PaperFree in the Community

PaperFree believes in community and giving back.  Twice a year our employees volunteer their time at a local charity, foundation, or organization of their choosing.  By doing this, we assist these organizations in furthering their causes, help those who are disadvantaged, and make our community a better place to be.

Below are reflections from our employees on their volunteering experiences.

Joshua Martinez

During the summer break, we wanted to do something for the kids of the church and community to keep them away from the usual routine of tv, video games, computers, etc.  What we decided to do was offer free music lessons for those who wanted to join.  The idea was not to focus on creating musical stars (as most of these kids where ages 5-10), but rather to keep them entertained, focused, and busy during their summer break.  Rather than having them spent hours watching tv, playing video games, etc. we had them come in three times a week to practice singing or playing a musical instrument of their choice.  Over these two months we saw them strive to learn as much as they could.  Because of that, we feel that continuing this effort will be beneficial for them.

Daniel Fitzpatrick

BagsLast weekend, I helped to assemble survival bags to be passed out to members of the homeless community. These bags contain food items like nuts and apple sauce as well as toiletries like toothpaste and wet wipes. I started off on the assembly line putting toothbrushes into the bags, and then moved over to help seal and organize the completed bags. By the end, there were over 200 bags ready to be handed out to anyone who needs them.

Bryan Nguyen

Last year I took a part in two volunteering events that help families in need. The first event was with Feeding San Diego. Feeding San Diego is an organization that focuses on fighting hunger in the city of San Diego. They do this by accepting food donations and distributing them to families in need. For the event, local grocery stores donated a huge amount of fruits and vegetables. Our task was to separate the rotten fruits and vegetables so the good ones could be donated to local families in need. The second event was with Harvest CROPS. Fruit tree owners work with Harvest CROPS to donate extra fruits to low income families. I went to one of the fruit tree owner's home to help pick oranges from the dozens of trees to donate. These tasks were fun, challenging, and well worth it knowing that it helped people in need.

Michelle Iglesias

Empty NestersThis month I had the opportunity to oversee and help the teens of my church congregation organize an annual Valentines dinner for the "empty nesters" in the congregation and their friends. We use the term "empty nester" to describe anyone who's raised a family and whose kids have left the nest and moved on, so to speak. The close-knit group runs the gamut from middle aged couples to our stellar nonagenarian Muriel, who loves dishing out life advice and a current headcount of her various degrees of grandchildren.

The idea for this dinner came three years ago after several members of the congregation passed away and left widows behind. We knew that Valentines Day could prove difficult for the widows, so we wanted to provide a fun, upbeat activity with friends so they could still recognize the holiday but without emphasizing the pangs of loss. We decided that a dinner would be an excellent fit for this purpose as it gave us leaders an opportunity to teach the youth a variety of planning and food prep skills, and who doesn't love it when someone cooks for you?

Preparation for the event started back in January with me teaching the youth how to make lasagna from scratch and decorate display cakes, and helping them create decorations. Other leaders who are talented in such things helped organize a musical number for the dinner as well as assisted with the overall organization of the event. I also prepared games for the event - this year was Valentine's-themed bingo and our youth were good to me and ran it while I was busy overseeing cleanup :) (I also made stained glass heart suncatchers as bingo prizes). We also prepared a way for our guests to leave some experiences and insight for the teens with cards that ask them to answer one of several fun questions, such as "What was the best date you've been on?" and "What did you think of your spouse at first?" The teens love this.

In all, it's a fun event that our Empty Nesters look forward to every year and that we are happy to provide for them.

Derek Ihde

DerekMy son Hunter and I were lucky enough to participate in the Wreaths Across America event held at Fort Rosecrans national cemetery December 16, 2017.  It’s a special event that has people help put wreaths on the graves of service men and women.  It was a great turnout, and there was a beautiful service beforehand that went through the history of the event.  They detail how the event is held throughout the U.S. on various site on the same date each year.  Each branch of the military was represented and spoke to the importance of the event.  All in all a very powerful event, that showed you first hand the impact it had.

WreathIt was also a great opportunity for my son to get exposed to the sacrifices the service men and women made to allow us to live the life we live today.  It also showed him the kind of impact he can have by reaching out to help when there is need.  A great event that we were very happy to be a part of.

Daniel Fitzpatrick

I recently had the opportunity to volunteer at a mental health forum organized by Community Alliance for Healthy Minds. The forum consists of dozens of local outreach programs focused on helping people who are struggling with mental health issues, or have loved ones who are. There are booths set up to give attendees a chance to speak to some members of these various groups. Throughout the event, there are two keynote speakers and two chances to engage in a breakout session, which sets up multiple small groups focused on certain issues being faced. I had different tasks throughout the day including helping the exhibitors bring their supplies up to the main hall, directing attendees to the breakout sessions, cleaning up, and interacting with the different exhibitors to learn about the many services provided in San Diego County.

Mark Cook

My wife and I went up to the local animal shelter near us and spent the day helping. We helped to feed some of the animals, took a few out in their yard to play, and spent some time just giving some love to a few who were in much need it seemed like. This was something new for me, as I haven’t volunteered at a shelter before, but it was awesome to see the dogs especially light up to get to play with someone new. This is probably not the last time we will volunteer here was we both found it very rewarding and fun.

Mark Cook

I volunteered a few weeks ago for a church up in my area to take donated computers and wipe their hard drives and reinstall windows. What got me really interested in this was that the donations are set to go to schools to help get computer programs focusing on hardware and programming into schools in the Riverside and LA areas. I thought this was a great idea, as that’s how I got into computers was through classes in high school. The experience was as you would expect lots of tending to installs and junk for a hundred or so machines, but I’m hoping to hear more about the end result once these machines find a home and see exactly how they help some kids find a new hobby.

Derek Ihde

T-ballThis past spring I was incredibly fortunate to coach a local T-Ball team in Mira Mesa.  The Little Rascals were made up of boys and girls ranging from 3 to 5 years old.    Having the privilege of showing the kids the basic fundamentals of T-Ball/Baseball through practice and games made for some great experiences.  Seeing the growth of the kids just standing around on a baseball field playing with the dirt, to fielding ground balls and throwing them to first base was just one of the many examples of how fun and rewarding T-ball is for these kids.  Looking forward to getting back on the field again this coming spring.

Linda Abellera

Over the weekend, my family and I volunteered for an organization called Harvest CROPS. Residential owners of fruit trees register their trees with Harvest CROPS and allow volunteers to come at a scheduled time and date to pick the fruit. The owners donate the fruit, volunteers help harvest the fruit, and Harvest CROPS makes the fruit available to low income families and seniors who otherwise have limited access to fresh fruits.

We spent the morning alongside about 30 other volunteers picking oranges from over 20 trees. This was a great experience. Not only did we have fun, but it was also a great opportunity for me to teach my kids the importance of giving back to the community. It was also good to see some of my PaperFree coworkers out there volunteering for the same purpose.