“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” In their careers and in their charitable contributions, the four real men of Sacramento embody this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote. They give of their time, talents and pocketbooks to make a difference in Sacramento and beyond.
Dave Harmon did not the win the title of Sacramento’s Most Eligible Bachelor, and he’s a bit relieved. “It would be kind of embarrassing if a year from now I had won but still didn’t have a date,” he laughs. Besides, he only agreed to the contest, hosted by Girls on the Grid, because it benefited WEAVE.
For Harmon, philanthropy is the focus of his life. The 33-year-old sits on the local boards of the Ronald McDonald Foundation and Construction Financial Management Association and serves as president of the Northern California Sigma Chi Alumni Association. He is also the co-founder of a new charity, The Council, which plans to raise $10,000 for a different charity at each of the council’s quarterly events.
By trade, the ambitious Midtown resident delivers financial advice to public and private companies as a senior vice president with Bank of America in client management.
While banking has always interested him, Harmon first traveled down a different career path. Listeners of 100.5 FM might remember him as an on-air personality back when the station was still “The Zone.”
But for Harmon, a graduate of Sacramento State’s journalism program, the job failed to satisfy his professional goals.
Following in his grandfather’s banking footsteps was a better fit. “I have the coolest job in the world. I travel around and talk to successfully minded business people,” he says. “I’m always looking to make opportunities happen.”
Self-described “ADD type” Myles McMahon found his perfect career match in real estate. As broker and owner of McMahon Phillips Real Estate, every day presents a variety of tasks to keep him focused–new clients, different houses to sell and deals to negotiate. “My job is a challenge because you have to be a people person and deal with people in their strange ways while staying a businessman who can manage effectively,” he says.
You also have to be creative to stand out in a competitive market. That’s where his High Five program comes in. At McMahon Phillips, sellers and buyers can direct 5 percent of the company’s dollar to an area school. That 5 percent is taken out after all the agents’ fees; a $400,000 home nets roughly a $100 donation for an elementary, middle or high school.
“It’s not a huge amount, but $100 can go a long way in a school library,” McMahon says. Plus, the program helps align his business with the Land Park community, a historic slice of Sacramento he is proud to live, work and play in.
On weekends you can catch him at the park “herding cats” AKA coaching T-Ball for his youngest son’s team. As a father, McMahon stresses that family is the most important thing to him and McMahon Phillips is run like a family business. “We’re a mom and pop company, but with really good technology.”
Dr. Richard Jones didn’t initially set his sights on eye medicine. After graduating in the top 1 percent of his class at the University of Texas Medical Branch, he completed a surgical internship. Although he liked the work, he often found himself operating on patients too sick to appreciate the procedures.
He decided to put his surgical skills to work in a field where his patients could truly see the difference: ophthalmology. At Eye Site Sacramento, a private practice in East Sac, Jones and his partner, Dr. Christian Serdahl, provide routine eye care and cutting-edge surgeries for everyone from “millionaires to paupers.”
“It’s my duty as a physician to take care of all people whether they can afford it not,” Jones says.
In service of that duty, he provides free, restorative eye surgeries to the uninsured, indigent members of the community through the SPIRIT program of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society.
These surgeries change lives. The trucker is able to drive again. The Cirque du Soleil artist can dazzle crowds once more.
“It’s kind of a thrill to restore a person’s eyesight, to see their smile the next day. It’s a warm fuzzy feeling,” he explains.
As a leader in ophthalmology, Jones serves as a delegate of the California Medical Association. That’s also how he met his wife, Dr. Lydia Wytrzes, a sleep specialist. The two first crossed paths at the annual convention, where they work to improve the practice of medicine and public health.
Anthony Volkar is a man about town, quite literally. He lives in West Sac, works at UC Davis and every week he treks up to Oak Ridge High School to counsel his kids–all 170 of them–in the ways of democracy as the Lead Adviser of the YMCA’s El Dorado Youth and Government Delegation, a role he stepped into six years ago when there were “just” 80 kids.
Volkar guides teens as they prepare for three statewide conferences, including a Model Legislature and Court at the State Capitol. Each year, Volkar sees how the program pushes kids out of their comfort zones and boosts their confidence so they can run for office or even start their own businesses.
But it’s not just about goals and government. As an adult who is neither parent nor teacher, Volkar is a mentor the kids can talk to and relate to on a different level. He’s also the recipient of the 2016 Volunteer of the Year Award from YMCA Sacramento Central, which he says is appreciated but unnecessary.
Volkar says he volunteers because he knows the impact the program makes. His own high school experience as a youth and government delegate influenced his decision to study political science and communications at UC Davis. Today, he overseas the student side of the MyUCDavis website.
In his “spare” time, Volkar, volunteers for the American Cancer Society and coordinates the Relay for Life event in West Sacramento.