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Welcome Jason Sullivan-Halpern

Our New Volunteer Specialist

September 9, 2016

Admittedly, growing up in Boise, Idaho, another “City of Trees”, I sometimes took trees for granted. You would be surprised how similar “la rivière boisée” – or “the wooded river” in French – is to the Sacramento area. Tall, beautiful, mature trees line cozy residential streets where distinguished Victorian homes sit side-by-side their modern counterparts around the heart of the state capitol. There are wide shady sidewalks, everyone is friendly, and people know their neighbors. And, like Boise, it took the Sacramento area the efforts of thousands of residents over a hundred years of planting and maintaining trees to ensure it lived up to its name!

I recently moved to downtown Sacramento so my wife could accept a job in the Governor’s Office at the State Capitol – and, so far, I’m loving it. I’ve been working for the nonprofit sector and she’s been working in state government since we were both students at UC Davis. I’m proud to say we’ve shared our successes strengthening our community for four wonderful years.

I developed a volunteer program at Catholic Charities of the East Bay, which is headquartered in Oakland, as their Volunteer Program Coordinator for the last two years. I started volunteering there as a Volunteer Infrastructure Project Fellow through AmeriCorps right after I graduated from college. The many volunteers that I recruited, supported, and recognized at Catholic Charities provided refugee resettlement, legal immigration, housing assistance, and crisis response services to underserved and underprivileged individuals and families across Alameda and Contra Costa counties. It was an absolute honor to serve alongside such skilled, dedicated volunteers. I cannot emphasize enough how instrumental their efforts were to the agency’s success; thousands more individuals and families transitioned to a safer life in the U.S., obtained legal status, remained stably housed, and coped with life-changing trauma in our community as a result. I certainly know the power of volunteers first-hand.

When I began searching for excellent community-based organizations to work for in the greater Sacramento region, the Sacramento Tree Foundation quickly gravitated towards the top of my list. (My new neighbors are enthusiastic supporters of the foundation’s ambitious work.) Their mission – not just to build healthy, livable communities in the Sacramento region by growing the best urban forest in the nation – but to increase civic engagement in our community across all spectrums, truly inspired me. The Sacramento Tree Foundation’s staff is highly dedicated, knowledgeable, and professional – and I can tell they have big, bold plans for the future. I’m excited to get to know everyone on the Sacramento Tree Foundation team better and become a true Sacramentan in due time.

It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized that living in the “City of Trees” and exploring Idaho’s extensive forests as a child is a large part of what defines me today; it’s the primary reason I value green space so, so much. I imagine many of the Sacramento Tree Foundation’s volunteers feel similarly and take pride in their neighborhoods. At the same time, I appreciate not everyone has the same motivations. Part of why I find the Sacramento Tree Foundation such an outstanding organization is that despite volunteers’ differing experiences, they try to find ways to include everyone in their vital efforts to grow and protect our urban forest across the region. You too can join our volunteer team, if you haven’t already!

I can’t wait to get involved with all of the Sacramento Tree Foundation’s amazing volunteers. I’ve heard a lot of terrific things about you already. Please don’t hesitate to email me at JasonH@sactree.com and share what motivated you to volunteer with us. I would be thrilled to hear your story!