Profiles in giving: 

Sempra Energy Volunteer Crew Some of the boys who make it all happen


James Vargo walks the talk for charity, recruits fellow employee volunteers via Sempra Energy’s Volunteer Incentive Program

 James Vargo, Field Operations Supervisor I in the Distribution department at Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), loves to talk about the Association of Amputee Surfers.

“AmpSurf,” you see, is the nonprofit Vargo, a 29-year Company veteran, proudly supports through the Sempra Energy Foundation’s Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP).

AmpSurf is unique. It uses “the healing power of the ocean and surfing together…to help disabled veterans, adults and children focus on their abilities, not their disabilities.”

Not a word

But, as much as Vargo loves to talk about AmpSurf and the good work it does, he really doesn’t have to say a word.

That’s because some of his fellow employees are happy to do the talking for him. He recruited them and their families through the VIP to volunteer at a recent Learn-To-Surf Clinic.

Check this out:

“I was inspired to see the fun and excitement in others; just a little something we can do for others who have done for us.”
Gary Wilkin, Lead Construction Technician

“I was rewarded, because I was able to participate with a group of individuals whose courage was exemplified by overcoming the challenges they faced.”
Randy Bacsik, Field Operations Supervisor II

“It made my family realize that people with special needs can overcome disabilities and enjoy life.”
Jonathan Tesoro, Energy Technician Distribution

“My family was so inspired, it motivated my daughter and myself to help other organizations.”
Brad Leach, Field Planning Associate

“I was overcome with tears when I realized that I was getting more out of volunteering then the participants were.”
Ryan Little, Construction Technician,  (U.S. Marine Corps)

That’s some strong stuff, but it doesn’t surprise Vargo that everyone was moved by what they saw and did during the clinic.

Hooked on helping

“My oldest daughter recruited me to check out AMP Surf,” he says. “I’ve volunteered 13 years for the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), and after volunteering at my first clinic for AmpSurf, I was hooked. AmpSurf clinics now take precedence over AYSO functions.”

Vargo’s just as hooked on Sempra Energy’s VIP.

Better than ever

He says,  “This year, I recruited those five fellow employees to support a week-long clinic where disabled veterans from VA hospitals around the country were flown in to take part.”

The VIP made a huge impact on this event, Vargo says, because, “The VIP is a wonderful opportunity for employees to volunteer their time in the community, while having the company support the groups financially.”

Not only that, but, “The program is even better than ever now,” he feels, “because Sempra Energy will contribute $10 per hour, up to 25 hours of service work. That equates to $250 per person per group. And, better yet, you can submit requests for two nonprofit groups per year.”

Wait, though. Vargo’s just getting warmed up.

Walk the talk

“I’m very proud to be associated with the VIP,” he notes, “because you not only get to volunteer in community programs, you get to help out those groups financially also. This program makes it a lot easier to help out and leaves you with a sense of pride and accomplishment.”

Clearly, James Vargo’s sold—on pitching in and helping out—and on Sempra Energy’s Volunteer Incentive Program.

And, he’s walked the talk with the VIP for him and for AmpSurf.

The question is:  What are you waiting for? It’s easier than you think to apply (see sidebar) and start helping.


Learn more and apply

The Sempra Energy Foundation supports your contribution of time and talent to nonprofit groups through its Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP).

If you volunteer at least 10 hours for a public charity or a school, you may request a VIP grant from the foundation to that charity (or school).

You can earn $10 per hour for every hour of volunteer service for your charity (minimum 10 hours and maximum of 25 hours).

Requests for VIP grants must begin with you.

You can find forms for the VIP (and the Matching Gifts program) on the community page [Make these words the link to the page.] of SempraNet, or call 1-877-SEMPRA9 to request a form.


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