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Paul, Heather Haaga Feted for their Generosity

January 11, 2007|By Bianca P. Gallegos

Projects and visions for a public service organization like the YMCA are made possible through two very important components, countless hours of work and monetary donations.

And, last Saturday, the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA recognized Paul and Heather Haaga with the 2007 YMCA Pacesetter's Award for their efforts on behalf of the two local branches of the organization.

The Haagas were recognized for their support and more than $1 million donated to the Crescenta-Cañada and Verdugo Hills Family YMCAs.

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The special donor recognition event, which thanked all major donors, took place at the La Cañada Flintridge home of YMCA Board Chairman Ken Gorvetzian and his wife Lori.

Instead of a plaque or certificate of recognition, the award, said Ken Gorvetzian, was turned into something that would help others. The Pacesetter's Award will sponsor five underprivileged children so they can attend the YMCA summer camp.

"Perfect," Heather Haaga said of the arrangement. She served as the only female chair of the YMCA Board of Directors, handling the job from 1999 to 2001; she has been on the board for more than 20 years.

The Haagas reminisced and shared with all attendees the golden values they gained from their involvement with the Y.

"Working at the Y taught me the ability to lead and live a legacy. All I want is for people to remember me [this way]: 'The Y is the way that it is now thanks to Ms. Haaga.' We should be a role model to all people. You give and you give sacrificially."

Robin McCarthy, director of marketing for the two local Ys, said Heather Haaga has been more than generous with her time and her energy. "She is just tremendous," McCarthy said. "And, the Haagas raised two kids through the Y program."

Paul Haaga was responsible for the establishment of girls' basketball and coached in the league for four years. He also served as chair of the Parent Activity Council for Y-Winners Sports at the Y.

At the Crescenta-Cañada Family YMCA the Wellness Center named for the Haaga family and the Verdugo Hills Family YMCA houses the Haaga Family Gymnasium.

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