Employee Volunteer Group Honors Its Outstanding Members
By Jennifer O'Sullivan
far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a
The Merchant of Venice
From self-proclaimed "ditch-diggers" maintaining trails at Torrey Pines
State Reserve to those serving soup at St. Vincent de Paul Village, 17
committed volunteers were honored last week for their participation over
the past year in events organized through ScrippsAssists, the volunteer
club for employees of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Scripps Hospitals,
and Scripps Clinic.
A reception was held on October 16 in the TSRI Faculty Club to honor
the volunteers and to commemorate the ninth anniversary of ScrippsAssists,
founded in 1993 by Jan Hill, director of Employee and Graduate Student
Counseling at TSRI, and Betsy Penberth, manager, Volunteer Services, Scripps
"It grew out of a Lunch and Learn program which featured a representative
from the United Way speaking on volunteer opportunities," Hill explains,
adding that she is amazed at how a small core of dedicated people can
translate into the participation of over 150 volunteers in a given year.
"It's a good way to meet people outside the lab," she notes.
In general, ScrippsAssists projects support recognized charitable, nonprofit
organizations. Examples of past and current projects include trail maintenance
at Torrey Pines State Reserve; serving meals to the homeless at St. Vincent
de Paul Village; American Cancer Society's Daffodil Days; Habitat for
Humanity's low income housing construction; Juvenile Diabetes Foundation's
Walk for the Cure; Adopt-a-Block graffiti clean-up; Big Brothers & Big
Sisters of San Diego; The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light The Night
Walk; Rolling Readers; Special Olympics swim meets; Head Start; and Scripps-Mercy
Home Health Care holiday baskets.
"We can also direct [TSRI employees] to other volunteer services in
San Diego, such as clothing donation," says Janet Hightower, a member
of the ScrippsAssists steering committee.
Scripps employees can become members of ScrippsAssists simply by signing
up to volunteer for a project. There are no dues, no meeting requirements,
and no minimum number of hours. The only obligation is to honor any volunteer
commitment made through the club. Leadership opportunities are also available
as a project coordinator or steering committee member.
"We have many active members from TSRI," reports Steering Committee
Chair Helen Plutner. "Even people who are here temporarily get involved
as project leaders," she notes, adding that additional program leaders
are always welcome.
The work of ScrippsAssists, and that of thousands of groups like it
across the United States, continues at a time when the country's leaders
have been emphasizing the need for public service. According to Leslie
Lenkowsky, head of the Corporation for National and Community Service
(CNCS), volunteer programs "help to perpetuate our country's greatest
source of strength, both in war and peace: a citizenry that is actively
engaged in public life."
The reception to honor outstanding ScrippsAssists volunteers of the
past year was hosted by Plutner and Hightower. Service awards were presented
by Judith Muñoz, TSRI's vice president of Human Resources, who
noted that the existence of ScrippsAssists was one of the things that
drew her to TSRI.
The ScrippsAssists Outstanding Volunteers of 2002, distinguished by
their participation in at least four volunteer events (and in most cases
many more than four), are:
- Mike Bobardt, research assistant, Department of Immunology;
- Jan Bowden, Scripps Clinic;
- Elizabeth Chastain, administrative assistant, Department of Immunology;
- Kelly Dryden, research associate, Department of Cell Biology;
- Stacie Gooch, research assistant, Department of Immunology (current
St.Vincent de Paul project coordinator);
- Janet Hightower, computer graphic artist, Biomedical Graphics (Daffodil
Days Project Coordinator);
- Linda Soo Hoo, former research technician, Department of Molecular
and Experimental Medicine (former St. Vincent de Paul Project Coordinator);
- Ellen Klahn, administrative assistant, Department of Immunology;
- Pam Maher, associate professor, Department of Cell Biology;
- Tyzoonn Nomanbhoy, senior research scientist, Activx Biosciences (former
research associate, Department of Molecular Biology);
- Gabriela Perez-Alvarado, research associate, Department of Molecular
Biology (Leukemia/Lymphoma Walk project coordinator);
- Helen Plutner, research assistant, Department of Cell Biology (Senior
Basket Project coordinator), and her husband, Larry Peranich;
- Jayashree Pyati, research scientist, Johnson & Johnson;
- Toni Tishon, scientific associate, Department of Neuropharmacology
(Torrey Pines Trail Maintenance project coordinator);
- Rhonda Torres, research associate, Department of Molecular Biology;
- He Zhou, research associate, Department of Immunology.
In addition, Hightower reported that over 140 others volunteered through
ScrippsAssists three or fewer times in the last year. Also acknowledged
at the reception were the individual supporting efforts of Shane Blade
(Receiving), Tom Gilmartin (Purchasing), Ben Morris (Facilities), Judith
Muñoz (Human Resources), Mika Ono (Communications), Nancy
Schoenmackers (Faculty Club), Bonne Towle (Immunology), and Kat Occhipinti
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ScrippsAssists co-founder Jan Hill,
committee member Janet Hightower, and committee chair Helen Plutner (left
to right) promote the group's mission, to be leaders in creating and sustaining
focused corporate volunteer activities that build a stronger, more productive
and caring community, and enhance employee's personal and professional
growth." Photo by Kevin Fung.
Celebrating service: ScrippsAssists
volunteers and supporters enjoy the "fruits" of their labor.
Photo by Jason S. Bardi.