Cambrian: Opinion

Cambria’s Tala Romero is a textbook volunteer

Cambria’s Tala Romero wears many volunteer hats on the Central Coast.
Cambria’s Tala Romero wears many volunteer hats on the Central Coast.

Caffeinated with a low-fat double latte, I was ready to chat with Tala Romero about her years of community volunteerism in local schools, church and community. As I furiously scribed notes about the CAPSLO center supervisor for Sequoia Preschool in Morro Bay — and longtime Cambrian — Romero’s volunteerism history about melted my note taking pen.

According to the Points of Light take on textbook volunteerism, “The volunteer sector plays a key role in social life. Volunteer activities bring together people who might not otherwise have contact with one another. The social fabric can only be strengthened by practices that bridge our socioeconomic divides. There would be potential values lying in the social capital, combining the community organizational life, participation in voluntary associations, engagement in public affairs, and informal sociability and social trust.”

Tala Romero is a textbook volunteer. Why note this? When more than half of the folks in the local coffee shop where we met — cooks, servers, management, delivery workers and customers — greeted Romero with a comfortable and friendly “Hi, Tala!” while our lattes brewed, my assumption seemed secure.

She holds no airs or expectations, except to help make Cambria the best place ever to live. With her husband of 36 years, Joe Romero, Tala, who holds a BA in child development, raised their two children in Cambria, and they now nurture seven grandchildren, one of whom lives with them. And she still maintains her full-time job with CAPSLO (Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County Inc.) while planning future volunteer efforts.

As a mother, Romero began her volunteer history in 1985 with the Cambria Co-op Preschool (president and board of directors). For six years she wore either the uniform of a Daisy, Brownie or Girl Scout leader. Laughing about that memory, she says, “It was good to get rid of that green uniform!”

Romero served as room mother, volunteered with PTA, volunteered with Little League (president and board of directors), spent three years with the School Site Council and chaired Coast Union High School’s Sober Grad program for two years. And while her son played football at CUHS, she served with the special team of mothers who tackled football team-sized meals for the Broncos on Friday nights.

Romero is not finished with the needs of school-age children. She is working to bring the Stuff the Bus campaign into Cambria this year. Why?

“When you see the list of what our children need for school, you would be shocked. So, I’m working hard to make this campaign happen here.”

Santa Rosa Catholic Church parishioners have benefited from Romero’s volunteer catechism teacher stint, and her now varietal weekly volunteer efforts for the church.

Once the children went on their own, Romero’s California birthright qualified her to join Cambria’s Native Daughters of the Golden West where she is an active member of El Pinal No. 163.

“Two years ago I joined Lions Club of Cambria. I love the Lions,” she said. And when it comes to Pinedorado over the Labor Day weekend, Romero has one word, “Whoa!” You’ll find her in the wine booth, ticket booth, and wherever she’s needed during the weekend event. She was also elected treasurer for the service organization.

And there is Beautify Cambria. The local beautification program drew Romero to LoveSLO this year.

“On March 18, over 1,000 people volunteered in San Luis Obispo to tidy up their town. I want to do this for Cambria. We’ve tried cleanup projects here, but just a few actually show up. So following LoveSLO’s model, I’m working on developing Love Cambria. I hope it will become an annual event with many hands sprucing up our town,” Romero said.

When Beautify Cambria hosts it second Bee Faire on Sunday, May 7 at the Cambria Historical Museum, Romero will buzz about as a volunteer for several efforts during the event.

Why does Tala Romero give so much of her time to volunteering?

“I love helping, parent involvement, and my passion to serve as a role model and advocate,” she answered.

Does she get weary from her constant get up and go? “No, not at all, even though Joe might say something like I’m getting in over my head. I just say, ‘Yes, I know,’ then move forward,” she said laughing.

This seems to be her mission. She wrote in an email, “I was thinking about my most memorable volunteer moments … letting my children know that we all have hidden talents and gifts that we can give to others and a chance to give back; I love to bring people together, often uniting people from diverse backgrounds, working together for a common goal; I love to support families and improve schools; making new friends, rediscovering old ones; and making a difference, walking away feeling that I accomplished a task, investing in Cambria and all who live here.”

That’s textbook volunteerism.

Charmaine Coimbra’s column appears the fourth Thursday of each month and is special to The Cambrian.