Steve Bort | Volunteer of the Month (November 2020)

Steve Bort posing at the skyline arch

Interviewed by Roxana Lucero, Land Stewardship Manager

About Steve

How long have you lived in the Bay Area?

I’ve lived in the Bay Area for more than 46 years.

How did you learn about Save Mount Diablo?

I first saw the mountain in 1964 when I came to the Bay Area on an assignment from Sears. In 1974 I moved to Danville, and the drive home gave me a great look at it every day. Sometime in the early 80s, I met Ron Brown, and our connection over the years led me to Save Mount Diablo down the road.

What did you do before you started volunteering for us?

There were a few stops in the area along the way. Mervyn’s for 17 years, a couple of short work stays, and then my own accounting and tax business for 12 years.

How long have you been volunteering with us?

I’ve been a volunteer since the spring of 2008.

What were your reasons for getting involved with Save Mount Diablo?

About a year after selling my business, it just seemed like I should be doing something that might be interesting and in an area that I could help in. I called Ron, and we set up a meeting. Helping out a bit with the finance department seemed like a great match.

About Steve’s Work

Which Save Mount Diablo programs are you involved in?

Right now I am only on the Finance Committee. During the time on the Finance Committee, I was also on the Audit Committee for about three years and one year totally out of my ballpark on the Land Committee. That really helped me learn so much more about the organization. If you think you can help, getting involved in something very different from your experience is a great opportunity.

What does your volunteer work consist of and what do you like about it?

Being a sounding board and providing guidance. Reviewing the reports is also part of it, but I think helping Monica, her staff, and the managers on Ted’s team in their efforts is still pretty much the focus that we started with way back in the beginning.

What is the most challenging project you’ve worked on while volunteering?

I think it is on the one that I’m working with Monica and Hidemi right now. I think it will be the final step in ensuring the finance department can continue to effectively serve the organization as it grows. There has been a lot of work in the background.

From an accounting perspective, about five years ago we moved from a cash to an accrual basis so that the income from the Forever Wild Campaign could be recognized when someone made their pledge and not when they paid it. It seems obscure, but that way all the time, effort, and expense in running the campaign could be matched with the rewards of getting the contribution income, even if it is paid over time.

Then about two years ago, we moved from a calendar year basis to a fiscal year basis for reporting our financial results. Setting aside the jargon, in the simplest terms, it means that the year-end appeal now actually falls in one reporting year even if the contributions drift from December over to January and is much easier for the staff to budget and report.

And now the final step is a move from QuickBooks to a much more robust accounting program that provides capabilities that will make things much easier for the entire staff. The pandemic has certainly complicated things, but a conversion still seems possible. Challenging is a very good description.

What is an especially memorable experience you’ve had as a Save Mount Diablo volunteer?

This may seem a strange one, but it was standing at grocery stores in Antioch getting signatures. Clearly the cause was right, but on a personal level it brought a lot of memories into play. In 1964, I audited the Sears store (which became the Senior Center downtown); starting in 1974, I was back in Antioch many times checking out operations at the Mervyn’s store; and finally starting in 1994, I was back on my own working with several small businesses. I think being able to talk about the past as well as conveying the risks about the future made for some easier conversations that led to people signing up, and a great win for Measure T last month.

Join Our Volunteer Crew! We Depend on You

Given limited staff, resources, and time, Save Mount Diablo depends on volunteers to take organizational effectiveness from excellent to exceptional. Save Mount Diablo seeks to connect a passionate community to our mission, cultivating a sense of ownership and proficiency in every volunteer position offered.

Whether you want to help with restoration and stewardship, build and maintain trails, help with events, assist in the office, lead hikes, or advocate for us, there’s a place for you. For more information, check out Save Mount Diablo’s volunteer opportunities.

Join us to save the remaining natural lands of Mount Diablo!

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