2019 was a landmark year for Volunteer Network OC. With the launch of our mobile app in July, there were plenty of opportunities to volunteer with our registered organizations. Users quickly became pros using our app.

If you would like to explore volunteer opportunities, please download the app from either Apple App Store or Google Play and search volunteer events. Among the many volunteers this year, two stood out and we would like to recognize them as our Volunteer of the Year and Youth Volunteer of the Year.

2019 Volunteer of the Year

Beverly Ann Heene “Ann” has regularly used our app to find volunteer opportunities. Since July, when the app as launched, she has volunteered over ten times. She helped Isaiah House prepare and hand out food, worked at Grandma’s House of Hope, handed out socks and Christmas cards at Friendship Shelter, worked the annual galas for both Friendship Shelter and Volunteer Network OC, and helped homeless people pick out clothes at Clothing the Homeless. Ann wasn’t just a volunteer on the night of the Volunteer Network OC gala, she helped us organize the event, actively promoted it, secured donations for the silent auction and made everyone feel welcome.

What makes Ann special though isn’t how often she volunteers, but how she volunteers. Ann is 100% positive energy. She always has a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. She only sees the best in people and her relationships show it. When Ann works with homeless and other disadvantaged people, she does not judge them. To the contrary, she makes them feel really special.

For all of the reasons stated above, we are honored to name Ann our 2019 Volunteer of the Year. Congratulations Ann, and thank you for all you do!

2019 Youth Volunteer of the Year

Our Youth Volunteer of the Year award is designed to honor a volunteer younger than 18 who shows kindness and compassion to those who are less fortunate. This year one young person stood out.

Sarah Ontiveros, who turned 13 in September, helped us hand out socks at Loaves & Fishes last July. She was caring and compassionate, and her ability to speak Spanish helped us communicate with many of our guests. That was impressive enough, but in November Sarah really turned heads when she volunteered at Clothing the Homeless.

The individuals who come to Clothing the Homeless are some of the most desperate homeless people we have met. Most are just trying to make it to the next day. We typically discourage even high schoolers from volunteering there. Sarah came with her father, so we made an exception.

When you volunteer at Clothing the Homeless, you are assigned one person to help at a time. It is your job to take them through the clothing line and help them pick out items they need. You work with them one-on-one for about 20 minutes. It is intense. At the end, you can pray with them if they request it.

Sarah was spectacular. She treated her assigned guests with love and compassion and showed absolutely no hesitation or judgment. At the end, she sat down and prayed with each. She spent an additional 15 – 20 minutes praying with and talking to her assigned guests. She made a powerful impact on their lives that day.

If Sarah is doing these things at 13, we look forward to seeing what she will do as an adult. For now, however, we are happy to name Sarah our 2019 Youth Volunteer of the Year. Congratulations Sarah!