Volunteer City, USA: Huntington Beach Do Gooder

October 28, 2021

Meet Phil. He might hail from Iowa, but for the last 45 years, Phil has called Huntington Beach, home. Phil is one of those individuals who, in retirement, has an even fuller “dance card.” Having retired from the systems engineering field in 2016, Phil volunteers across the city with the same logic, discipline, and determination befitting an engineer.

Most recently, you would have found Phil wearing his green vest and training hat as part of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). His longtime membership in CERT was first encouraged by his wife, Carol (a native Californian), who said to her husband, “Now that we have a son, what are we going to do in case we’re ever in an earthquake?” In 1992, Carol and Phil attended their very first community preparedness training workshop; today, Phil and Carol both lead those workshops for others, donning the Green CERT vest. When asked what motivates Phil, he said: “The goal of CERT is to make sure individuals can take care of themselves; if you can take care of yourself, your family and your immediate neighbors, that’s 3, 6, 10 people that first responders don’t have to deal with.”

Phil champions his community and volunteerism in the same breath. He describes his longtime home, Huntington Beach, as “Volunteer City, USA.” Everywhere a community member turns, there is a volunteer opportunity for the public to be in service to others: from the library to the Tree Society to Junior Lifeguard Program, the Senior Center, and the Fire Department that sponsors CERT.

The early epicenter for the SoCal Oil Spill was in Huntington Beach. Phil and his team of CERT members were ready, willing, and able to be a part of the solution. “We are able to support safety practices throughout the beach cleanup deployments. It takes all kinds of folks and all kinds of roles to make these projects successful,” Phil explained. His first and foremost focus is on being a helper where help is needed most. From years of experience as a volunteer in the disaster response field, Phil recognizes that not everyone can hold the fire hose in a fire, but that it takes a whole community to end a disaster.

Donned in his green vest and #CaliforniansForAll t-shirt, Phil is a walking billboard for civic engagement. Phil encourages everyone “to find what they are passionate about. If you join an organization that you’re passionate about, you’ll make a big difference. Find an organization doing that; there are so many opportunities!” No truer words have been shared.

To learn more about joining CERT, visit here.