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VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT

Volunteers are the backbones of any nonprofit organization. We are so fortunate to have wonderful volunteers who put their heart and soul into VESTIA’s community outreach programs. Their compassion and community spirit shines and we are thankful for their tireless dedication and hard work.

JUDY PIERALDE

When did you get involved with this organization?

In 2000 I retired from John Muir Hospital. I had a lot of time on my hands. Volunteering was on my “To Do” list. As I started investigating the different organizations I was amazed at the hundreds and hundreds of organization that needed help. I was overwhelmed. I did not want to start to volunteer and find out I was not a good fit. A few months later a women in my Bible Study group was talking about an organization that she was involved in. The organization is named VESTIA. After asking a few question I wanted to know more.

What attracted you to the cause?

My love has always been the children. I wanted to help bring smiles to those little faces and the Holiday Helpers Warehouse was a good place to start.

What attracted you to this organization in particular?

As I learned more about VESTIA I found out they support many programs for the needy in Contra Costa County, not just the holiday program. That was an added bonus for me. Not only were they helping the children they were providing help to the most vulnerable people in Contra Costa County.

I also was attracted to the fact that almost all of the donated monies go to the programs VESTIA supports.

What are you activities and what do they involve?

I am in charge of coordinating volunteers for the Holiday Helpers Warehouse program. This is a 3-day operation serving over 1,000 people. I schedule the volunteers for their shifts.

I am also the President of VESTIA, Inc.

What motivates you to stay involved?

The need is so great in our area. The price of housing and food has skyrocketed. Many people are paying the rent and providing food for their families but are unable to provide anything extra, like presents at Christmas or to be able to fill their children’s backpacks with school supplies.

I see how grateful the clients are who are receiving our services. I know that because of VESTIA, a foster child may have the experience of going to camp for the very first time. Others receive scholarships that VESTIA gives out each year to foster youths transitioning from foster care enabling them to attend college.

In your opinion, what is the most important work that this organization does?

I don’t feel there is just one important work that VESTIA does. All of their programs are important. VESTIA is involved in the community; keeping eyes and ears open to what is needed. I know when a situation arrives VESTIA tries to help. If the homeless need socks or jackets to keep them warm we find a way to provide these services. If people are hungry VESTIA has food pantries in the different county offices to help the out. These are just a few examples of what VESTIA provides for the people of Contra Costa County.

Why do you volunteer/donate?

The need is so great especially in today’s world. I am so fortunate that I am in a position to be able to volunteer not only my time but also financially. I know that I receive more gratification out of serving then they do in receiving.

Of what contribution or achievement are you most proud?

As president of VESTIA, I am most proud that the board has been able to provide services for over 30 years to the people of Contra Costa County. Currently we have been able to move forward with updating our website, getting the word out about VESTIA via social media. This will enable us to be more successful at fundraising, which is so important if we are to continue our mission.

As coordinator of volunteers for Holiday Helpers Warehouse I am so happy the volunteers want to come back each year and help. I am also so proud every year that over 1,000 people will have gifts to open on Christmas morning.

What do you hope that the organization will achieve in the near future? In the long term?

I hope VESTIA will continue to be there for the people of Contra Costa County, serving them with dignity and love.

Does anyone in your life play a role in supporting you involvement? In providing inspiration?

My husband is so supportive and is also involved in Holiday Helpers.

The Volunteer Emergency Service Department provides me with support and inspiration. The staff work every day providing services to the people and they always have smile on their faces. Whatever is needed they find a way. This gives me energy to do more.

Do you have an anecdote about this cause/organization that really moves you?

Every year when the holidays are fast approaching I feel overwhelmed with all the tasks that have to be completed: the presents that have to be bought and wrapped, the meals that have to be prepared and the countless parties to attend. But I am brought back to reality when I think about the hundreds families that Holiday Helpers Warehouse serves. Over the years I have experience the true meaning of Christmas. It isn’t the gifts we buy or the food we prepare or the parties we attend it is the smiles and tears on the faces of the families as they received their gifts. Their children will have presents to open on Christmas morning. One woman told me she will be kept warm because of the blanket she just received. She said it would be used to cover her broken car window because her car was now her home!

What other organizations or causes do you support?

Other than my church I mostly support VESTIA.

Do you have a message to share?

My only message I want to share is find an organization to support. Volunteer at a few places and see what speaks to your heart. Believe me when I say you will be repaid a million times over.

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