DOWNEY - Longtime civic leaders Bill and Katie Hare, along with the Downey Kiwanis Foundation, were honored by the Downey YMCA at a gala dinner Sunday at the Long Beach Yacht Club. The event was a fundraiser for the Y, which has benefited greatly from the generosity of both the Hares and Kiwanis.
Bill and Katie married following a whirlwind engagement in 1960, and moved to Downey in 1965. Their civic engagement began not long afterward, when Bill began volunteering with the Downey YMCA in 1967.
His first activities involved working on the Y's capital campaign, raising money to build the current Y facility on Downey Avenue. He also participated with the Y's Indian Guides and Gra-Y sports programs.
For more than two decades he also participated annually in the YMCA's Easter Caravan, introducing kids to water sports.
A business major, he has served on the Y's board of managers for many decades, including stints as chairman.
Bill's community involvement goes beyond the YMCA: he is past president of the Downey Museum of Art, past chairman of Downey Regional Medical Center's board of directors, past president of the Downey Symphonic Society and past president of Downey Los Amigos Kiwanis.
Katie has been highly involved as well, belonging to the Downey Junior Women's Club since 1968. She also has membership in the Assistance League of Downey and the San Antonio Guild.
As her kids entered school, Katie became involved with the PTA and became a Girl Scout troop leader. Her involvement in scouting inspired Katie to create the Downey Community Association, an organization that coordinated all Girl Scout troops in Downey.
She then became the Angeles Council Girl Scout Cookie Chairman for three years running. Her dedicated to Girl Scouts was recognized when she was awarded the "THANKS" badge from the Angeles Council, the highest volunteer award in Girl Scouting.
Katie also served on Downey Regional's Memorial Trust Foundation executive committee, including a term as president. She is also a member of the Downey Symphony Guild and is currently chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, raising funds for the symphony's Music in the Schools program. As if she didn't have enough on her plate, she joined forces with her longtime friend, Joan Fritz, to launch their own catering business, Deux Amies Catering.
Both Bill and Katie are heavily involved with USC, their alma matter.
Meanwhile, the Downey Kiwanis Foundation has gifted more than $3 million to local organizations since its formation in 1985.
In its first year, the foundation gave a single $500 scholarship to a graduating Downey High School senior; last week, the foundation awarded more than $60,000 to dozens of students and teachers. Over the past 28 years, the foundation has provided $370,000 in scholarships to high school graduates.
The foundation also provided funding for computer labs at all Downey Unified high schools and middle schools; seed money for Warren High's engineering program; funding for a delivery truck, two vans, a bus and air conditioning for The Arc - Los Angeles and Orange County's distribution center; and funding for improvements at Downey Regional Medical Center and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center.
Several other organizations have also benefited from the Downey Kiwanis Foundation, including the Downey Symphonic Society, Downey Civic Light Opera, Assistance League of Downey, Downey United Methodist Church, St. Raymond's Catholic Church and, of course, the YMCA.
Over the past few decades, the foundation has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Downey YMCA, allowing the Y to renovate its youth and teen zone areas, fitness rooms, group exercise classes, and purchase new equipment.
Funding from the Kiwanis Foundation allowed the YMCA to recently complete a full renovation of its third floor and pool, "which has already significantly improved the qualify of Y programs and increased the number of participants," YMCA officials said.