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'Super Volunteer' Helps Society's Most Vulnerable

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) This week's Jefferson Award winner is called a "super volunteer" for going above and beyond to help some of the East Bay's most vulnerable.

Annie Banbury lifted another few things from the car, helping Hazel move into her new Oakland home. Hazel had lived in her car for three years.

"It was just horrible," Hazel reported. "It was never comfortable to sleep at night."

Banbury helped Hazel apply for low income housing.

"I'm happy, very happy," said Hazel. "And I thank Annie for helping me get this place."

Since Annie began volunteering three years ago for Catholic Charities of the East Bay, she's helped guide hundreds of clients like Hazel through the process of finding housing. She's served the homeless, refugees, and low income families facing eviction because of rising rent.

"It's so nice when we can help somebody because they're so grateful and it really does change people's lives," Banbury explained.

Her care and compassion is inspirational to volunteers like Kathryn O'Donnell.

"They are in a crisis situation, they never thought they'd be in this situation," O'Donnell said. "And I think she just has grace about it."

If clients need household items or furnishings, Banbury searches for donated items, or she'll buy them herself.

"It's not hard," Banbury said. "And for the amount that I do, the rewards are so huge in somebody's life."

This year, Banbury joined the staff of Catholic Charities as a coordinator of volunteers. She's credited with increasing their ranks by 20% to more than 140 volunteers. Chief Program Officer Christopher Martinez calls her a model employee.

"She goes above and beyond. She goes that extra step," he said. "That's what makes her so special."

"I love Annie," added Hazel. "She's good people. I'll never forget her."

So for her commitment to helping society's most vulnerable through Catholic Charities of the East Bay, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Annie Banbury.

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