Fundraising Maven Marge Terhar Receives Halo Award
Almost 470 proposals written.
More than $4 million in revenue generated.
These are the kind of numbers that any rising executive would love to put on her résumé. But for 83-year-old Marge Terhar, this achievement is not a matter of business, but of the heart.
Since 1999, the Northridge resident has been serving on MEND’s Fundraising Proposal Committee. Her impressive results have now been recognized by the Carl and Roberta Deutsch Foundation, which has bestowed on her the 2012 Halo Award for outstanding volunteer service.
The Halo Award recognizes volunteers who, like Marge, do exemplary work in their communities. The Foundation awarded $20,000 to MEND and $5,000 to Terhar, who gave her share to MEND. The recognition luncheon took place at the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica last March.
Before she began volunteering for MEND, Marge had spent a dozen years writing a newsletter for her Northridge church, Our Lady of Lourdes—a task she still performs. “A gentleman who was on the board of MEND had been reading it and ask me if I had ever thought of writing grants,” she recalls. “I said, ‘No, but I’m willing to try.’ I knew about MEND and was inspired by what they do, and I think that’s important. You really have to know the organization you’re writing about.”
Marge spends about 40 hours a month preparing proposals, researching new funding possibilities, tracking grant applications, and mentoring newer members of the Proposal Committee. Over the years, she helped develop systems and tracking forms that enabled a team of volunteer writers to write 130 grant requests with a success rate of 74% approvals. One of her key successes was a $500,000 Keck Foundation grant that helped build MEND’s Pacoima headquarters.
In the business world, results like Marge’s might be motivated by ambition. But her work comes from the heart. She knows that her efforts are helping MEND to continue its work of lifting its clients out of poverty and meeting each need with dignity.
Learning Through Volunteering
As a senior at Western University of Health Sciences at Pomona, Hoa Tran began her externship in a rotation at MEND’s Eye Care Clinic last November. She works under the guidance of Dr. Mark Sherstinsky, MEND’s new staff optometrist, performing eye exams and dilations and helping clients selectand fit eyeglass frames.
“I did not know anything about MEND until I started my externship here,” she says. After volunteering for other disorganized” vision clinics, Tran was impressed by how well MEND’s clinics are run.“We follow a schedule and have the proper equipment to examine the patient, “ she says. “And the equipment works, which is really important! “
Hoa says that at MEND, she was particularly inspired by a female optometrist who volunteers at the clinic. “I thought, ‘that’s pretty cool; she has her practice and makes time to come to volunteer at MEND.’ ” Hoa adds that once she is settled in a job, she hopes to follow that optometrist’s example and return to MEND as a volunteer.
Gabriel Ramos: Year-round Impact
Some 200 volunteers participated on each Super Saturday Home Visiting day in 2012, assessing families’ needs for MEND’s Christmas Basket Program. Some of these volunteers power MEND not just on a few Saturdays, but year-round.
One example is Gabriel Ramos, the first person people see when they walk through the front doors of MEND. His reassuring, open demeanor at MEND’s information desk and his eagerness to help clients make a welcoming first impression for the organization.
As a child, Gabriel visited MEND with his grandmother when she went for services that included food and English classes. At that time, MEND was based in a small building on Van Nuys Boulevard. Returning to MEND as a volunteer last year, he was impressed how much the organization had grown.
MEND is thankful for all the volunteers like Gabriel Ramos, whose donations of time, energy and love make a difference in so many people’s lives the whole year through.
Armida Diamond: A Pillar of Support
Armida Diamond began volunteering at MEND in the late 1980s after seeing an ad from MEND in her church bulletin. She has been an inspirational pillar of support for the organization ever since. Her contributions to MEND were recently recognized when she was named volunteer of the month for October 2012.
With a background in human resources, Armida was a natural fit for home visits. She visited needy families, assessed their household situation, and referred them to appropriate MEND programs or community agencies.
Since that first assignment, Armida has worn many hats as a MEND volunteer. She has taken on everything from data entry to grant writing and managing special events such as “Champagne and Chocolate” and the “Ho-Down.” She has served on the fund raising committee, and was a key contributor to MEND’s 20th anniversary fund raising event. For two years she was a MEND board member.
After six years of involvement, Armida took a break from volunteering. But even then, she handled the CEO’s correspondence and managed the “Serve-A-Thon,” assigning volunteers to the various departments within MEND. She entered the computer data from all applications for the Christmas project, and continued to deliver 100% on any big project she was given.
Two years ago Armida saw another ad in her church bulletin: MEND needed a volunteer with a human resources background. Once again she answered MEND’s call and has been working with MEND’s chief operating officer, Jenny Gutierrez, ever since.
“Armida is reliable, consistent and trustworthy. She runs with the information and gets the work done! I look forward to her coming in,” says Gutierrez. “Armida is very friendly and we have some common interests so we enjoy sharing about our weekends, too.”
Mary Castillo: Success through Volunteering
When you look through the windows at MEND’s Clothing Center, you see attractively arranged displays showcasing a wide variety of clothing and household goods. The racks of items, all organized by size, style and even color, seem endless. This appealing appearance is made possible by team members like Mary Castillo, a client who became a volunteer and later a temporary employee for the Clothing Center.
The Clothing Center’s attention to detail makes clients feel good about being there. Mary understood immediately the importance of treating each client with dignity, ensuring only quality garments were offered. Mary and other volunteers sorted through donated clothing, making sure the selection matched the needs of the department’s clients.
Thanks to the effort of volunteers like Mary, MEND provides its clients with clean new and “gently-used” clothing in top shape. No buttons are missing, and there are no stains, rips or other blemishes. The goal is to provide a fulfilling shopping experience for clients who appreciate choosing from a selection of casual clothes, business attire, and even formalwear for the entire family.
Through her experience in the Clothing Center, Mary also helped herself, gaining professional skills and invaluable job experience. Mary first came to MEND in need of food, clothing and dental care for herself and her two daughters. She joined MEND’s GAIN program, designed to help welfare-to-work parents learn new workforce skills. Working in client services and the dental clinic, she was such a valuable asset that she was offered a temporary position as assistant manager in the clothing department.
“I have more confidence now,” said Mary. “Working with the homeless and being in charge in the clothing department really helped prepare me for my current job.”
Mary is now employed as staff aide and receptionist at San Fernando Community Mental Health Center. She works with many homeless clients who are seeking help recovering from substance abuse.
For Mary, MEND’s holistic approach to dealing with poverty helped her find a pathway to self-reliance. It is a lesson she is now sharing with others.
Photo: Mary Castillo (left) and volunteer Graciela Mendoza in the MEND Clothing Center.