The 2015 Eagles of Excellence
Award goes to…
Paul SENFT Volunteering
has always been Paul Senft’s style.
Going back in time, Paul volunteered for the U.S. Army in 1967. When his tour of duty was up in January 1970,
he volunteered to extend for an additional four months to prepare for a major
NATO inspection. He ran a calibration
lab in the mountains of Greece.
occupation was Nuclear Weapons electronics having attended training at Redstone
Arsenal, Alabama (Werner Von Braun was at that site) and then Sandia Base in New
Mexico, home of the Atomic Energy Commission.
After returning stateside, Paul was all set to pursue a career as an
Electrical Engineer he saw the massive aerospace layoffs in 1971.
Still wanting to
continue a career in the sciences, he attended Control Data Institute in 1971
with an emphasis in Computer Programming.
Paul’s first job was at Allen Babcock Computing where he learned PL/1
Programming. While working in the
industry, he saw the need to continue to go to college to finish his degree in
Raising a family and
working full time, Paul’s only option was to take classes at night. He continued to pursue his goal until
graduating with a dual degree in Computer Science and Information Technology.
enjoying his chosen profession Paul continued to branch into areas of software
design and testing. Wanting to give back
he worked part time as a lecturer at Cal Poly Pomona, focusing on database
design, programming languages, software quality assurance and testing. It was at Cal Poly where Paul met his future
wife, Sandy; where she was working on her Masters in IT Audit and Control. Paul looked at his students as the next
generation of software gurus and received great satisfaction of their success.
In 1989, Paul and Sandy
married in Big Bear Lake, with plans to eventually retire there. After an overseas assignment in Zurich,
Switzerland, Paul returned home to Big Bear Lake. For the next two years Paul drove down the
mountain working at a consulting firm placing programmers in the Los Angeles
area. During this time Paul joined Bearly
Speaking Toastmasters in Big Bear Lake, assuming the position of Vice President
of Training. This was where he started
mentoring new members in the challenges of Public Speaking.
After learning about
the cutbacks in the education budget for the Big Bear Valley Unified School District,
he volunteered with the first set of volunteers in the Education Trust. It was
in this capacity that Paul had the opportunity to work with students
again. After a few years at North Shore
Elementary, he started working one on one with students that were at risk. Taking the students under Paul’s wings, he
focused on self esteem and leadership traits.
Paul was a recipient of the first Golden
Apple Award given by the Big Bear Educational Trust.
Then while working
with a student Paul learned that the boy had not had a bike for four years, as
his family could not afford one. He then went to garage sales throughout the
valley picking up bikes, that he in turn would fix-up and donate to kids at
school. Paul Senft has donated over ten bikes to date to
students and the occasional adult that really needed a bike.
While at the Bear
Valley Middle School, Paul was introduced to the ALEX software program used for
Algebra and Geometry students. While working with Debi Burton, Paul worked in
the Math Lab, helping students in both subjects. When the trial period for the software ended,
Paul and Sandy Senft donated the necessary funds to continue the program until
extra funding was achieved. Paul has for the past three years, has been working
one-on-one with various students at both Big Bear Middle School as well as the Bear
Valley High School.
From 2009 until 2013,
Paul volunteered with AARP Tax Aide. This program provides free tax services to
seniors and low income families within the valley. In 2008, Paul volunteered to
become an instructor for the AARP Driver Safety Program. In 2011, he assumed the Zone Co-ordinator
position covering both San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, overseeing all of
the District Coordinators and Instructors. When Paul’s two-year term was up he
changed positions to Zone Trainer, being responsible for the training of new
instructors. He was awarded the AARP DSP
Volunteer of the Year Award in 2014
for the state of California for his contributions to the program.
In 2011, Paul was
appointed to the City of Big Bear Lake Planning Commission. His commitment to Big
Bear Valley is the core of his belief that each and every one of us has a
responsibility to help shape the community. There
is no better gift than giving others the opportunity to be the best that they