Posts Tagged With: volunteerism


DSC07645 (Copy)My friend, Paul Moeller is in a physical therapy unit in Sonora after a fall that broke his femur at the hip. He is 88 years old. I met him in 1980 when he was putting together a calendar of local activities and events to promote interest in the county. He did this as a volunteer and he came to visit my writer’s workshop. I had a batch of kittens at the time, and he took one of them home for his wife.

In 1982, he asked for volunteers to videotape events in the county and I answered the call. I later joked, that once he got his grip on you, there was no escape. Hardworking, indomitable, always a positive thinker, results oriented…it is to his vision and credit, a small rural county has a Public Access Studio while large cities like Stockton and Modesto do not.

DSC07650 (Copy)The Paul Moeller Studio was built by all we volunteers on an undeveloped lot owned by the Calaveras County Water District.  The CCWD Board granted permission for the studio out of respect for Moeller’s  dedication and hard work. He taped the North Fork dam, a federal project with CCWD as one of the integral water interests involved. The video taping continued for over a year during that project.

The County Board of Supervisors named the Studio after Moeller years later as a thankful honorarium. He has so many visitors, people at the rehabilitation center, ask,”Is he famous?”  We laugh and say, “yes.”

DSC07658 (Copy)Yesterday, I met with Ed Lark, the studio manager and Robert Creamer, an engineer from CCWD. Our volunteer group is negotiating to buy the land under the studio which involves separating the “back lot” from the rest of CCWD property. They want to sell their old office buildings. They’ve moved to new quarters but our interests are tied together.

DSC07655 (Copy)It involves, relocating water lines, surveying and conveying a new lot, access to the property that doesn’t go through the front part of their lot and so on.   Negotiations have been ongoing  since 2005. There are three volunteers left. None of us do programming anymore. Government works slowly. I rarely visit the studio for any length of time, but yesterday, I wanted to tromp the property and see for myself what the engineer had in mind.

DSC07661 (Copy)The engineer is very knowledgeable and accommodating and I got an education in planning. While interesting to me, probably boring to anyone else. But, the way the studio was built is an  unconventional story.

We had no funds so we charged $60 to put a program on channel. That money came from local businesses. There was no advertising, but the sponsors got credit for supporting each program. We operated that way for about ten years.

Moeller and a  supportive business man, Mearl Lucken, talked the bank into giving us a loan to build our studio.  The plan was for the Bret Harte High School woodshop class to build the studio labor free, for their education. When the foundation was done, school was over, the kids disappeared and Moeller decided we had to have a new plan.

The economy was in a slump. Enter local contractor Gary Hensley from Valley Springs. He had very little work. He quizzed Moeller about how much money he made from CCTV. When he learned that Moeller and all 230 volunteers, received nary a penny, he agreed to build the studio. His crew of five came early each morning, and worked for half a day. Volunteers handed up boards as the studio rose. They made the workers lunch. It was a jolly time. The inside, sheet rock, plumbing and air conditioning and so on, was done by contractors who worked for reduced prices to support our non-profit. The complicated electrical was done by Moeller himself.   The rest, as they say, is history. An amazing community effort.   What keeps me involved is respect for Moeller, and knowing that he accomplished all the above by dint of his personality and at the same time, he did other volunteer work in the county. Indefatigable.



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It gets dark so early, the sky was already delivering a peachy sunset as I drove to town to attend a fundraising dinner for Ugandan Children with Aids.

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I arrived early and the drum circle was practicing rhythms on some beautiful African Drums.

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Three area churches joined in this humanitarian effort to raise money for aids afflicted children, most of them in orphanages, having lost their parents to aids. People lined up for a buffet dinner.

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The authentic East African dinner was bunyaro beef and onion stew, braised chicken with curry and coconut milk, chorako sauce made with mung beans and peppers, and stewed spicey greens with tomatoes and onions.  The food was delicious and they had extra spice for those of us who like it that way. Dessert of coconut cookies and peach pudding with pomegranate berries. It was served on bamboo plates with a wooden fork and spoon. (Plastic is so unrecyclable.) Wine went with the dinner, donated by local wineries. Lovely.

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I knew Tami Chestnut and her sister Teddi and husband, Joe Jackson, and the girls’ mother, Melva Anderson, would be there.  They were so busy I didn’t get a picture, but I was surprised at how many old friends I met. Joanne and Bob Reagan, above, I know through Community Club, and CCTV, just two organizations they  volunteer for.

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Dianne and Fred Kett, old friends from American Field Service. Our kids went to High School together. Dianne and Fred had a student from Columbia at the same time as my student from Indonesia.DSC01937 (Copy)

Carol and Nancy Burton, also AFSers.

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I don’t know the woman on the left, but she was with two good friends, Christyne Mollet and Pastor Jo Siders. Jo and I promised to meet for coffee, soon.

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After the dinner, Pastor Hollenbach  (we’ve never met and I don’t know that I have the name right) had the drummers pass out drums through the crowd so we could participate in an interactive drum circle. Hollenbach, I heard, did missionary work  in Africa.

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Here, my friend, Nancy Stehura, who I met in an Investors Club I once belonged to, gets a chance to play one of the beautiful drums.

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The drums are interesting because they come in many different sizes and shapes. They’re made from an exotic wood we don’t normally see. Each size and shape produces a unique sound.

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Not only drums, but sticks, marimba and maracas were passed around.  Here, Amanda, who I met for the first time, has a go at the sticks. She was my dinner partner.DSC01950 (Copy)

The pastor taught some African phrases in a song. Everyone seemed to enjoy it as did my friends Dave and Pastor Meg Self. I didn’t get to talk to them, just a wave from across the room. Dave in the red jacket, Meg in the blue dress. Meg was my Vice President when we both served on the board of the East Calaveras Democrats Club. Dave served on the board at one time as well. Murphys is a very friendly community and volunteerism in our county is huge. A big part of why I love Murphys.

There was also a silent auction, with items donated. One necklace exactly matched a bracelet I was wearing. It seemed a shame to have them separated, so I donated my bracelet to the cause. It was a fun night and I very much enjoyed running into old friends, most of whom I hadn’t seen in several years.


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Yesterday, my daughter and I picked up my sister and took her out to lunch. She is showing pink spots on her scalp where her hair is falling out. She is feeling some loss of energy and tires more easily.  She is in her third week of radiation. Four more days to go.DSC01545 (Copy)

She nor I are very practiced at chopsticks, so I told her this was a test. She’d better be able to pick up the ginger or we wouldn’t let her eat the rest of her meal. She passed the test.

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It was a beautiful day, and she managed to walk quite a bit around the mall. I was impressed and pleased. She has been through a lot and has a walker, but she strives not to use it. I told her I won’t hold your arm and treat you like an old lady. She said, “But, I am an old lady.”  I told her I’d walk close enough so that she could grab me if she felt unsteady.

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We went for gellato after our Japanese lunch, and got into story telling on our parents who aren’t here to defend themselves. “Remember at Uncle George’s wedding, when dad got soused and blitz danced everyone around the house?” I brought her a manuscript I had typed up after my visit to the Upper Peninsula and collaborated with Dawn and my oldest brother about the many places we had lived. Too many. Dawn attended 13 different schools while growing up.

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When we returned to my daughter’s house, Theo was arranging his food bank stuff. The boys are doing a community service project which is required of them for their upcoming test to reach Black Belt in Karate. Theo prepared a brochure, and canvassed one section of his street for donations. He practiced his spiel on his mom who would come to the door like an angry witch or a grumpy old man, until they giggled too much to continue. Now when he asks for a donation he has to concentrate on being serious. I guess it worked. He still has more territory to cover.

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Owen chose to pick up garbage along a section of creek where the city hosts a day camp. His first sweep netted two full garbage bags of junk. He has the opposite bank to clean before he is done with his project.

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The spirit of volunteering,  community service and physical fitness is an important thing to teach children, my oldest daughter believes. She and Austin volunteered at the Iron World Championships in Las Vegas. He worked the bike booth and handed out water, Gatorade, gelatin cups, and so on. The Triathlon is a swimming event, a run and a bicycle ride.

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Then Austin participated in the IronKids event, which is a 4K run. Pretty nifty.

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This little doe comes to visit me each morning. She seems to know when I have the camera aimed at her and hides from me. My yard is Certified Wildlife Habitat, and between Karen and I, we’ve  seen every animal except a possum and a bear come to drink water. Cougars, bobcats, foxes, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, coyotes, dogs, cats, birds. Even bats and lizards. This low water year, the water in my pond, and other vessels,  needs to be replenished every other day, which Karen does.

I’m coming at my subject a bit sideways, here, but Jim brought this beautiful hammock all the way from Central America. It has hung between a couple of trees for the last two summers and a squirrel came down the tree and chewed part of the threads. Sorry, Jim. I was pretty amazed at that. She  chewed some of the support strings as well. I don’t blame the squirrel. I’m sure she is nest-building.  Red tail hawks decimated my squirrel population a while back and this one has moved in to begin a new generation.

I’m always bragging about Murphys being such a nice place to live, with its beautiful park with a creek running through it. But, San Andreas has a beautiful Turner Park too, with multiple entrances and areas to enjoy because it runs along a small creek. I met friends yesterday, with whom I worked at the Calaveras Enterprise in the 1980’s  and was reminded of the wholesome community we share. Dedicated park volunteers were blowing debris and picking up stuff people leave behind when I got there. How cool is that?

This cute elephant bridge leads to a playground for the kids. Part of why this is such a great place to live is the huge body of volunteerism that makes places  like this possible for everyone.

Sue Walker has a new last name since we met at this same spot last year. I was surprised my friends knew about my accident on May 27th.  We spent an hour playing catch-up while we ate our bag lunch.

We manage our visit in an hour since Deborah Mullen comes from work during her lunch time.  I heard that our former editor, Sandy Lema died while I was on the road, and I forgot to ask them if that was correct?

That hour went by way too fast!  I’m going to make an effort to get home earlier next year to attend the main event. We grabbed one of the friendly park volunteers to take our picture before we parted.

This is a group photo of Enterprise staffers from Reunion 2011.

After leaving the park, I had some blood work done and then went to the beauty shop to get my hair cut. I reminded Sue, who was cutting my hair, that the purpose of a beauty salon is make people beautiful.

I thought she did a pretty good job, don’t you?

Then I stopped in Angels Camp to visit my friend Linda Foster. She is painting her house and needs help deciding what color to choose.

The picture doesn’t show all of her possible choices.  But, I think it was more than nine.  Decisions, decisions. And you know?  She didn’t even notice my beautiful new look? The older we get, the harder it is to get beautiful.

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