Volunteers & Ambassadors
Volunteer Spotlight! Sharon Ware
“I’m neck up 75 but neck down NOT 75!”
“I am an ‘ageless person.’ I know when people talk about older people, I never categorize myself in any age group because my spirit is ageless – THAT’S WHAT COUNTS!”
This tireless spirit is what makes, Sharon Ware, our “Volunteer of the Month” for March, so valued by the Rona Barrett Foundation and the underserved seniors she helps at the Golden Inn & Village (GIV), Santa Ynez Valley’s first affordable independent living residency.
Actually, Sharon (and sometimes her husband, Jim, who Sharon involves in her RBF volunteering) is an incredibly giving and dependable volunteer. She was hostess for our “Spring High Tea” Donor Event, she led the way in coordinating Hospitality for our “Big Band Ball Gala” last Fall and presently, you will consistently find her driving patients to medical appointments, helping them grocery shop, picking up their medications, she is our “Girl Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday and FRIDAY!”
Sharon acquired her love of people, her optimism and work ethic from her dear Mom, Wanda. As Sharon fondly recollects, “My Mom has always been my hero and role-model. She was the only person in her family who had a high school education and she went to work when I was in high school. She was the epitome of a ‘Working Mom’ when it wasn’t fashionable back in the day! She never learned to drive until her 40’s. And, getting behind the literal wheel was the way she figuratively tackled life – she just jumped in! She in fact was the Food Service Manager for the entire Cal Poly School Systems.”
Since moving to Santa Ynez, Ware’s weekdays are overflowing with volunteering throughout the Santa Ynez Valley! This pattern is nothing new in that her background includes stints in veterinary medicine; being an airline stewardess; working for the County of Los Angeles Social Security Administration and concurrent employment as a part-timer at Mervyn’s. She also led bike tours and loves driving a 19-foot trailer for vacation excursions.
“I understand how it feels to be on the other side as a ‘voiceless senior’ – it changed my life! When I worked at the Social Security Administration Office, there was a very special couple who would regularly need my help. The husband was a Gangbanger and when his wife passed away, he was literally helpless because she did everything for him. He would always wait in line at my window to ask for help. His kind words, ‘you are so nice to me’ have even more meaning for me today because I realize that everyone needs a helping hand – especially senior citizens! Volunteering at the GIV allows me to GIVE BACK!”
Her favorite type of movies, theatre-going and music appreciation run the full gamut, “I am all over the place from westerns, romance movies and music I love includes jazz, 50’s, 60’s, the Old Standards. I especially love Bruno Mars, Wynton Marsalis, kd Lang, Lady Gaga – the spectrum is wide!”
With regard to her volunteering at the Golden Inn & Village, “I found a niche which allows me to make a difference for people and be positive about it! I love the people who live there! They are smart, they have done a lot during their lifetimes. I love the fact that I can contribute to a cause and be a part of it!”
Little did she know that when she swam with Rona at YMCA Classes back in 2012 – 5 years ago – that one day she would be working as a volunteer for Santa Ynez Valley’s most enriching community for at-risk and vulnerable seniors – Rona’s “gray advocacy project” – the GIV! Life has truly come full circle for Sharon, a beloved, dedicated, creative, tireless and loving Ambassador Volunteer!
Volunteer Spotlight! Susie Harrison
“I am a country girl at heart,” says Susie Harrison, as she recounts her big-city route to Solvang - from Manhattan Beach to Hermosa Beach and the San Fernando Valley.
Susie grew up in southern California during “The Golden Age of Hollywood” where her father was a cameraman for over 35 years at 20th Century Fox Studios.
So, it made perfect sense that when a movie opened, the family would skip the local movie theater, jump in the car and head to Hollywood to the spectacular Grauman’s Chinese Theater, The Cinerama Dome or the Hollywood Egyptian Theater. It’s no surprise that Susie is passionate about movies: “My favorites are Casablanca – love Bogie and Bergman! And, How the West Was Won – great epic with an all-star cast!”
Rona Barrett Foundation Volunteer Ambassador
Susie Harrison at the June Volunteer Luncheon.
“I have great memories of my childhood,” Susie fondly reflects on a joyful youth with her family including a sister and two brothers. “We had a swimming pool in the backyard so our house was the place where all the neighborhood kids congregated. “
She met her husband in “SoCal” and enjoyed life there until he transplanted her to the Santa Ynez Valley (he is the Harrison of Harrison Hardware). “I was here when there was one gas station and two markets and you could always count on someone being there to help you should your car break down,” says Susie. “I loved it and it immediately became home for me!”
Super at 66
“I don’t mind anyone knowing my age because age is just a number.”
“Susie is proud of being 66 years old. “I don’t mind anyone knowing my age because age is just a number. And I’m in good health, I’m still learning every day.”
In fact, at the age of 56, Susie returned to college and received her Bachelor of Science from Cal State Northridge in Interior Design. She didn’t mind being the only student out of their late teens or early 20s; in fact, she loved being the oldest in her class. “Whenever my history professor would talk about wars like Vietnam or the Korean, he would look at me as a point-of-reference because we talked the same language. As a result, I shared a great bond with my teacher.”
But Susie’s energy and talents don’t stop there; she is also a 2nd Soprano for the Santa Ynez Valley Master Choral under the direction of renowned master conductor Chris Bowman. The group performs at major community events, and Choral members also regularly give mini-concerts for Friendship House and Atterdag Village residents. The group realizes that these special concerts brighten the seniors’ perspectives on life, especially those who may be home bound. “You just see it in their faces,” says Susie.
Susie remembers seeing Rona and her dad about town. While she never approached the two of them at the time, the image of a loving daughter and father was sealed in her memory. So, when the Rona Barrett Foundation began seeking volunteers, Susie realized that all paths led to this “calling.” (Another Foundation connection – Susie is also currently #76 on the housing “waiting list” for the soon-to-open Golden Inn & Village.)
Susie most recently pitched in as a hostess for our “Donor Appreciation High Tea.” With her big heart, hard-working, can-do attitude – and abounding compassion, Susie is such a valuable asset to the Foundation.
Volunteer Spotlight! Marcy Rose Lehman
Marcy Rose Lehman is a tireless and dedicated Volunteer Ambassador for the Rona Barrett Foundation. She is a passionate “Gray Advocate” and the Foundation is fortunate to have her as core member of its Volunteer Program Services.
You won’t find a heart bigger than Marcy Rose’s! Her latest gift of time to the Rona Barrett Foundation was volunteering as a hostess at the Foundation’s April “High Tea” event. Her customized outfit was spectacular and she even pitched in as parking attendant for the day! She can do it all and that’s why the Rona Barrett Foundation is spotlighting this kind and generous Volunteer Ambassador this month.
Moving, Movies and More: Marcy Rose
Born and raised in San Diego, little did she know when she selflessly sent her son away to UC Santa Barbara, that years later she would be compelled to relocate to the Central Coast to stay close to him where he settled down after his college days
“In the day,” as she reflects, Marcy Rose was active in sales, marketing, interior design, computers, as a professional chef with her catering business, gardening, event planning and even tile-setting. (She still loves tiles – one of her hobbies now is creating furniture and mosaics from tile and glass.)
As a music aficionado, she regularly attends concerts at the Santa Barbara Bowl and she especially loves Van Morrison, Etta James and Johnny Lang. Movies are her second passion and her fave flick is the fantasy cult classic “Somewhere in Time”, with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour (anyone who loves this movie is definitely a hopeless romantic!).
Should you see Marcy Rose at New Frontiers in Solvang, give her a smile and thank her for all the work she does as a Volunteer Ambassador for the Rona Barrett Foundation – she is a gem!
Marcy Rose works part-time at New Frontiers, or as she proudly refers to her employer, “the marketplace for future organic shopping!” And she proudly raves, “New Frontiers is a very nice place to work, as I work in the Deli Department. My manager is a wonderful person, making the job a fun workplace environment – I am blessed!”