The heart of Califone serves the education community, but its soul however, rests with the volunteer efforts of its staff.
Many Califone employees are longstanding and active supporters of projects as varied as the staff itself, but the company supports the endeavors through a generous employee program, “Employer’s Promise,” which offers up to twenty-four hours off work per year. The projects and activities viewed individually are a heartfelt reflection of the compassion to bettering local schools, the environment and our communities. Taken as a whole, the summed man-hours each year reaches into the hundreds, but at the granular level, they make an even bigger, more personal impact.
To many educators and Califone dealers, Steve Hopkins has been for over 20 years one of the dependable voices whom people talk with when they’ve called the Customer Service or the Quality Control departments at Califone. When he’s not fielding product questions or pursuing his love of deep-sea fishing, Steve is often found volunteering to help coach homeless children (and their single mothers) in areas south of downtown Los Angeles through the nationally praised School on Wheels program.
Steve was interviewed for the above segment about School on Wheels, which aired on a local Los Angeles tv station and is briefly shown (at 2:54) after completing a shift at a battered mother’s shelter, but the footage of his interview wasn’t included in this piece.
Erika Peña (marketing) is passionate about animals and children. She volunteers for the Best Friends Animal Society at their Spring and Fall adoption festivals by doing everything from kennel cleaning to dog washing. Occupying more or her time, Peña has been contributing for the past 9 years to help the Make a Wish Foundation of Greater Los Angeles. (“Help” grants wishes for children between the ages 2 – 18 who have life-threatening conditions.) Serving as the liaison for the main office, Peña and her Make a Wish partner first visit and interview Spanish-speaking families to do a “wish discovery” and find out what the child really wants (“heart of a wish”). Peña explains that Make a Wish categorizes wishes into four types; “I want to be”, “I want to go”, “I want to have”, and “I want to meet”. When a wish is granted, the payoff for Peña is seeing the look on the parents’ faces, “you can see how much they’ve gone through for their children, seeing them beaming and then they come up to you and give you a hug, they go through so much.”
Dana Goodman (shipping) is known for his passion about all things baseball, and has coupled coaching girls softball 2-3 days each week for over five years. When a friend’s daughter asked him to help volunteer coach her team, it quickly reminded him of when he was growing up and how his whole family participated in sports. Goodman thought it was such a positive influence on him that he wanted to pass the lessons along to the next generation and instill the same sense of teamwork he experienced. His team in the summer of 2009 made it to the state championships. He loves “watching the kids improve and have fun,” but his real reward occurs when former players come up to him, give him a hug and say “thanks for helping me with my bunting“. Goodman proudly describes motivated kids he’s coached who’ve moved on to excel in other areas. He describes former players who have gone on to win State and National Academic Decathalons (El Camino Real High School, Woodland Hills, CA), received full athletic scholarships to college (Oregon State), and many others who have graduated and are in college now. Goodman’s long-term impact on his players and his popularity with parents alike continue to grow. At a recent try-out for the upcoming season, six kids he’d never seen before approached him and asked, “please pick us – we want to play on your team!”
In addition to baseball projects, other Califone staffers work with
- the National Association of Mental Illness, (Linda Bader, credit), who’s been instrumental in assisting some of the organization’s regional life skills seminars and in NAMI’s Ventura County Walkathon (the county’s largest fundraiser of the year)
- Mike Morse (sales) whose tireless work has benefited his (Chandler, AZ) PTA board and the school district
- Pasadena’s Union Station and its Kid’s Space Museum Tim Ridgway (marketing)
- Grace Sun (marketing) assisting at West Hills, CA Pomelo Drive Elementary School
Chase Stone (sales), is also known as a motivational speaker who regularly presents at dealer sales meetings. Loosely based on his well-received presentations, Stone developed a series of weekly life-skills seminars that he’s been leading at area homeless shelters for the past three years. He first began the open-forum discussions at a Myrtle Beach, SC homeless shelter named Street Reach and continues the program at SAFE, of Transylvania County, NC, covering a diverse range of subjects such as how to obtain your credit score, nurturing a positive mental outlook, and nutritional fitness.
At the insistence of his 13-year old son Andrew, Califone shipping clerk Henry Briseño wakes him at 5am every Saturday morning, and for the past four years, has supported Andrew as he’s spent the day leading projects for City Year. The internationally recognized organization offers school-based services, youth leadership programs and community transformations. In order to participate, students are required to have a minimum “C” average grade, which Henry has used as a motivational tool for Andrew to meet and go beyond. In Andrew’s case, his vigor for participating has led him to be an ongoing tutor for a group of five younger kids and participate in projects as varied as removing graffiti, babysitting at battered women’s shelters, or planting gardens at a community center in Watts. Andrew’s enthusiasm for participating so far exceeded the 140 annual hours per participant that he received the President’s Volunteer Service Award.