Frances Larragueta Laureates
Meet the past winners of the Retiree Association’s (RA) most prestigious award.
The Frances Larragueta Award for Volunteer Service honors RA members who have demonstrated a commitment to community service.
2019: Carol Mowbray
Carol Mowbray retired from UCSF in 2006 after 17 years in the Department of Nursing.
As a former nurse, Carol’s compassion for those in need has made her an integral part of the life and health of the Dolores Park Church. She lovingly cares for the members of the congregation as well as those in the community. Carol has been instrumental in supplying “Love Bags” filled with toiletries and warm socks to the homeless population of San Francisco. She coordinates quarterly food outreaches in the surrounding area, picking up food and baked goods from multiple locations and distributing them to community organizations in need. Carol visits elderly people who are homebound and have health issues, and she volunteers her talent with the piano and organ, playing both at the Dolores Park Church, bringing joy and happiness to all who are listening.
2018: Mary Sheridan
Mary Sheridan is the winner of the 2018 Frances Larragueta Award for Volunteer Service. She was nominated by several people for her selfless volunteer activities. Mary is actively involved with the Half Moon Bay branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). A yearly AAUW fundraiser is a large “white elephant” sale, which Mary has worked tirelessly as co-chair for the past four years. Her efforts net between $2,500 and $3,000 annually. These funds have enabled the gifting of scholarships to young college-age women and also have helped some seventh-graders attend a weeklong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program at Stanford University. Before each white elephant sale, Mary coordinates volunteers to solicit donations, package and price items, set up the event, and sell the packages. She makes sure that leftover donations are distributed to nonprofits like Goodwill, public libraries, and churches. When the towns of La Honda and Pescadero flooded in 2017, Mary ensured that bags of clean clothing and housewares were donated to affected residents.
Mary also volunteers weekly at El Grande Elementary School as a kindergarten and third-grade classroom volunteer. In the classroom, she works one-on-one with students to help improve their reading and writing skills.
In addition, Mary works with the Half Moon Bay Public Library to deliver books to homebound seniors, who have remarked that it feels like Christmas each time she comes because they are so excited to see their new books.
2017: Elizabeth Mark
Our 2017 award winner has a long history of volunteer work. She has served as community service chair and president of the Rotary Club, Chinatown, San Francisco – work that helped lead to the construction of a school in Guatemala and the creation of a community education center.
Elizabeth is also a board member of the Cameron House, where she has helped with its domestic violence program. She has also volunteered for many years at the Chinatown YMCA, helping to develop its diabetes-prevention education pilot and food bank programs.
2016: Pauline Chin
Pauline worked as a nurse, educator, and administrator at UCSF for 35 years, after which she continued to serve the UCSF community as president of the Nursing Alumni Association and as a board member of the UCSF Retirees Association.
Her dedication to service extends to her work with the Acute-Care Elders Program, where she volunteers one day a week caring for patients with dementia. She has also counseled and developed tests for students who are interested in becoming nurses, and has mentored nursing students.
As a seasoned nurse, Pauline has an innate understanding of the needs of patients and their families. Her compassion and kindness have not only been gifted to her patients, but also to her friends and others in need. She has driven many of her friends to and from their doctors’ appointments, sat with them through their therapy appointments, and provided a reliable listening ear.
Pauline is also an avid knitter, known to carry her knitting needles and yarn everywhere she goes. By the end of each week, she has often knit a basketful of hats, blankets, and scarves, which she donates to patients throughout the hospital.
2016: Alma Cisco-Smith
After her retirement from UCSF, Alma Sisco-Smith joined the North County African American Women’s Association, applying her boundless energy and many talents to support women and girls in the Oceanside community.
In January 2015, Alma helped initiate its mentoring program “Becoming A Global Citizen,” which is designed to help eighth-grade girls as they prepare to leave middle school and matriculate to high school. The program has benefited more than 30 young women since its inception, providing life skills experiences that increase students’ self-sufficiency and self-esteem while improving academic success and career preparation.
Alma took the lead in securing the facilities for the program, making outside contacts, coordinating the mentors, and writing grants to secure funding. She has put in more than 300 hours of her personal time to ensure a quality experience for students and mentors, and the program’s success is a direct result of her energy and dedication.
Her efforts as a UCSF retiree serve as an example of her desire to continue making a positive and lasting impact on her community.
2015: Amy Teragawa
Amy has volunteered with the UCSF Medical Center since 1993, working as an ambassador in its Ambulatory Care Center and interfacing with patients, families, visitors, medical faculty, physicians, and a myriad of medical staff. She has provided more than 3,000 hours of support as a volunteer.
According to Vickie Kleemann, director of volunteer services at the UCSF Medical Center and the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital: “Amy has an outstanding ability to interact with diverse groups of people and always has a compassionate heart as her touchstone. She has literally touched the lives of thousand of patients at UCSF!”
2014: Sandy Seeger
When Sandy Seeger retired, she missed her professional connections and began volunteering. Initially she “over-volunteered,” finding herself overcommitted and unhappy. Today she is volunteering with just five or six different organizations.
For the last decade, Sandy has been an ambassador with UCSF Medical Center. Being at UCSF allows her to keep in contact with friends who are still in the workforce and to connect with patients and families.
She is also a volunteer at Hospice by the Bay, where she visits with patients weekly for two to three hours. Sandy volunteered at a hospice during graduate school,, so Hospice by the Bay seemed like a natural fit; it also gave her the chance to give back to an organization that took care of her mother in her last days.
Sandy also volunteers with Marin Literacy, where she tutors a 48-year-old woman from India. At first, Sandy was apprehensive about her teaching skills, but she was delighted to find out that she and her student could have fun while learning, going on field trips to shop at Safeway, exchanging recipes, and talking about customs in India and America. Sandy stresses that these conversations are on a first-grade level with a lot of sign language and miming, which makes it even more fun.
Sandy also volunteers at the Marin Food Bank and at the Marin Lutheran Church, chairing a committee that provides meals to women in a shelter and to homeless adults. She is also the head docent at the Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club.
Asked what advice she might give to those interested in finding suitable volunteer positions, Sandy suggested looking for positions that are enjoyable and within your skill set. She also suggests not taking on too much at once, a lesson she learned by experience.