Town Crier: Kids, adults alike benefit from volunteerism

MONTLARION: March 23, 2016

It was a most unlikely friendship — the 13-year old Romanian boy and the middle-aged mother of two. But none of that mattered at the foosball table. We were a force — Marius playing forward and me as the goalie — nailing shot after shot in the Lasallian Boys Home in Iasi, Romania. For those two weeks in January, I felt young again, helping the boys with their homework and nurturing the very thing we seem to be lacking these days — the human connection.

Working with kids is a joy. There’s so much to share, and the need is so great. A good friend of mine volunteers in a classroom in Berkeley. She says one of her kids has jumped two levels in reading this year. Imagine her deep satisfaction in knowing the part she played.

“I’m the auntie or grandma that sits and works with them on a regular basis,” she says.

The program she works with is Experience Corps Bay Area. They’ve been matching adults (50 years and older) with kindergartners through third-graders for 18 years.

This is so important — not just for the kids who might otherwise struggle and fail, but for the 3,000 or so volunteers. What they get, I can tell you firsthand, is invaluable. It’s a magic elixir that costs nothing but delivers endorphins by the bushel. If you’d like to learn more about how you can help, check out If you have any questions, email the volunteer coordinator, Eric Nelson, at

Tribune tribute: As many as 40 “Tribbies” will hold a wake April 4 for the Oakland Tribune at the Tribune Tavern, 401 13th St. Some may be crying in their beer, but you can bet they’ll all have a tale to tell about their time at the storied daily. Tribune columnist Dave Newhouse says it may run through dinner with all of the stories. He expects some of the reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle (who used to write for the Tribune) to be there, too.

Around town: Shakewell, at 3407 Lakeshore Ave., will be featured on the KQED-TV show “Check Please! Bay Area” in May. The owners, Tim Nugent and Jen Biesty, say they don’t know which customer recommended the restaurant to show producers, but it should be a boost for business.

Meanwhile, it looks like there won’t be any conflicting holiday messages for this Sunday’s egg hunt at 9 a.m. in Montclair Park. Readers were concerned that the Christmas decorations hanging over Mountain Boulevard wouldn’t be down in time for Easter. It turns out that there was some contract dispute with the company that put them up, but things have been resolved and the tinsel has been taken down. The Easter Bunnies and Santa won’t have to duke it out.

April showers: Fallen trees, power outages, mudslides (the one on Chelsea Drive was a doozy) and we’re not even out of March yet. The Farmers Almanac says April will see at least 10 rainy days and above-average precipitation in the Bay Area. Readers have reminded me to give out the phone number, again, for Oakland Public Works. If you see a fallen tree, pothole or other hazard on public property, call 510-615-5566.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at



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