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!