Our Stories

Volunteers – The Engine Behind So Much Good Work

There’s a new Fred Rogers movie coming out soon starring Tom Hanks as the most likable man in America. Not sure this requires a great deal of acting on Mr. Hanks’ part, perhaps only a cardigan and a clean pair of sneakers. However, it’s reassuring to be reminded of kind people in the world.

Probably the most famous quote by Mr. Rogers is: “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

It leaves most of us picturing daring rescues made by chiseled firefighters as flames lash their faces or soap opera-styled doctors shouting “CLEAR” as they shock a patient’s heart back to life. No doubt, these things do happen, even to those who aren’t styled for the part – dramatic rescues made by daring professionals worthy of the many blockbuster films or highly-rated television shows they inspire. Yet, there are countless, kind helpers who’ll never get a movie made about their efforts, much less one starring everyone’s idea of the nicest man in America, Tom Hanks.

I don’t have to look far for helpers. I’m fortunate to work with incredible volunteers every day.

According to VolunteerHub, one in four Americans volunteer at an economic value of $184 billion dollars. Your neighborhood volunteers… they’re the engine behind so much good work. Good work from which we all benefit.  And they do it without the expectation of thanks.

Here are just a few of the helpers who make our work at Pasadena Educational Foundation easier… and a joy:

  • Summer Youth Leaders, who spent their summer helping us care for the children in our summer enrichment program.
  • Host Families, who invited interns from Taiwan’s Ming Chuan University into their homes so they could teach Mandarin in our enrichment classes.
  • Garden volunteers, from student/church groups to business volunteers like those from Kaiser Permanente, who helped us clean and maintain our school gardens. 
  • Volunteers Maria Elena Navarro, Ann Hassett, Meriel Stern, students from area schools, and local members of the National Charity League, who helped with our Fall Appeal mailing, which raises funds for everything we do.
  • Students from Rose City High School, who unpacked books and helped us organize the free book fair we hosted, all thanks to a large donation of books coordinated by volunteer Kate Amsbry.
  • CalTech student Marcus Lee and teachers from PUSD, including Dany Richey and Micol Issa, who led groups of participants at our WinePas fundraiser late into the evening. 
  • Jim Rispin, Will Webster, Julie Flad, Eric Mulfinger, Michael Werner, Katie Placensia, the Kealing Family, and the Kiwanis/Key Club of Arcadia who helped with the set-up, monitoring, production, and wrap of our 2019 Chess Tournament.
  • Principal for a Day volunteers, local business people who stepped-up to be a principals and those who helped make the day unique and special at each school.
  • Sarah Lanni, who helped us research grants and organize a comprehensive list of PUSD partners across every school in the district.
  • The ever-helpful Elliott Steinwedell, who continues to assist us in the office each week with whatever we need.
  • Our Board Members, who regularly give their time, expertise, and advocate for all of the children in Pasadena Unified School District.
  • Our Donors, who kindly donate the funds required to launch and maintain quality education programs across every school in our district.

It is truly amazing how much our jack-of-all-trade volunteers do. Their passion and support is invaluable. They help us in ways that we probably do not fully comprehend.

Dear volunteers, you demonstrate the power of actively engaging in one’s local community. You remind us to look for ways to learn, to grow, and to exercise compassion. In other words, you show us how to be our best selves. No cardigan or clean sneakers required.

Thank you for your service, PEF Volunteers!

By Nancy Carol Inguanzo, Community Outreach & Volunteer Manager