by MICHELLE TREMBLAY | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Steve and Christiane Staninger met while Steve was a high school senior and Christiane an exchange student from Germany. The two instantly connected, later married, and today are parents of two sons: Jackson (age 17) and Noah (age 15).

Steve and Christiane both teach at the University of San Diego – Steve is a Professor of Library Science and Christiane is an English Composition and German Literature teacher.

The couple moved their family to Rancho Peñasquitos in 1998 and was immediately inspired by the amount of volunteers in the community. “Generally, we were impressed with the many parents who volunteered in the community when we moved up here,” said the Staningers. “Everyone was doing something. It didn’t take long for Steve and Christiane to join the ranks of their neighbors and become enthusiastic volunteers.

Since 2008, Christiane has been a part of Ride Across California (RAC), an annual event put on by the Rancho Family YMCA. “When I first heard about it [RAC], I thought they were all crazy!” joked Christiane. “Now I think it’s the greatest adventure ever. Who rides his/her bike across the desert? You meet some really nice 5th graders and their parents. And it’s great exercise, even for non-athletes like me.”

She also participated in this year’s Bike to Work Day and is eager to continue her work with the organization.

[quote]“Generally, we were impressed with the many parents who volunteered in the community when we moved up here.  Everyone was doing something.” [/quote]

Her other accomplishments include: heading up “Camp Crazy,” a weeklong summer camp for neighborhood kids at her house, teaching an after-school German language class to kids, and raising two service dogs through the Loving Paws organization (those dogs are now their pets, Shasta and Lucca).

Steve, who Christiane calls “very organized” and “detail oriented,” is also no stranger to volunteering. He spent 10 years as part of the Poway Unified PTA – four of which he served as President. From 2008-2011, he was team parent for the Rancho Peñasquitos Little League. Today, Steve volunteers for the Mt. Carmel High School Drama Booster Club and is a member of the Paws’itive Team Service Dogs Group, located in Rancho Bernardo.

Apart from their volunteer work the couple loves to spend time with their family. “We speak German at home!” said Christiane. Steve is a frequent tennis and basketball player and sings for his church choir. Christiane enjoys biking and is training with her son, Jackson, for her first half marathon.

When asked what their biggest accomplishment in volunteering has been, Christiane and Steve simply replied: “We have been very blessed with our lives and it makes us feel good to help out!”