Tis’ the Season

The Precious Gift of Time
December, 24, 2014 -

As the Christmas holiday is less than 24 hours away, we here at FCNI are reflecting on all the ways our amazing Central Coast community gives towards our efforts throughout the year. One of the most vital ways that you give throughout the year is with your time—probably the most precious commodity we each possess. In looking back at our 2013/14 fiscal year, over 124 community members volunteered in direct services while another 469 worked on events or in the office—totaling 593 volunteers who contributed over 15,750 hours of their time to serve our local children, youth and families impacted by trauma. What an amazing gift!

In the past couple of months, our volunteers have again wowed us with the amount of time they devoted towards our efforts. December is a busy month for FCNI, with the agency hosting two Open House parties, two Polar Express events, a staff Christmas Breakfast as well as completing our Sponsor a Child for the Holiday gift gathering effort. All of these events take several months to plan and require a lot of man-hours to execute—including making phone calls, wrapping over 800 presents, manning craft/entertainment tables, making and serving food, greeting guests…this list goes on and on. Over 80 volunteers worked over 300 hours to make sure that every gift was wrapped, every detail for every event was covered and that every need was met. This is an amazing contribution to our mission and speaks volumes about the community that we call home. When our children and families see their community come together in such a way to make sure their holiday wishes come true, they see that they are loved, appreciated and valued. FCNI cannot communicate this vital message to those we serve on our own—we need your help to do that!

Below is a personal story written by one of our long time volunteers. She is one of the 80 who gifted us this holiday season with her precious time, putting her heart and energy into meeting various needs. We couldn’t do what we do without caring individuals such as her, nor would we want to. Serving children and families in partnership with our community is not only part of our mission statement, but it is an essential cornerstone of our agency. And we appreciate everyone who gifts us with their time—thank you for Being the Difference!

If I were asked about my own history, I would probably answer it this way: I am the daughter of two wonderful parents who taught my sister and me that volunteering is a rewarding part of one’s life; the widow of the love of my life; the mother of two unbelievably special children; the grandmother of two terrific grandsons; the mother-in-law of a very talented man; and the lucky person to have been surrounded by extraordinary family and friends.

When I moved to Los Osos in 2006, I had retired from teaching elementary school and had become a full-time grandmother to my one grandson who was in preschool. I found I had the time and desire to get involved with my new community. One day I saw an article about the FCNI’s Miracle Miles for Kids and I thought I would look into the organization. My first call opened the door to my volunteering for FCNI, and I’ve been with them now for over seven years!

I have volunteered for many organizations throughout my adult life, but one of the reasons why volunteering with FCNI stands apart from all the other experiences is that I have been able to volunteer with them in so many different areas. Believe it or not, I have cooked turkeys for the Christmas parties in SLO; been a bus monitor at MM4K; served food at several different events; read The Polar Express at the special reading hosted by Le Vigne Winery; checked references for new volunteers; learned how to file digitally; wrapped Christmas gifts; solicited gifts for the Sponsor a Child gift gathering effort; passed out information regarding FCNI at Farmer’s Markets; and done various small jobs in order to help the full-time employees have the time to do other important tasks.

Another way FCNI stands apart from many organizations is the tremendous amount of appreciation that they give to their volunteers. I always feel as though, no matter what tasks I am doing to help, the expression of gratitude they give me is almost overwhelming. If you want to feel appreciated for anything you could possibly contribute to your community, then I would recommend becoming a volunteer for FCNI. It is appropriate that “Family” is the first word in their name because you truly become part of their family.

For more information of volunteering with the Family Care Network, please call (805) 781-3535 or visit FCNI.org