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Supporting non-profits gives her support

Chances are you’ve met or at least seen Mari Claveran.

scott hettrick of arcadia's best

Scott Hettrick

Maybe it was at any of the many high-profile fundraising events produced by Methodist Hospital like Mardi Gras at Santa Anita Park. But chances are greater you would have seen her in the weeks and months leading up to these events — most likely being solicited to be a sponsor by the slight, dark-haired woman with striking features and a thick and pleasing Spanish accent.

Or maybe it was in similar circumstances related to The Arcadia Woman’s Club, or the relatively new Friends of the Museum.

Mari Claveran

Mari Claveran

In any of those scenarios, chances are Mari walked into your office with no sign of a car around. In fact, it’s equal or better odds that you’ve seen Mari (pronounced Marr-ree) walking around town. Her feet are her main mode of transportation. Or, at least, they have been since she, her husband and her young daughter hit some rocky times that left Mari spending too much time languishing with sadness in the confines of her home.

Mari hails from Valencia, but not the one in California. She lived in Spain until moving to the United States more than 30 years ago and then to Arcadia in the late 1980s. Her parents instilled in Mari a sense of determination that came in handy when she fell on hard times. She began getting out of her home, even if just to take short walks. The walks began getting a little longer each time. Eventually she was walking for miles at a time, which she continues to do despite a facial skin condition that forces her to wear head covering and carry an umbrella.

“Walking really helped,” she recalled recently. “I felt so much better.” She also felt a need to have have more personal interaction with others but she didn’t know many people. Her daughter was volunteering at the Red Cross next door to Methodist Hospital. Mari remembered that her grandfather once told her that the best way to meet new good people was to volunteer. So that’s what she did, joining Methodist Hospital’s volunteer program in May 2000.

Adult Volunteer Coordinator Noemi Cota calculates that Mari has contributed a whopping 6,378 hours of volunteer service, and counting. She was named Volunteer of the Year in 2008. Among the many areas to which she has contributed in addition to Mardi Gras have included the Holiday Homes Tour, health fairs, and visiting with patients and their families, “providing an atmosphere of compassion, assistance, and warmth.”

“Being a volunteer at Methodist has been a wonderful experience,” Mari says. And it didn’t stop there; she also volunteers at the Pasadena Showcase House and for the Tournament of Roses. As a volunteer Friends of the Museum board member, Museum Curator Dana Hicks says Mari has a “genuine care and concern of the Museum and its visitors.” She has gone “out of her way to make our events aesthetically pleasing by decorating tables and creating a special ambiance,” Dana says, noting that Mari “has a flair and talent…” and “has excelled in her ability to bring in donations of food from local restaurants and bakeries for our events.” Meanwhile, Mari’s daughter went on to earn university degrees in business and science.

And Mari continues to walk for miles, with destinations such as Santa Anita Park, Westfield Santa Anita, and the Acadia Chamber of Commerce in her chosen path as targets to sponsor whatever non-profit organization she is promoting that day, or multiple of them at once. Every day she makes herself available to neighbors and friends, “anyone who needs me to help with something.”

“I grew up in a volunteer family,” Mari says. “I’m very happy volunteering.”

— By Scott Hettrick

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