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 San Diego County Schools Compete to Honor Exceptional School Volunteers

Volunteers in San Diego donate a tremendous amount of time, effort and skill to local schools each and every day. These tireless unsung heroes do it to invest in future generations, to gentrify their neighborhoods, or make an impact in their community one student at a time.

According to 2012 statistics by the Corportation for National and Community Service, nearly 30% of all San Diego residents volunteer their time in some capacity, committing 96.8 million total hours of volunteer service each year. Nearly 30% of those volunteers donate their time for youth and educational services, whether it be tutoring, mentoring, or donating their time in a school office or library. Wherever their time and talents allow, volunteers quietly and diligently make a great impact on San Diego’s future leaders. 

With so many devoted – yet often invisible – school volunteers out there, DonorNation wants to shine a deserving spotlight on these volunteers through its second annual School Volunteer of the Year Award​. The nomination phase is in full swing, and San Diego’s most dedicated volunteers are one step closer to winning valuable prizes for themselves and for their school courtesy of DonorNation and its award partners, Sprouts and La Jolla Playhouse. 

“School volunteers are the invisible backbone behind a strong school system in San Diego. Without the tireless efforts of these unsung heroes, our body of schools in San Diego would crumble,” said Karim Pirani, founder and CEO of DonorNation. “Our entire community is forever indebted to this assiduous group of selflessly devoted parent volunteers. They may never seek accolades or rewards for their often unseen generosity, but we want to honor them for their invaluable service to our local schools with this year’s School Volunteer of the Year Award."

Last year’s School Volunteer of the Year Award winner, clinical psychologist James Fosnot​, was one of those unsung heroes. Oceanside High School Principal Kenneth Hurst recognized the tremendous value Fosnot brought to the high school through his grief counseling and college readiness programs and decided to nominate his top volunteer for the award. 

Oceanside High School faces challenges that are difficult to overcome. 

“It’s a different demographic than the district I worked in for so long, but it’s a continuation of what I’ve loved to do all along, and that is supporting kids in emotional trauma,” Fosnot said. “Just a ‘thank you’ from a kid is all the reward I need.” 

Thanks to DonorNation’s School Volunteer of the Year Award, Fosnot’s mission to provide ongoing professional counseling and support for students in times of need got a boost of recognition and praise both inside the school community and out. In addition to the esteemed honor, Fosnot was able to use his prize money and year’s worth of groceries to benefit the students at Oceanside as well. Not only was he was able to use the $5,000 cash prize to establish a scholarship program for students going to college, but he was also able to provide fundamental support in the form of weekly $100 grocery gift cards to students in low-income families.

The recognition from the School Volunteer of the Year also shed a bright light on the visibility of volunteers in schools across the county.

“At first, I didn’t really understand how this award would change how volunteers are seen at Oceanside High School, but now I see just how volunteers really can change the future,” he said. “The level of respect for volunteers has gone way up, and I see it as a way to recruit more volunteers in the Oceanside district. We need more volunteers that bring their life passions, their life’s work to a school.”​​​​

Each day, volunteers like James Fosnot do great things to promote positive change in schools through their tireless efforts and countless hours of work. Often, these volunteers selflessly lend a helping hand without asking for any recognition, payment or praise in return.  It is time to change that.

The winner of this year’s award will not only receive recognition for their volunteer work, but they will also win the following prizes:


Grand Prize Winner: The 2014 School Volunteer of the Year will receive a $5,000 donation for their school, one year of free groceries courtesy of Sprouts, and free season tickets to the La Jolla Playhouse. 

First Runner-Up: The 2014 School Volunteer of the Year Runner-Up will receive a $2,500 donation for their school, six months of free groceries courtesy of Sprouts, and free season tickets to the La Jolla Playhouse. 

Second Runner-Up: The 2014 School Volunteer of the Year Second Runner-Up will receive a $1,500 donation for their school, three months of free groceries courtesy of Sprouts, and free season tickets to the La Jolla Playhouse. 

Honorable Mention: The 2014 School Volunteer of the Year Honorable Mentions will receive a $1,000 donation for their school and free season tickets to the La Jolla Playhouse.


During the nomination phase, only school principals and directors are permitted to submit entries. Nominees must be at least 18 years old and cannot be paid for their volunteer services. If you know of an extraordinary volunteer at your school who is deserves to be recognized for his or her selfless contributions, encourage your school’s principal to submit a nomination today! The deadline for nominations is 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 28, 2014.

To nominate a volunteer, visit donornation.org/award.