Meet Super-Volunteer Judy Penman
Life is ‘just too exciting’ to pass up on an opportunity to give back
Hard work and time management are no foreign concepts to local volunteer Judy Penman. When she made the move from Northern California to Los Angeles to work for the U.S. Department of Labor, Judy felt lost in the big city. After reaching out to the city’s volunteer coordinator, this 28-year resident began dedicating herself to her newfound home, the Santa Clarita Valley.
“I love this community,” Judy said. “I want to make sure what I do is important to me and to the people I’m serving.”
On top of a full-time job, Judy devoted herself to countless local organizations built upon empowering women and giving back to the less fortunate. Her volunteer path started 26 years ago with the Zonta Club of SCV, which was created to improve the status of women. Judy has been president of this club twice before and will be elected for a third term this year as an innovator of events and fundraisers. Judy also serves on the Board of Directors for the SCV Raiders Booster Club, Circle of Hope and the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita Valley. Not to mention, she volunteers for the Assistance League Santa Clarita as Vice President of Resource Development.
“People say, ‘Watch out for Judy because she will get you involved,’ and that’s what I set out to do,” she laughed at herself.
As a board member of the WiSH Education Foundation, Judy seeks to benefit the William S. Hart Union High School District by raising funds for teachers. One form of outreach that’s close to her heart is the Medicare counseling she provides to the SCV Senior Center. In addition, Judy enjoys volunteering for the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons. Once retired in 2011, she continued to invest in the community and remains active while now also assisting part-time at City Hall. “Life is just too exciting; there’s too much to do!” Judy exclaimed.
For Judy, it has never been about the awards; although, the impressive honors posted on the walls of her home are many. In 2007, she was recognized as the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year by the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, and a year later, she was the recipient of the SCV Woman of the Year award. The County of Los Angeles also has acknowledged her for her many years of volunteer service. This past year, she was humbled as The Signal newspaper’s Top 51 Most Influential residents, as well.
Throughout her life, Judy has had excellent role models who value work and bettering the community. Born in Duluth, Minnesota on the coldest day in December, Judy traveled across the country her family to her childhood hometown in Los Alamos, New Mexico. After the loss of her father to cancer, Judy’s mother maintained their family-owned motel for 34 years.
Judy was then introduced to her husband, Douglas Penman, whom she describes as a workaholic and a man she would follow anywhere. She did just that when the two relocated to Northern California in 1971, and she later became the first female to work in the consumer division for the Department of Insurance. Meanwhile, Doug was running his own automotive machine shop in Martinez, California.
Once Judy was transferred to Los Angeles to spearhead an interagency group within the U.S. Department of Labor, the couple faced a difficult marital challenge — a six-year long distance relationship. With Doug’s booming business, he stayed behind while she set out for the city; but over the next six years, Doug would travel every weekend to see Judy.
“She’s a very busy woman,” Doug said with a chuckle. “There was always something new on the agenda.”
Judy would eventually convince her husband to volunteer with her at least once a weekend, and finally, it was about time Doug joined his other half in Santa Clarita. Over the past 20 years, the two have been involved in the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival and enjoy stirring up their Southwestern roots. They even renewed vows for their 40th anniversary on stage after the festival and received a standing ovation from passersby, who believed the exchange was part of the act. In following this tradition, Judy and Doug will be celebrating their 45th anniversary by volunteering this year.