Appleton Receives Volunteer of the Year Award from Lamorinda Village

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(Jeff Heyman, Photographer)
Andrea Appleton, with Dr. Larry Toy, President of Lamorinda Village, wins Lamorinda Village Volunteer of the Year at the group’s Afternoon of Gratitude event March 31 at Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church.

    It was a happy surprise for Andrea Appleton when she was named Lamorinda Village Volunteer of the Year at the group’s Afternoon of Gratitude event.
    At Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church March 31, Don Jenkins presented the award and showed where Appleton’s name was inscribed on the Perpetual Volunteer Award Plaque. The plaque honors the memory of Ed Stokes, founder of Diablo Foods and famous for his community volunteering.
    President of Sunrise Rotary, Jamie Textor, added an award from her club as well. “The Rotary motto ‘Service Above Self’ describes Appleton’s devotion to service,” she said. “She has amassed an amazing number of recorded service hours, 1163 to be exact.”
    Accepting the award, Appleton acknowledged she was caught off guard by the announcement and deeply honored.
    “The Village is a great resource for older citizens of our three communities,” said Appleton. “I think it’s a lifeline for seniors, especially during the pandemic.”
    Executive Director of Lamorinda Village, Kathryn Ishizu, said Appleton began volunteering for them during the height of the pandemic, May 2020.
    “Since then, Andrea has done over 406 shopping services,” added Ishizu. “In 2021, she worked at our Vaccine Clinic, which vaccinated over 570 seniors. She now volunteers in our office weekly and has taken on managing the check-in program for our more vulnerable members.”
    But her volunteer work doesn’t stop there. Appleton lists 19 other non-profits where she gives her time. She is especially fond of working with the National Charity League for which she volunteers with her daughter, Allie.
    “Allie and I have shopped together numerous times to provide food for those unable to do this task,” said Appleton. “I’m delighted she has learned the joy of volunteering as a way to aid those who need a helping hand.”
    Ishizu explained that Lamorinda Village is a non-profit organization in which residents from Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda and beyond, may join. There is no brick-and-mortar establishment – it is a virtual village.
    Ruth McCahan spearheaded the establishment seven years ago, and prior to the pandemic, there were 100 members; it now boasts 200. There are over 100 such Villages in the United States.
    “Think of it as a ‘concierge service’ where a phone call can connect the caller with one of our many services,” said Ishizu. “These include transportation, computer help, meal preparation, handyman and professional repair services, home healthcare, medical equipment, physical therapy, exercise activities, continuing education, social activities and personal legal and financial services.”
    Founder of the organization, Orindan Andy Amstutz, talks about the impact the pandemic had on the non-profit: “The pandemic caused us to double in size, both with members and volunteers, because we were ready to offer grocery shopping for many who were sheltered in place.” Amstutz continues, “Homebound students became volunteers, eager to drive and shop to support us. The need for connecting became even more important, and we found ways to help members avoid isolation. Our services and ability to connect have matured into a real community of support for Lamorinda.”
    Orindan Dr. Larry Toy, the current President, opened the meeting. He recognized numerous volunteers who have given their time and praised the critical role they play in the success of the organization. Another Orindan, Sharon Iverson, is President-elect.
    Toy offered information for those interested in joining the Village: “We accept members from Lamorinda (and immediate adjacent areas) who are 60 or above. Almost all members are between 70 and 100, with the average age in the early 80s.”
    He said dues are $1 a day, $360 a year, or $600 a year for a couple. There are subsidized memberships for lower income members.
    “Forty percent of our budget comes from our dues, and 60% come from donations and grants,” Toy added. “Our goal is to keep our members living in their own homes as long as they wish by giving free volunteer-provided services, providing engaging social events and activities to combat social isolation and offering a warm, welcoming community.”

Bobbie Dodson may be reached at bobbiedodson109@gmail.com.

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