By Susan Motander
Foothill Unity Center (FUC) will host a reception in honor of Betty Sandford on Thursday, Feb. 21 from 3-5 p.m. at their facility in Monrovia at 790 W. Chestnut. This celebration of all the kindnesses of Betty is open to the public. Betty’s decision to sell her Monrovia home and move closer to her children has prompted the center to celebrate her.
One of Betty’s greatest talents is her ability to inspire others. In this regard she was instrumental in formalizing the organization that is now the Unity Center. In the early 1980s Josephine Anderson began the Center working out of a closet at Immaculate Conception Church. Betty was inspired herself by an editorial written by Dick Singer (at that time he was the editor of the local paper) in support of the Center. Betty brought Josephine into the committee planning Monrovia’s centennial.
Soon thereafter, when Immaculate Conception needed the use of the closet they had loaned Josephine, Betty realized the need to formalize the organization of the FUC. She almost single-handedly drafted the original board of directors, serving on the board herself. Her late husband Jules even served as the legal counsel for the center and later for many years as the president of the center’s Board of Directors. Betty even helped organize the Center’s Auxiliary, hosting the charter meeting in her own home.
As was noted when Betty was honored by the center with the Heart in Hand Humanitarian Award several years ago, she has given the center her time and funding for well over 30 years; but the Unity Center was not the only recipient of Betty’s support.
She, with the whole-hearted support of her husband for the more than 50 years of their marriage, became involved in many organizations and causes. She, like many other women of the time, became involved with the PTA when her children were young, but her involvement went much further. She worked on bond measures to support the schools. She organized the Blue Ribbon Parents Committee to deal with the racial unrest in the schools during the 1970s. She supported Monrovia Reads, the literacy non-profit in town that, among other things, provides tutors for Monrovia school students. Betty even served as a member of the Board of Directors not only of Monrovia Reads, but also on the Board of Trustees for the Monrovia Unified School District.
The list of her volunteer activities seems endless. She worked with the Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee, the Pasadena area League of Women Voters, Santa Anita Family Services, American Associate of University Women, the Friends of the Monrovia Library, YWCA, Operation Head Start, and Healthy Start. She worked for many years with the United Nations, serving as the regional director of UNICEF and on the Global Education Conference.
She has worked on countless political campaigns giving them her advice, leadership and support. She even served as the chair of the city’s centennial celebration.
She has received many acknowledgements of her dedication to Monrovia and the area. She received the Iris Award as Monrovia[‘s Citizen of the Year, the Wilcox Award from the Boys and Girls Club, the State Legislature’s Women of Distinction, even the Dick Lord Award for service to the Chamber of Commerce.
The list of honors has not ended yet. Next month on March 15, Monrovia Unified School District’s Celebration of the Performing Arts will again honor this amazing woman for all the support she has given to that Department.