Genie Dee- The Power of One Life For Good

Genie Dee (Front Row -left of sign)  alongside her team of volunteers raising funds for the Literacy Program at the Human Race in 2015.

A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.
Confucius, Chinese philosopher

This is a perfect description of Genie Dee, our Literacy Program Director at the Volunteer Center. Genie was driven, focused, committed, and lit up from the inside — unable to be deterred or distracted by the ravages of ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease. She was a values-driven person. If she believed something was Right- with capital R, she committed to that wholeheartedly. Genie joined the Literacy program in November 2011, and since then her selfless dedication and enthusiasm galvanized our volunteers to make progress that rippled out in waves of good through our community.  She led the Literacy program with compelling modesty and an unwavering passion for results. When Genie resolved that something should be done whether big things or smaller things like red roses at donor thank you events or using fewer paper towels- she was remarkably effective at getting things done.

August 18, 2017, was scheduled to be Genie’s last day at work, and later, she was going to enjoy a special retirement party organized by our dedicated tutor-volunteers. However, she passed away peacefully on the car ride home from the office- making sure that she worked for others till her last breath.

Finding meaning in the loss of a loved one feels impossible, especially when those we care about are taken from us prematurely. But our focus is on Genie’s inspiring life of service, not her death.  Genie, with the help of dedicated volunteers and supporters, showed us that an individual has the power to do great things and that the impact of our actions can reach far beyond our one life.

Her list of accomplishments in last six years is stunning.

Genie provided a safe haven for over 2000 adult learners and their families– a place where their aspirations for a better life are encouraged. A tutor herself, she worked tirelessly to help her students-Felix, Maira and Gloria believe they can succeed, be more productive, and feel a sense of community.

Genie reached out and engaged more than 1000 talented volunteers to join the mission of transformation change for our students through Literacy.  She was an invaluable partner to our Training Team, ensuring that our tutors had the best tools to create impact for their students.

Genie made the program financially sustainable through her expert grant writing and her ability to lead her team to raise over $200,000 through Friends of Literacy Brunch and Human Race.

Genie pioneered Jail Literacy through an AB109 service provider contract with Santa Cruz County Probation Department. This agreement allowed us to serve non-violent offenders at the jail facilities.  Genie genuinely cared about the inmate population, going to the facilities, testing and herself tutoring in custody.

To honor Genie’s spirit and passion for empowering adults through literacy, we are launching the Genie Dee Fund for Literacy.  Through Genie’s Fund, we aim to fulfill her dream that anyone who wants to improve their lives through Literacy should immediately get support to start working towards creating better lives for themselves and their children.

Contributions to Genie’s Fund will help us:

  • Reach more adult learners: 60 students are currently on our waitlist
  • Recruit volunteer tutors: Need 100 more new teachers to serve our students
  • Provide better support and updated valuable resources to our volunteer tutors

By sharing Genie’s story of altruism and passion, we hope others will be inspired to help us carry her work forward.  Join us and invest in America’s greatest untapped resource, the people who live in this community.

Donate to the Genie Dee Fund For Literacy


Join us as we celebrate the life of Genie on September 23rd. Learn more on the Genie Dee Memorial Page.

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