When Los Angeles City Councilman Joel Wachs persuaded his colleagues to start a program to attract volunteers for the city, he may have had people like Ed Waite in mind.
Waite, president of Atwater Homeowners Assn., is so active in his community that Arline DeSanctis, a deputy for Wachs, said Waite is "almost like another deputy for the council."
Waite, along with 44 other volunteers, were honored this week as Volunteers of the Year at a reception sponsored by the Volunteer Centers of Los Angeles' City Hall branch. Each was nominated by either a council office, a city department or the mayor.
Because of Wachs' 1981 motion, the Volunteer Centers of Los Angeles set up an office in City Hall four years ago for the recruitment, training and recognition of volunteers.
Working Since 1982
Waite, who has headed the Atwater group since 1982, has fought fiercely against proposals that he considers not in the neighborhood's best interest. The former insurance underwriter is intent on maintaining what he describes as the quiet "village-like atmosphere" in Atwater, the small, relatively unknown neighborhood between Los Feliz and southern Glendale.
"When people come home from the rat race downtown they like to come home to a pleasant residential area," Waite, 59, said.
Recently, Waite and his group opposed an Argentine group seeking to open a private social club in Atwater, claiming it would create noise, crime and parking problems. The club is appealing to the City Council a decision by the city Board of Zoning Appeals to allow the club to open with restrictions on hours of operation and attendance.
Waite also works closely with the field deputies of the 2nd Council District and helps monitor the community for burglars, abandoned vehicles and gang activities, said Mark Siegel, a deputy to Wachs, whose district includes Atwater.
"He really saves us of having to patrol the neighborhood," DeSanctis said. "He's a very excellent liaison between the city government and the community."
Other volunteers who received awards from City Council districts or activities which extend into northeast Los Angeles include:
Dorthea Petrula of La Canada Flintridge, a volunteer worker for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn. who was nominated through the Recreation and Parks Department. She has been a zoo docent since 1968 and is in charge of training other guides.
Robert Mancillas of Alhambra (14th Council District), who has served as president of the El Sereno Sports for Youth program since 1982. He said the organization provides sports programs for 9- to 15-year-old children and attempts to "get the hard-core kids off the streets." Retired, he has worked for the program as a full-time volunteer since 1969.
Carole Joseph, a Hollywood housewife, (13th Council District) who provides clerical assistance one day a week to Councilman Michael Woo's office. "Anything that concerns helping the community and making it a better place to live in gives me great satisfaction," she said.
Mildred Settle, a 77-year-old retired real estate agent from Hancock Park (4th Council District), who is a full-time volunteer for Caring Hands, an organization that provides food, clothing, shelter and advocacy for the homeless, hungry and destitute.