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City of Carlsbad Citizens of the Year Honored

City+of+Carlsbad+Citizens+of+the+Year+Honored

Carlsbad CA— Longtime Carlsbad volunteers Tina Schmidt and Don Whisnant have been named Carlsbad Citizens of the Year for 2019. The annual award recognizes community members who have dedicated themselves to improving Carlsbad through outstanding service.
The Citizen of the Year program is more than 40 years old and honors community members who have given their time and energy toward the civic improvement, beautification and betterment of the City of Carlsbad.

Tina Schmidt

(Photo courtesy: City of Carlsbad)

Tina Schmidt’s volunteer work is so extensive that it is conceivable she has greeted every Carlsbad resident at least once.
After retiring and moving from Chicago to Carlsbad in 1992, Tina worked part time with the Carlsbad Police Department Juvenile Justice Program, which introduced her to many people and served as a springboard to volunteer work. She also joined the League of Women Voters, serving as a volunteer observer at Carlsbad City Council meetings, which provided new contacts and even more volunteer opportunities.
Throughout the years her volunteer résumé has expanded, focusing chiefly on the arts.
“I’m from an arts family that was very involved in music, and I married a wonderful husband who was a music historian,” she said. Tina and her late husband, Tony, dedicated many hours volunteering at the nonprofit Museum of Making Music, helping open it to the public 20 years ago. “It took us about 18 months of training as a docent before opening the museum.” she said.
Between her city contacts and love of music, Tina was a natural choice for the City of Carlsbad Arts Commission, which she was appointed to ten years ago. The commission is a seven-member panel that supports the arts and oversees the arts portion of the city’s general plan. Tina played an active role in drafting the city’s Arts & Culture Master Plan by encouraging residents to contribute their ideas to the final document.
She is also active in and a former board member of Friends of the Arts, a nonprofit group that strives to make the arts an integral part of life in Carlsbad. Friends of the Arts is a major sponsor and fund raiser for the City of Carlsbad’s TGIF Concerts in the Park, a summer series of open-air concerts.
She also served on the board of the Quail Botanical Garden before it became San Diego Botanic Garden. While volunteering with the Carlsbad Historical Society, she used her newly found gardening knowledge to help replant the garden at historic Magee House with native plants. “I made some wonderful friends there that I still know,” she said.
Tina is a regular volunteer at the bookstore at Carlsbad City Library on Dove Lane, where she works five or six evenings a month. The bookstore is operated by the Friends of the Library, a nonprofit group that raises funds to support Carlsbad Library programs. She confessed that working the bookstore is one her favorite gigs.
“It’s the only thing I volunteer doing that I don’t have to prepare for,” Tina quipped. The only requirement is to show up and greet people.
“It’s a delight,” she said. “My partner at the bookstore thinks that I know almost everybody in Carlsbad because there’s so many people that I know through all my volunteering,” she said. Her partner may be right.
Tina said community service enriches her life in so many ways that she will likely never give it up.
“I love to help other people expand their knowledge and skills,” she said. “And I just want to keep learning and connecting with others.”

Don Whisnant

(Photo courtesy: City of Carlsbad)

Don Whisnant’s life in public service began with a little fib. He told a Marine Corps recruiter in 1953 that he was old enough to enlist when actually he was only 15 years-old. Soon he was enrolled in communications and electronics school and trained as a radar technician serving various Marine Corps squadrons.
When he finally confessed to his real age he was too valuable to let go, and through his 22-year career he worked his way into the design and development of intelligence-related systems. He retired as a decorated Marine Corps major in 1975 and carried his engineering skill into the private sector, where he continued to develop intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.
When Don retired from his defense industry job in 2008, he and his wife, Pam, had no specific destination in mind, except that they wanted to live near the ocean. Carlsbad seemed a natural choice, and they moved here.
Not one to sit still, Don sought something to do in his new home and attended the City of Carlsbad’s Citizen Academy, which introduces residents to city government operations. He was immediately drawn to CERT – the Community Emergency Response Team – a team of volunteers who assist first responders during such large-scale emergencies as earthquakes and wildfires, and signed up.
CERT volunteers are trained in such important skills as first aid and light search and rescue, and are allied with the Carlsbad Fire Department. They are activated by the city’s Emergency Preparedness Manager if they are needed.
After about three years Don shifted from CERT to another safety-related group, the Senior Volunteer Patrol.
The Volunteer Patrol assists the Carlsbad Police Department in many ways, such as by assisting at traffic accidents and other incidents. Don said one of the patrol’s vital services is YANA, or You Are Not Alone, which checks on the welfare of senior citizens.
Senior Volunteer Patrol members call each person on the YANA list every morning to say hello and make sure they are okay. If they don’t get an answer after repeated calls, they drive to the person’s house and knock on the door. If they still don’t get an answer they call a police officer to do a further check. Patrol volunteers also visit each YANA member at their home once a week.
“It’s a great program,” Don said. “When I was there we had 30 to 35 members in YANA who we called every day.”
Don rose to become the Senior Volunteer Patrol’s first captain, making him responsible for scheduling, assigning patrols and coordinating with the Police Department.
Don also volunteers for the Rancho Coastal Humane Society Thrift Shop, making sure that donated electronic gadgets and appliances work properly. His wife is volunteer coordinator.
Asked why he is so dedicated to helping people, Don was modest, saying that sitting makes him “antsy.”
“I’m the type of person that has to do something,” he said. He recently retired from all his volunteer activities, except for the Humane Society.
“I wonder how long that’s going to last until I get antsy again,” he said. If he does, the City of Carlsbad has a volunteer assignment waiting for him.
“I’m so happy we wound up in Carlsbad,” Don said. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful community.”
Watch the videos listed below featuring Tina Schmidt and Don Whisnant
Video highlighting 2019 Citizen of the Year, Tina Schmidt
Video highlighting 2019 Citizen of the Year, Don Whisnant

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City of Carlsbad Citizens of the Year Honored