Here’s to a happy and prosperous Lunar New Year to you, in the year of the tiger! This weekend, we went to a special Chinese celebration of Oakland volunteers and it was so heartwarming.
Traditional lions danced to their large drum, with front and backseat drivers directing them through the audience and up to the stage. The hungry felines expected an offering, and District 4 Council Rep Jean Quan presented a lettuce head to them. Properly and fully satiated, our lions departed for other New Year’s celebrations throughout the city.
Then it was time for honoring an amazing volunteer line-up. Rep Quan introduced some 45 individuals and groups who, in turn, described their motivations with the audience. Generally, these volunteers improved their physical environments, focused on local kids, or brought together neighborhoods.
Several volunteers received small monetary awards, which go a very long way for people who really need them. One winner, Tony Colman, runs a non-profit bike shop where city kids learn all about bikes and repairs. Winner Cora Sue Anthony heads A Season of Change, which recruits youth to do home staging – and their floral decorations even made it to the White House!
Also we appreciated the long-term contributions of Eddie Dunbar, who oversees the Insect Sciences Museum of California, and Dale Hagen, who serves as Peralta Hacienda’s president. And the Cleveland Cascades, near Lake Merritt, were nearly forgotten until Barbara Newcomb and Jim Ratliff began their reclamation work.
What hit me is that volunteers share a certain indescribable spirit. It’s a marvel to see how many people are motivated to contribute for years and years, simply because they want to improve our city.