With feet as sure as a mountain goat, Bobby Campbell shimmies up a 15-foot Christmas tree built out of canned food and plywood to place a star on top. For about a decade he has built Christmas CanTrees with the Sacramento Association of Realtors. After being on display at Secret Garden in Elk Grove through the holidays, the canned goods will be donated to the Salvation Army.
Campbell, a mortgage banker who works from home, takes part in fundraising year round with SAR. Campbell grew up in humble circumstances, raised by a single mother who was blind. He was her "human guide dog," he said, and their family sometimes needed to accept food donations. "It comes from gratitude," he says of his charity work.
"My motto is if I can leave this world a little better than I found it, I've done a good job."
November 24, 2012
November 18, 2012
AmeriCorps volunteer Tevin Woods, 19, is clearing brush and hauling logs at Comp Del Oro in Nevada City. It's tough physical labor but he sees the big picture: Urban low income kids come to camp, get a taste of the great outdoors and tell ghost stories while being warmed the fire wood he gathers. Next week he'll tutor school children. He plans to go to college, become a music artist and give back half of what he makes to the community.
AmeriCorps is expanding his worldview day by day. Woods, whose parents divorced when he was 5, says he spent his childhood moving from place to place. The experience taught him empathy for others. "The world is so cruel and so cold and many people go through their lives without homes. Thinking about that makes me have an open mind on how people live and get through a day."
November 9, 2012
Red Cross Chaplain, Cynthia Olson, packs her bags, Nov. 6, before catching a flight to New Jersey, a small angel pin on her shoulder. She wears one every day. For the next two weeks she will provide emotional and spiritual support to the loved ones of those killed in hurricane Sandy. More than 110 deaths have been confirmed. She doesn't know where she will be sleeping but knows she will see tears and that she will softly speak the words "Angels be with me," as she faces the disaster.
Olson is a full-time hospice worker who "can manage well in the face of death," she says. Most people just need to talk through their loss and have someone to listen. "It's a work of the heart," she says. "It's actually standing in awe of the other and how they cope, how they journey, how they live their life in community with one another."
November 4, 2012
The door of Harm Reduction Services in Oak Park opens and in walks a soft-spoken man of 27. He's an IV drug user and he's homeless. He's grateful as he exchanges used syringes for clean ones from volunteer Erin "Presh" Grieshop. Chad Fallis, has been a client for 6 years. He says he doesn't know where he'd be without HRS. "It would probably be a bad place."
Presh, short for LIttle Precious, is calm and supportive. Afterwards, she says the clients are "so stigmatized, but they're human like anyone else." She works with drug users to make "small behavioral shifts" such as exchanging needles to prevent spreading infectious diseases.
"I really do love taking care of people," Presh says. "Sympathy is very different that empathy. Sympathy is talking. Empathy is doing. Sympathy is 'those people.' Empathy is 'us.'"