Georgia Acosta Pech
Inaugural Joan Gendreau Award
This year we began a new tradition with a special award named after Children’s Services Auxiliary’s founder, Joan Gendreau who passed away this last February at 85 years of age. Joan was an amazing woman who cared very deeply for Ventura County’s Foster Youth. We wanted to honor her with this special award being given to a special scholarship recipient.
In her 30s, Joan was widowed with five kids to raise. With all that on her plate, she also taught a parenting skills class. One Holiday season in the early 1980s, her students mentioned they were spread too thin to buy Holiday presents for their foster kids. With scant funds she and a friend refurbished toys and threw a party with presents for all! Hence began the annual Holiday Toy Store in her garage and has been happening every year since serving other community organizations as well. Joan’s integrity and compassion for making a difference in a child’s life and her commitment to serving her community set her apart.The individual whom we chose to receive this award, Sophia Jeffe, in her application she wrote, “I am a college freshman with a passion to serve…also, “I love being able to use my voice to advocate for my peers.” Sophia has volunteered with Women of Substance and Men of Honor, Claudia’s Closet, Kiwanis Club, California Youth Connection as a chapter chair, and was a representative with the Academy of Medical Health Science! Her decision to seek higher education is in order to enable her to advocate for the well-being of others. Her love for her community and motivation and desire to work every day to be the highest expression of herself in order to serve others, is why Sophia Jeffe was the perfect person for this award!