2009 Awards: Tomiko Gumbleton

Tomiko Gumbleton’s long history of volunteer and paid work could be read as a textbook on how to build a stronger, more secure community. She is presently the Chair of the Outreach Committee of the Ferndale Community Foundation. Her volunteer job is to lead neighborhood captains who will go door-to-door in their areas, meeting the residents and learning what they want Ferndale to be in the future. This is the first step in a program that will help Ferndale residents get acquainted with their neighbors and work together on projects that will improve life in our neighborhoods.

Tomiko is also a volunteer for the Ferndale Youth Assistance Safe Night program. This involves more than 600 students, providing them with a drug-free place to have fun. Tomiko also blends her volunteer and professional skills as the event photographer. She has worked as a community organizer for the Southeast Oakland Coalition, a nonprofit organization. Yes, being a community organizer is a real job – and in her case a job that tackled drug prevention among children. This is a task that directly affects the future of our community, and it is by no means an easy thing to do: building the life skills in children that will enable them to make healthy choices and lead an enjoyable and balanced life.

Probably most Ferndale residents know Tomiko best as a member of the City Council. What many in Ferndale may not know is that a council person’s obligations do not begin and end with the scheduled council meetings. They are expected to serve on boards and committees – on their own time. In that sense serving on the council can be regarded as a form of volunteering.

Tomiko Gumbelton has more than demonstrated her concern for the community – for the safety and well-being of the children as well as the adults in Ferndale.