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Volunteer to Volunteer: A Path to Personal Enrichment

City Council Member Robyn Grant and Newport Beach City Manager Grace Leung. Grant volunteers as a board member for Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter.

The greatest gift granted to humankind is time.

To that end, many hundreds of Newport residents, from altruistic teenagers to the most senior of senior citizens, gift their time by volunteering with dozens of charities, nonprofits, and other civic entities with the selfless goal of bettering society at large.

For those who want to volunteer but don’t know where to start, Newport Beach offers a guide on its website under the title “Citizen Participation,” which presents any number of areas where one might sign up.

Some of those areas include boards, commissions, committees and other civic groups. Participation can be as simple as attending those meetings, or actually applying for positions to the aforementioned leadership and influence areas when announced. The best place to start a search is by visiting the city’s specific volunteer website:

Additionally, Newport “volunteers” a list of non-City volunteer opportunities, which included Hoag Hospital Auxiliary, California Department of Parks and Recreation, California Coastal Commission, America’s Natural and Cultural Resources, One OC, County of Orange, Newport Bay Conservancy and Surfrider Association.

Newport Beach City Council member Robyn Grant feels that “other than raising a family, volunteering is one of the most important things you can do. It allows you to accomplish great things in your backyard.”

Even though she campaigned hard to win her seat, Grant doesn’t view herself as political, instead she sees her role on the city council as an extension of her longstanding work as a community volunteer.

“I represent the interests of our 85,000 residents and look for ways we can agree instead of focusing on differences,” she said.

Prior to running for office, Grant served on five city boards and commissions, including stints on the arts and library commission, as well as on the Civil Service Board — all city council appointments. Additionally, she served on the board of Ballet Pacifica, where she helped “choreograph” community awareness.

For the last 10 years, she has served on the board of directors for Speak Up Newport. A dyed-in-the-fur dog lover, Grant also serves on the board of the Friends of the Newport Beach Animal shelter.

As a council member she emphasizes that her time investment is in “promoting public safety, supporting local business, protecting our environment, maintaining infrastructure, and enhancing our overall quality of life.”

For Grant, the work of city council is rewarding. Getting elected is a huge honor and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to continue to serve my community this way,” she concluded.

Shelly Zavala

“Volunteering offers profound psychological benefits,” offered Newport Beach-based psychologist, Dr. Shelly Zavala.

Citing from the book, “What Happy People Know” by Therapist Dan Baker, Zavala points out that engaging in acts of volunteerism fosters a sense of connection and community, but also boosts our self-esteem and happiness. Fundamentally, from a physiological perspective, “helping others triggers the release of positive chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins, which enhance our mood and overall sense of well-being,” she said.

Moreover, Zavala says, “Baker’s advice underscores a broad principle: the pursuit of greater good benefits not only society at large, but enriches our personal lives, as well.”

Longtime Newport residents Sharon Esterley and husband Ron Rubino (known socially as the Esterbinos), have committed much of their retired time to volunteering with a broad variety of local charities and causes.

Having graduated UC Berkley with a degree in Social Services, Esterley’s first job out of university was to discover what she wanted to do, which she finally did upon returning from a six-month solo exploration (of self and cultural) throughout Europe.

Volunteers Ron Rubino and Sharon Esterley

Her first real job, a three-year stint as a social worker in Orange County, led to her appointment as the Director for the Social Services Agency. That agency merged with three other agencies, Mental Health, Public Health and Social Services to then blend into the Human Services Agency (HSA).

Within that framework, Esterley created the Volunteer Services Program for the HSA, which managed and supported volunteers throughout the system. She also created Volunteers in Child Abuse, which helps families who require protective service.

Over the years, Esterley has been an active volunteer in more than 40 different community charities. Some of her favorites include Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter (she is a founding board member, and owner of three dogs), American Cancer Society (she founded the long-running Cattle Baron’s League and Cattle Baron’s Ball fundraisers); Race for the Cure fundraiser; Human Options (shelters for battered women); Southern California Volunteers Coordinators Council, and STOP-GAP (a drama therapy organization for women).

Esterley admits that volunteer work has been her passion, ever since she founded her high school’s drill team. Coaching the girls how to march in unison proved not to be her biggest challenge; it was instructing them how to make pom poms that didn’t shake apart during their first routine.

She admits to a compulsion to volunteer.

“I like to see positive things happen within our community. I love the positive energy that comes within a group of people who are passionate about their causes,” she said, adding, “I do consider myself a leader among volunteers because I am bossy.” Whatever her formula, her work gets results.

With a degree in Accounting and a Masters in Public Administration, husband Ron retired after 20 years with the County of Orange, as Deputy to the County Administrative Officer, in charge of all information systems. Ultimately, the private sector sought his management skills. With several partners, he developed two successful information management companies, which he recently sold.

So what does one do with abundant free time and accumulated skills? By becoming an adjunct professor teaching Management at his alma mater, Cal State Long Beach, as well as a guest lecturing at both Cal State Fullerton, and UCI.

“Teaching was a great way of staying current and meeting interesting people,” he reflected. Still, creating lectures and grading exams didn’t fill his time.

“Then I saw an opportunity to get involved in our homeowners’ association; it was very similar to the concept of public administration, the perfect fit,” Rubino apprised. That “fit” still fits… nine years later.

Rubino’s neighborhood leadership and his lobbying efforts on behalf of Eastbluff were recognized by the Newport Beach City Council. They encouraged him — with great success five years ago — to run for a position on the Newport Beach Aviation Committee.

Knowing of his interest in airport issues related to the Eastbluff community, the board of the private lobbying group, SPON (Still Protecting Our Newport) brought him onboard “…in large part to lobby against state dictatorship. I’m not opposed to development, but we do have to be creative,” he said.

Psychologist Zavala succinctly summed up the importance of giving: “Volunteering serves as a powerful tool for personal growth and societal improvement, and that embodies the essence of that old adage, ‘by giving, we receive.’”

The post Volunteer to Volunteer: A Path to Personal Enrichment appeared first on Newport Beach News.

Source: Newport Beach Independent

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