Santa Clarita community members of all ages participated in National “Make a Difference Day” on Saturday, giving back to various nonprofit organizations and city sites through community volunteer work.
In previous years, the city of Santa Clarita partnered with HandsOn Santa Clarita to bring the event to fruition and host Make a Difference Day. This is the first year the city was the sole host, said Jennifer Shadle, arts and events coordinator for the city.
“It’s exciting to see all these people … hopefully from here they will discover a cause … be passionate about (it) and keep volunteering there,” said Tess Simgen, arts and events supervisor for the city. Volunteers had the option of selecting which organization they would like to volunteer at, Simgen added.
“These kinds of events do bring that community aspect,” said Shadle.
Santa Clarita Mayor Jason Gibbs said this is a day that symbolizes the spirit of the city and a day to celebrate volunteers.
“The force that collectively propels us toward making a tangible difference … It’s a fabric of our identities and I firmly believe that we have the most … dedicated hands-on volunteering, right here in Santa Clarita,” Gibbs said.
Dozens of volunteers headed to their assigned project sites to lend a hand to local nonprofit organizations and city sites for additional help.
Family Promise of Santa Clarita Valley was one of numerous nonprofits that had volunteers on deck helping in any way that they could.
Family Promise of Santa Clarita Valley is a nonprofit with the mission of helping vulnerable families who are experiencing or will soon be facing homelessness, states the organization’s website.
Rachel Rieckhoff, co-executive director of programs for Family Promise, had eight volunteers help her organize donations of canned food, baby diapers, toiletries, female sanitary pads, and other everyday necessities. The group divided and conquered, organizing a large shipping container and throwing out expired canned food and unnecessary boxes in the office.
“I hope that they understand that sometimes volunteering is not necessarily working. The best kind of volunteering can be helping the staff to free up (their) time to be able to work with the clients directly,” said Rieckhoff. “While it’s not directly working with our clients that we serve, which I know a lot of people would love to be able to do … this gives us the ability to give more time to our families for our case management.”
“I’ve lived in Santa Clarita for 35 years and I like making a difference in the community … I just really care about helping the public,” said longtime resident and volunteer Brooke Singerman on why she chose to participate in Make a Difference Day.
Among the local nonprofits and city sites participating were Boys and Girls Club, Sister Cities, Straightening Reins, city youth sports, and city facilities maintenance. Project tasks volunteers engaged in were painting curbs, covering up graffiti, organizing donations and putting together shelves for additional storage.
Volunteers were given Make a Difference Day T-shirts to commemorate the day of giving back to their communities.