Celebrating Leaders – Past and Present
On Saturday I had the honor of celebrating the life of Alice Gedikian. Alice was the mother of CVW family member Lisa Yeghiayan. Alice reached her milestone 100th birthday on Jan. 2 but died unexpectedly two days later.
I never met Alice but, having known Lisa for so many years, I had heard the stories of her incredible journey to America from Turkey as a young child with her mother and two sisters. As she grew up in the United States, she embraced her new home without ever forgetting her roots.
She married and with her husband Aram started a successful shoe repair business – Shoetorium – in Pasadena. The couple worked side-by-side until Aram’s death at the age of 70. Alice was 59 and continued as sole proprietor until 1997 when she retired at the remarkable age of 83.
Her resiliency was tested again in her 88th year when she was struck by a car while crossing the road inArcadia. Despite massive injuries, Alice persevered and continued living – and loving – for another 12 years.
At her funeral, family members recalled a woman who seemed to always have a smile on her face, whatever circumstances she faced. She left a legacy of leadership, strength and love.
Alice’s life reflected that of a leader, of someone who didn’t let the day-to-day challenges beat her down, who rose to those challenges and came out on top.
Last Thursday, I had the chance to celebrate some in the Crescenta Valley community who demonstrate many of the same attributes of Alice. Thursday afternoon was the installation luncheon of the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce and distribution of money from the Mary Pinola Endowment Fund.
It’s impossible for me to make an unbiased comment regarding the CV Chamber of Commerce board; after all I sit on it and am its secretary. But perhaps that gives me a unique vantage point in that I see who’s full of bluster and who actually gets down and works. I’m proud to report that I am part of a cohesive team that pulls together to accomplish some major events that benefit our community including the Hometown Country Fair on April 5.
I was first introduced to Mary Pinola years ago when I became involved with Prom Plus. The fund she created – The Mary Pinola/Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce Education Fund – was established in 1990 to provide grants to benefit educational programs and projects in the Crescenta Valley.
The fund in many instances fills the gaps due to budget cuts and other financial setbacks that affect our schools. Applications for grants – which range from $500 to $3,000 – are accepted annually. The fund committee reviews the applications and awards the grants at the CV Chamber installation luncheon. This year, the fund awarded over $18,000 in grants. (Next week’s CV Weekly will include a write up of the luncheon and grant awardees.) Mary Pinola is a leader who positively impacted these organizations and, by extension, those who are helped by these organizations.
And this is just one example of leaders within our community. Others will be recognized on Jan. 23 when the Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual installation dinner and community awards presentation. Like the CV Chamber did in November, the Montrose Chamber has looked within the community to identify those civic leaders who make a living in the foothills such a privilege and will recognize them at the Jan. 23 dinner. (Tickets are still available. To learn more, read Melinda Clarke’s article on page 27.)
Both the Glendale Latino Assn. and the Glendale Educational Foundation are hosting events in the next few weeks to recognize leaders within their communities. These individuals excelled in their fields of expertise or worked diligently to help youth.
Like Alice Gedikian, these folks encompass the ideals that make up a leader and show us that leadership can be found in most anyone – even 100-year-old ladies.