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June 3, 2009 > Helping Animals and the Young

Helping Animals and the Young

By Simon Wong

One of the commemorative items for Union City's 50th Anniversary is the Official 2009 Calendar depicting the community's unsung heroes.

May 2009 features Union City resident Marsha Badella who has volunteered with organizations in the Tri-City area.

Badella, a Union resident of 36 years, is originally from Washington State. Her parents moved to Fremont in 1968 and she graduated from Mission San Jose High School in 1971.

Her voluntary work began informally. As a youngster she organized treasure hunts, carnivals and classroom activities in the summer. It was uplifting to see children enjoy themselves and learn at the same time.

She and her husband know they have been fortunate. In 1986, she came across a brochure for the re-named Ohlone Humane Society (OHS), formerly Friends of the Tri-City Animal Shelter, and volunteered for them. From 1988 to 2005, she was Careline Director, VP and, for most of that time, Fundraising Director. OHS grew tenfold in the same period.

On reaching 50, Badella turned to assisting children. She had worked with Fremont's Kiwanis Club for a decade; the organization receives funding from OHS's "Ducks for Bucks" race. She learned of the Kiwanis Club's true dedication to children at a 2004 Special Guest Day, eventually joined and became Secretary for 2 1/2 years, President Elect for a year and is this year's Club President.

Through Kiwanis, Badella regularly volunteers with Meals-on-Wheels, One Child, Read Around the World, League of Volunteers, Salvation Army, Special Games, provides Child ID and safety information to the community, adopts-a-family at Christmas, provides Turn Around Scholarships, leadership opportunities for youth through Key Clubs, etc.

"I hope my efforts make lives a little brighter, a little easier, a little more helpful and that the quality of life is improved in some way. I receive an immeasurable amount when I see a child smile, struggle and find an answer to a question, become a leader themselves, when someone shares the love of an animal companion, when a grateful senior receives what might be their only hot meal for the day, when I spend a few moments with a recently bereaved senior and when I leave Christmas gifts anonymously on learning that the recipient wouldn't otherwise have a Christmas,' she said.

"Participation in the community makes life worthwhile. Giving back is what it's all about. I believe we're here to make the world a little bit better than it was when we arrived. There are hundreds of organizations needing help. If none is of interest, follow your heart. What is it that you enjoy? How can you share that joy? The human mind and heart are boundless in giving and sharing," Badella said philosophically.

She feels that Union City has transformed from a quiet rural area into a vibrant community with shopping, entertainment, recreation and learning facilities. According to Badella, we live in exciting times.

"Growth and change are increasing exponentially. New construction at Logan, the Intermodal Station, consideration of a new library, educational challenges for children, creative uses for the flatlands at the foot of the Masonic Homes site and a very flexible, energetic and creative Council and City staff are all happening while we celebrate the City's 50th Anniversary," she explained.

Badella appreciates Union City. She is able to hike for miles along the Alameda Creek Trail, which passes the end of her garden, to the Bay. Her home's setting suggests she is in the country rather than a city yet she is only minutes from BART, public amenities and shopping.

"The quality of life in Union City is good because the people in this community care about finding solutions to problems and about preserving what is precious to them."

Badella quoted the following Irish blessing which sums up her outlook on life. "May you live a long life full of gladness and health, with a pocket of gold as the least of your wealth. May the dreams you hold dearest be those which come true; the kindness you spread keep returning to you."

The organizers of Union City's 50th Anniversary celebrations need the community's continued support. Visit for more details about planned events, volunteer opportunities, sponsorship and donations. Commemorative items are available online, at Paddy's Coffee Shop and at UC50 events.

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