learning about redlining and segregation in Marin high schools. Team members have made formal presentations at local campuses and the Marin County Office of Education, with the goal of expanding redlining information from history and ethnic studies courses to academic disciplines such as economics, English, and environmental science. The team affirms that discriminatory housing practices are not consistent with Marin values.

Outstanding Intern Supervisor of the Year: All Marinshares students have County staff supervisors who provide orientation, support, and mentoring during their internships. For his work with interns and volunteers at the Marin County Free Library’s Fairfax branch, the 2022-2023 honoree is Library Assistant Aaron Fong. He mentors youth volunteers and interns from Oak Hill School, preparing assignments, warmly greeting students, answering questions, and providing opportunities to learn about library careers. Fong also supports adult volunteers, including those who accompany students to the branch. Under his mentorship, Fairfax Library interns were recognized as a past Intern Team of the Year. His dedication results in ongoing opportunities for interns and volunteers of varying ages and abilities.

Outstanding Volunteer Supervisor of the Year: All MarinShares volunteers have staff liaisons who provide orientation, assignments, and connection. The 2022-2023 honoree is Lt. Pierre Ahuncain of the Marin County Sheriff's Office. He coordinates the adult and youth volunteers of Marin Search and Rescue (SAR). Since early 2018, Ahuncain has guided the growth and success of this group of 130-plus people. With his support, Marin SAR members take part in missions and training all over California. Building on past program success, he has increased opportunities for volunteers by expanding basic training, teaching search management and map utilization, and coordinating with other search and rescue teams from California and beyond. Ahuncain is working on coordinating training for Marin SAR and other units such as the Sheriff’s Posse and Air Patrol. He fosters a culture of responsibility, respect, and service.

Opportunities to Serve

With County volunteer assignments returning after the pandemic shutdown, more departments are welcoming volunteers and interns.

"It is great to see both returning and new volunteers and interns," said MarinShares Coordinator Anne Starr. "MarinShares volunteers are fully back in some areas, such as the volunteer ushers at the Marin Center theaters. With others, we’re seeing a more measured return. A few volunteers, including some writers and proofreaders, began serving remotely in 2020 and want to keep their remote roles. We’re here to support both remote and in-person service and welcome everyone back.”

Marinterns Coordinator Joy Fossett observed that students of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to explore internships in fields including information services, the law, public health, library services, engineering, law enforcement, human resources, and more. She said County departments are open to interns for summer and fall assignments, and the Career Explorer program is taking applications through May 31.

“It’s exciting to witness students gain positive experience and explore potential career paths in public service,” Fossett said.

Contact Us

The MarinShares and Marinterns programs engage volunteers who contribute their skills and student interns who serve while learning. To explore opportunities and to apply, visit or contact Anne Starr at (415) 473-7167 for volunteering, and Joy Fossett at (415) 473-7447 for student internships.

Group photo of about 25 people posing at a Board of Supervisors meeting 


Anne Starr
Volunteer Coordinator
County of Marin

Marin County Civic Center
3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 415
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7167
Email: Anne Starr