Honoree: Another Way Advisory Committee
Team Members: Sandra Guzman, Marie Harris, Erick Andersen
Honored by: Inland Regional Center – Another Way
Cause Area: Human & Family Services
The volunteers I am nominating contribute their time, resources, energy and talent to Another Way. Another Way is the fundraising arm of Inland Regional Center and bridges the gap between the services and supports Inland Regional Center provides and those it cannot due to State guidelines. Another Way provides Safety-Net and Health and Wellness Services to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I am the only paid staff person for the organization and when I accepted the position as Coordinator I thought I would be on my own most of the time – I could not have been more wrong.
I have an amazing group of 29 Advisory Committee Members. My Advisory Committee Volunteers are staff or Board members of Inland Regional Center (IRC). I have three Advisory Members- Sandra Guzman, Marie Harris, and Erick Andersen who go above and beyond to assist no matter the request. They find ways to help before anything is even asked of them. This alone would have been enough for me to nominate but my desire for each to be recognized goes deeper. I had the privilege of witnessing their selflessness during a defining moment at Inland Regional Center. On December 2nd 2015, a terrorist attack struck Inland Regional Center. It left all of us who worked at IRC sad, confused, angry, fearful and uncertain as to how to move forward. I realized at that moment the difference between helping when things are going great and contributing to the greater good when you, yourself, have been affected by a tragedy of unspeakable magnitude.
In the midst of overwhelming grief and shock Sandra, Marie and Erick were steadfast in their support of Another Way and remained focused on helping those in need. The holidays are a particularly busy time for Another Way. We host a Toy Drive and Food Drive during the first two weeks of December. Together, these events serve approximately 2000 children and adults who are living in poverty and have an intellectual and developmental disability. The terrorist attack happened right before these events. Immediately, Sandra took action. From the start Sandra has been my mentor in all things Another Way. She is always available and guides me in the decisions that affect the entire group. She is smart and witty and understands the delicate balance I must strike in dealing with the Board, Committee Members and Staff. During the critical days following the terrorist attack she was able to connect me with IRC’s Board and kept me appraised of how and when they felt it was appropriate for Another Way to move forward. Our Board Chair, Keith Nelson’s church, Sandals, offered Another Way to use their facility free of charge to regroup and organize gift distribution. Sandra, Marie and Erick all arrived at the church ready to wrap gifts, distribute presents, speak with community members, and clean up. One of the challenges we had was getting the gifts out of the building at Inland Regional Center. It is tradition for our staff to purchase presents for our clients and about 150 presents were still locked up in the building. At the spur of the moment we received word that we could pick up the presents but had to go immediately. Without hesitation Erick volunteered and drove from Sandals Church to Inland Regional Center and loaded his small car with over 150 presents. When he arrived at the church I shouted for joy! His car was overflowing with gifts and you could barely make him out. He definitely gave Santa some competition that year as he always does. He is truly a caring and kind person whose heart is in the right place. Marie was my constant companion that entire two-week period. She would drive faithfully from Victorville to Riverside to sit with me and wait for people to come pick up their gifts. I definitely appreciated the moral support and help cleaning up and organizing. Marie is a light. She is one of those people whose sunny disposition and smile infiltrate negativity. When things go array I can always count on her.
Sandra, Marie and Erick have each held a chair position on Another Way’s Advisory Committee. Together, they have served as dedicated volunteers for a total of 20+ years. They are always ready and willing to help in any capacity – be it serving food, cleaning, loading trucks, driving trucks, reviewing grants and strategic plans. They are always there for me but most importantly for those we serve.