When high school students in Italy or Poland or Africa ask Leigh Livick to describe Atascadero, she doesn’t hesitate to tell them it beats many places in California as a place to spend their student exchange program time.
“I tell them it’s halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, but it’s without the crime, not far from the beach and we have four seasons,” said Livick, the volunteer hosting coordinator in Atascadero for the AFS student exchange program.
“Besides that, you can go outside and it’s so clear you can see the stars in the sky. They’re never upset that they landed in Atascadero.”
She also makes sure they know about the city’s Charles Paddock Zoo, the movie theater and the many hiking trails that wind through the area. Then once she says goodbye, Livick keeps in touch with all of her former exchange students, considering them like her children.
Aside from coordinating the local international exchange organization for students and spreading the word around the world about Atascadero’s attributes, Livick organizes fundraising events and activities for the Atascadero Library expansion campaign, is involved with the Atascadero chapter of the American Association of University Women, is active with 100 Women Who Care and more.
When she isn’t volunteering, she works at K-Jon’s Fine Jewelers, a longtime Atascadero business.
Having moved to Atascadero in 1999, Livick said she can’t imagine living anywhere else with her husband, Robert, and daughter, Clare.
“People here are in tune with core values of what makes a great community,” she said. “I am convinced that this is the perfect place to live.”
Atascadero is a place where community members show up for park cleanups and school meetings, and open their homes to visiting students, Livick noted.
“I love to volunteer for a community that has given me so much,” she said.“I am always in awe and grateful to the many people who truly care for Atascadero.”