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“Jineth is lovely. Easy to talk to, did the job well, and was a pleasure to be with.” 

This volunteer evaluation recently came in from member Zohra Kalinkowitz. We asked Jineth to tell us more about herself and why she chose to volunteer at Ashby Village.


My name is Jineth Campos. I'm 26 years old. I'm originally from Bogota, Colombia. I came to Berkeley, California in 2014 as an aupaircaring for two boys. I fell in love with Berkeley and the American culture.  Following my two-year program exchange, I decided to extend my stay in the Bay Area. Now, I'm an international student of Business Administration at Berkeley City College. My goal is to transfer to UC Berkeley or San Francisco State next year. 


I'm passionate about customer service. I was a professional waitress and cashier in my hometown for 5 years in the hospitality industry. I felt that being in Berkeley for so long I should do something for the community. Several reasons attracted me to volunteering at Ashby Village. One of the reasons is because I like to work with other people, side by side, joining forces, sharing experiences, and learning from each other, walking and growing together.  As a volunteer in Ashby Village, I feel like an agent of change who gives help and a bit of her time and experience to improve things. 


What I most like about Ashby Village and the community in Berkeley is that people unite to get better together and the compassion people have to support others even when they don't know each other. 


My experience with Ashby Village has been a great step on a personal level and it has helped me to know and understand our elders. Helping them with some of the tasks that are difficult has been a pleasure and a unique experience. I remember working with Zohra Kalinkowitz to lay out some mulch in her front garden. We had so much fun talking about gardening. I did not have much knowledge about it and I learned with her. I was also happy to practice Spanish with her. Thank you, Zohra!


Ashby Village gives me the opportunity to help, share, and support older adults. Surrounded by the Ashby Village community reminds me of the great moments I used to have with my grandmother, listening to her stories from her childhood, her fantasy tellings, and all her teachings. 


Being far away from my country, I think that if I cannot share as much as I want with my family and grandmother, I should share my generosity, solidarity, altruism, empathy, freedom, honesty, tolerance, and sincerity with the community in which I find myself. Perhaps, God will be satisfied with my work as a volunteer in such a wonderful place as it is Ashby Village.


Volunteers Noni and Jineth

June 8, 2018 volunteer appreciation evenT
summer of love

On a warm, sunny June afternoon, Ashby Village celebrated the generous spirit and service of all of our volunteers with a “Summer of Love” themed Volunteer Appreciation Event.  More than 80 volunteers enjoyed late 1960s music, trivia, fun facts and food like “Mom” used to make...

... What can we say about Saturday's celebration of our Ashby Village volunteers?  There are so many superlatives. " Classy" comes to mind first. Then of course there is "creative" and "thoughtful".

Check out the video and photos from the event here!

april is volunteer appreciation month!


Dear Volunteers, 

You are truly the cornerstone of Ashby Village; people we need, trust and value.

To the outstanding and remarkable folks who have chosen to volunteer their time and energy to support our members – whether it’s through direct services, important programs or helping in the office – THANK YOU!

You give of yourself and bring with you your life experiences, skills, abilities, compassion, intellect and humor.  We trust that the satisfaction of giving back, friendships and fun are some of the rewards that you gain from volunteering with our Village. 

Please save the date for our next Volunteer Appreciation event - Saturday June 9th
More details to follow but be aware: we have some exciting things planned!


Kate sosin, office volunteer

Thank Goodness for Kate!


Story by  Charli Depner


Pat Carvalho, Ashby Village Operations & Volunteer Manager, calls Kate Sosin her “right arm” and, although many of us feel we know her, we might not recognize her in person.  Kate is the voice on the other end of the phone at the Ashby Village office. Kate says she enjoys Ashby Village events because, “I get to see the faces of those who I have talked with by phone.  They feel like old friends.” Ashby Village is “an amazing community,” according to Kate. “There is a common interest in being active, informed, and involved.”


Kate, who worked for 32 years as a registered nurse, enjoys making sure that member needs are met.  A substantial amount of her time is on the telephone, making a connection, answering questions, speaking with prospective members, and putting members in touch with resources.


“Kate really cares about members,” says Pat Carvalho, “She manages member services, which include the multitude of rides that are requested. She goes above and beyond by taking extra time out of her busy day to make calls to volunteer drivers or Medpals when there is a medical appointment or an urgent need that has not been filled.  Thank goodness for Kate!”


“It works both ways,” says Kate, who works 16-20 hours per week in the office. “Volunteering for Ashby Village is a perfect fit for me.  Its a wonderful group of people, who get along, like each other, and really want to be there for members.  They are clearly making a difference to the community.  It makes me happy to make a contribution.”


When she is not helping out at Ashby Village, Kate pursues her love of music. She has been performing in choral groups for 25 years.  She also enjoys reading, seeing movies with a good buddy, walking, and hiking.  Kate also spends time with family, “I have two wonderful kids and a wonderful daughter-in-law. She and my son have given us a beautiful, funny and fun-loving 20 month old named Hazel Jane. I am so fortunate that they all live locally and I get to spend regular time with the little one. She is a huge joy in my life.”

Kate Sosin

Volunteer Kate Sosin with granddaughter Hazel

ClairE zhang, student intern

Data, People, and Chocolate


Story by  Charli Depner


Claire Zhang, an international student from China, recently completed an Ashby Village summer internship as assistant to Andy Gaines and Manuela Pegoraro.  Claire was attracted to the Ashby Village opening because she had enjoyed previous volunteer work with older adults.  This was her first placement in an office. Claire credits Andy and Manuela for being great mentors, “They were so nice and patient, willing to discuss the work, and encouraging me to take initiative.”  Claire also found Ashby Village a workplace that demonstrates that an office can be both productive and supportive. 


Interviewed shortly after chocolatier and member Mark Tarses treated office volunteers to a chocolate tasting, Claire cited this as just one example of the generosity of staff, volunteers, and members, who share their expertise with each other, “This was a medium for people to connect, learn, and enjoy each other.”


Claire has been in the U.S. for two years, and is enjoying busy college life at Berkeley Community College.  She hopes to transfer to UC Berkeley and earn a degree in Psychology.


Claire’s goals for the internship were to gain nonprofit work experience and to build skills in Communications.  She assisted with a wide range of Ashby Village activities.  One area of emphasis was working on Ashby Village database management and analysis.  She entered data that was used to track Ashby Village membership and achievements.  She also produced statistics and charts for Ashby Village reports and publications.  Another area of emphasis was Communications.  She produced office documents and worked on the Village Voices Newsletter, where she formatted and posted articles online.  Claire enjoyed working with people of different ages and experiences, “ I learned from their insights and opinions.”


In closing, Claire wanted to express her thanks to the Ashby Village community. “The Village Movement is admirable.  I am really happy to have worked at Ashby Village.  I had a very good experience---not only with staff, but also members and office volunteers.  They are intelligent and generous.  I learned a lot from them.”


   Claire Zhang

Volunteers Jeff Angell and Claire Zhang

ada lusardi, gentle yoga teacher

Supporting Ashby Village Students to Do What They Love to Do


Story by  Charli Depend


Ada Lusardi believes that it is possible to “move more confidently, steadily, and actively as we age, to stay connected to activities we like to do.”  For seventeen years she has been a full time yoga teacher in Berkeley.  Her youngest student is 22 and oldest, 94. Some of Ada’s students have stayed with her since she started teaching and are now in their sixties and seventies.  She says she has learned a lot from working with the same students over time, honing her teaching to meet their specific needs as they grow older.  Ada began teaching the weekly Gentle Yoga class for Ashby Village members two years ago. “My Ashby Village students are my best teachers” she says,  “They are so dedicated, passionate, and motivated!”


The Gentle Yoga class meets at The Yoga Room in Berkeley.The size of the class varies, usually 15-20 people.  “No one is left out.” Ada explains. “The group functions in a community and makes sure everyone is O.K.  I begin by checking in with each student to find out their medical issues, joint replacements, and concerns.  The class is in three parts: 1. Balance and strengthening, done seated or using a chair to balance; 2. floor work on stretching poses; and 3. Deep relaxation.  For parts 2 & 3 of class, students must be able to transfer to the floor and back up again.


Ada describes her classes as designed to address the need for strength, balance, and confidence in simple actions in our day-to-day activities.  “We aim to improve balance, flexibility, coordination, reaction time, big range of motion, breath, and proprioception, our physical sensation of the position of the body in space. Mindfulness is also essential. Falls often happen when we are trying to do two or more things at once, when we are paying attention to where we are going, instead of where we are.”


“It’s interesting to see how life treats a body over time, the scope of changes that happen later in life.” She observes.  “Movement is essential. Sedentariness can lead to becoming fearful to move around.   Yoga improves circulation, range of motion, skillful movement, and helps claim back confidence.  Yoga supports us in the ability to perform essential operations, to reach over your head, pick things up off the floor.  Another objective is to maintain healthy feet.  Our ability to move around depends on the health of our feet.  The feet are more sensitive than our hands.  We need to maintain their tone and sensitivity—literally feel the ground beneath our feet—to prevent falls.”


 Ada’s dedication to her students is obvious.  “In my twenties and thirties. I was a professional dancer.  Dancing is a visual art.  It is about what looks beautiful, but it is often hard on the body.  In yoga, we move in an embodied fashion that is more compassionate for the body, more balanced and healthful.  I want to support my older students to continue to do what they love to do. My students who are younger and stronger benefit because I can see the trajectory, get them ready.  We are all headed in the same place.”


Click the link to get a glimpse of Gentle Yoga at Ada’s website.


Ada Lusardi   


Sharing Her Love Of Gardening, One Plant At A Time

Story by Charli Depner, photo by Richard Bermack


The volunteer behind the Beautification Team’s rejuvenation of the patio at Ashby Village’s new site is on a mission to revive beloved gardens that need attention.  Melissa Beidler took a break from working on her own garden to share her enthusiasm for people and their gardens.


Melissa attributes her passion for gardens and working with plants to her mother and grandmother, both “fabulous gardeners.”  When she retired after 30 years in banking and financial services, Melissa scanned for ways to share gardening skills honed over generations. 


She applied her business skills to the patio project at Ashby Village’s new site, creating a project plan, timetable, and budget.  The Beautification Team created a spectacular place for the people of the Ashby Village community to get together for a cup of tea, a moment of reflection, or events such as the Festival Italiano Volunteer Appreciation.  People appreciate the colorful backdrop of the patio when attending events in the Julia Morgan Hall.


Melissa enjoys working with individual members to revitalize gardens they may have tended for years.  “I can tell that, not too long ago, some of these gardens were spectacular. For many of us, the garden is the most important part of the home; but gardening is hard work and it can be difficult to see things get out of shape.”  As a volunteer, Melissa loves helping members rethink more manageable gardens or refresh what is already there.  Her goal is to leave a visually pleasing garden, where people can relax, enjoy happy memories, and delight in watching their gardens grow.


It is easy to get on a list for volunteer gardening help.  Just contact the Ashby Village Office at (510) 204-9200.


Melissa Beidler   


It is often said that the lifeblood of Ashby Village's culture of giving is its 320 volunteers, many of whom are also members.  On June 3, the Ashby Village community celebrated volunteers at Festival Italiano.  The office courtyard was transitioned into an Italian piazza decorated with Italian colors and featured an espresso bar and specialty cocktails of prosecco and elderflower syrup... Read more and watch the video of the event!

gordon seligson:
"ashby village makes a whole lot of sense"

by Charli Depner

In recognition of National LGBTQ Pride Month this June we celebrate community-building through increased awareness, interaction, and inclusion.  We also spoke with someone engaged in making that happen within the Ashby Village community.  

Gordon Seligson was invited to an Ashby Village Living Chat by members Joan Cole and Betsy Ferguson.  Hearing about Ashby Village’s membership services and activities, he said to himself, “This just makes a whole lot of sense!”   Gordon volunteers to drive and provides office support.  He also participates in Ashby Village Hearts & Hands activities. Gordon is one of those people who will step in to help in a pinch when a volunteer is needed. As he puts it, “I just like to help.”  

A founding member of Ashby Village’s LGBTQQA Interest Group, Gordon applauds Ashby Village’s efforts to build an inclusive community that mirrors Berkeley’s diversity.  “As we grow older, relationships change.  People may become marginalized and isolated and feel afraid to talk about who they were and are.  Some people go back into the closet.  The interest group gives us others to talk with and a path to promote understanding and interaction.” And LGBTQQA elders have insights that can help others aging in place. Statistics from the work of Dr. De Vries, cited in the Village Voices May issue, show that 75% of LGBTQ boomers said being LGBTQ helps prepare them for the challenges of aging.    

Following his retirement from Schwab in 2000, Gordon volunteered for a number of organizations, acting as a docent for President Roosevelt’s yacht USS Potomac, docked at Jack London Square, the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front Education Center, and Victory Ships in Richmond’s Henry J. Kaiser Shipyard. He also volunteers as a first grade teacher assistant at Henry J. Kaiser Elementary School and at the Alameda County Food Bank.  

Paired with his personal experience assisting elders, Gordon’s work as an AARP Foundation Tax Aid volunteer made him aware of the thousands of elders “going it alone” and the tremendous struggles people can face if they grow old in isolation. A friendly visit or a ride to the doctor would mean so much.  “This is where the village movement can make such a huge difference,” Gordon observes.  He sees an enormous  potential for growth in the village movement and believes that local press coverage and member referrals are the most effective ways to take it to scale.  

“My experience with Ashby Village has been all positive.  There is always something interesting going on,” Gordon reflects. “I realize how fortunate I am.  I also realize that I can really help through Ashby Village.  It’s all about giving back.” 

Gordon Seligson - photo by Richard Bermack


“It’s a real thrill when I can fix something,” says Sam Duncan, an Ashby Village technology volunteer. And he means it. When contacted for this interview, the first thing Sam wanted to know was whether the newsletter was having any technology problems.


“I have no idea what I would have done if I were not living in the time of computers,” he says. Sam was hooked the moment his roommate at MIT introduced him to computers. He went on to spend most of his career programming in defense and aerospace as well as teaching computer courses.


Sam’s role as a technology volunteer began when he stopped by the Ashby Village booth at Berkeley Sunday Streets on Shattuck in 2014. He had recently retired to Berkeley, and the Ashby Village booth happened to be right outside his building. By early 2015, Sam was helping members with computers and electronics. Today he is part of a group of technology volunteers, some specializing in PCs, others in Macs, and still others in electronics. Some volunteers also serve on the Technology Committee, chaired by Maryl Gearhart. In addition to working with members, Sam enjoys volunteering in the Ashby Village Office, tending the office computers, printers, internet connections, and office equipment. According to Sam, it is a good match: “The staff are amazing, and I am thrilled to be able to work with them.”


One of the things Sam says he likes most about volunteering is “meeting a lot of really nice and interesting people.” He adds, “The vast majority of Ashby Village members are online and depend a whole lot on their computers and smart phones. It is really difficult when you can’t check email or get on line. I enjoy calling on members. People are always very appreciative. They are the nicest people in the world.”


The other thing Sam loves most about volunteering is figuring out how to solve computer problems. “I know what it is like not to have a computer that works. No one should ever feel stupid about having a problem,” he says. The problem could be with an Internet provider, faulty hardware or software, or maybe even a plug slightly pulled out of the outlet.


In addition to trouble-shooting, Sam gives personal tutorials, helping members establish their connections to Village resources, navigate the website, store addresses or photos, connect to social media, install apps to get services, Skype with family and friends, view an exercise video, listen to a podcast, or set up a Facebook profile.


What does Sam recommend if something goes wrong with a computer? Sam’s strategy is to look up the problem on Google, because “it has probably happened to someone else who posted a solution.” Try to keep calm and rest assured that Sam and the other technology volunteers will be there for you.

Volunteer Sam Duncan - photo by Richard Bermack