|Volunteering through good and bad times
Shari Lorenzís interest in helping others began when son started playing Pee Wee baseball
During a time when jobs are limited and the public education system is gasping for air, it is easy to become swept up in anxiety and leave what was once on the to-do list in a corner-bound heap.
Priorities become jumbled – working the job, getting the bills paid, classes passed, or kids off to school. While the opportunity to use precious time and energy to volunteer seems impossible, Shari Lorenz has made it a major priority in her life. She has not only embraced and improved her community but remains an inspiration for others to do the same and recently earned recognition at the seventh annual Sonoma County Adult and Youth Development’s (SCAYD) Community Spirit Awards.
Discover, pursue your passion
“Find your passion and go with it,” is the resonating message Lorenz provides for her peers, one that clearly drives her in all that she does. Although honored to receive Adult Volunteer of the Year she proclaims, “I don’t do it for the pat on the back,” but is predominantly motivated by her love for volunteering and by her family.
A local real estate agent and mother of three (Kyle 22, Shelby 19, and Kelsea 15), she has been a member of the PTA for more than 20 years, works to raise money for Rancho Cotate High School boosters and Project Graduation, has six years been the secretary of the Rotary Club as well as a major chairperson for Distinguished Young Women of America.
Lorenz’s inspiration was initiated when her oldest, Kyle, was in third grade and she joined his Peewee Baseball board and also began attending the Monte Vista PTA meetings. “It was a lot of fun,” she remembers, having stayed on for five years. President of the PTA at Rancho Cotate, she is also currently helping put together Rohnert Park’s 50th anniversary parade and recently concluded data entry work for Measure D.
Exercise right to vote
She enforces the importance of voting, agreeing the state of California’s public schools are “pretty broken.” Although she believes this measure will assist locally, there is much work yet to be done on a state level.
So how does she balance her family life into her brimming agenda? They understand most of the work she does is for them and have been unwaveringly supportive over the years. The relationship she has with them is strong, and her giving spirit is undoubtedly contagious: her husband is now the president of Rancho Boosters, and her youngest, Kelsea, is a part of the high school’s Associated Student Body (ASB) and a school board representative, attending PTA meetings and writing reports.
“I’ll probably always volunteer somewhere,” she remarks, her voice devoid of any doubt, an attitude that runs parallel with an eventual dream of hers. Although there are various after-school and summer programs for younger kids to become involved in, between the ages of 14 and 20, the options are lacking, especially because of the state of the job market.
Keen on youth center
“It’d be nice to figure out a way to open a youth center for those kids to go,” she says, illustrating that it would have to be divided up by age group because of the vast gap of kids her center would cater to.
When asked how she does it all, she laughs, “I juggle.” Aided by the use of an iPad, Lorenz organizes her busy lifestyle by creating many small lists, as one giant list can be incredibly overwhelming. Setting personal deadlines is crucial, as is keeping a light attitude to dispel stress.
“Do I do it right all the time? No,” she admits. But while many have to go out of the way in order to find down time in their busy lives, Lorenz finds staying active in her community is her form of relaxation, and it is what truly makes her happy.