Note: I am restarting the Claremont Now blog after a short break. This story is online and made the paper but I feel it’s an important one. I was lucky enough to speak on the phone with Axel, Betty and Helaine who received an award and they were all very gracious with their time despite being involved with a lot of different groups. I also added Helaine’s third child Debbie to the story below. Congratulations to all three.
Residents Axel Garcia, Betty Crocker and Helaine Goldwater were selected as community heroes for different reasons but all will be at the Claremont Day at the Los Angeles County Fair on Sept. 26.
“I was very surprised,” said Garcia, 9, who had an idea to hold a toy drive in late 2012 at Sumner Elementary School for those less fortunate than him that was successful.
The Fritz’s Holiday Lights Toys for Tots Bus went to Garcia’s school to celebrate the Toys for Tots drive.
“Last week, I received a letter informing me that I was nominated to be a Claremont hero. I’m very happy and honored to represent Claremont. We did Toys for Tots. And I’ve done volunteer work for the (Claremont) concert in the park and the Fourth of July pancake breakfast with the Kiwanis Club.”
Crocker reaches out to neighbors, hosts block parties and other community events and is the leader of the Claremont community group and neighborhood watch group Keeping the Good in the Neighborhood.
“My hands are shaking,” Crocker said on Friday of her adult hero honor. “I got the email from the L.A. County Fair. I thought they must have sent it to the wrong person.”
Crocker said she is gearing up for a Keeping the Good in the Neighborhood Crime Watch Street Faire and Car Show from 5 to 10 p.m. Sept. 7.
The event, at 2200 N. Villa Maria Road, Claremont, is a citywide event but is open to all who want to celebrate and learn about the neighborhood watch program.
Officials from the Claremont Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Los Angeles County Search and Rescue and more will be in attendance, Crocker said.
There is a suggested donation of $25 for the Claremont Police Department to purchase a K9 unit.
Crocker, 46, thanked Police Chief Paul Cooper for nominating her.
“That’s what made it so special. When your hero thinks you’re a hero … it’s a lot,” Crocker said while crying. “It’s a lot to process. KGNH is the work that makes my heart sing but it is with Chief Cooper’s leadership that we have had this explosive growth.”
Senior hero Goldwater, 72, has volunteered in multiple organizations including Meals on Wheels, AYSO, Little League and Claremont school committees. She was also the first chair of the Claremont Police Commission.
“It was a complete surprise. It’s always delightful to be recognized and you feel it’s an undeserved honor.”
Goldwater described Claremont as “a community that has been very supportive of me and my family. I’ve always wanted to be in a giving back mode.”
The 42-year resident of Claremont added she is concerned about the younger generation giving back.
“My peer group came from an active community volunteer point of view. And we’ve been waiting for the younger generation to come up and take their place. With a few exceptions, there are some, but not in the magnitude we did. I say we. I put that in there that truly one person doesn’t do it. It’s always a group effort.”
She thanked her husband Steve for being willing to raise her children Richard and Douglas and Debbie “while I was out doing volunteer work and working full-time.”
A 3:30 p.m. reception on Claremont Day will be at the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts and a community parade at 5 p.m. with a Salute to Heroes event at 5:30 p.m. on the Expo Hall 4 Stage.
Claremont residents can visit the fair for $5 on Sept. 26 when they enter promo code claremont at lacountyfair.com/onlinetickets, print the ticket and bring it with them to the Fair.
The fair is held at Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona
For more information, head to lacountyfair.com.