July 24, 2012Patricia Simpson, California Conservation Corps
Gerri Lynn Ayala was born August 6, 1976, the 15th of 16
children. But unlike the other 14 born before her, Gerri was born
with Cerebral Palsy with seizure activity and autism. She is
paraplegic, wheelchair bound with limited left side use of her
body. She has the IQ of a pre-schooler, will never walk or
live on her own. Gerri will never get married or know how it
feels to raise a child. But, thankfully, she was also born with a
desire to live.
As a child and early teen, I volunteered forty hours per week
each summer at my local Naval Hospital as a ‘candy striper’ for
the American Red Cross. Through my high school years, I
spent many hours at a local nursing home listening to stories,
laughing and just receiving joy from the residents who didn’t
have regular family visitors.
Our Promise: California State Employees Giving at Work (formerly
CSECC) is a campaign that allows employees to give to a variety
of charitable organizations that are vitally important to the
community. I am a member and in great support of Our Promise
because I have had five kidney transplants.
When I think of how I would want to make a difference in
someone’s life, I have always arrived at the conclusion to “just
do the right thing” for as long as I can remember, I have
always been involved in community service.
Designed specifically for Our Promise, this mural embodies
the spirit of generosity by the state workers of
California.There is one hand representing the whole body of
donors, both past and present. While it honors all who
contributed in the past, it encourages future donors to realize
the struggles of communities and reach out in their time of need.
Secretary Brian Kelly, California State Transportation Agency,
was awarded the Augustus Freeman Hawkins Award of Distinguished
Merit in Community Service at the Our Promise appreciation event
on March 26, 2015.
The award was presented by Karen Baker, Our Promise Chair and
Chief Service Officer of CaliforniaVolunteers. The award
celebrates the vision of the man who created Our Promise CA
(formerly the CSECC), August Freeman Hawkins.
The event honored the 38,000 state employees who contributed to
Our Promise: California State Employees Giving at Work and the
volunteers and departments that helped to spread the word about
Thanks to the generosity of state workers, we announced that the
2014 campaign raised $6.5 million.
Event photos coming soon!
Several volunteers and departments received awards for their
dedication and work on the Our Promise 2014 campaign.
Bari Schlesinger was once unable to pick up items that she
dropped on the floor. She once relied on others to open doors.
She once feared going places alone.
Thanks to the help of Canine Companions for Independence, Bari no
longer strains herself to retrieve dropped items, she doesn’t
need to wait for strangers to come along and open doors, and gone
are the days of anxiety and doubt. Bari is now a self-assured and
independent individual with her wonderful Canine Companions
assistance dog, Axel III, provided to her free of charge.
Growing up without many basic resources can be a burden to
children who come from impoverished families. This struggle has
always been close to my heart since I myself grew up in a single
parent household where we struggled to get by on just the basic
necessities. When I became an adult I realized that I had the
power to do something good that could help make a child’s life a
little easier. As an 18 year youth sports coach I realized that I
had collected so much baseball gear, and I knew that I could put
it to good use.
We all like to think that we are safe and secure, but one
incident or accident can surprise and shock us. In 1980, my
father had a massive stroke, and my mother was instantly
transformed into a 24-hour caregiver for a person who had severe
speech and mobility issues.
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