Betty's List Departments
Betty's List Columns
Mark My Word!
By Assemblyman Mark Leno
On Community Service & Volunteerism
Citizen service is the very American idea that we meet our challenges
not as isolated individuals but as members of a true community, with
all of us working together. Our mission is nothing less than to spark a
renewed sense of obligation, a new sense of duty, a new season of
service…— President Bill Clinton
One of the many reasons I am so proud to be a San Franciscan is our
long history of volunteerism to help others in our community. In
fact, our City’s namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, was the patron saint
of charity and compassion. We honor this legacy every time we
devote our time and attention to worthy causes that benefit society as
a whole. I would like to remind you of some of the many ways you can
get involved with volunteer work in our community.
Whether it be helping keep our City parks clean and maintained; reading
or running errands for the elderly, blind, or people with disabilities;
restocking library shelves; coaching kids in sports and other
after-school activities; or working with animals at the City Zoo, every
effort counts. Volunteering allows you to put your skills and talents
to good use and develop new ones as well.
The Volunteer Center is an organization that can match you up with
volunteer opportunites that interest you, and has been serving San
Francisco and San Mateo Counties for over 60 years. The Center
offers a program that matches an individual’s volunteer interests and
over 1,500 local nonprofits’ needs for assistance. Whether you’re
looking to help in a soup kitchen or want to assist in an office, the
Volunteer Center can help you find the perfect opportunity with a local
non-profit organization. Also, if your company needs volunteer help,
you can work with the Volunteer Center to find volunteers who can
assist you. You can reach them through their website
http://www.thevolunteercenter.net/ or by calling (415) 982-8999.
In addition, the California Service Corps, whose slogan is
“Californians are Proud to Bear Responsibility for our State,” provides
a similar matching program for volunteer needs throughout the
State. It also has resource guides for young children and teens
who wish to get more involved in their community. You can learn
more about these programs by visiting their website
http://www.csc.ca.gov or by calling toll-free 1-888-567-SERV.
One organization that utilizes volunteers to improve the lives of young
people is San Francisco Court Appointed Special Advocates
(SFCASA). As the keynote speaker of their annual luncheon last
month, I was awed by the commitment of individuals from throughout the
community who come to the aid of our City’s 2,300 foster youth. SFCASA
finds advocates for them who are struggling through the Juvenile
Dependency Court system and trains them to support our young people
through the process. As Chair of the Assembly Public Safety
Committee, I know that these types of volunteer service programs are
essential to stronger communities and juvenile justice. You can
learn more about the extraordinary work of SFCASA through their website
http://www.sfcasa.org/ or by calling them at (415) 398-8001.
There are a vast array of worthy causes to support, and a lot of
important work that needs to be done in our community. One cause
that is near and dear to my heart is making sure foster youth are cared
for and supported, so that they can grow to be responsible, productive
adults. That’s why I am authoring two pieces of legislation in the
California State Legislature to help foster youth achieve these
goals. AB 2489 will provide foster youth with the academic
preparation, financial assistance and the campus-based support they
need to complete their college education. AB 2488 will develop a
process to reconnect siblings who have been separated by
adoption. Both of these measures are aimed at providing young
people the support they need to succeed in life.
Booker T. Washington once said that “If you want to lift yourself up,
lift up someone else.” He knew that when you give, you also
receive. I am truly inspired by the dedication and compasion of
the thousands of volunteers in our great City. If you haven’t
already, I encourage you to join the talented and dedicated groups of
people who are truly making a difference, one person at a time.
To contact Assemblyman Mark Leno’s San Francisco District Office call
(415) 557-3013 or e-mail him directly at Assemblymember.Leno@asm.ca.gov
Bio & Past Articles
Betty's List 'Mark My Word'
Columnist Assemblyman Mark Leno
Assemblyman Mark Leno made history in November 2002 when he was elected as one of the first openly gay men to the California State Assembly, representing District 13, the eastern portion of San Francisco. He currently serves as Chair of the Public Safety Committee, one of only four freshman legislators appointed to Chair a policy committee in their first year. He also serves on the Appropriations, Local Government, and Revenue & Taxation Committees and is the Chair of Select Committees on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LBGT) Families and Childhood Obesity & Related Diabetes.
A native of Wisconsin, Leno attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, then went on to become valedictorian of his graduating class at the American College of Jerusalem, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree. Leno also spent two years in Rabbinical Studies at Hebrew Union College in New York.
Prior to his election to the State Assembly, Assemblyman Leno served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from April 1998 to December 2002. He authored landmark legislation in the areas of affordable housing, universal health care for children, solar energy, late night entertainment, bond oversight, small business services, City CarShare, medical cannabis, equal access to services, and LGBT civil rights.
Leno is the owner of Budget Signs, Inc., a small business he founded in 1978 and operated with his life partner, Douglas Jackson. Together the two entrepreneurs steadily grew their sign business until Jackson passed away from complications relating to AIDS/HIV in 1990. This deep loss would not deter Leno. Instead, he redoubled his efforts in community service.
He has served on the boards of many local and national organizations including the LGBT Community Center Project, Haight Ashbury Community Services, the American Jewish Congress, Mobilization Against AIDS, and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. He is the recipient of the 1995 Small Business Owner of the Year Award from the Small Business Network, the 1995 Hormel Community Service Award from the Human Rights Campaign and the James R. Sylla Award from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
Outside of his capacity as an elected official, Leno has been a tireless supporter of nonprofit organizations in San Francisco, frequently appearing to show support at events and lending a hand wherever possible. He was a statewide spokesman for the No on Prop 22 Campaign (the Knight Initiative) and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in August 2000.