SPOTLIGHT: Karen Blanchard
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
By Sue Murray, Volunteer Spotlight Writer

Every month, I am constantly amazed when I hear about the wonderful work that Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) volunteers do to support their community. From helping out at the front desk to delivering meals or running errands, the support is much-needed. BCHD volunteer Karen Blanchard is a perfect example of this and is so passionate about her service to our community. 

Karen is a native of the South Bay. When she retired from 30+ years in the corporate world, she wasn’t ready to sit back and relax, she was however ready to be of service and give back to the Beach Cities community she loves so much.

Karen started volunteering with BCHD by jumping in head-first! 

She started out as a lobby greeter at the main campus. She was happy to use her initiative and helpful personality to give visitors directions and information to make their day as easy as possible.  

However, those busy volunteer shifts weren’t enough for Karen! She soon took the opportunity to also help out in the administrative offices at Del Amo as a Purpose Connector. Karen worked on recruiting new volunteers and matching their talents to the areas where support was needed.

But even this wasn’t enough for Karen!

As someone who simply loves helping people, Karen started volunteering at the Community Services office at the 514 building, helping the team with administrative tasks.

Karen also provided outreach for the Community Services team working to help people struggling with memory loss. Carrying out data entry into a research database, assisting care managers with client check-in calls, and even cleaning out and transforming a storage area, Karen inserted herself wherever help was required.

Karen also serves as a BCHD Volunteer Event Ambassador. She’s helped out at BCHD’s Yoga on the Beach, assisted with working in the school gardens, BCHD’s holiday gift bag program, served at the COVID-19 vaccination/testing sites and participated in the volunteer virtual events.

Karen also offers her time to the Volunteer Advisory Council, where the group reviews the annual Volunteer Opinion survey to offer feedback about action items and provide input on other Volunteer Services initiatives, such as ways to recognize and engage volunteers like last year’s VolunCheer Challenge.

While Karen has a master’s degree in Leadership, she wanted to stress that, “there are so many areas where anyone in the community can provide leadership and support.”  

Pre-COVID-19, on average Karen offered BCHD four hours of support three days a week. She can’t wait to return to this schedule soon. Karen stressed, “I love what I do and know that everyone would enjoy volunteering, whether it’s for 30 minutes or several hours.”

Looking back on her time with BCHD, Karen fondly remembers one of her early days at the front desk when she’d noticed an elderly lady wandering around the basement of the main campus complex. A few minutes later, a man came up to the front desk asking for help with finding his mother who had gone missing. Karen continues, “I went with him down to the basement where I was able to reunite them. It’s those little moments that mean so much to me and the community. That’s why I do what I do.”