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Van Ma grew up in San Francisco. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in Human Biology and a minor in French Literature. Having left her heart in San Francisco, she returned to work across the Bay Area as a behavioral therapist, teaching verbal and nonverbal children with ASD. She maintains an active lifestyle by practicing yoga and running daily. In her spare time, she loves to read at local cafes, work on art projects, watch sports, and rock out to country music. Wherever she is, Van loves to try new restaurants and check out events around the city. She lives by the motto: “I work to live and I live to travel,” so she always looks forward to local and foreign adventures.

Ritz-Carlton San Francisco Hosts Give Back Getaways


Community Footprints Program – Hands united to “Engage. Contribute. Inspire.” (Photo credit: Ritz-Carlton Community Footprints)

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company started its global Community Footprints Program in 1983 with the motto “Engage. Contribute. Inspire.”  Its mission is to support the community and environment. Recently, it has partnered with Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy to launch Give Back Getaways, a “voluntourism” opportunity for its hotel guests and members of the community. Give Back Getaways feature a series of day time excursions to give back to the environment while experiencing some of San Francisco’s treasured park lands.

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Volunteers plant flowers at Alcatraz Island. (Photo credit: Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)

The Golden Gate National Parks make up 80,400 acres, which are home to redwoods, historic landmarks, trails, rare and endangered species, remarkable shorelines, and picturesque vistas. Guests have the option of exploring two beautiful parks with these two events: Preserving the Gardens of Alcatraz Island and Restoration at the Presidio Nursery. The Alcatraz Island events welcome those ages eighteen and over in which volunteers will travel to the island during the early morning by motor coach, arriving on the island before other visitors. Everyone will collaborate to restore the century old gardens by clearing invasive weeds, pruning, and planting. Guests will have the opportunity to visit areas that are typically restricted for the general public. In addition, there is the option to stay on the island to explore and enjoy a complimentary audio tour.

Photo credit: Presidio Nursery

Volunteers help with pruning plants. (Photo credit: Presidio Nursery)

The second option is the Presidio Nursery, which offers an amazing view of the Bay, California Coast, and Golden Gate Bridge. The nursery is currently growing 65,000 native plants for restoration. Volunteers will have the opportunity to explore and restore popular areas such as Inspiration Point, Crissy Field, Dragonfly Creek, and Baker Beach. This event is open to volunteers of all ages.

For each event, The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco will provide a Footprints tee-shirt, water bottle, and a complimentary box lunch to enjoy after the project.

Both options offer visitors and residents a unique opportunity to explore two national treasures and to help keep them strong and thriving.


WHEN : Alcatraz Island: Wednesday, April 10 and Wednesday, April 17, 2013; Friday, May 3, 2013; Wednesday, May 22, 2013. From 7:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Presidio Nursery: Wednesday, April 24, 2013; Saturday, April 27, 2013; Wednesday, May 8, 2013; Saturday, May 18, 2013. From 12:20 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The Ritz Carlton, San Francisco
600 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
Ph. 415-296-7465

TICKETS: Please click here to make reservations. 48 hour notice required.

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