Blair Schoen Reflects on her Over 40 Years of Service at Santa Maria Community Services for its 125th Anniversary

I have worked at Santa Maria and served the Price Hill and Lower Price Hill communities for over a third of Santa Maria’s 125 years, and during that time I’ve felt uplifted and inspired by the many remarkable people and cultures I met along the way.

I grew up learning from the people of Lower Price Hill, and indeed, felt energized every day by the community leaders and young people who lived in the neighborhood. I worked with a team who felt the same way, and we were able to collaborate with community leaders to see amazing results. One such event, ultimately becoming an annual tradition, was the Lower Price Hill Appalachian Minifestival, proudly organized by community leaders, musicians, craftspeople, and the Lower Price Hill Mothers’ Club (Blair is pictured with Jim Holmstrom, above).

At the same time, I was able to carry out my job advocating for teenaged girls in the neighborhood. Out of that work emerged the need for support for teenaged mothers, and thus, the Mothers-Toddlers Group of Lower Price Hill was born. The Mothers-Toddlers Group had a life of its own and was again the product of a collaboration between community leaders. An entire series of projects, and even a community center, grew out of the Mothers-Toddlers Group, and many long lasting relationships.

I recently spent some time catching up with one of my (s)heroes, a young mom who, at that time, joined the group for young mothers and their children, referred because her new baby was failing to thrive and the relationship with the baby’s father had become violent. That young mom became the corner stone of the group, and she, like many of its members, slowly conquered her demons and began to flourish. She became an administrative assistant at Santa Maria (happily, MY administrative assistant!) and eventually a home visitor in our Every Child Succeeds program. Her life was and at times continues to have challenges, but she remains my hero – calm, intelligent, witty, a proud mother of three wonderful daughters.