School volunteers in running for county recognition
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
The community has through May 17 to support eight locals in a countywide contest that could mean up to $5,000 for an area school.
The inaugural DonorNation School Volunteer of the Year Award contest is seeking online votes for the 140 finalists in the second of three contest phases. Among finalists are seven representing Poway Unified schools and one representing a private school in Poway.
The grand prize winner — announced on June 3 — will receive $5,000 for his or her school. The honored volunteer will also receive a year’s worth of free groceries ($100 per week for 52 weeks). The first runner-up’s school will receive $2,500 and the individual will get six months of free groceries. The second runner-up’s school will receive $1,500 and the honoree will receive three months of free groceries.
Nominees’ bios are posted at www.schoolvolunteeraward.org. Voters may cast a ballot for one nominee in the elementary school category and one in the secondary school category. The top 10 finalists in each category will advance to the selection committee, which will determine the three award winners.
The local nominees are:
• Dana Black, Country Montessori School of Poway. Prize money would go to the school’s Building Our Future initiative that includes constructing a new elementary building.
• Ron Cole, Black Mountain Middle School. Prize money would provide instruments, sheet music and basic items for the school’s orchestra and support Power Hour that provides academic help to at-risk students.
• Claudia Deney, Oak Valley Middle School. Prize money would support the school’s PTSA Art Corps program.
• Evi Frey, Mt. Carmel High School. Prize money would support Science Olympiad supplies and coaching.
• Pilar Gross, Poway High School. Prize money would support Student Services Office’s Teacher-on-Special-Assignment position.
• Dilpreet Shergill, Stone Ranch Elementary School. Prize money would go to create a new playground for kindergartners.
• Claire Spelta, Del Sur Elementary School. Prize money would go toward upgrading the school’s computer system, advancing its sustainable gardening program and funding a new science lab.
• Marika Szoke, Del Norte High School. Prize money would be used to expand the school’s Character Recognition Awards program.
The contest, sponsored by DonorNation and Sprouts Farmers Market, was designed to recognize school volunteers for their efforts in improving education.
“Our communities are deeply indebted to the legions of school volunteers who make it possible for the 1,100-plus public and private schools in San Diego County to provide quality education to our children,” said Karim Pirani, DonorNation’s founder and CEO. “These volunteers donate countless hours of their time organizing fundraising events, back-to-school nights, working as room parents, chaperoning kids on field trips, etc.
“They never seek any attention, compensation or recognition for their invaluable service,” Pirani said. “Rather, they are always content on serving our communities in the shadows. We plan to change that by shining a long overdue spotlight on them with the DonorNation School Volunteer of the Year Award.”
“Sprouts is delighted to have this opportunity to give back to the communities we serve,” said Doug Sanders, Sprouts’ president and CEO. “Our company has deep roots in San Diego, stretching back many decades. The local community is full of loyal Sprouts customers and we are grateful for the opportunity to join them in recognizing and rewarding the winners.”
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