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Leadership Modesto Community Service Day 

Leadership Modesto

By Jeff Cipriano, Jaunt

On November 1, 2013, the Leadership Modesto Class of 2013-14 was treated to a day of community service. Our Chairs for the day were Kathy Salvatore and Amy Vickery who planned to show the class just what giving back to our community is all about.

Our mission began with a short walk to Learning Quest where the class met Karen Williams, Director of Stanislaus Literacy Center. She spoke with us about the epidemic that our community faces with regard to adult literacy. She stated that 90% of jobs require a high school diploma and that 25% of adults struggle with reading, which in Stanislaus County means over 100,000 people.

We also heard from a couple of Learning Quest’s success stories about how the program has helped them acquire the tools they’ll need to move forward with their education and employment goals.

Next, we made our way over to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for foster children. This program was designed to provide foster children with an adult advocate who will work to protect the child’s best interest. We learned that there is an overwhelming need for volunteers in our area to be advocates for foster children. Right now in Stanislaus County, there are about 500 foster kids and only 73 of the 500 have advocates.

The goals of CASA in Stanislaus County are: to serve and improve outcomes for more children, to continuously improve volunteer effectiveness, to continuously increase program quality, and to share insights to improve child welfare laws and policies. CASA is funded through private and individual donations, corporate grants, community organization donations (like Kiwanis, Soroptimist and Rotary), the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and people like you!

From CASA, we walked back over to the Chamber, where we all loaded into a Storer bus and were transported to the new Stanislaus County animal shelter. Annette Patton greeted us, went over some statistics and gave us a grand tour of this amazing facility. The facility serves on average over 20,000 animals per year. At the time of our tour, the shelter was near capacity. The animal shelter has a wide variety of volunteer needs, including playing with the animals, cleaning kennels, photographing animals and sitting on advisory boards. They also happily accept donations.

Next, we headed over to Bethel Retirement Community where we were able to tour the assisted living apartments and then enjoy a great lunch. Each table was treated to great conversation with some of Bethel’s residents. Bethel is one of the more affluent retirement communities in the Modesto area, and I was amazed with the quality of living and accommodations.

After lunch, it was time to get to work. We loaded back onto the Storer bus and headed to a Habitat for Humanity house to dig trenches along a fence line and paint the inside of a house. During the bus ride, we were introduced to Anita Hellam, the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Stanislaus County. She gave us some metrics and operational information on how Habitat operates. Upon arriving at the jobsite, we were quickly put to work painting, digging trenches and nailing fence boards. I found this to be the most gratifying part of the day due to the end result of having just contributed to the building of a home. It was too bad that our stay at the site was so short.

Our next stop was the Stanislaus County Safety Center where our next presentation and demonstration took place. I think this was most everyone’s favorite stop of the day. Officer Graves, Officer Roman and their K9 dogs demonstrated the abilities, control and tactical advantages that the K9 unit offers. They put on an impressive display of how K9s are used in daily patrol, drug enforcement, suspect apprehension and more. In the end, our Leadership Modesto class went away feeling a little safer knowing that our law enforcement agencies use K9s.

We returned to the Chamber of Commerce where Kenni Friedman spoke with us about philanthropy. She reviewed with us how to choose a cause to support and what to consider when deciding whether or not to sit on a Board of Directors. The goal of Leadership Modesto is to further the development of the area’s future leaders. What we saw on Community Service Day is that there is no shortage of important organizations in need of such leadership and volunteer hours. Just as we have been encouraged in the Leadership Modesto program to be more involved and to contribute to the betterment of our community, I would encourage the same of you! Contact the Modesto Chamber of Commerce to learn more about these and other community service organizations in need of your help.

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