St. Andrews Square, library gain from her many talents

| August 3, 2012 | 0 Comments


By Jane Gilman

Debbie Willis does not take life for granted. She is here to make a difference, whether it be in her neighborhood or for an organization helping people a thousand miles away.

Currently, she is president of the St. Andrew Square Association (SASNA) which includes the residents of Gramercy, St. Andrews and Manhattan Place from Beverly Blvd. to Third St.

During the five years she has held the post, Debbie has seen the community in action.

SASNA worked with Joe Pelayo, Olympic Division senior lead officer, and Councilman Tom LaBonge in getting no left turn signs on Western Ave. This project is designed to discourage prostitutes’ clients from coming into our area, said  the Gramercy Place resident.

At monthly board meetings, she keeps her fellow board members posted on neighborhood activities.

Friends of Wilshire Branch

She and Ruth Silveira recently resurrected the Friends of Wilshire Branch library, getting its non-profit status and enlisting new members.

“She is a positive influence in our community,” says Sybil Blaze-Yee, children’s librarian at Wilshire Branch library. Sybil marvels at the St Andrews Square’ resident’s organizational ability.

“Debbie creates the flyers for our book and bake sales, distributes them, collects and sorts the books and keeps the leftovers in her house until the next drive,” Blaze-Yee explains.

Debbie also sends educational and self-help books to prisoners as part of Claremont Forums’ Prison Library Project.

A native of Baltimore, she attended Sidwell Friends, a Quaker high school. One of her 83 classmates was Henry Willis, whom she married in 1977. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College with a degree in psychology. Henry is a labor attorney and the couple has a college-age son, Josh.

A one-time collector of  masks (one wall in the living room shows off the collection), her  new hobby is gardening. “I’m not an expert, but it is relaxing,” she admits.

Her work as a graphic artist has been seen on many non-profit fundraisers. She recently won an award from the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild for artistic contributions to their annual fundraising dinners.

Other agencies whom she provided artwork for gratis  include the Central American Resource Center and the Center of Study of Political Graphics.

Her focus is in helping working class and other underrepresented groups.

“I have worked with amazing people in my various jobs,” says the community leader.

Tags: , , ,

Category: People

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *