Los Altos, LAH honor their volunteers

Joint Volunteer Luncheon” width=
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The 2019 honorees receiving Community Volunteer Service Awards are, from left, Sharleen Thorson, Andy Danver, Sue Marrion, Ray Piontek, Lindsay Carpenter and Mark Vasser.

One runs a nonprofit organization that provides used furniture to people in need. Another is an umpire for local youth baseball. The pursuits of these local residents vary greatly, but they’re bound by a common trait: selfless volunteering in an effort to help others.

Six such volunteers were recognized Friday during the 37th annual Los Altos-Los Altos Hills Joint Community Volunteer Service Awards luncheon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Palo Alto. The event is hosted by an awards committee comprising members of both communities. The six volunteers honored this year are among more than 330 individuals and groups recognized since the awards began in 1983.

This year’s honorees:

• Lindsay Carpenter. She is an active member of the Rotary Club of Los Altos. The club pointed out in particular her work with student veterans at Foothill College and the club’s Fine Art in the Park fundraiser. She also volunteers at the Los Altos History Museum and with Mentor Tutor Connection.

• Andy Danver. He has contributed thousands of hours to helping with preparations for American Youth Soccer Organization games, fundraising at Los Altos High School and Scouting activities. He also is active in Sons In Retirement.

One admirer noted that Danver often ends conversations with, “If you need any help, just let me know.”

• Sue Marrion. She serves at the Cancer Center, Villa Siena retirement community and St. Simon Catholic Parish. She has visited homebound seniors, lifting their spirits, for more than 20 years.

“In Sue’s world, there aren’t any strangers, just friends she hasn’t met yet,” said one supporter.

• Ray Piontek. The former Naval officer and high-tech executive founded the Bay Area Furniture Bank in 2015, which provides discarded furniture to economically challenged families. In the past two years, his group has delivered nearly 4,000 pieces of furniture to more than 400 families.

“That’s impact,” said Dennis Young, master of ceremonies for Friday’s program.

• Sharleen Thorson. She has served in five different leadership positions with Friends of the Los Altos Library. Her organizing skills are legendary: One fellow volunteer praised how she leaves every new position “completely revitalized.”

“Happy, pleasant and positive,” summed up one Friends of the Library member.

• Mark Vasser. He has dedicated countless hours over 30 years to Los Altos-Los Altos Hills Little League – approximately 20 hours a week devoted to local athletes as a coach and umpire. He currently umpires approximately 40 games every season.

Jason Curtis, president of St. Francis High School, served as keynote speaker at the event.

“The reality is that this community is driven by, supported by volunteers,” he said. “Today we are celebrating the people who make things happen.”

As an educator, Curtis said it is important for adult volunteers to set an example for the community’s youth so that they may follow in their footsteps.

“A lot of times today, we don’t present them that idea of service,” he said. “I think that it’s really important that young people today not see service and volunteerism as a requirement or even a punishment, (but) that it’s something they enjoy.”

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