Benevolent acts are expressed in many ways. Some people contribute financially, some volunteer their time, others advocate for, and some give their heart and soul unconditionally. For Dave and Charlene Walker, their altruism unfolds in every way mentioned.
When asked where they derived their sense of giving, Dave and Charlene shared with GB Magazine, “We cannot pinpoint it, but each of us is thankful for our blessings and mindful of our surroundings. We like to engage and give of our time – then we pay attention. Being involved allows us to better understand the needs of the organization and provide more targeted help. Our financial support is that much more rewarding because we have firsthand knowledge of how it will benefit the organization.”
Dave recalls the first donation he ever made, “It was at a neighborhood lemonade stand, and I remember the excitement when I asked the kids why they were raising money. They spoke with so much passion for their cause; it inspired me. You could see the pride in their parent’s faces watching their kids talk about something that meant enough to them to set up shop to do good. It was then that I realized I wanted to be around people that cared enough to make a difference in this world.”
Dave and Charlene are long-time friends and supporters of Home of Guiding Hands (HGH), an organization known for its exceptional programming for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
One of Dave’s most beloved activities is playing the role of Santa at the holiday home parties; he is well known for his charismatic style and wonderful sense of humor with the residents. Charlene adopts a home and provides Christmas presents and a holiday meal for all the residents. They have undeniable compassion for people with developmental disabilities and engage with each person as though they were family.
Charlene began working with kids with special needs by volunteering for several years at The Arc of San Diego, helping them learn to ride horseback. Dave worked as a park & rec aid for young adults assisting them with ice skating, Special Olympic activities, and swimming. His experience helping someone, who is relegated to braces or a wheelchair, into the pool, untethered from all devices, learn to move freely in the water, was one of the most powerful moments for Dave. “I was hooked,” Dave exclaimed. “To work with these individuals with special needs, helping them realize their full potential, was amazing; I wanted more.”
Dave and Charlene reflect on these moments when asked why they give to HGH. “When parents can no longer care for their child, HGH can; it is what they do. They do this work and so much more, thoughtfully and in a way that is second to none,” said Dave.
Their children, Brooke, Brandon, and Joshua, also have an innate propensity for giving to others less fortunate; this was evident at a young age. Charlene shared, “When they volunteered to help the kids at Miracle League, they did it without question and with so much patience. It was beautiful to watch them create meaningful service to others.”
Dave and Charlene’s philosophy: “When you pay attention, compassion and empathy fill your heart. And if you follow through, you will be rewarded in ways you cannot imagine. It is a gift that feeds your soul.”