Volunteers Make the Difference

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Veronica Zuniga is the Second District’s Volunteer of the Year (adult category). Here, she poses with her husband at Los Angeles County’s 33rd Annual Volunteer of the Year Awards.

Veronica Zuniga coaches a softball team at Victoria Park in Carson, but she’s doing much more than showing girls how to pitch, catch and throw. She teaches them teamwork, sportsmanship and civic engagement.

Over at Ted Watkins Park, Wanya Barker is doing his own part to help the community by organizing after-school activities for youth like himself, everything from free movie screenings to baseball games.

For all the hours they spend making the Second District a better place to live in, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas awarded each a scroll at the 33rd Annual Volunteer of the Year Awards held in April.DJA_2397

“Veronica and Wanya spend hours every week making our community better,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “Their community spirit and can-do attitude is an inspiration to us all.”

Ms. Zuniga, who lives in Compton, has volunteered about 500 hours over the last six years. Twice a week, she coaches 12-14 year old girls, many of whom have never played softball before.

“I have always loved working with children and being involved with the community,” Ms. Zuniga said during a recent banquet honoring some of the county’s most exceptional volunteers. “Being a coach, as well as volunteering with Toastmasters and helping with park events, has helped keep me young and active and helps provide a safe environment for our youth to participate in wholesome activities.”

Mr. Barker, of West Athens, is the teen vice president of Ted Watkins Park’s teen club program. He has volunteered over 200 hours in the past year, helping out with free movie screenings, the Dodger Dream Field dedication, and Parks After Dark and Mark Ridley-Thomas afterschool programs.

More than 100,000 volunteers generously donated more than 4 million hours – an estimated value of $93 million – to Los Angeles County parks, hospitals, senior centers and other facilities and departments in 2014. That’s more than double the numbers from last year.

“I started volunteering because it is something I enjoy doing, plus I loved going to the park and helping the kids and being a part of the Teen Club where I made new friends,” he said. “I just want to thank Ted Watkins Park staff for helping me become a better person.”

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