This year we have three outstanding nominees for Mira Mesa Volunteer of the Year: Tom Derr, Meegan Neils and Margaret Prouty. The Volunteer of the Year will be selected by a vote of the membership at the December 4 MMTC meeting.

Tom Derr

Tom Derr – Tom Derr has been an active volunteer with the Mira Mesa Town Council and other community organizations for many years. He served on the MMTC Board of Directors for two years, and has beenchair of the Mira Mesa Maintenance Assessment District Committee for the last 12 years. That committee controls a budget of $800,000 annually that is used to improve and maintain landscaping on major streets such as Mira Mesa Blvd.  He is also a member of the Mira Mesa Community Planning Group. Tom moved to Mira Mesa in 1974. He was the owner/operator of Tom’s Master Mechanics from 1981 until his retirement in June 2011. Tom joined the Automotive Service Council (ASC) in 1985 and served as treasurer. In 1996, he joined the San Diego Herpetological Society (SDHS), serving as treasurer and vice president for many years. Tom is well known for bringing his snakes to the Mira Mesa Street Fair and other community events. SDHS also brings reptiles to schools, especially those with at-risk kids, to spark their interest in learning. Tom is co-founder of EcoVivarium, a nonprofit living museum for all reptiles, amphibians, and some insects, which recently opened in Escondido. Tom has been a member of San Diego Botanical Garden Foundation for over 11 years and is currently serving as 1st Vice President. He is President of the Exchange Club of San Diego, a chapter of the National Exchange Club, the oldest national service club, whose national project is Child Abuse Prevention. Tom is chair of the Law Enforcement Volunteer of the Year event. Tom has been active for several years with Relay for Life, an annual fundraiser to fight cancer. In the summer, you can find Tom re-homing rattlesnakes to keep them from human harm.

Meegan Neils

Meegan Neils – An essential part of our schools, particularly elementary schools, are the volunteers who help with a large number of school functions both in and out the classrooms. Meegan is one of those volunteers at Sandburg Elementary School. Meegan is an extraordinary volunteer. At times it almost seems like she is everywhere all at once. Her efforts to organize other volunteers have been tireless. She has been the driving force behind many activities such as the Running Club, the annual Jog-A-Thon, and sales of Sandburg spirit gear to name a few. She thinks in terms of systems so others aren’t overwhelmed at the notion of volunteering. She has successfully organized room parents, room captains, and has divided up major events such as Jog-A-Thon into a multitude of smaller tasks. This both gives others a chance to volunteer and makes the events more enjoyable for the participants. Meegan gives freely of her time to support events and activities at Sandburg and is always looking to support others in their volunteer roles. Her volunteerism is unconditional and completely unselfish. One incredible attribute that Meegan brings to the table is amazing ability to deflect negativity and maintain momentum for school projects. According to her nominator, Meegan  “is perhaps the single most spirited volunteer I have known.” Using this trait, she manages to find parents who can help with Sandburg’s after-school programs.

Margaret Prouty – Margaret Prouty is a very dedicated person and has been a member of the SDPD’s Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol since January 2011.  She works out of the Mira Mesa Police Storefront under the Northeastern Division.  She patrols Mira Mesa and Scripps Ranch and is the “extra eyes and ears” of the sworn officers.  She makes YANA (you are not alone) visits to check the welfare of those that cannot leave their homes.  She makes bank checks, school checks and makes vacation house checks while people are on vacation.  Margaret checks for violators using disabled parking spaces.  She also makes Homeland security checks of utility, power, water and sewer pumping stations.  Margaret participates in the Mira Mesa Street Fair and other events held in Mira Mesa and Scripps Ranch taking children’s fingerprints in case the child becomes lost or taken.  She designed and implemented the landscaping at the Storefront.  The area has received rave reviews for its beauty and low water maintenance.  She has tagged all the plants with the names. The garden is such a joy to sit and meditate and watch the butterflies and birds that it attracts.  Under the tutelage of Margaret, the Mira Mesa Garden Club has become an integral component of the Mira Mesa Senior Center.  Her hard work and enthusiasm have created a most unusual club.  She has created garden towers that have a variety of decorative and edible plants.  She and the club also maintain the roses and other plants around the outside of the building.  When it came to her attention that the Veteran’s Memorial was in need of help, Margaret went on a mission.  She rounded up volunteers and planted 50 rose bushes around the circle.  She next solicited funds from the Mira Mesa Recreation Council to repair the wall, the plaques, the flagpole and the lighting. She then oversaw all the work to complete the project.  Margaret is truly a force of nature and a great asset to the community.