If you’re like me, you probably struggle to find the time to give back amid a crazy work, travel and family schedule.
But I was determined not to miss the opportunity to be a volunteer at World Book Night 2012 on April 22, when thousands of people across the U.S., England and Ireland gave away brand new books donated by publishers and distributed by local bookstores and libraries like in San Ramon, and and in Palo Alto. A group of women, whom I met at the World Book Night meet-up that brought us together at Rakestraw Books, went to the Santa Rita Jail. The Dublin jail is home at any given time to up to 4,000 people.
It was a really rewarding experience. We went from cell block to cell block, toting boxes of books like Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, setting them up in neat stacks on metal tables mostly in the prison block cafeterias, and then talking for a few moments about the books we carried and why we loved them. Soon the men and women lined up in orderly small groups, eagerly awaiting their turn to select a book. As World Book Night volunteers and noted in another Patch story about the event, all were critically acclaimed books.
There is something about sharing a great book that can break down barriers. And that is what it did that night. There were big smiles and many thank you’s. It was hard not to think how lucky we were to be on the inside that night. Make a vow to volunteer next year.
In the meantime, there are so many ways to use your time and talents to help in San Ramon. I went scouting our town for volunteer opportunities and decided to highlight just one set in this column, the City Lights Volunteers program run by the city.
San Ramon City Lights volunteers can do everything from usher at the San Ramon Performing Arts Center, to serve as Youth Flag Football Coaches. For those with a green thumb, you can be a landscape assistant at the Forest Home Farms Historic Park, a gardening assistant at the Crow Canyon Demonstration Gardens, or a garden allotment volunteer at the South or North Garden. If you have a special affinity for aiding people with disabilities, sign on to help at the Special Olympics Bocce Ball or Therapeutic Bowling.
And don’t forget the San Ramon Art & Wind Festival on May 27 and 28. City Lights volunteers are needed to set up and take down everything at the event, check in volunteers, man the kite making workshop and face painting booth and run the Kids Zone arts and crafts area.
You can find many of these opportunities right on San Ramon Patch or reach out directly to Bonnie Mertz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 973-2608.
One more thing – if you are involved in a group in need of volunteers, please post them on San Ramon Patch. It’s quick and easy and a great way to get the word out. And we’re always looking for what we call our Give 5 partners. Patch editors volunteer in their communities. Help us help you. Email me at email@example.com.