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'Premier Volunteer' Wins Another Award

November 19, 1987|ANN CONWAY

"Feelings and ideas are renewed, the heart enlarged, and the understanding developed only by reciprocal action of men one upon the other."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, 1805-1859, author of "Democracy in America."

Myldred E. Jones is no stranger to awards. Only last year, the founder of the Casa de Bienvenidos Youth Shelter in Los Alamitos was named Woman of the Year by the California Legislature. And recently, the California Angels baseball team proclaimed her Angel of the Year.

But Monday night at the posh Ritz restaurant in Newport Beach, Jones--a silver-haired dynamo with kind, slate-blue eyes--was nervous.

"Really nervous," she said, as she watched members of United Way of Orange County's prestigious Alexis de Tocqueville Society (donors of $10,000 or more annually to United Way) file into a room set with towering silver candelabra and flower arrangements. "This is such a prestigious award. I'm very excited and thrilled--highly honored."

Jones, a retired Navy lieutenant commander, said she founded the youth shelter--a temporary haven for runaways and youths in crisis--in 1968 because she saw a tremendous need: "I grew up learning that if there were people in need, they should be helped. There are thousands of runaways on the streets. The tragic thing is we only have 12 beds at the shelter. We need to keep talking about the problem, making people aware. And, if I could wave a magic wand, I'd wish for $1 million to form an endowment. I want the shelter to continue after I'm gone."

Merritt Johnson, president of United Way of Orange County, said Jones was a "premier volunteer."

"Someone who gives totally. She's one of a handful of true founders in Orange County, people who have a dream and actually make it happen."

After about 40 guests enjoyed a champagne reception, they ate a five-course dinner, topped with a dreamy vanilla and chocolate souffle. Event chairman Peter Ochs, attending with his wife, Gail, presented Jones with the award, a crystal sculpture depicting a family.

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