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The Value of Volunteering

Alethea Bernstein, Kaiser Permanente, OB/GYN

Jose Cruz
Barrio Logan College Institute

Sarah Hernholm, Whatever It Takes

Jill Rooks
Zodiac Pool Systems

San Diegans continue to be supportive of their community not only with their generosity to some 9,000 nonprofits, but with their time and talent. Organizations depend strongly on volunteers to help them provide their services and to fund their programs. Without this support, many organizations would not exist. According to CalNonprofits, California volunteers contribute over $24.7 million in unpaid labor, the equivalent of 450,000 full-time jobs. On nearly any given night of the 52 Saturday nights of the year, there are two, three, or more fundraising events happening, all managed by individuals providing their talents, time, and treasure. Three organizations stood out as noteworthy examples to me this year: Barrio Logan College Institute, Whatever It Takes, and Zodiac Pool Systems. 

Barrio Logan College Institute breaks the cycle of poverty by preparing disadvantaged students to be among the first in their families to attend and succeed in college. They depend on volunteers to be tutors and mentors, and to work hand-in-hand with students, families, and staff. According to Jose Cruz, executive director of BLCI, “Our students thrive on the one-on-one guidance they receive, and we can use tutors from all fields of study. They are grateful for those who spend a few hours each week helping them master study and learning skills, complete assignments, and revise papers. We are paying it forward by helping students obtain an education so that they can help others in the future.”

Sarah Hernholm founded Whatever It Takes (WIT) six years ago. It offers a 32-week college-credit social entrepreneur course focused on developing leaders and solving real community problems. Teens from different high schools come together to learn to design, launch, manage, and measure a social enterprise. “We teach public speaking, negotiation skills, social etiquette, active listening, adaptability, and a strong work ethic,” says Hernholm. Some of their projects become big successes; others fail. “We want our teens to test ideas and fail fast. It’s important that they learn that failure is not personal... it’s just feedback. So while our teens build programs that transform the lives of people in their community, they are also going through their own transformation.”

Zodiac Pool Systems recently launched its first “Pay-It-Forward” campaign, spearheaded by the company’s volunteer Providing Alternative Tomorrows with Hope (PATH) program. The initiative is the company’s first ongoing charitable campaign. “Our team aims to do all we can to encourage selfless acts of kindness among our employees both internally and in the community,” says Jill Rooks, head of the PATH program at Zodiac. “Our goal is to have this campaign expand nationwide through the efforts of Zodiac employees, their friends, and family.”

All of us at San Diego Magazine are pleased to bring you the 2016 Charitable Giving Guide, recognizing those who give, and those who benefit. It is my pleasure to be a part of making this happen every year. I hope you find this information helpful as you plan your activities for the year ahead.

Joyce A. Glazer
Publication Director

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