Volunteer Spotlight: Dave Basok
Dave has been involved with our organization in various capacities for about nine years, starting with his volunteer work through Pet Partners, a pet therapy organization. (Founding Board Member Lois Abrams also happened to be a Pet Partner and introduced Dave to Casa Youth Shelter.) Despite a busy work schedule, Dave is often found with his dog, Miles, in tow, cooking up burgers on the grill for residents, or lending a hand at one of our Open Houses or special events.
We sat down with Dave for a little one-on-one about volunteering, how he found himself living in California, and with whom he’d love to share a meal.
So, Dave, tell us the basics – who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
I was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. Rhode Island was a great place to be a kid – I just can’t live there as an adult as I hate weather! I moved to California when I was 24; I saw people in shorts watching the Rose Bowl in January, and thought it was too good to be true. I quit my job, bought a one-way plane ticket – only $99 on People Express back then – and have been here ever since.
I have passion for my work and try to have passion in everything I do. If I’m going to do it, I want to do it to the best of my ability.
I’ve worked as a Product Specialist for Wolters Kluwer, a Dutch company, for 29 years. I manage our Tax product line for the Am Law 150 (Top 150 law firms) with one other Product Specialist. I’m also married to a great woman and have two great kids. My son Charlie is in the Navy and has two kids of his own with his wife Nicole (who is a saint). That’s right, I’m a grandfather – that makes me sound old! My daughter Ryann teaches yoga, works at my wife’s CPA firm, and is living with her new husband, Will (who we are so happy to have in our crazy small family). Of course, we can’t forget to mention Miles, our almost-14-year-old Chocolate Lab, who is a therapy dog at the shelter. We miss our other therapy dog, Raider, who passed a few years ago. I have passion for my work and try to have passion in everything I do. If I’m going to do it, I want to do it to the best of my ability.
Then, with that in mind, what do you think are the best skills that you bring to your volunteer work?
It’s changed over the years. At first, I was timid with the kids. Now, I have fun with them! We play catch or shoot hoops, or I take them to a ball game, or out to dinner and ice cream. No matter what we do, the kids just seem so appreciative and that makes being with them so fun.
What should someone expect when they join the Volunteer Corps?
Prepare to have fun, and to get a new perspective on your own life. Being there for the kids during particularly tough times in their lives gives you a really good feeling. It helps give me perspective on my life and how lucky I am in my family and in my health.
Who is someone you personally admire, and why?
My mom. She was a single parent when that was not the norm and has the patience of a saint. I can’t imagine raising a kid all on your own, and I don’t know how I could ever repay her for all she’s done for me. I’m so lucky to have had a great mom in my life, and as I’m seeing at Casa Youth Shelter, that’s not always the norm.
If you could share a meal with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
Warren Buffett. I love that he’s still living in his same old house; that he stops at McDonalds every morning on the way to work; that he doesn’t have to work, but still does because he loves what he does; that he has fun with his employees and it seems like he’s made it a great place to work; that he intends to donate all his money to charities when he passes. He’s a model citizen that the world needs a few million more of, just like him.
Looking for ways to use your unique skills to give back to the local community? There are so many ways you can help – and we can show you how! We are always looking for enthusiastic and reliable volunteers to join our team. Learn more about our Volunteer Corps here.