From left, Rep. Judy Chu honors South Pasadena resident Mavis Hansen as a Woman of the Year. Courtesy photo

Mavis Hansen, a South Pasadena resident, was named one of 12 San Gabriel Valley Women of the Year by Rep. Judy Chu, D-27. The annual awards ceremony was held April 13 at the San Marino Center in San Marino.

The award, now in its 10th year, recognizes women contributing to the community through service, organizing or leadership, according to an announcement from Chu’s office.

Chu said in a statement that the “winners have stood out in our communities because of their drive and commitment to give back to the San Gabriel Valley.” She said her office received “a flood of nominations” from cities across her jurisdiction. Winners included women from such other cities as Claremont, Pasadena and San Gabriel.

Chu introduced Hansen at the well-attended ceremony by describing her extensive background as a volunteer. Hansen began volunteering while working for the Southern California Gas Company, Chu said. She started with projects organized by an employee club. She also became active in the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation. After retiring in 1994 after 23 years with the utility, Chu said, Hansen became a full-time volunteer.

Hansen then joined the El Monte Women’s Club and served two terms as its president. She later served as the San Gabriel Valley District president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (Federation). This umbrella national and international organization, founded in 1890, aims to coordinate efforts at promoting volunteer community service, according to www.britannica.com.

Hansen joined the South Pasadena Woman’s Club when she moved to the city in 2010. She currently serves as its president.

The Woman’s Club operates out of its historic clubhouse at 1424 Fremont Avenue. Numerous events are held during the year to support its charitable activities. These include Operation Cookie to collect cookies for veterans, the “For the Love of Chocolate” fundraiser,  a Holiday Boutique and a rummage sale. Last year, the club awarded $18,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors from South Pasadena High School, according to its website.

For the past four years, Chu said, Hansen has served as the Federation’s District Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Chair.

“This position culminates the decades of work Mavis has done to support survivors of domestic violence and their families,” she said.

In fact, Hansen was instrumental in helping the congresswoman with one of her own projects, Chu said.

“During my Domestic Violence Awareness Drive,” Chu said, “Mavis was a key contributor in gathering clothing and materials for domestic violence organizations…she helped gather a record number of items.”

Hansen explained how she did this in a phone interview following the ceremony. As  the district president, she enlisted the assistance of the 26 women’s clubs that she oversaw. Their 300 members collected used clothing, shoes, purses, jewelry, toiletries and school supplies for abuse survivors and their children.

Hansen said that being recognized by Congresswoman Chu was particularly special.

“I worked with her 13 years ago,” Hansen said, “when she was a member of the El Monte Women’s Club and had the idea to start this drive. It became a big thing.”

Hansen said just to be able to do this work is rewarding. “I get a good feeling, a sense of accomplishment, and I feel I have a purpose in life,” she said.

“Community service is a driving force in her life,” Chu said as she presented the award, “and at 88 years young, she’s barely getting started.”

Mayor Pro Tem Robert Joe, who attended the event, said by phone afterward, “It was an honor and privilege to attend Mavis’ recognition from Congresswoman Chu, and her living in South Pasadena makes our city special.”

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Sally Kilby, a South Pasadena resident, was City Clerk 2000-2013. Prior to that, she worked in health care as a nurse, medical librarian, advertising copywriter, writer and journal editor. She is involved in various community organizations. Her two grown children attended South Pasadena schools and work at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena.

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