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By Blog Master
Posted: 08/29/2021
Tags: bios



“I was born at Huntington Hospital” says Judith Harris, one of the newer members of the Village. “I grew up in Monrovia. In the 1960’s I left Southern California for San Francisco where I lived during the heyday of the protests against the War in Viet Nam. With a friend I moved to a small farm outside of Sonoma where our efforts at farming did not even yield carrots large enough to eat. I learned to quilt, made and sold quilts to generate the income for groceries and rent on our modest farm house.” 


Judith returned to Southern California where she earned a degree in Child Development and a Child Life Certificate that launched not only a career but introduced her to a population with whom she worked for more than 29 years.  “I found my niche in the field of blindness” she has said. She was hired by the Foundation for the Junior Blind (now called Junior Blind of America, Wayfinder). She visited the homes of children from birth to age 3 with vision problems, many who were deaf and blind, all with additional disabilities. She observed and assessed the needs of each child. Often sitting on the floor, she introduced state-of-the art tools and methods to the children to maximize their potential to deal with visual limitations. She worked with the entire family, taught and modeled exercises and treatment interventions for parents, usually the mothers.  


Her services were in great demand. As a result, she was frequently on the road to see babies and toddlers in Ventura, Bakersfield, the far reaches of the Antelope Valley in addition to those areas closer to home in Los Angeles, including the San Gabriel Valley, Long Beach and South- Central Los Angeles. Judith’s work necessarily involved her with doctors and nurses in the medical community who specialized in pediatric vision issues. She utilized those contacts to ensure that the parents with whom she worked would have access to the best of medical care for their children. After her retirement, she worked for 6 years with Partners for Pediatric Vision addressing the needs of families with young children, birth to 18 years, who were visually impaired. She accompanied the child and parent to the developmental optometrist, assisted in the examination of the child and provided follow up services for the child and family. 


Now that she is retired, Judith is still sought out by professional contacts she made over the years to share her knowledge and expertise about vision impaired children. She has been called upon to provide presentations at Cal-State Los Angeles for students in the social work program and for several years, she has been a guest speaker for a bio-ethics class at PCC. She has addressed students at Occidental College and groups of graduate social work students at USC.   


About 20 years ago, Judith decided that she needed to become involved in some activities outside of her work life, something less stressful but meaningful. She was introduced to the Pasadena United Nations Association (Pasadena UNA).  


The United Nations Association- USA was established in 1943 by a group of Americans advocating for the development of an organization that could “win the peace after World War II.” Designed to create a place where the common man could engage in activities to support the United Nations, they promoted the creation of the United Nations (UN) and were instrumental in getting the United States Congress to ratify the UN charter. Eleanor Roosevelt was largely responsible for growing the membership of the UNA. In the 1950’s and until her death in 1962 she tirelessly traveled the country speaking to large and small groups emphasizing the importance of the UN and the UNA. What she left behind was a national network of UNA chapters across the county led by local leaders who were inspired and committed to the mission of the UNA. Today there are more than 20,000 UNA members (60% under the age of 26) with more than 200 chapters across the country. UNA members are united in their commitment to global engagement and their belief that each person can play a part in advancing the United Nation’s mission.


By the time that Judith joined the UNA, the Pasadena UNA had been in existence for more than 30 years. It was well known for its UNA store in the Playhouse District and the activities it promoted in Pasadena: the model UN programs engaging college and high school students; Celebration of UN Day, educational programs offered to the community, great discussion groups attracting hundreds of participants; organizing a very influential local support group that influenced the creation of the International Criminal Court.  


During her time with the Pasadena UNA, Judith has been president of the Chapter several times and is once again in that position. She has led the organization in the celebration of International Women’s Day each March, United Nations Day in October, and was part of the team that negotiated a partnership with the City of Pasadena to celebrate Human Rights Day each year on December 10. She has promoted Model UN programs for Pasadena high school students and supported the establishment of UNA clubs at Occidental College and Pasadena City College. The chapter recently raised $30,000 to build a school at a UN refugee camp in Kenya. Given that many refugees spend an average of 18 years in a refugee camp, education and schools are of great importance in the camps making this a very significant contribution to support the UN missions today and an excellent example of the motto, “Think Globally; Act Locally.”


Judith has reached beyond Pasadena to serve as the president of the Southern California Division of UNA which includes 10 UNA Chapters stretching from San Diego to Santa Barbara. She served for six years on the UNA National Board, four as Secretary, and is currently Vice Chair of the Leadership Development Committee. She relished those trips to New York where meetings and special events were held in the UN General Assembly Hall presenting opportunities on several occasions to see and listen to presentations by Secretary Generals, Ban Ki-moon and Antonio Guterres. At the Washington D.C. gatherings she led groups of UNA representatives to meetings with Senators and Congressmen to promote the UN agenda.    


Last year as part of the preparation for the 75th anniversary of the UN, Judith and her chapter reached out to several local communities including the Pasadena Village Critical Issues group, to promote information on the UN and to gather information about citizen’s hopes and concerns for the future. Questions asked were: What kind of future do you want to create; what do you want the world to look like in 2045? Are we on track to secure a better world? What action is required to help us to achieve a brighter future? The information gathered was compiled into a report to the United Nations for inclusion in its anniversary celebration and planning for the future.  


Now as a member of the Pasadena Village, Judith plans to continue her work to help change the world.  


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