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2015 Volunteers of the Year · YMCA of the East Bay


The You Are the Difference “Diffy” Award is the highest honor the YMCA of the East Bay gives to recognize our most impactful volunteers. “Diffy” award winners demonstrate a selfless commitment to serving our community and creating real, lasting personal and social change.

Jerry WolfeJerry Wolfe

Jerry has dedicated hundreds of hours over the last 5 years to help ensure that the Downtown Oakland YMCA remains a fixture in our community for years to come. A true leader, Jerry has an exceptional ability to engage and support teams of YMCA volunteers in raising the necessary funds to provide scholarships to kids and families who need it most. Jerry also big-heartedly contributes to our Youth and Government program, in which he acts as a mentor and friend to our high school youth. His dedication provides expert educational direction, support and compassion to the leaders of tomorrow.

Rod WoodsRod Woods

Rod is affectionately known as “Father Christmas” in the Richmond community because of the countless hours he dedicates to the Holiday Distribution Event at the E M Downer YMCA every year. His ability to coordinate Fire and Police officers from multiple municipalities, including Richmond, El Cerrito and Kensington, is critical to securing the necessary food, toy and monetary donations; his work ensures that Christmas happens for over 5,000 families in need. Rod’s generosity, compassion for others and dedication to the community is truly exemplary. He has been instrumental in strengthening our YMCA community.

John BernardinJohn Bernardin

Because of his love for science and commitment to youth and education, John has dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours to the Hilltop YMCA to build and sustain a Robotics program for kids. John selflessly pursued and procured the equipment needed to launch the program. Not only did he secure the necessary robot kits, computers, tools and books, but John also comes to the Hilltop YMCA twice a week to lead the program himself! John has sparked excitement for learning and love of science in our Y kids.

Ashton SimmonsAshton Simmons

Over the last year, Ashton has become a champion for youth in Hayward. Ashton spends countless hours each week passionately advocating for the Eden Area YMCA. His efforts to strategically leverage relationships in the business community have resulted in increased financial support for the Y, as well as a heightened community awareness regarding YMCA youth programs. Ashton has also been instrumental in fostering several partnerships to help further our mission. He is a relentless advocate; because of his passion and dedication, the Eden Area YMCA continues to be a safe haven for youth in Hayward.

Donna CastaldoDonna Castaldo

Over the past 6 years, Donna has contributed hundreds of hours to help make the Fremont Newark YMCA a very special community.  Donna is an ever present fixture at our Y. She has been instrumental in building a strong sense of community among the members by volunteering her time to organize social events. She makes sure each community member is celebrated with a special birthday breakfast and goes above and beyond to lend a helping hand to anyone who might be in need. Donna’s kind-hearted and generous nature have made our YMCA a better place.

Jason CardozaJason Cardoza

Jason has been a cherished volunteer at the Tri-valley YMCA for over 8 years. He plays a key role in our major fundraising efforts and in communicating the impact of our Y to the local community. Jason is a dynamic fundraiser in our Annual Partners Campaign each year, and he currently serves as co-chair for the Golf Tournament. Jason’s strength lies in his ability to motivate others. He has an innate ability to engage people through his passion for the Y. His advocacy for the Y in the Dublin-Pleasanton community has resulted in a significant increase in community support, both financially and through participation. Jason truly embodies our core values and his dedication is remarkable!

Laurie NowakLaurie Nowak

Laurie gives generously of her time and talent in the Children’s Education Garden at the YMCA at Camp Arroyo. She has dedicated countless hours over the last five years to help create a rich and beautiful hands-on learning environment for the youth of the East Bay. Thanks to contributions from people like Laurie, 5,000 kids each year get the chance to connect with the great outdoors, learn about science and become stewards of our natural world.

David HaynesDavid Haynes

A former camper, counselor and camp director, the knowledge brought to Camp Loma Mar by David “Timepiece” Haynes is priceless. David’s experience in all facets of camp give him the ability to jump right in to help out. Whether during family camp, summer camp or at a special event, David is at home and has the ability to make others feel that way too. His work ethic, positive attitude and commitment to service set him apart as an excellent role model for staff and youth alike. “Timepiece” is an irreplaceable fixture at Camp Loma Mar.

Lacey WatsonLacey Watson

From helping out with building and improvement projects, to leading staff trainings, or just stepping in where needed, Lacey “Shasta” Watson truly embodies the spirit of volunteerism through and through. Her youth development expertise and deep understanding of the impact that camp can make on a young person’s life played a critical role in our training and preparation this summer. Lacey is an important part of our team at YMCA Camp Ravencliff. We couldn’t do what we do without “Shasta!”

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