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Robin Clough Of SCV Senior Center Is An Unsung Hero

Mercedes-Benz of Valencia

By Stephen K. Peeples

As director of volunteers and recreation at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center in Newhall for more than eight years, Robin Clough coordinates all the volunteer programs, and manages the 30,000-plus hours the center’s nearly 1,000 volunteers contribute every year.

Robin Clough, Santa Clarita Unsung Hero

 She’s also a tireless advocate for girls, women and especially seniors in the SCV, usually behind the scenes and but sometimes behind the mic as a guest on AM 1220 KHTS. 

She goes out of her way to make a positive difference in the quality of life for hundreds, if not thousands, of seniors and young women in the SCV every day. And she is genuinely modest about it. 

Those are just a few reasons why Robin Clough is KHTS’s latest Santa Clarita Unsung Hero, brought to you by Mercedes-Benz of Valencia.

Clough Says Senior Center Volunteers are the 'True Unsung Heroes'

"I have the honor to work with so many volunteers,” the 30-year SCV resident told KHTS afternoon air personality Jason Endicott in an on-air interview April 15.”I'm actually a conduit for them. They are…the true unsung heroes, these volunteers. They are in the trenches doing all they can to help seniors in our community.

“They're there early in the morning packing meals for homebound seniors and delivering those meals. They're working in our adult daycare program, which is, by the way, the only dementia daycare program in Santa Clarita,” Clough said. “And they are providing all of these services and making the seniors in our community have quality of life. I have that opportunity to coordinate all of them, so it's just such a privilege for me to work with all of them. There are over 300 volunteers a month, so probably close to 1,000 a year that I get to meet and work with.”

Advocate for Santa Clarita Valley Seniors, Juniors

Along with masterfully juggling all that at the SCV Senior Center, where the mission is to enhance the dignity, independence and quality of life of local seniors, Clough joined seniors advocate Dr. Gene Dorio in protesting the closing of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital’s Transitional Care Unit, a stepping-stone for seniors leaving the hospital. She and Dorio were subsequently appointed to the city of Santa Clarita’s Ad-Hoc Committee to Secure a TCU.

Clough and Dorio went on to create a nonprofit organization called “Save Our Seniors” to address and find solutions for the dire housing need for seniors on fixed incomes.

A past Samuel Dixon Foundation board member, SCVTV Newsmaker and Zonta Carmen Sarro Award nominee, Clough is a longtime member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), which promotes equity for all women and girls, as well as life-long education and positive societal change.

Mother of two now-grown, well-educated and highly successful daughters, Clough for the past seven years has coordinated the Tech Trek Math/Science Camp for Girls, which also awards scholarships.

“Tech Trek changes lives!” she wrote in a pre-interview email. “It connects young women with likeminded peers and mentors, having a powerful effect on the lives and career choices of future generations. Ninety-six percent have gone on to enroll in college, and all credited Tech Trek for encouraging their interest and increasing their confidence.

“One of our scholarship recipients stated, ‘The most powerful thing you can do for someone is to believe in her more than she dares believe in herself,’” she wrote.

Growing Up in Sedona and Jerome

Clough’s community involvement and advocacy goes back to her youth in rural, rustic Sedona, Ariz., where she was a founding member of “Keep Sedona Beautiful” while still in high school.

“My father was with the Mountain States Telephone Company and he loved the West,” she told Endicott. “He's originally from back East, and he came out and decided to stay in Arizona. So I got to grow up in Sedona, when it was a very, very small town, but it had a huge effect on me. The beauty of the nature... It was just great growing up there. Also, oddly enough, I went to high school in [the mining] ghost town of Jerome. I had to be bused from Sedona every morning up the mountain to Jerome. That was an experience.

“School was still in session, even in the ghost town,” Endicott said.

“Yes,” Clough said. “Sometimes we'd just break away from school and go ghost hunting in an old building.”

From the Old West to the Far East

Since she grew up in the historic West, it’s not surprising she found the Far East fascinating. Her passion for Chinese and Asian history and culture emerged when she was attending Arizona State University.

“I've always had an interest in philosophy, especially ancient philosophy, and I was really drawn to Chinese particularly because it's one of the oldest cultures, and I wanted to read these philosophical texts in the original [language],” she said. “I didn't want to read them through translations, so I could understand them how the philosopher had meant them to be understood – at least from my perspective. I didn't want to rely on anybody else, but... I took one class in it, in Chinese, at Arizona State, and I was just hooked. It became my passion and I had to pursue it.”

Between her undergraduate and graduate studies, Clough spent a couple of years studying in Taiwan, while living with a retired Peking Opera singer. “[I] felt totally like ‘a fish finding water,’ a Chinese saying,” she wrote.

“I wanted to become immersed in the culture after studying the language, and I certainly did become immersed,” Clough told Endicott. “I got a one-way ticket there and told my parents I was going to be gone for a few weeks, and I was gone for two years. There were just so many opportunities there. I learned Chinese painting and scroll-mounting and martial arts…the language, the literature. I got to study with some of the best people who had fled the mainland to Taiwan when the communists overtook [in 1948]. It was a good time to be there.”

She also taught English at National Taiwan University, banks, IBM, “and privately for the wife of the head of Veterans Affairs and, unbeknownst to me, the leaders of the political underground movement,” she wrote. “Particularly eye-opening and rewarding was my volunteer work at an orphanage.”

Back in the United States, Clough pursued her passion for Chinese culture through graduate school at UCLA, where she was manuscript editor for the Journal of Asian Culture, Graduate Student Representative, and on the Communications Council Board.

Moving to Santa Clarita, Connecting with Senior Center

Clough’s move to the Santa Clarita Valley came in the early ‘80s. “I was living back in Arizona - after all of that, I was over at the U. of A., University of Arizona, working,” she told Endicott. “And my husband at the time got a call. He was working for ABC News, and he got a call from here saying, ‘Would you like to come to Los Angeles and work?’ And of course, jumping up and down excited, [we said,] ‘Yeah, I think we would like to!’ About 30 years ago we moved here and really love it.”

Endicott asked Clough when and how she connected with the SCV Senior Center, and eventually moved into her present position there.

“Once I finished raising my kids,” she said. “They were involved in so many things and I tried to get involved in all of their activities with them. Then I decided, ‘OK, now I'm old, and when I'm old, I want to study tai chi.’ Because I did more of the aggressive martial arts when I was younger… I heard that the Senior Center had the best tai chi instructor[s], Sharon and C. C. Chang, so I started going there. Sure enough, it was just wonderful. I couldn't believe the feeling when I walked into the doors of the Senior Center. It just had such a calming effect, it was like a family, and there was so much energy there.

“One day I overhead my fellow classmate, SuzAnn Nelson, who's director of supportive services, say she needed a volunteer, so I said, ‘I would be glad to help in any way,’ and I started volunteering,” Clough said. “I just loved it there. I felt, especially with my background in Asian studies, I developed a real affinity for seniors. One day there was a position open to be director of the volunteers and the activities, and I was asked if I would do it. And I, of course, without hesitation, said ‘Yes,’ and that's how it all began.”

Recent and Upcoming Activities and Fundraisers

Among the recent activities Clough has helped coordinate at the Senior Center are the 2012 Candidates Forum to address senior issues, and the Full-Circle Recycling Program, which brought seniors from the center and teens from Canyon High School in Canyon Country together in an e-waste drive and fundraiser.

On Saturday, May 11, the center and its Supportive Services department will host a caregiver resource day at College of the Canyons’ University Center.

“Caregivers need to learn to take care of themselves,” Clough said. “They are so big-hearted, they take care of everyone else around them while sometimes their health will suffer, too. So, this is a day for family caregivers to get information and support they need, because nobody knows more than the Senior Center about seniors. [COC Chancellor] Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook is going to give the welcoming remarks. ‘Keeping Healthy and Finding Abundant Life’ will be presented by Dr. Samuel Kojoglanian, and there will be a panel presentation. And our own director, Rachelle Dardeau, will talk about the keys to being a better caregiver.”

Coming up is the “Touch-a-Truck” fundraiser at Central Park in Saugus on Saturday, June 15, the day before Father’s Day, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Touch-a-Truck” lets little kids (and big kids, too) get close to big vehicles like dump trucks and other construction machines, fire engines and police cars without getting hurt.

It’s an event proposed by Dardeau and put into motion by Clough and her colleague Michelle Cornell.

“We saw what a fun thing this would be, not only because it would raise funds for the Senior Center and raise awareness of the Senior Center, but also [because] it's something to do that's intergenerational,” Clough said. “We could raise awareness through the kids of the community.

“And you know how kids have always wanted to feel these vehicles, but they can never get up close,” she said. “This will give them the opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat, to talk to a fireman, put on his helmet, pretend that they are firemen for that day – and not just kids, but adult kids, too. And it happens to be Father's Day weekend, so kids, bring your fathers and the father will get in for free.”

After “Touch-a-Truck,” the Senior Center hosts the 5th Annual Summer Showdown golf tournament at TPC Valencia on Monday, June 24. Sponsorship packages and foursomes are available now.

As the Senior Center’s volunteer coordinator, Robin Clough is always looking for local residents who can spare a little time and would like to help out at the center or with one of its events.

“Always looking for volunteers,” she told Endicott. “It's very difficult to find volunteers early in the morning to pack those meals for our homebound seniors, from 6 a.m. to about 10:30 a.m.”

Visit or call Clough at 661-259-9444 for more information about volunteering, sponsorships and fundraising events.

Photo: Courtesy SCV Senior Center.

Watch Robin Clough’s complete interview with AM-1220 KHTS afternoon drive air personality Jason Endicott on Monday, April 15, 2013, and learn more about this Santa Clarita Unsung Hero’s good deeds. You can also hear and download the audio podcast.

Read more of KHTS's Santa Clarita Unsung Heroes features brought to you by Mercedes-Benz of Valencia.

Mercedes-Benz of Valencia is proud to be part of the Santa Clarita Valley, not only giving you the superior customer service you deserve, but also giving back to our community by supporting our schools, sports teams, Sheriff's Station and nonprofit organizations. Now, Mercedes-Benz of Valencia and KHTS have teamed up to present "Santa Clarita's Unsung Heroes," a series of special features spotlighting local residents who make a difference in our valley. With new contributions also comes a new Mercedes management team. Visit Mercedes-Benz of Valencia today.

Robin Clough Of SCV Senior Center Is A Santa Clarita Unsung Hero

Article: Robin Clough Of SCV Senior Center Is A Santa Clarita Unsung Hero
Article Source: Mercedes-Benz of Valencia — Santa Clarita Unsung Hero
Author: Stephen K. Peeples

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