Ten years ago, Bernardo Heights Middle School was in need of a Russian translator. The school had a child from the country who couldn't speak a word of English.
After reaching out to the community and, specifically, through the Seniors Helping Our Kids (SHOK) program—the school found Richard Mason.
Mason, who tutored the child, has stuck with SHOK ever since and was recognized for his contribution Thursday afternoon.
“I want to give back to the community,” Mason said after he received his 10-year award, a clock on a mahogany setting. “I want to help these children.”
SHOK, a 19-year-old program which provides senior volunteers to the local schools and offers OASIS Reading Tutors, honored volunteers for their 5-, 10- and 15-year contributions at its annual meeting.
Mason was one of the 25 volunteers to contribute 185 years of service to the Poway Unified School District.
Mason, who now teaches ballroom dancing and also assisted in fundraising for the Rancho Bernardo High School library, said his Christian background makes him believe community service is important.
For Selma Baxt, her desire to volunteer is almost genetic. Baxt said she grew up in a home of volunteers and was taught early on how important education is.
Baxt, who was given a 5-year award, said she became familiar with SHOK six years ago when she attended an annual meeting where her friend was given a 5-year award.
She became engaged with the program almost immediately and began volunteering at Turtleback Elementary with a second-grader. Her first student couldn't read at grade level and by the end of the year began checking books out of the library on his own.
“This is a one-on-one situation and really gives you a chance to make a difference in a child's life,” she said.
Jane Radatz, the director of the program, said the annual celebration of volunteers is an important component of SHOK.
“It's important to recognize the volunteers to be sure they know how much we appreciate all they do and how long they've been doing it,” she said. “The senior volunteers bring a special touch to our schools. Their experience, talents and caring ways complement the wonderful work done by the teachers and staff.”
But the experience of SHOK is two-fold.
“It's very satisfying when you see a child progress,” Baxt said. “I'm very, very grateful for the program.”
Award Recipients Include:
1. Phil Gray
2. Virginia Gray
3. Beth Ozer
1. John Holzheimer
2. Flora Kuritsky
3. Richard Mason
4. Bob Moran
5. Jane Moran
6. Norma Wendleton
1. Selma Baxt
2. Rich Belzer
3. Madeline Carmichael
4. Joan Francis
5. Marsha Franklin
6. Rachel Gallardo
7. Nancy Higbie
8. Richard Komorsky
9. Barbara Massicotte
10. Nancy McNeely
11. Mee Mickens
12. Fran Multer
13. Janice Nute
14. Richard Nute
15. Veronica Roeser
16. Marcine Trapp
To become a volunteer, contact Radatz at email@example.com or 858-485-5449, Ext. 16.