Tulare council members honor influential women

All five Tulare City Council members choose exceptional women to highlight in the community, honors them at a council meeting for Women’s History Month

TULARE – As the month of March represents Women’s History Month, the city of Tulare takes the time to recognize women who have spent their lives supporting the community of Tulare.

On March 7, the Tulare City Council proclaimed March to be women’s history month. For the past decade, every year the council honors women in the community who have had a key impact in the city of Tulare. Each council member chooses a woman from their district to honor and celebrates their accomplishments within the community. Mayor Terry Sayre said each woman embodies social, economic, cultural and political achievements leaving their mark on Tulare.

“We, the city council … encourage our community to celebrate women past and present and act now to reverse continued inequities and ensure gender equality for future generations,” Sayre read from the proclamation.

Deputy city manager Josh McDonnell said this is a great way to honor women from all walks of life as the only criteria is that they are women. He said the celebration of individuals in the community came from former deputy city clerk Roxanne Yoder, it was her “brainchild.” This year between the five council districts, six women were honored.

“It’s a great way to celebrate our women leaders in this community, and they come from all walks of life, that’s the beautiful part of it,” McDonnell said. “It just gives us a chance to put a spotlight on folks that have made a real, real change for the good in our community in any type of way.”

Senator Shannon Grove and a representative from Sen. Melissa Hurtado’s office even made an appearance via zoom for the city council meeting to join in honoring the women.

Council district one, Veronica Faria-Percival and Tara Huston

Jose Sigala serves Tulare’s council district one and he recognized two women in education. Veronica Faria-Percival is the principal of Pleasant Elementary and Tara Huston who is the principal of Mulcahy Middle School. Sigala said Faria-Percival has been a volunteer in the community for over 25 years. Together with her husband, they discovered their love for athletics and helping the youth in the community. They founded Tulare Youth Soccer and Tulare Force Football.

According to Sigala, most recently they have created Armory Athletics with the goal to sponsor youth softball and baseball players and help them develop their craft. She now serves the community as principal after teaching for 15 years prior. He said her favorite part of the job is building relationships with students, teachers and parents.

“[She says] she’s very lucky to have this job and work in a place that she loves, so I wanted to thank her for her leadership,” Sigala said. “Thank her for what she and Miss Houston do everyday to not only deal with students, but with parents, with teachers and fellow administrators to make sure that our schools continue to thrive.”

Huston has worked in education for over 20 years, the last 17 have been committed to Tulare City Schools. Sigala said Tara’s philosophy in education has been consistent in that she believes in always doing what is best for kids and meeting students’ individual needs. Sigala said she also provides support for high levels of growth through standards based instruction. She also focuses on meeting the needs of each students’, social, emotional needs.

Huston is working on a rebrand of Mulchay and has received numerous awards including professor of the year in 2017. And most recently she was appointed the director of educational options for the school district as well.

Council district two, Kim Torrez

Sayre serves district two and she recognized Kimberly Torrez for her commitment to the community on so many different levels. Sayre explained the main reason she gave this award to Torrez was because of how much she has seen her helping on so many different levels throughout the community. Torrez is currently a teacher in Earlimart, but she volunteers in a multitude of different ways as well.

“She has always been generous and kind hearted,” Sayre said. “She’s always focused on helping at-risk kids and that just touches my heart as well. She’s helped their families and she’s been instrumental in establishing the Tulare Athletic Boxing Club.”

Sayre said Torrez started the Family Resource Center where she helped tutor children and young adults. She taught individuals how to read and helped others get their GED. She also helped organize a community outreach that provided food to at-risk youth and their families, right in front of the boxing club. Torrez also helped bring a mobile dental van to the area for those who needed it. Sayre said Torrez can be seen giving individuals rides to doctor appointments when they have no other alternative.

Torrez also founded the Tulare County Read to Succeed Program, which allows inmates the opportunity to learn and practice reading. It gives inmates a greater chance of returning to society.  And of course, Sayre had to mention how the Tulare Boxing Club is making an impact on so many individuals’ lives.

“I honor you tonight for your grace, your compassion, your love and your willingness to serve those around you,” Sayre said to Torrez. “It is with great humility that I present you with a certificate, a gift with gratitude for your gift of healing.”

Council district three, Lisa Trgovac

Stephen Harrell chose Tulare fire captain Lisa Trgovac for all she has done with the Tulare Fire Department. Formerly being a fireman in the 60’s, Harrell said having female firefighters was unheard of. This is a nice change as all children have female and male role models in this field.

“When I started the fire service, women in our service roles were unheard of,” Harrell said. “Back then, young boys wanted to be either firemen or police officers and they had people to look up to. Now fortunately, young girls have somebody to look up to and they can aspire to be the same thing.”

Trgovac has been a part of the Tulare City Fire Department for 15 years, and has held the rank of captain for three of those. She is currently a California Regional Task Force Five member for the regional urban search and rescue team. Harrell said Trgovac is a registered instructor with California State Fire Training and teaches firefighters survival. She has also instructed at College of the Sequoias and Porterville College. She is the confined space rescue instructor for the department and also teaches live fire burn training and ventilation for the recruit Academy.

Harrell said Trgovac enjoys learning and training. For the new recruits in Tulare, Trgovac wrote the new physical fitness program and she runs that portion of the recruit academy.

“Unless you’re in the fire service, you can’t comprehend how extensive and how involved all these things the Chief is involved in as far as training members of the Tulare Fire department,” Harrell said. “It’s more than I can describe.”  

Though Trgovac was not present at the council meeting on Tuesday, the mayor accompanied Harrell to fire station 61 and presented her with the award on Thursday March 9.

Council district four, Lucy Van Scyoc

Denis Mederos serves district four and he recognized Tulare Joint Union High School District superintendent Dr. Lucy Van Scyoc.

“We all take a different path [in life], some have a path that is easier than others,” Mederos said. “And then there’s some that accomplish tremendous things notwithstanding the hardship that they’ve had to endure during the course of their life.”

Van Scyoc first immigrated to America with her family at the age of eight with her parents and her two younger siblings. Mederos said after enduring family hardships and the loss of her father, she then moved on to further her education and better her life. Van Scyoc worked to earn her bachelor’s degree, then her masters and eventually her doctorate in 2016. She began her career as a teacher in Tulare and eventually moved her way through administration to where she now sits as Tulare Joint Union High School Districts superintendent.

“Everything that Lucy has done as it relates to our community has been to give back,” Mederos said.

Council district five, Paulette Allen

Patrick Isherwood recognized Paulette Allen for her commitment to the community. Allen has held a variety of different jobs throughout her lifetime in Tulare. She worked at Land ‘O Lakes for 20 years, for the county of Tulare, also at Wilson School and amongst other things she also opened and ran Willie Mae’s kitchen. Isherwood said despite all she has done throughout her career, she is known for her love offerings and support of the community.

“She raises money to take community children on trips and if there’s ever a kid without, Paulette will help out,” Isherwood said. “Paulette gets her love offerings through her passion of cooking and through her Miss Paulette’s Catering, but this passion helped many of the youth in our community.”

Isherwood said Allen has helped out with Grandma’s House, the after school program for at-risk children and she has also helped with the Alliance of African American Women. Isherwood said she has dedicated her life to finding where the needs are in the community and finding an answer. Isherwood said he has personally been inspired by Allen’s example of servitude.

“I’m sure you’ve heard this before Paulette, but I want to say it again in here on behalf of every child that you have ever helped out, for every love offering you have ever done, and on behalf of the City of Tulare, thank you,” Isherwood said.

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