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First Woman President of La Mirada Chamber

TIRELESS VOLUNTEER: Jeanette Jenkins and her daughter Joyce Hebron are life long representatives for Relay for Life. Jenkins holds the honor to be the first woman elected as President of La Mirada Chamber of Commerce.

By Tammye McDuff

They say if you want to get something done, give the task to a busy woman. Jeanette Jenkins, now in her late 80’s is one of La Mirada’s most distinguished and community driven women.

Jenkins move to La Mirada in the 1960’s and has been involved with serving the community since 1961. She was involved with Cub Scouts as a Den Mother and served on the PTA Board, eventually serving as its president.

Eventually Jenkins was employed by Home Savings and Loan, and then moved on to be the branch manager and vice president at Columbia Savings that was located on the corner of Santa Gertrudes and Imperial Highway. Jenkins was thoroughly involved with her position and often held chamber meetings and city function in the lobby of the bank. To this day there are those customers who remember her as ‘the kind woman at the bank’.

In those days it was unusual for women to be part of the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber was for the most part businessmen – and they had an Auxiliary chapter for the women. Jenkins was a member of the Soroptimist Club of La Mirada and the Business and Professional Women’s club.  She did such a great job that it was proposed that she run for a position on the Chamber of Commerce board of directors. “Oh, I remember that,” she laughed,”it was a big to-do! There had never been a woman as a member of the chamber, much less one that sat on the Board.” Jenkins recalled that there were several ‘gentlemen’ that threatened to quit if she was elected. “Well I was elected to the Board of Directors and was quickly moved into the position of the President. That did not go over well. But I guess I did a good enough job, because those men never quit and the Chamber began to thrive.” She also remains a member in good standing with Ebell.

But Jenkins did not stop there. She served on the board of directors of Musical Theater West and helped to form the youth cultural enrichment program, giving less fortunate children exposure to musical theater.

Both Jeanette and her husband Bob were fundamental in the building of Splash! and have a room dedicated to them. The couple was awarded the Volunteers in Action Award by the City of La Mirada for their combined years of service to the community.  Jeanette was again awarded this honor on her own and she is also a recipient of the Millie Taylor Community Service Award.

In fact, in 2006 they were separately nominated for La Mirada’s Lifetime Achievement Award, but, before a selection was made, it was decided they were both equally deserving. They are still the only married couple to ever receive the honor jointly. Bob was the recipient of the coveted 2002 La Mirada Volunteers in Action Innovation Award. Former La Mirada City Manager Tom Robinson praised Jenkins, “as a tireless volunteer who served the city of La Mirada and its people on many fronts.”

As President and founder of Hands for Hope, a City of Hope chapter, Jenkins raised and donated thousands of dollars to help fund the nonprofit hospital. “I don’t really like to talk about this, but my son Bob passed away from cancer and the hospital took such good care of him, I wanted to do something and give back.”

Most people slow down as they see mid-life in the rear view mirror, but not Jenkins. She is a past committee member and team captain for the La Mirada Relay for Life and maintains a team ‘in memory of the Bob’s – named for her son, Bob Moore and her late husband Bob Jenkins’. She continues to participate in making pillows for City of Hope Breast Cancer patients.

While in residency at the The Palms, Jenkins sat on the Senior Council as a representative for the retirement community, created a mini relay and Luminaria ceremony for cancer survivors’ and their caregivers.

Jenkins now lives in a cozy cottage not too far from her daughter and son-in-law Joyce and Randy Hebron who carry on the tradition of advocating for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

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