New Years Resolution for San Diegans


The whole country watched the community of San Diego come together when major wildfires struck in October of 2007.  The San Diego wildfires grabbed the national headlines for several days as they swept across 369,000 acres (576 square miles) destroying nearly 1,600 homes and forcing 515,000 residents to be evacuated.

We set a new standard for other communities to emulate in times of crisis.  The outpouring of donations and volunteer help during the middle of the devastating event created as big a news story as the wildfire destruction itself.  Network newscasts carried stories about volunteers and donations being turned away because there was too much help being offered.  Those affected by the wildfires were shown to be responding in an orderly fashion as they waited their turns to inspect their homes with fire officials. (See more stories about San Diego’s response to the wildfires from MSNBC.)

Unlike some other community catastrophes where only a small number of citizens lend a hand to strangers, it seemed as though every citizen in San Diego, whether they were effected by the fires or not, stepped forward to help. It was a moment for all San Diegans to be proud of our wonderful community.

San Diegans also do a great job of supporting various causes by participating in fundraising events such 5k races and silent auctions. Thousands of participants are involved in multiple events nearly every weekend of the year.

Despite the large outpouring of help during times of major crisis or support for one-time events, there always seems to be a limited number of volunteers available to help local organizations on a consistent basis.  It is these local organizations that help make our communities a better place to live.

The need for dedicated volunteers becomes even greater during an economic downturn. So, for 2009, I suggest making a New Year’s Resolution to find an activity where you can make a big difference by volunteering on a regular basis. (For those who already volunteer your time on an on-going basis, Thank You!)

Today, I will cover what first comes to mind for many people when they think about volunteer activities…helping those in need or those who are less fortunate.  Tomorrow, I will write about lesser known community volunteer activities that usually occur behind the scenes to make our communities a more enjoyable place to live.

Let’s set a new standard for other cities to emulate by encouraging a big increase in dedicated volunteerism.

Here is a list of volunteer opportunities and organizations to help those in need:

Help Children in San Diego

Foster Care – Learn how to become a Foster Care Parent.

Big Brothers Big Sisters – Mentor a local child.

Kiwanis – Join one of more than five-dozen local service clubs in San Diego serving children.

Help the Homeless in San Diego

St. Vincent DePaul – Help serve food, tutor children or adults, or provide care in the health clinic.

Rescue Mission – Help serve food or care for children.

Provide help at Hospitals in San Diego

Volunteers with a wide variety of skills are needed at hospitals, including those associated with Scripps, Sharp, UCSD, and Pomerado Health Care Systems.  To get an idea, here is a list of volunteer needs from Scripps:

  • Gift Shops
  • Information Desks
  • Acute Care and Intensive Care Nursing Units
  • Cardiac Cath Lab Observation Unit
  • Urgent Care Center
  • Therapy Dog Program
  • Clerical
  • Service Ambassador
  • Nutrition Services
  • Ambulatory Surgery Center

Additional Programs

Rotary – Join one of more than two-dozen local service clubs in San Diego with an emphasis on

  • Children at risk
  • Disabled persons
  • Health care
  • International understanding and goodwill
  • Literacy and numeracy
  • Population issues
  • Poverty and hunger
  • Preserve Planet Earth
  • Urban concerns

Elder Help – Help homebound and disabled seniors remain independent in their homes.

San Diego Futures Foundation – Help improve computer literacy and accessibility to information technology.

Volunteer San Diego – Check out a large list of volunteer opportunties in San Diego. (Currently 836 listings.) You can browse for youth-oriented projects or family projects; Filter by types of volunteer activities and by location in San Diego; or search by organization or types of skills needed.

Feel free to add more programs that need voluteers to help children, the elderly, the disabled, and others in need. Tomorrow, I will write about volunteer opportunities that improve the safety, well-being and livability of our communities.

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One Response to “New Years Resolution for San Diegans”

  1. Rick Cook says:

    Thanks for blogging about such an important topic and for recommending such an array of options for your readers. I’d like to recommend another non-profit that I’ve been involved with for awhile — Rebuilding Together San Diego. It helps to revitalize neighborhoods and repair lives by repairing homes for the low-income, the elderly and the disabled. More information is available at If you can suggest that your company or your service organization consider partnering with Rebuilding Together on a project, you’ll have the opportunity to make a sustainable difference in San Diego’s quality of life.

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