A standing room only crowd gathered in the board room of the Multnomah Building on Thursday, April 23, 2015 to recognize volunteers and interns from around the county. The ceremony is hosted by the Citizen Involvement Committee (CIC), emceed by Gary Marschke, the director of the Office of Citizen Involvement (OCI), and is intended to thank citizens for contributing what Marschke refers to as “the most valuable commodity - time and talent.” Among those honored were five volunteers and interns working within the Department of Community Justice (DCJ), and a member of the department’s Citizen Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC).
Zoe Wyse, a member of DCJ’s CBAC, was recognized for the enthusiasm and dedication she brings to the committee. The CBAC plays a vital role in the county’s budget process by reviewing and making recommendations on department budgets and operations.
Ana Kerpan, an intern with the Sex Offender Unit in the Adult Services Division, was praised for thriving in her position, being self-motivated, and approaching tasks fearlessly. It was noted during the ceremony that she “skillfully interacts with clients with patience, professionalism, and kindness.”
Chethana Pandit, a former volunteer with the Business Applications and Web Development teams, put her “passion for the field and strong technical skills” to good use during her time at DCJ. She contributed greatly to website and communication efforts, digging into projects and quickly gaining skills and knowledge.
Helen Poplett, a volunteer at the Londer Learning Center, earned the nickname “the finisher” because she gives students the finishing touches necessary to take the GED math test. Her patience, dedication, and ability to teach to a student’s learning style have made her an invaluable asset to the center.
Monica Martinez-Animas, a volunteer with Education and Employment Services in the Juvenile Services Division, was commended for having “earned the respect of the youth she has served and the gratitude of the Juvenile Services Division staff” by demonstrating adaptability, willingness to jump in when needed, and genuine compassion and concern for those around her. The skills, talents and expertise Monica brings to her work at DCJ embody the values of the department and support the mission of Community Safety through Positive Change.
Monica is a native of Multnomah County, and began volunteering with DCJ in June 2014 through the Juvenile Justice Capstone at Portland State University. She is a testament to the importance of county programs and services. Most notable is the relationship she developed with Mary McMenamin. The two met when Monica was a middle schooler involved in a community mentorship program sponsored by the county.They spent time together going to movies, attending community events, and sharing meals and conversation. McMenamin describes Monica as “a smart, confident young woman with a heart of gold and a passion to assist others.”
Talking with Monica about the time she spends with youth at DCJ elicits a sense of nostalgia. Smart, tough, and resilient are words that come up frequently as she describes them, “it’s really sweet to see, if that makes sense… the kids remind me of me and my brothers as kids.” When asked why she volunteers, what’s important, and why she shows up her response is, “I want these kids to know there is someone there who wants them to succeed and not because I’m just getting paid to be there.”
Monica’s advice for future volunteers is to set realistic expectations; Don’t let something like a kid not showing up or not returning for more help get you down; Always be ready for the next big thing. “It may be weeks or months or years before a kid is willing or able to accept the support I give them” she says, ”that’s okay, as long as they know you are there for them.”
In addition to the Volunteer Award Ceremony, a screening of the film Homestretch was held for volunteers and county staff on April 15th in the Multnomah County boardroom. The film highlights some of the challenges youth in our community face on a daily basis, and provided another snapshot of why this work matters.
Learn more about DCJ’s Volunteer and Internship Program.