Tracy Talks: Put your passions to work for others
by Anne Marie Fuller
Jul 12, 2013 | 1935 views | 4 4 comments | 117 117 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Why do you, personally, volunteer? Is it a specific charitable organization that compels a person to get involved, or it is simply a need to help?

There are so many worthwhile nonprofit organizations to choose from, so where should one begin?

I am often asked these very questions and sometimes wonder if being a cockeyed optimist leads to my personal decision to get involved.

Back in 2004, when I created a cable television show to spotlight shelter animals, I was met with many naysayers. Some of the comments were downright hurtful. Yet I believed that bringing awareness to our animal shelter and the animals housed there must lead to a positive outcome — more adoptions, or maybe a new shelter.

I met others with the same passion and united with them to start helping our community. One group rolled into another, and before I knew it, I was helping other local nonprofit organizations.

Interestingly enough, I often saw the same faces at multiple events and realized that our community has a core group of volunteers who truly make a difference.

Brian Pekari is one of those people.

“Individually we can make a difference, and collectively we can create change,” said Pekari, a Tracy resident. “Growing up in a large family, we were always encouraged to help and give back. I think my motto is, Be the difference now.”

Pekari founded Tracy United to Make a Difference and last fall organized our community’s first Make A Difference Day. Tracy Press readers may also recall a 2012 story about when he camped out for three nights in front of Freebirds World Burrito, winning a year’s worth of free burritos that he donated to the McHenry House Tracy Family Shelter.

Tracy resident Rhonda Kooy is another example of the passion that drives a volunteer to give back.

Kooy is a board member of Brighter Christmas and Noah’s Ark Foundation of Tracy. In addition, she is part of a nationwide animal transfer team called Kindred Hearts Transport Connections.

The day I caught up with her, she had rescued five dogs that were scheduled to be euthanized at a nearby animal shelter.

“Volunteering is a calling of the heart, and you have to answer that call,” Kooy said. “You don’t do it to receive — the joy is in giving. When I talk to people we have helped, there is so much appreciation, and when it comes to the animals — there is lots of licks and kisses.”

So where does one begin? Ask yourself where your personal passion lies. Don’t pick a charity at random.

Think of it as a puzzle, and you are the final piece that completes it. Where would you fit best? Start with one and build your volunteer masterpiece.

Along your journey you will be able to help a needed nonprofit, make lifelong friends and leave your footprints in the community.


  • Anne Marie Fuller is a Tracy arts commissioner and the television host of “Helpful Hints with Anne Marie” on Channel 26 at 7 p.m. Fridays. Contact her at 
Comments-icon Post a Comment
July 15, 2013
One does not tell another what their passion should be; it truly lies within the doer to choose what they wish to help with charity wise. By stating propaganda and propagation, it sounds like you are a receiver only and you choose to not give to others or do not know the joy in giving to others. This article is about the passion of giving one's time to charity and hopefully sparking that in others wondering what to do with their time. Vile words that are commented here don't belong as they sound like you are attacking the author of this blog. This person is a very wonderful and charitble person who thinks not of herself but of how to better the community of Tracy and one way is through charity work and sparking that in others. Your passion is being a negative responder to articles. You remind me of another blogger who chose to attack this author. You have a right to your opinion but to say negative things about the person writing or what they should do, is hurtful and spiteful. You may need to receive from a charity someday unless you are too stubborn to do so. Our community is better for people who give and help where businesses and government can't.
July 15, 2013

I do volunteer work every day. I don't expect anything in return from it, but I do question the foundation of many charities because I believe they tacitly condone irresponsibility and are a stark manifestation of moral failure in this country—and I don't put it all on "businesses and government."

Tell me, which "vile words" did I use?

Just because you call something a "charity" doesn't mean it isn't destructive.

So, I will say it again: Stop the propaganda and propagation.

July 15, 2013
He has a point, Rhonda.
July 14, 2013
Stop the propaganda and the propagation. This is where your passion ought to lie.

We encourage readers to share online comments in this forum, but please keep them respectful and constructive. This is not a space for personal attacks, libelous statements, profanity or racist slurs. Comments that stray from the topic of the story or are found to contain abusive language are subject to removal at the Press’ discretion, and the writer responsible will be subject to being blocked from making further comments and have their past comments deleted. Readers may report inappropriate comments by e-mailing the editor at