The Loma Prietan - May/June 2009

Member Close-Up

A Man for All Seasons — with a Wife to Match

story and photo by Cheryl Hylton

John Cordes and Diane Gleason find happiness in "giving back" through chapter involvement.
John Cordes and Diane Gleason find happiness in "giving back" through chapter involvement.

Born in New York and raised in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, John Cordes arrived in California in the early '80s, ready to both enjoy and help protect the natural beauty we all share. He joined the Sierra Club in 1986 and has been an amazingly active member. He immediately became involved with outings, including the ski touring section, peak climbing, hiking, paddling, and — a special love of his — the Inner City Outings (ICO). With the guidance of chapter volunteers, young ICO participants discover the beauty of wild lands and how to responsibly enjoy them. They learn valuable outdoor skills as they strengthen their ability to meet challenges in the wild as well as in their urban environments.

During his years as an ICO leader, John has received continuing inspiration from sharing the outdoors with the participants and his fellow volunteers. He particularly enjoys seeing the delighted expressions on the faces of children and teens experiencing snow for the first time. He volunteers on four to five outings each year and feels that he receives much more than he gives to the young participants of diverse cultural, economic, and ethnic backgrounds.

The Chapter's ICO program maintains a gear locker to outfit participating youth with snow gear, packs, mountain bikes, and other sporting equipment. John helps coordinate an annual fundraising barbecue to keep the program "in gear" and meet other expenses. The program has served students and clients of Seven Trees Elementary and KIPP Heartwood Academy in East San Jose, Cesar Chavez Academy in East Palo Alto, Star House Group Home, Sequoia High School, and the San Jose Family Shelter.

John is also involved in the Chapter's political work, with ten years on the Political Committee and five as a chair. The committee's mission is to endorse and support environmental candidates for local, state, and Congressional races and to lobby elected officials on Club and Chapter priority issues.

When John met and subsequently married Diane Gleason, his chapter involvement doubled with hers! A Gunn High School math teacher, Diane is very interested in Loma Prieta activities and, like John, is a willing and talented worker with ICO and the Political Committee. Thanks to this great couple for their four-season volunteering.

Cheryl Hylton is a Sierra Club life member and a pro bono fundraising consultant for the Chapter.