A BIG Thank You to California Volunteers! We Salute You.


Pictured are volunteers in California clockwise top left: Student at Strawberry Festival; Dave Buffet picks up trash; Cachuma Lake nature tour guide; Kate Rasmussen docent at Newland House Museum; Phil Soinski – Ben Franklin presenter at International Printing Museum; Hy Joseph at Western Museum of Flight; docent at Columbia State Historic Park (bottom right ); Linda Miller at International Surfing Museum; JoAnn Turk and lobsters at Redondo Beach Lobster Festival; Farmer Mike at Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival; Papa Duck at Duck-a-thon in Huntington Beach.

It might be argued that WE ALL ARE VOLUNTEERS! Who among the human race hasn’t helped someone or provided an act of kindness with no pay? Go ahead and pat yourself on the back today for helping others, and be assured that though you may not have received a word of “thanks”, you made the world a better place.

There’s a 99% probability that you’ve been helped by a volunteer during the past year, whether you knew it or not. Volunteers sometimes put on a uniform or get dressed up to perform significant tasks for places such as museums, arboretums, art centers, senior centers, grade schools, high schools, colleges, chambers of commerce, home owner associations, city boards, concerts, festivals & events, beaches, aquariums, mountain slopes and even state parks. Often you won’t know that a person is volunteering unless you ask. They may annoy you with bossiness or help you with answers to questions, depending on training (or lack of it) and you can always chalk up your experience to them being volunteers, once you discover their employment status.The most visible volunteer groups help fight forest fires and rescue people or do searches for those lost on mountains and in forests.

In the past year I’ve met and been helped by over 1,000 volunteers during my travels and daily life in California. I often seek them out to get a “locals” perspective on the best places to eat, things to see and history and interesting characters in a particular city or destination. When volunteers help, they tend to give answers based on their opinions rather than the interests of the organization, removing the “talking heads” factor from the response.

For those who are interested in knowing why people volunteer, here are a few answers:

  • Makes me feel good to help
  • Time on my hands and don’t know what to do with it
  • Interest in subject and want to contribute to a cause
  • Access to a place I wouldn’t get to attend if I had to pay
  • Help my business or career
  • Help my living conditions

How you can volunteer:

  • In schools and health care your background is usually checked out and you must be up to date on vaccinations.
  • In museums and arboretums you may have to take training classes.
  • At concert venues and festivals, you usually just apply on websites or call a specific phone number.
  • In general, call the place where you want to volunteer and ask somebody. That usually gets the ball rolling.

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