I drove over to the Van Nuys city hall Friday to see my friend June Sale honored by the Los Angeles City Council for her decades helping children. It was a fine event both for June and for the way it called attention to the work of people assisting foster children and youngsters who need after school care.
Of all these people, June is one of the most remarkable. At the age of 89, she often drives from her Los Angeles home to places as far away as Lancaster to check up on and counsel foster children as a volunteer for the county’s Court Appointed Special Advocate program. These trained volunteers, appointed by judges, visit foster children in homes, following them about as they go from home to home, handling some of the most difficult cases, including abused youngsters. June told me she was presently looking after a two and a three year old.
On Friday, she was honored for yet another activity, her years of service to LA’s Best, the organization formed by Mayor Tom Bradley to provide after-school care for elementary school students. It now provides care for 28,000 boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 12.
After being introduced and praised by Councilman Tom LaBonge, June spoke briefly, keeping within the two minutes allocated her, devoting her time to praising the women and men who have worked with her over the years. Looking on was her husband Sam, family members and many friends. She and Sam are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary this weekend.
I got to know them several years ago on a theater tour of London. Sam noticed my daily habit of buying several papers, bringing them into breakfast in the hotel dining room, giving some to my wife Nancy and then reading without talking to anyone. He found my behavior odd. Nevertheless, we got to talking, and saw we shared an interest in politics and college sports. The four of us have been friends ever since.
These children's programs in which June and her fellow volunteers participate are vital to Los Angeles County and to the rest of the nation.
The Republican-caused sequestration of federal funds has eliminated funding for after- school programs. LA’s Best and other programs will have to work hard to even slightly fill the gap.
Amid all this, it’s good to know that people like June Sale are quietly making life better for children who need help.