SELF-reflection is a theme of the Jewish High Holidays, which begin Sunday evening with the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, continue through the 10 days of repentance and conclude on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Charity is one of the triad — repentance, prayer and charity — that tempers G-d’s decree of who shall live and who shall die.
My definition of charity includes good deeds that are either financial, personal, or both.
I looked around and asked around and found so many people whose giving nature has blessed others. These are just a few people — most of whom do not appear in a headline. They make good news just by being themselves.
Doing good crosses religious boundaries — so even though this column celebrates the Jewish High Holidays, it also celebrates good people of all faiths. There is not enough space to list all of you who make someone’s day. Consider yourself mentioned by omission.
Ellen Daigle: The owner of Ellen’s silk screening store on Mission Street will receive the Women’s Club “Shining Star’’ award for her dedication to public service. Daigle has served on many boards and commissions concerning youth, education, recreation, business and education. She and her husband Joe donated seed money to bring the Leo Politi bronze statute to the library.
Maida Wong: For 31 years — that’s about three generations — she has been “Miss Maida’’ to the children of South Pasadena and a mentor to librarians in training. As children’s librarian, she said, “I tried to inspire them to find the right book at the right time. I tried to help children find the joy in reading. The more they read, hopefully, the more they will enjoy reading.” The summer reading program grew under her watch from about 400 students to over 2,000. She is now Public Services Manager at the library.
Marlene Moore: Director of community services and the Giving Bank at Holy Name Church. While raising her family, she volunteered at church “wherever it needed me.’’ She added: “My faith grows in serving. I’ve always been faithful, but my faith grew even more in helping people. It is the Holy Spirit at work that put me in the right place at the right time.’’ Moore has been director since 2016 and oversees a program that feeds 150 people at a food pantry on Mondays; meals the rest of the week; and a shower and meal program on Wednesdays.
Kris Saxon: He’s been with the South Pasadena Fire Department for 30 years. He is a senior captain, and one of his jobs is managing and organizing all of the safety equipment. He not only orders the equipment, he also makes sure it is state of the art. Fire Chief Paul Riddle noted that, in his 30 years, Saxon has called in sick only twice. “He brings stability to the department,’’ Riddle said. “He provides senior leadership and people look up to him.’’
Stephanie Ryburn: She keeps a basket of candy next to her teller window at the South Pasadena branch of Citizens Bank. Ryburn, who has worked 20 years at the branch, said that one mother told her that she was driving past the bank and her son said, “Mom, can we go into the bank and see the candy lady?’’
Barbara Klein: She has volunteered with the Senior Center since 2003 and delivers meals to housebound senior citizens. She delivers 15-20 meals every Tuesday and will go back and visit one or two people every week. Liliana Farruggia-Torres, community services supervisor, said Klein visits one person who is over 95 and lives alone and just enjoys the conversation. “Our program is successful because of her,’’ Torres said.
Sue Quon: She has volunteered for the Senior Center for the past 12 years and comes in as soon as the doors open to begin helping prepare the daily meal. Torres said that when the center is short-staffed, Quon “takes on the majority of the responsibilities to assure the meals go out on time. She is beyond committed and caring, and she has a heart of gold.’’
Ben Ku: The South Pas High chemistry teacher was nominated by a parent, Yuki Cutcheon. When her daughter tore her ACL a year ago and was behind in school after missing three weeks post-surgery, Cutcheon said her daughter emailed asking for suggestions. The teacher met her at a local coffee shop to provide in-person help. Cutcheon described Ku as “an amazing teacher and mentor to the students’’ and someone who is a teacher-adviser to several student clubs.
Sean Friezer: Three people mentioned this Dial-A-Ride driver with the City of South Pasadena. Marianna Adams, who lives at the Golden Oaks apartments, calls Friezer — the son of Review photographer Henk Friezer — an “absolutely wonderful man.’’ Adams recalled an incident where Friezer saw a women he knew who was not his customer at the time standing in front of her residence with her mother. Adams said that Friezer jumped out of his cab and assisted until help arrived.
Alex Zuno and Sonia Silva: If you have to stand in line at Von’s on Fair Oaks, it is worth it to get in line for one of these two checkers. Both are longtime employees who recognize you and are quick with suggestions or help. Alex, who has been with Vons for over 35 years, has a way of making even crabby children break into a smile, not to mention crabby adults. Sonia, who has spent the majority of her 41 years with Vons at the Fair Oaks store, said, “This is my second home and these are all my neighbors.’’
There are so many people whose good deeds have supported me through the past few years. The neighbor across the street, Mike Hannibal, was the first to respond when I fractured my leg and was lying on the floor. My next-door neighbor Irene Chang brought the paper to my door every day for months because I could not get down the driveway on my own.
My family and friends are just like yours — blessed by their good deeds.
May you, your family and friends — whatever your beliefs — be inscribed in the Book of Life, and have a year of happiness and health.
Andy Lippman’s “Spiritually Speaking” column appears monthly in the Review.