Learning from generous role models

Jacqulyn Petersen is overcome with emotion as she sits beside husband Harold Petersen after as a newly-dedicated children's garden bearing their name is unveiled at the Child and Family Center on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

We simply cannot allow another week to pass without joining our voices with another appreciative agency saying “thank you” to a couple of community benefactors who delight in quietly helping those in need.

Unlike others who may expect recognition for giving time, talents and treasures, these two go on quietly donating behind the scenes with no fanfare and no thought of self-promotion.

They have selected certain causes – including health, education and care of SCV children, community and families – and given from the heart, with humility and surprise when they are recognized.

They are Harold and Jacqulyn Petersen, and this week the agency saying “thank you” was the Child & Family Center, to which the Petersens promptly donated $40,000 in both personal funds and Petersen Foundation money.

It wasn’t the couple’s first round of generosity toward the center, which has received funds from them for 15 years. On Tuesday the center dedicated its new Harold and Jacqulyn Petersen Family Children’s Garden, a surprise to the Petersens that brought tears to Jacqulyn’s eyes.

“They have been examples for donating generously,” center spokeswoman Cheryl Jones said. “Anyone who knows them knows they’re the best. They are the sweetest people you will ever meet.”

A trail of public “thank yous” has followed the Petersens, who moved to the Santa Clarita Valley in 2001 and became immersed in community causes. Besides the Child & Family Center, they have helped support the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, College of the Canyons and the Junior League, among others.

We hold them up as models for coming generations of SCV leadership not just because of their generosity, but also due to their modesty and their drive to serve others, not to seek self-aggrandizement through their service.

One can serve generously through volunteerism and with one’s talents, not just with money.

We can name a few young Santa Clarita Valley residents doing so now.

We encourage today’s generation of up-and-coming leaders, those who have found successes in their personal and business lives and are blessed to be in positions to help, to step up to the plate and model the Petersen’s pattern of giving to help those in need in our community.

Be surprised – not expectant – of the “thank yous” that will come your own way.

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