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Press Release
County of Orange Seal COUNTY OF ORANGE

August 22, 2000
Contact: Diane Thomas
(714) 834-6203
County Employees Honored as Volunteers in ‘Points of Light’ Program
(Santa Ana) – Less than one mile from Civic Center Plaza, the work site for approximately 6,000 County employees, is Pio Pico Elementary School. Within one square mile around the school, there live 26,000 young people 21 years of age and under. Ninety-eight percent of the students who attend Pio Pico have limited English proficiency; and 93 percent of them receive free or reduced-cost meals.

Since 1998, 304 volunteers – 250 of them County employees -- have given their time as mentors for children at Pio Pico.  The volunteers have developed friendships with the children and have encouraged educational achievement as a part of the "Academic Volunteer and Mentor Service Program (AVMSP)." Currently 151 volunteers are serving at Pio Pico and approximately 130 of them work for the County.

Pio Pico’s volunteers will be honored at 4 p.m., August 24 at the Los Angeles Times’ community room, 1375 Sunflower Avenue in Costa Mesa.  During the ceremony,  Board Chairman Chuck Smith will present principal Judy Magsaysay  with a Board of Supervisors’ resolution commending the program for receiving a Daily Point of Light.  The national program for honoring volunteerism is sponsored by the Points of Light Foundation, the Corporation for National Service and the Knights of Columbus.  It was initiated by former President George Bush.

Volunteers credit  Smith with the high percentage of County participation.. The First District Supervisor has encouraged agency and department heads to permit flexible lunch schedules for employee volunteers. The AVMSP requires one lunch hour (other times are also available) per week for a minimum of three months. Many of the volunteers continue their visits to Pio Pico beyond that time frame.

“County employees are known for their concern for the community,” said Smith.  “This opportunity – virtually in our back yard --  enabled them to help children learn and grow, and to do so within their adjusted work day. I’m proud of them all.”

The neighborhood served by Pio Pico Elementary is linguistically and economically isolated. Demographically, it has a majority of families who have been in the U.S. a little more than a decade, and the average level of schooling among adults is third grade. The family income of the parents is substantially below federal guidelines establishing poverty levels.

Pio Pico’s program has received financial support from private industry and United Way. Last year the Bank of America donated $90,000 , and the United Way of Orange County awarded a four-year, $400,000 grant for expanding the mentoring service.

Other mentors in the program come from Chapman University, Strategies Public Relations Agency, Amway, and the City of Santa Ana.