2023 Finding Comfort and Joy

A Letter from our Executive Director, Karen Delaney

We started 2023 together in the pouring rain – and hundreds of you showed up to fill and place sandbags, help with evacuations and staff shelters.  It is hard to describe how much it changes one’s view of the world to see ordinary people show up, day after day, to perform hard labor – covered in mud, for free – just because they care about their neighbors and their community. 

Together, we moved tons of mud and debris, digging out parks, businesses, and hundreds of homes throughout Santa Cruz County.  And just when things were beginning to settle down, we started over again to help our Pajaro neighbors when the levee burst.  Thousands came forward again: giving time, donating items to replace what families lost, and donating funds so we could continue to recruit, train, and equip people in our response to floods.

Volunteers lined the streets with flood-damaged personal belongings after the levee broke, flooding homes and displacing residents, in Pajaro.

Big disasters make the value of volunteers and the work of our Volunteer Center visible, as our army for good shows up, cleans up, and restores broken homes to families.  What is truly astonishing is that every day, across every imaginable cause in homes, parks, libraries, and schools, thousands of our volunteers – our neighbors – show up to provide hope, aid, and comfort to their neighbors. 

Thousands of gifts for Santa Cruz County families are bagged and waiting for pick up at the Volunteer Center's Adopt-a-Family Donation Center.
Thousands of gifts for Santa Cruz County families are bagged and waiting for pick up at the Volunteer Center’s Adopt-a-Family Donation Center.

From all of us here at the Volunteer Center, to the 50,000 people who use our web-based tools to connect to community, and the 12,000+ people who took action with us for good in 2023, we want to say Thank You!  Knowing you and seeing what you do for our community fills me with comfort and joy today, and every day.

Karen Delaney, Executive Director, smiles brightly while holding the heart of the Volunteer Center logo.

Wishing you a joyful holiday and Happy New Year!

Karen Delaney
Executive Director