Click photo to enlarge
Bella Mia, foreground, a pet therapy dog with Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation, gets some attention from Amrita Ayer, 17, right, and another UC Berkeley student, at left, in front of the Free Speech Movement Cafe on campus on Monday April 30, 2012. The foundation brought a group of dogs to the campus as stress relief for students studying for final exams. (Doug Oakley/Staff)

Many of our local nonprofit organizations offer residents an opportunity to learn more about volunteer opportunities through periodic orientation events.

I attended one such event at Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation and came away full of information about all they do for our residents as well as abandoned but adoptable dogs and cats.

Gaye McDuff, volunteer services director, and Holli Hargrove, volunteer services supervisor, shared their enthusiasm with more than two dozen interested volunteers as they explained the many facets of ARF's contributions to our community and the ways volunteers can help.

Most of us know that ARF brings dogs and cats about to be euthanized to their facility in Walnut Creek to be cared for and adopted by area families. What many might not know is that ARF provides animal care services and pet food to many impoverished or elderly residents who need help with their pets.

ARF believes caregivers should never be forced to choose between self care and pet care. ARF's Emergency Medical Fund provides low-income residents of Contra Costa County with low-cost nonemergency veterinary care for their pets at ARF's clinic.

EMF is supported through proceeds generated by ARF's Thrift Store and generous public donations. ARF's Thrift Store, 1950 Market St. in Concord, is open for donations and shopping from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Volunteers are always needed to work at the shop.


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Thanks to EMF, its volunteers, and the dedicated work of founding members Elvira Clark, Bev Greenbaum, Enid Schlictman and Dolores McCoskey, EMF's service to the community will continue to grow.

To find out if you or someone you know qualifies for ARF's EMF financial assistance, contact ARF at 925-256-1273 or info@arf.net. ARF is located at 2890 Mitchell Drive in Walnut Creek. Learn more about ARF at www.arf.net.

'Promise Orchard'

Youth Homes' job-training program for current and former foster youth will create the "Youth Homes Promise Orchard," at its Cherry Lane youth home facility from noon to 2 p.m. Feb. 14, at 1603 Pleasant Hill Road in Lafayette.

The 100 trees, including peaches, pears and additional stone fruit, will be planted, and everyone is invited to cheer the group on. The trees and garden will be tended by current and former foster youth throughout the year.

Youth Homes worked collaboratively with key partners, including the Lafayette Community Garden, the Urban Farmers and Episcopal Charities, in coordinating this wonderful project.

The mission of Youth Homes is to provide a safe place for foster youth to heal and grow. For more information, call 925-933-2627 or visit www.youthhomes.org.

Library centennial

The Walnut Creek Library was the first Contra Costa County Library to open in 1913. Happy birthday!

Celebrate at one of the centennial events beginning at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the Oak View Room of the new library, 1644 N. Broadway in Walnut Creek.

Enjoy a glass of sparkling apple cider, and the music of the Celtic and bluegrass group, Extended Roots, an acoustic band comprised of 13 women featuring traditional music from the roots of America.

The event is free. Registration is required -- call 925-977-3340.

All libraries in Contra Costa County will celebrate 100 years of "Bringing People and Ideas Together," throughout the year.

For a complete list of events, visit http://guides.ccclib.org/100thbirthday.

Women's conference

The East Bay Women's Conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, March 4, at the San Ramon Marriott, 2600 Bishop Drive in San Ramon.

It is presented by the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau and Chevron, and directed by Marcie Hochhauser, vice president of the Walnut Creek chamber, and creator of the event.

Award-winning actress, author and activist Marlo Thomas will headline this year's conference. Guest speakers will include Lisa Kristine, acclaimed humanitarian photographer, and Lorrie Sullenberger, noted women's wellness and fitness specialist.

Tickets are $195 and include all conference activities, breakfast, lunch and afternoon reception, health information and screenings, prize drawings, and more.

Due to the popular demand for tickets, call the chamber office at 925-934-2007 to make reservations.

Colorful valentines

Through Blossoms for Barbara, members of the Clayton Valley Garden Club will be delivering some 700 colorful valentines to those in hospice care, patients in assisted living and convalescent locations, battered women's shelters, veterans hospital, and the elderly and recipients of Meals on Wheels in the Contra Costa area unable to leave their homes.

Member Linda Manss Karp created the event to honor her mother, Barbara Manss, who died in 2011, and named it in her memory.

The garden club is more than doubling the number of people who will be making deliveries of flowering plants in this, its second year, said Carla Thompson in a news release.

The success of Blossoms for Barbara would not have been possible without the support given by Clayton, Concord, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Pleasant Hill and Antioch businesses. Generous donations were received from the Clayton Business and Community Association, Color Spot Nurseries, Home Depot, Lowe's, Navlet's, Orchard of Lafayette, and local retailers, she said.

AAUW scholarships

The American Association of University Women advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.

The Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek branch is offering $1,000 to $2,000 scholarships for women in Walnut Creek and the San Ramon Valley.

Applications from college juniors or higher, as of September 2013, at an accredited college or university, must be postmarked by March 1. Applications and information are online at http://www.aauw-daw.org.

First Tee

The philosophy of the First Tee junior golf program is to provide a means by which all children, regardless of age or skill level, can be introduced to the wonderful game of golf in the hope that it will teach life skills such as responsibility, sportsmanship, perseverance, confidence, judgment, honesty, respect, courtesy and integrity.

It's also a lot of fun for golfing volunteers who work with these kids.

The First Tee wine tasting and auction event to raise funding for the Lone Tree chapter of the program begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, at 4800 Golf Course Road in Antioch. The cost is $50. Call Lone Tree at 925-706-4220 for more information about the event or request that Ron Parish, PGA professional at Lone Tree, sign you up as a First Tee volunteer.

First Tee of Contra Costa needs experienced golfing volunteers.

Spring sessions for young golfers to learn the game are from 4 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays, March 2-May 24.

Registration runs through March 15 for boys and girls 5-17 at several area golf courses, including Diablo Creek in Concord, Boundary Oak in Walnut Creek, Lone Tree in Antioch, Pine Meadow in Martinez, and Hiddenbrooke in Vallejo.

Cost is $75 for ages 5-6; $79 for ages 7-17. Call 925-963-0740 or email larrylee52@comcast.net to register a child. For more information, visit www.thefirstteecontracosta.org.

Transit riders 'can-do'

County Connection passengers displayed their generosity by donating more than 1,100 pounds of food to benefit the Food Bank of Contra and Solano during the recent food drive sponsored by the transit agency.

"This number represents a 30 percent increase over what was collected last year," said Rick Ramacier, County Connection general manager. "It says a lot about who our passengers are and the compassion they have for those in need."

Larry Sly, executive director of the food bank said, "County Connection and their riders helped to fill a very important gap."

County Connection provides fixed-route bus service and ADA paratransit throughout central Contra Costa County. For information, visit ww.ccctaborg.

"Good Neighbors" is compiled by Faith Barnidge. Send club and organization news, Scouting items, notices of awards and other submissions to goodneighbors@bayareanewsgroup.com.