Volunteer Hero of the Month - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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June 2015 Hero of the Month

Ralph Cyr, Hero

Ralph has volunteered with the National MS Society for twelve years. He has been a volunteer peer counselor since 2003, a weekly "phone buddy" since 2004, and has been deeply involved in advocacy. Ralph was involved in the passage of SB426 (CA Sharps) and served as the National MS Society representative of SB426.

Ralph has also created an elaborate advocacy spreadsheet for all California Legislators that is now a model nationally. It conaints all legislators, District Activist Leaders, and grasstop connections and key committees. This spreadsheet has been an invaluable tool to help the National MS Society increase advocacy efforts to make effective change.

"As a member of the Northern California chapter I've associated with hundreds of really great people and it gives me great pleasure to give something back to the chapter and the MS Society."

April/May 2015 Hero of the Month

Susanna Pennes, Hero

Susanna has been volunteering for one year and was a champion Walk MS Committee Member for the Santa Rosa walk. She secured numerous in-kind donations and sponsors and was up to helping with any task.

"I volunteer for the MS Society to bring awareness to a cause that affects many people, but is not well known and supported.  I have been fortunate to have a disease course that is relatively mild thus far.  However I know how scary it is to receive the diagnosis and to live with the unpredictability of this disease.  I am thankful for the information and resources  I have received over the years through the MS Society.  It is important to me to do what I can to help others experience this support and, most of all, hope."

February/March 2015 Hero of the Month

Montazcha Tatum, Hero

Montazcha Tatum has been volunteering at our San Francisco office for the last two years as part of her school program. She is a dedicated, hard worker who has been a terrific help to the National MS Society.

"I volunteer because I currently go to ICA and we have a program for young women to volunteer. I chose to volunteer here for a second year in a row because I like this nonprofit organization. The people are very friendly and strive to help people who have MS. It is important to me because I like helping people and seeing people benefit from what I do. I want to help people because if I can do something to make people happy, why not do it? I am really grateful for this opportunity and I love the MS Society."
 

January 2015 Hero of the Month

 April Culley, Hero

April has been volunteering at the Sacramento office since 2011, recruiting volunteers and others to join in the fight against MS.

"Volunteering has always been something encouraged and fostered by my family. When I was diagnosed in 2010 after my mother finally got her official diagnosis a few years before, all my random volunteering found a new focus. The experience, both gained and leveraged, from helping out at events is only part of why volunteering with the MS Society is an essential part of my life. Helping to build the awareness and share my story not only as someone who plays the patient role, but also growing up my entire life as a loved one, has given my MS a purpose. It’s not just something that I sit back and passively let happen, I am participating in the best way I know to find a cure and to live my best life in the meantime."

December 2014 Hero of the Month

Alex Taylor and T. Taylor, Heroes

Alexis Taylor and T. Taylor have volunteered for the MS Society for several years, recruiting and managing the trucks and trash/recycling on the Waves to Wine event. They are devoted parents to their 3 as well as amazing resources of energy and support to the MS Society. They are devoted to finding a cure for MS.

"I volunteer because this world needs more awareness of diseases like MS. My grandmother passed away 10 years ago from Lupus complications, and I feel this is a great way to honor her. I love to help others, and I have found a great community of people to do it with." -- Alexis

"I volunteer because I want to make a difference for my children and family with the hopes that diseases like MS will not burden them, because a world where MS can be beat, or where it does not exist, would be the world I want for my girls and their future generations." --T.

November 2014 Hero of the Month

Bill Hertan, Hero

Bill has been a tremendous help to the MS Society, working as our go to Medical Lead for Waves to Wine and the MS Walks. He helps us organize our medical supplies for our events and is also a wealth of information for  resources to gather volunteers for other tasks.

"I started out on the Moto safety crew for waves to wine for 2 years. The staff found out that I was a first aid instructor while volunteering at Walk MS  and asked me to do first aid at rest stops the next year. That lead to being asked if I would be the volunteer lead medical for the Waves to Wine ride, which I have been managing the last 2 years. Through my volunteering, I have found many great volunteers that come back year after year. I've been involved with MS for 5 years now, and am looking forward to many more.I volunteer because I like the events and helping others. I have two friends with MS, Anita Funicello, who died from MS complications, and Eric in Europe.I've seen what MS does to people, and I want to help find a cure."
 

October 2014 Hero of the Month

Francesca Smith, Hero

Francesca has been a very committed volunteer for over five years, managing volunteer teams at  Bike MS, Walk MS, and now MuckFest. She is always the first to arrive and the last to leave any event she volunteers at, and goes above and beyond the call of duty when serving on the Santa Rosa Walk MS Committee.

"As a long-time volunteer with the Chapter, I was excited to volunteer at our first MS Muck Fest at Solano County Fairgrounds in mid-October.  With only a vague idea of what a "mud run" was all about, I showed up in white sneakers (what was I thinking?) Turns out it was the most energizing event you can imagine!  What a great way to have fun, fundraise and support the MS community.   As Festival Captain, I worked with our amazing Chapter staffers and lots of first-time volunteers - and they've all promised to come back next year and get muddy.  And muddy it was!  Children enjoyed a special play area full of mud puddles (and giggles) while teams of families, friends and those living with MS walked, ran and slogged through the mud-filled course. After the run, there was time for a shower and a bite to eat.  Participants lingered in the festival area and just enjoyed the camaraderie.  And the teams really amped up the positive energy with costumes, hats, tutus and face paint.  As much as I love volunteering for Bike MS and Walk MS - now I'm in love with Muck Fest and can't wait for next year!  Please think about a way that your energy can benefit the MS community to provide programs, research and support for those living with MS and their families. There are lots of ways to help - just contact the Chapter and volunteer!"
 

August/September 2014 Heroes of the Month

Elsa A. Rivera, Hero

"I volunteer because I enjoy educating people with MS, along with their family and friends, through peer counseling and leading a monthly bilingual self-help group.  I also enjoy being a member of the Government Relations Committee where we advocate the Society’s legislative programs to local and state representatives.

"At the MS Walk in April a Society staff member brought a newly diagnosed woman to speak with me.  Within minutes of our conversation, she asked if she could hug me.  I am often told I’m very positive, but I will never forget the fear and depression I felt when I was newly diagnosed 15 years ago.  It helped her to hear that the emotions she was feeling were not uncommon so early in her diagnosis and that the physical symptoms she was experiencing were common in MS.  Volunteering since 2003 and meeting and speaking with hundreds of people during that time have brought me the peace I feel today.  Being able to help people is wonderful. I have enjoyed being able to help people as a volunteer."

 

Cheryl Mellor, Hero

"At university I studied Biological Sciences and my dissertation was on the causes of MS. Throughout my career as a Clinical Scientist in the organ transplantation unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in the UK I studied immunology which included subjects in autoimmune diseases. For a long time I have been interested in MS and I became intimately involved with MS when I diagnosed in 2009.

"In 2011, my husband and I moved to the US. I wanted to contribute to furthering our knowledge of this debilitating disease and volunteering at the National MS Society Northern California Chapter was one small way in which I could help. It's been great getting to know the people there and their passion for helping the community. Great progress has been made in developing treatments to manage the disease and insight into the causes may soon lead to a cure, crossed fingers."

Linda Cotter, Hero

"I am an RN and former EMT who has served as a 'medic' at Bike MS: Waves to Wine. I’ve been involved with the MS Society since 1998.  It is an easy decision to associate with an organization run by excellent people and to be surrounded by dedicated volunteers and riders all working together to find a lasting cure for MS. The MS Society has become my 'favorite charity' as a way of honoring my hero, my sister, Joany, who had MS for 10 years. 

Although there were many setbacks in Joany’s fight with MS, she fought on with the courage of a champion.  I gave her the analogy of the tortoise and the hare and told her she was the tortoise.  I kept reminding her that the tortoise eventually prevailed over the hare and of the motto, 'slow and steady wins the race.'  She may not have bought my fables and analogies, but she pretended to."
 

July 2014 Heroes of the Month

Marie Hansen, Hero

Marie is a leader for the Santa Teresa Self-Help Group and a Team Captain for Team Marie of Walk MS: Monterey Bay and Silicon Valley. She is an incredible advocate for the Society's programs, resources, fundraising events and the support people can receive. Marie lives and breathes the National MS Society. She will help out however and whenever she can with a gleeful heart.

"Volunteering makes me feel needed as a person," said Marie. "Being a positive person has helped me and I want to help others have that positive feeling, too. By helping others I forget about my problems. We help each other in that way."

Isabel Santos, Hero

Isabel is a regular volunteer in the San Francisco Office and at many fundraising events. She asks complete strangers for money to help our cause and raised over $900 for Walk MS this year! Isabel is always willing to come in and help whenever needed and is an amazing volunteer!

 

 

Francesca Smith, Hero

Francesca has been a very committed volunteer for the for over five years, helping with Bike MS and Walk MS events. She is always willing to lend a hand with our fundraising endeavors, and goes above and beyond the call of duty when serving on the Santa Rosa Walk MS Committee. Her passion for the Society and commitment to the Chapter shines brightly for all to see.

"When our daughter developed [MS] symptoms just days after her 19th birthday, I started on a journey to discover, learn, support and educate," said Francesca. "Six Walks, five Waves to Wines, two Lagunitas Brews & Blues and lots of hours spent organizing, planning and supporting MS events, I’m still at it and I know there’s still more work to be done! I’m honored to be chosen as a Volunteer Hero in support of the Chapter and will continue to do my part and encourage others to do theirs so that together we will conquer MS."
 

June 2014 Heroes of the Month

Cliff Nunes, Hero

Cliff was nominated by Sheila Doberenz, Community Development Coordinator. Cliff is a member of the Walk MS: Modesto Committee where he has served for several years. In addition, he attends Self Help Group meetings and programs to lend a hand.

A Hero Because: Cliff goes above the call of duty on a continuous basis, always willling to help, even if not asked, and can be counted on to do what he says he will do.

"I volunteer with the [Society] so no one has to navigate through their MS journey alone, especially the newly diagnosed," said Cliff.

Karen Gaetano, Hero

Karen was nominated by Will Telfer, Development Manager for Walk MS. Karen leads a Walk MS team from Walmart in Vacaville and leads popcorn and cotton candy sales at the store. She is constantly asking her store manager how she can further the store's involvement with the walk. Karen is also a member of the Walk MS: Solano County Committee.

A Hero Because: Karen gives the Society and Walk MS so much publicity in the Vacaville area. She encourages fundraising from individuals as well as staff members, which leads to more volunteers and more fundraising dollars for Walk MS. Karen always a smile on her face.

"I volunteer for the National MS Society because I really want to raise enough money to help researchers find a cure for this awful disease," said Karen. "I do not like what it has done to my son and friends who have MS and I want to do everything I can to help them. When they are just too tired to get up and do something I am glad that I am able to do it for them."

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