The 2010 Nice List: Joan Whitenack

First on my “nice list” has to be Joan Whitenack of the Foothill Unity Center. The center serves the poorest of the poor with many services here in the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley. It is no small feat, but director Joan Whitenack gets it done with the help of volunteers, grants, schools and other non-profits in the area. To quote Bill Beebe, president of the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts that awarded her their Renaissance Award, “She’s got a nice smile, but there’s no saying no to Joan.”

Not saying “no” to Joan has worked wonders. What started out as a small effort by a local Church in 1980 has grown to a large incorporated non-profit with two service centers through the efforts of Ms Whitenack. The service centers are located in Pasadena and Monrovia. There they serve families and individuals in crisis to give them immediate aid then help them get on a path to recovery.   They even run a “pet food bank” to help them out with taking care of the pets as noted on a recent episode of the Ellen DeGeneres Show!

Aside from helping hundreds of families with their basic needs they have several special events through out the year. Among them are the
Back to School event where more than a thousand children receive hair cuts, dental exams, back-to-school supplies, clothing and even a keepsake art project.

Their mission statement says it all.

Foothill Unity Center, Inc. envisions a community where. . .

  • All have their basic needs met, including the need to give
  • All get the necessary support to become self-sufficient
  • All are treated with love and dignity … all the time

We provide critical support, in the form of food, clothing, motel vouchers, and referrals/advocacy to our neighbors in crisis. As the need for food brings people to us, we listen to their problems and help them find solutions. We work with other agencies to provide long-term shelter, counseling, medical, educational, employment and spiritual assistance depending on the person’s needs.In this way, Foothill Unity Center helps people return self-sufficiency. All services are provided with love and dignity, regardless of race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, citizenship, sexual orientation, physical or emotional disabilities or veteran’s status.

All this happened through the energy and vision of Ms Whitenack to be able to help those in need in the foothill communities in the San Gabriel Valley.

Monrovia Center: 415 W. Chestnut Ave., Monrovia 91016 Phone: (626) 358-3486 / Fax: (626) 358-8224 Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday through Friday
Pasadena Center: 191 N. Oak Ave., Pasadena 91107 Phone: (626) 584-7420 / Fax: (626) 584-7422 Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday through Friday
More information on how to Volunteer, donate or help however you can at the Foothill Unity Center Web site.