Ed Donnelly (from left), Malinda Vargas, Tammy Selden, Stacey Petersen were recognized for their diverse service to SPUSD alongside Grace Kung, vice president of the South Pasadena Council PTA Leadership, at the district’s honorary school service awards lunch, May 8. Photo by Skye Hannah

It was a full house at the South Pasadena Unified School District (SPUSD) office as parents, residents, educators and volunteers gathered to celebrate those who have gone above and beyond in their duty to students at the annual SPUSD Honorary Service Awards lunch May 8. The commendations served as council-level PTA awards.

Stacey Petersen was presented with the Distinguished Volunteer Service Award on behalf of the South Pasadena Educational Foundation (SPEF); Ed Donnelly earned an Honorary Service Award and a Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the No on N Committee; Tammy Chang Selden earned an Honorary Service Award; and Malinda Vargas was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation.

Grace Kung, South Pasadena Council PTA president, said the honorees have both exceeded their responsibilities and donated “thousands of volunteer hours” to the community.
“We do want to honor those that have stepped up beyond what is required in their roles,” said Kung. “Everyone here has done more than enough in terms of what it is for the children. It’s not just about your own child. It’s about your greater community. It’s very special to see their years of service.”

School Board Member Jon Primuth commended Stacey Petersen, executive director of SPEF, and the organization as a whole for nurturing a culture in which volunteers “drive innovation” and coordinate closely with school PTAs. He noted that strong partnerships truly help set SPEF apart from foundations in other districts.
“It’s amazing how that culture has really sustained itself,” said Primuth. “Not a lot of other foundations have that.”

“I’m accepting this for all of you, you, you,” said Petersen while smiling and pointing out into the crowd. “SPEF would not be the organization without the community support, period.”
Ed Donnelly, co-chair of the No on N Committee, accepted the Certification of Appreciation on behalf of the committee that successfully worked to defeat the repeal of Measure N, the utility users tax (UUT), in November 2018. The UUT provides about 12 percent of the city’s general fund, which translates to about $3.4 million of the city’s approximate $26 million budget.
It was noted Donnelly helped lead outreach education on what the repeal of the UUT would mean for the city and gathering volunteers. Donnelly gave special thanks to fellow co-chair Yuki Cutcheon.
“Without her, I couldn’t have done half of what I did and then also great thanks to a fantastic team that we drew from all corners of our community and every age group,” said Donnelly. “Without those dozen or so hardworking people, there’s no way this would have passed. Our get out and vote campaign brought out 80 percent of the city to vote. Absolutely unprecedented.”

For the Honorary Service Award, Donnelly was recognized by presenter Sarah Schafer for his involvement with the Measure SP committee, South Pasadena Dads Uniting Dads in Education & Service (D.U.D.E.S.), South Pasadena Arts Council (SPARC), Women Involved in South Pasadena Political Action (WISPPA), South Pasadena Middle School musical theater program and his service as a city liaison.
“Somehow Ed Donnelly managed to not only be involved in multiple branches of community advocacy but be a leader and involved father, a musician and a South Pasadena staple all at the same time,” said Schafer.
“There’s a lot to do and somebody’s got to do it,” Donnelly said. “All of you are just as involved in things as I am so I share this with all of you.”

Tammy Selden was noted for her volunteering service of supporting the band, recruiting PTA membership, assisting in the classroom, chaperoning fieldtrips, chairing staff appreciation events, participating in school councils, updating websites, helping start the middle school’s music boosters, publishing newsletters and tutoring math among other activities.
“It’s my pleasure to work with your children,” said Selden. “They are fun. Trust me, they are fun. And it helps me to teach my own children when I help out other people’s kids.”

Malinda Vargas was recognized for her service on PTA boards, event leadership, Cub Scout Den leadership and service to children.
“Thank you so much, said Vargas. “I really appreciate it.”

SPUSD schools will be presenting individual school site awards through the rest of this month.

Skye Hannah, Senior Reporter
Author

Skye Hannah is a senior reporter for the South Pasadena Review and the San Marino Tribune, covering education, government, sports, features and civic issues. Skye previously served as an award-winning senior staff photojournalist and staff writer for five years for the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, Georgia. You can contact Skye with news tips and feedback at shannah@gavilanmedia.com / Twitter @SkyeHannahCA

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