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Social Services Volunteer Program
SOCIAL SERVICES VOLUNTEER PROGRAM
WHITTIER COUNCIL, SOCIAL SERVICES COMMISSION HONOR
VOLUNTEERS OF THE YEAR
WHITTIER HONORS “VOLUNTEERS OF THE YEAR”
Four volunteers in local social services programs were honored by the Whittier City Council as “Volunteers of the Year” at the April 23 Council meeting.
Sponsored by the Whittier Social Services Commission, the “Volunteers of the Year” program annually recognizes the crème de la crème of Whittier’s many dedicated volunteers who serve in a plethora of local social services programs.
Volunteers honored this year are:
Eileen O’Reilly was honored for her service at the Whittier Senior Center, and was also named the 2012 Whittier Senior Center Volunteer of the year. O’Reilly has volunteered for the Whittier Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department for the past six years, serving as excursion leader on various trips the Center sponsors throughout Southern California. She is responsible for approximately 45 participants per trip, making sure all participants are checked in; receive relevant information; arrive at their destination on time; and return to the bus on time for the trip back to Whittier. She is well known for her friendliness, commitment and pleasant manner with all Senior Citizen participants and staff.
Jose Tailanian was recognized for his work Bridge of Faith. He initially became involved through his wife, Nelsy, who is the organization’s only paid employee, who would enlist her husband’s assistance at various tasks the needed to be done for the organization. Bridge of Faith relies on donations of items for its residential program and also for stocking its store, “Upscale Resale.” Jose picks up donations of large items and also repairs and restores damaged items into to salable, like-new merchandize by painting, gluing, reupholstering restoration. His assistance results in getting additional revenue from the store, which would otherwise be lost. Tailanian also makes a weekly trip to Albertson’s Market to pick up food donations for Bridge of Faith’s residential program.
Leticia Valdez, honored by Homework House, essentially “fell into” becoming a volunteer at the agency when she signed up her oldest child for the program. Although her children are no longer with Homework House, she has volunteered for approximately 20 hours per week for the past 16 years. Valdez serves as the leader, organizer and motivator for Homework House’s annual end-of year picnic fundraiser, which raises approximately $1,000 each year. Last year, she also provided leadership for a second fundraiser, yard sales at Whittier Presbyterian Church, where Homework House is located, which have raised several hundred dollars. These funds allow for Homework House to provide additional tutoring services for its program. She also provides leadership and motivation for getting other parents engaged in volunteering or providing donations, such as snacks and supplies. Once again, the money saved by these donations allows for more funds for tutoring.
Ruben and Merna Zabala were recognized for their work with the SKILLS Foundation, where they have been volunteering with the SKILLS Foundation for 5 years, averaging 20 hours each of volunteer service per month. They originally became involved with SKILLS by helping family members who are SKILLS employees. This initial contact developed into a commitment to the SKILLS program and its goals. In addition to the active work they do for SKILLS, they also attend various community events to promote SKILLS’ programs and outreach to the community. Zabala is always available to help transport equipment and supplies, carrying everything from couches for the annual yard sale, street signs for a community festival and a truck-full of tee signs for the annual golf tournament. Ms. Zabala, currently a Long Beach resident, has kept up her connection with SKILLS, such as recently volunteering to attend a 5-month non-profit training session to learn how to further enhance the success of the SKILLS Foundation.
The City of Whittier is proud to honor these four volunteers, who have given so freely of their time for the benefit of the community.
Volunteers of the year recently recognized by the Whittier City Council and Social Services Commission are (front row, left to right) Jose Tailanian, Bridge of Faith; Commissioner Charlene Dimas-Peinado; Commissioner Marisol Santos; Commission Chair Carole Marin; Merna and Ruben Zabala; SKILLS Foundation; Eileen O’Reilly, Whittier Senior Center; and Leticia Valdez, Homework House; along with City Council Members (second row, left to right) Joe Vinatieri, Mayor Pro Tem Cathy Warner, Owen Newcomer, Mayor Bob Henderson and Fernando Dutra.
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