For this final 20/20 Spotlight entry, we thought we’d highlight some City staff that volunteer their time to the community. Many of our employees give back in big ways to their communities, and this Holiday Season is a good time to acknowledge them. As always, we can’t feature everyone, but we’ve chosen three great examples of City of San Rafael employees who inspire us through their service: Scott Preckwinkle and Angel Landaverde, Firefighter/Paramedics with the San Rafael Fire Department (SRFD); and Earl Boisclair, Clerk/Dispatcher with the Department of Public Works.
Describe your volunteer activities
Angel Landaverde: I’m the local coordinator for Firefighters Without Borders. We collect equipment from different local departments for mostly volunteer firefighter programs in different countries in Central and South America. Then we deploy to countries for up to 2 weeks to train firefighters. I organize the trips, rally the troops, and do some fundraising as well.
Scott Preckwinkle: I’m the co-vice president for the Fire Association’s involvement with the Santa Cop program. Generally, that means getting other Fire Department staff involved with collecting, moving and wrapping toys. I also volunteer as a mentor through the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, and lead the SRFD blood drives, and work with Angel on Firefighters Without Borders.
Earl Boisclair: Most of my work today is with young people – mainly teenagers through the Amala Foundation. We host the annual Global Youth Peace Summit, which unites youth from over 25 countries for a week dedicated to healing, personal growth, cultural exchange, leadership development and community building. Also I volunteer in San Quentin and facilitate groups dealing with issues of domestic violence, substance abuse, and trauma. In addition, I’ve volunteered for Marin Outpatient Recovery Services and Marin Services for Men.
Why did you choose to volunteer for these causes?
Scott: There are a lot of families out there that are not as fortunate as a lot of us. This is a way to keep that spirit alive with kids and families. It’s a nice way to bring a little joy at Christmas when they might not have much else.
Earl: I’ve been volunteering since getting sober and decided at some point I needed to branch out and give back more, so I got accredited for violence prevention, and then as a substance abuse counselor. That opened doors for me to go into different types of service. While I was leading a class on domestic violence at San Quentin I met Vanessa Stone and she invited me to be a part of her work with the Global Youth Peace Summit.
Angel: I saw the need in these countries and with the people who live there. I knew we had resources and training we could share with them. Most of these volunteer firefighters are young adults who have no opportunity and have grown up in poverty. This enables them to be an important part of their communities.
How long have you been volunteering with this organization?
Earl: I started volunteering in 1988 when I started turning my life around in recovery. That got me working in service, giving back to various 12 Step programs. I started working with Amala Foundation several years ago and have done 9 Global Youth Peace Summits with them now.
Angel: I’ve been doing it for 10 years, starting when I was a volunteer for the Woodside Fire Protection District. I’ve been the coordinator in San Rafael for the past five years. So far, I’ve lead trips to Peru, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
Scott: I’ve been leading the blood drives for four years. I’ve been mentoring for three, and this will be my second year with Santa Cop. Last year was my first year with Firefighters Without Borders and we went to Guatemala.
What impact do you think (PROGRAM) has on the community?
Angel: They don’t have any means of getting the training or materials in these countries. There are no specialized schools, training areas, and no dedicated funding. This helps them get trained and get more dedicated first responders to provide services to community. Most of these kids are 12-20 years old, many were out on the streets, and many had parents who were drug addicts or couldn’t support them. Now they are first responders!
Scott: Regarding Santa Cop, I think kids are kind of oblivious as to where things are coming from, but the parents feel it a lot more. It helps them fulfill what they are not able to with their kids. I think it must feel good to know the community cares about them. Sonoma Mentoring Alliance helps kids that are at risk, and could use extra help to make sure they are successful in life.
Earl: Regarding the Amala Foundation, some of these kids were child soldiers, and saw their parents get killed, etc. It’s hard to explain the magic that happens there. We provide love and space for kids to heal. Watch some of their videos online. It’s an amazing group.
What do you get out of volunteering?
Scott: There are a lot of things; it’s giving back. We have a lot of days off as firefighters. We provide to the community a lot in our jobs and there is this innate nature and interest in carrying it forward into our personal lives. I think it’s also an extension of human nature to care for one another.
Earl: It’s opened my heart more, and it’s given me hope for the planet. It gives me a better connection with everyone around me, and a better connection to myself. I can love myself more, which allows me to give that love back even more. I have this huge community of lovely people I call my family now.
Angel: When we get an email from someone we’ve worked with that says they used the equipment or training to save someone or put out a fire. That’s really satisfying. I’ve made a lot of relationships, too. Seeing these young people become first responders is great!