Volunteer Appreciation Dinner
By Thomas Anderson

Amigos President Jerry Donohue surprises Shirley
Dettloff at the annual volunteer appreciation event with
Volunteer of the Year. Photo by Thomas Anderson.
Close to 50 volunteers gathered on Thursday, November 16 at Don Ramon’s Mexican Restaurant in Huntington Beach. The Amigos de Bolsa Chica hosted a dinner to show appreciation for these volunteers’ efforts in the never-ending struggle to educate the world about the importance of healthy coastal wetland ecosystems. Many of the volunteers who attended, having either completed this year’s FLOW Citizen Scientist training or the docent training class, were brand new to the Amigos de Bolsa Chica family. Other volunteers who attended had been contributing their time and talents to the cause for many years, and a few had been in the game since it began over 40 years ago.

The honoree of the evening was former Amigos President Shirley Dettloff. Not only had the evening’s organizers been able to completely surprise her, they themselves had been surprised the organization had not before honored her decades-long efforts. As one of the Amigos de Bolsa Chica founding members, Shirley had been among the first group to begin a community effort which has not stopped. In addition to being President of the Amigos in 1989-90, Shirley went on to be elected to the Huntington Beach City Council and Mayor, and was also appointed to the California Coastal Commission for a six-year term.

Former Council Member and Mayor Ralph Bauer spoke fondly of his time working with Shirley and how she never had a bad word for those with whom she completely disagreed. Met Nutter, the Coastal Commission’s first executive director, also spoke affectionately of his time working on many highly complex issues with Shirley and her attention to fairness and detail. Vic Liepzig, another Amigos President and colleague from the City Council was grateful for Shirley’s determination and resolve to see the Bolsa Chica preserved from development and successfully restored. Last, Shirley’s husband Bob, also a force in the community, spoke lovingly of his wife’s willpower and fortitude. Truly an inspiration for volunteers of all ages.

While the world has changed dramatically in the last 40 years, it has been and will likely always be volunteers, individuals who selflessly give their time and energy to good causes, who make the world a better place.