April 10, 2019, bt Gwenn McKenzie
April 7-13 is National Volunteer Week, a great time to recognize individuals and groups who give their time and energy to make our community stronger, safer and more compassionate.
In his 1989 inaugural address, President George H.W. Bush invoked the image of “A Thousand Points of Light” as a call to service for individuals who want to make a positive difference in their own neighborhoods.
Napa County has an exceptional network of individuals and small groups providing essential services. Local organizations such as Napa Valley Community Foundation, the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL), and Napa Valley CanDo help with fundraising, training and opportunities for service.
Volunteer and nonprofit organizations offer a wide range of services and activities so individuals can put their support wherever their passion leads them. One local volunteer organization is Loving Animals Providing Smiles (LAPS). We train volunteers and their pets to bring high-quality animal-assisted interventions to Napa’s most deserving populations: children in local schools living with learning and emotional challenges, incarcerated teens in Juvenile Hall, seniors in assisted living including Memory Care, and patients in skilled nursing and rehabilitation.
We serve over 1,700 clients each year providing safe and effective personal interactions with clients of all ages. LAPS is a 100 percent volunteer organization, so our greatest challenge is continuing to find dedicated volunteers who want to make a difference with their dog, cat, bunny, mini-horse or mini-donkey.
National Volunteer Week gives each of us a chance to think how we can be another Point of Light in our own communities. Seek out and thank a volunteer. They touch each of our lives in so many ways.
Gwenn McKenzie, volunteer