Mary Anne Dijak doesn't have a lot of downtime. As a full-time regional director for a nonprofit community organization, she spends the hours between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. connecting underprivileged families to affordable housing and resources such as after-school programs, English lessons, and computer classes. In the evening, after she and her husband and three children have devoured dinner, there's the usual shuttling to Girl Scouts or karate. Then she's off to Hidden Valley Middle School in Escondido, Calif., where she's PTSA president.

"When something is important, you find time to do it," she says. As president, Dijak runs her PTSA just as she does her life. She keeps the meetings concise and community-oriented, and she encourages parents to bring students. PTSA business is limited to 30 minutes; afterward, families are typically invited to participate in a hands-on community service activity, usually run in conjunction with the school's student government. It's not odd for 75 families to show up to stuff goodies into care packages for hurricane victims, assist with a campus cleanup, or write letters to soldiers overseas. At other meetings, Dijak has called on her business connections—largely professors at the University of California, Davis—to offer teen nutrition and cooking classes, or she has brought in speakers to address youth-related issues, including gangs and unprotected sex. "We never have a meeting that's just a meeting," she says.

Dijak also has been working overtime to help her general community. She's a founding member of a civic group that prays for those affected by violence. She helped spearhead a gun safety program and was asked to present it in Washington, D.C., at a national conference. She spoke at the Million Mom March in San Diego in 2002. And in 2005, she received an award from a regional hospital network for her local efforts with needy families. But Dijak is especially proud of the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program, a teen awareness campaign that she initiated in her district. "I have no doubt in my mind that this program saves lives," she says.

Hidden Valley Middle School principal Kyle Ruggles says he's fortunate to have an advocate like Dijak. "Everything she does with PTSA is tied to kids and community," he adds. "Students learn from our PTSA's actions. Our school benefits from her leadership."

Dijak has been sharing her time with the Escondido school community since her oldest son, now a high school senior, was in kindergarten. "They see you giving back....That's important," she says of how her involvement affects her family, including two older stepchildren. "Those that are given much have much to do."