Jami Kennedy grew up in the Santa Clarita Valley from the age of 7. Her original home is still in the family. She was one of three elementary school representatives that broke ground for Sierra Vista Junior High — the first junior high in the Valley. There were only three elementary schools at the time. After living in the San Fernando Valley and Bishop for a total of 4 years, Jami came home to Santa Clarita where she and her husband owned and operated a plumbing contracting business for 15 years.
When things got tough in the late ’80’s, the Kennedys shut the business down. Then Jami worked for United Way of Greater Los Angeles for 9 years. Her duties included raising money in the SCV. Even though Jami retired over 25 years ago, she has been “employed” as a full-time volunteer in the community. That has always been her passion – even while raising exotic birds.
The Boys and Girls Club Auction was Jami’s first volunteer endeavor, and she still works on the Auction each year. She is also a member of Zonta and was a member of the SCV Crisis Community Hotline, serving as treasurer and working on the annual fund raiser, Rent-A-Santa (later turned over to Zonta when the Hotline shut down). The American Heart Association Celebrity Waiter Dinner was another event Jami worked on (before it became a Senior Center event). She worked on annual fund-raising for the Red Cross as well as working on the Save A Life Sunday around the holidays, getting blood donors.
Jami has been a board member for Carousel Ranch Therapy on Horseback for several years, serving as secretary. She also has worked with the School and Business Alliance on its fund-raiser, Monopoly Mania. Jami is also a board member of the Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of many species of Gibbon Apes. Another project has been Project Town Angels which got started in September, 2005. A small group of Grass Roots folks got together to organize an effort to bring a family, victimized by Hurricane Rita, to Santa Clarita and tend to their needs for a year. The project was enormously successful, resulting in the couple and their two small children moving to Santa Clarita, into a fully furnished apartment, rent paid for a year. Also included were donations of clothes, food, utilities, furniture, linens, toys for the children, a job for the husband, ESL classes for the husband, then citizenship classes, high school diploma for the wife, then nursing school. The project became a community effort. Girls Scouts raised money to buy towels, linens, kitchen goods and food; the Sheriff’s Dept. furnished Christmas toys; and a church furnished a tree and turkey dinner for Christmas.
Jami feels that one task of the past Men and Women of the Year is to “duplicate themselves” and recruit other volunteers to step up to the tasks at hand. “I knew many of the Men and Women of the Year who went before me. I admired them for what they had done. This elite group represented hope for the future in our community. Giving of themselves, they really made a difference in so many lives. When I found out I had been nominated for this prestigious award, and who else had been nominated, I was in awe of the company I kept. The core of volunteers in this community will hopefully keep growing, so the needs of our neighbors will always be met.”