Cambrian: Opinion

Community Volunteer Fair in San Simeon judged a huge success

Jeanne Hucek, left, administrative coordinator for the San Simeon Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center, chats with Cambria Chamber of Commerce volunteer Karen Chrisman.
Jeanne Hucek, left, administrative coordinator for the San Simeon Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center, chats with Cambria Chamber of Commerce volunteer Karen Chrisman.

Fifteen local nonprofits and potential volunteers went to the fair — the Community Volunteer Fair held last week in San Simeon. And just like a traditional fair, the scent of barbecue and the laughter of friends and acquaintances filled a room encircled by information tables and exhibits.

From the arts to citizen science, nonprofit representatives stood ready at their exhibit tables to introduce their services and volunteer opportunities to the community.

This first-time event staged in the Cavalier Oceanfront Resort Cove Room, came to fruition when Jeanne Hucek recently started her new position as administrative coordinator for the San Simeon Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center.

“The chamber is in need of more volunteers. As the new administrative coordinator, I was pondering how to go about our recruiting when I came up with the idea,” she said. “My board was very supportive and suggested that we expand the effort to include a way to thank all of the current volunteers in our area for all that they do for the various organizations they support. To that end, the board decided that we should offer refreshments, and before I blinked, the Community Volunteer Fair was an event.

“Being new to the area, I reached out to Cheryl Kippen from Senior Volunteer Services and Mary Ann Carson from the Cambria Chamber of Commerce to identify the local organizations who rely on support from the community.”

Participating nonprofits included: Allied Arts Association, Beautify Cambria, California State Parks, Cambria Chamber of Commerce, Cambria Community Council (Bus Drivers), Cambria Film Festival, Cambria Fire Safe Focus Group, Cambria Historical Society & Museum, Cambria Scarecrow Festival, Friends of Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, Friends of the Elephant Seals, Greenspace, The Cambria Land Trust, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and California State Parks - Coastal Discovery Center, Piedras Blancas Light Station, and San Simeon Chamber of Commerce.

“All of the nonprofits that I spoke to reported success,” Hucek said. “The Cambria Community Council (Bus Drivers) and the Cambria Historical Society & Museum made it a point to come over and thank me and share how thrilled they were with their success. I heard similar remarks from the Light Station, the Elephant Seals, the Coastal Discovery Center, the Scarecrows, Beautify Cambria, Allied Arts and more.”

Seeking volunteers for the Allied Arts Association, Jill Turnbow said, “The Volunteer Fair was a wonderful idea. A lot of enthusiastic people willing to lend a hand. I got to meet some new people and connect with friends, too. It’s amazing to see what this community can accomplish.”

“It was a great event, not only to sign up several new volunteers, but also a chance to build bonds with the other volunteer organizations in town,” Dennis Frahmann said as he sipped red wine to pair with the barbecue and appetizer spread provided by the Cavalier Oceanfront Resort. “I represented the Cambria Film Festival, an activity of Allied Arts. I am personally also active in the Scarecrow Festival and we shared a table, although Chris Fischer and Dixie Walker were leading the charge.”

And in full disclosure, I fell prey to the Allied Arts Association’s lure for volunteers.

When I signed up to help during a theater production, I was automatically entered to win a birdhouse. Turnbow messaged me that I won the birdhouse! But I promise, no collusion — just plain luck at the fair.

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