Celebrating more than four decades of community involvement, nearly 100 longtime Santa Clarita residents and officials gathered Friday at Hart Park to honor Connie Worden-Roberts with a Lifetime of Service Tribute.
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Several, including Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste, who presented Worden-Roberts with a ceremonial gold key to the city, called her a driving force behind Santa Clarita’s effort to build the Cross-Valley Connector, and residents’ efforts to become a city.
The event honored a woman whom many called the Santa Clarita Valley’s “Road Warrior” for her efforts to help local commuters get much-needed roads.
“Over and over again, (Worden-Roberts) was a linchpin for the city,” Weste said, referring to residents’ efforts at incorporation. “You have no idea what a fight that was. Cities were created when there were little populations, but we weren’t a little population.”
She personally helped gather more than 2,000 of 24,000 signatures needed, city officials said. She also mentored countless individuals, Weste said, including herself.
In addition to being one of nine names on the original petition to the Los Angeles County Formation Commission — and a major factor in the $245 million, 8.5-mile roadway connecting the valley — Worden-Roberts seemingly is ubiquitous on volunteer committees and Santa Clarita Valley organizations.
Several Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce members praised her leadership Friday, as did Gloria Mercado-Fortine of the William S. Hart Union High School District, both of which are boards on which Worden-Roberts has served.
State Sen. Steve Knight, as well as representatives from the offices of Assemblyman Scott Wilk, Supervisor Michael Antonovich and Congressman Buck McKeon all talked about her local impact and leadership.
Santa Clarita real estate developer Jack Shine mentioned how Worden-Roberts and Sam Garcia approached him about building the first home for a Santa Clarita Valley Boys & Girls Club. Her perseverance and tenacity were impressive, Shine said.
Outgoing Boys & Girls Club leader Jim Ventress later presented one of the city’s first planning commissioners with a gold pin from the national office to honor her help.
“She came here and changed the (Santa Clarita Valley) into a wonderful place,” said Weste, “because she made strong decisions that got us started in a direction.”
After more than a dozen community leaders praised Worden-Roberts’s contribution to their respective board or organization, Weste described Worden-Roberts’s ability to bring so many together.
“I think Connie understands, and she taught many of us this way — it’s the many,” Weste said. “It was everybody putting in something. She understood. She pushed transportation, and supporting the charities; it’s building the roads; it’s creating the parks and transportation.
“She helped create this foundation for Hart Park,” Weste said, alluding to the building in which everyone had gathered. “Everything she touches — it’s all stitches in a quilt. And when you get the last stitch in, you can see the big picture.”
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