Getting to Know: Pat Jollota

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The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington announced that Patricia “Pat” Jollota, retired Vancouver City council member, historian and community advocate, has been selected as Clark County’s First Citizen for 2012.

The First Citizen Award recognizes a Clark County resident who has modeled exemplary citizenship through their actions and service to the community. The honor will be awarded on Thurs., Oct. 11, 2012 from 4-6 p.m. at the Hilton Vancouver Washington.

Jollota is best known for her 20 years of service on the Vancouver City Council, but a place in city government wasn’t why she and her husband first came to Clark County — it was history.

Pat realized the important role history plays in strengthening communities during the early part of her life working for the Los Angeles Police Department. She felt that a lack of appreciation for local history amongst many Angelenos contributed to a decline in community and a rising crime rate.

Before retiring from the department, Pat saw farmlands vanish, orange groves fall to bulldozers and historic neighborhoods become derelict and forgotten. This is what inspired Pat and her late husband, Jake, to find a community where history held a central role. With that condition, Pat and Jake chose Vancouver as their new home in 1982.

To the benefit of the region, Pat brought her value of community with her and immediately found an outlet for civic involvement. She was hired as Curator for the Clark County Historical Museum, where she began amassing her knowledge of Clark County, spearheading exhibits that showcased the region’s rich history and strengthening our community’s identity. Here, she also authored her first of five books documenting various segments of Clark County’s history.

“She loves our community’s story, and if you have the desire, she is always willing to educate those who want to understand what makes this place so special,” Bart Hansen, Vancouver City council member, said. “She truly cares for, and believes in, our community.”

In 1990, Jollota won a seat on the Vancouver City Council. Originally, she aimed to continue working toward achieving environmental and historic preservation, but found herself leading many other community efforts in her 20 years of service — especially those related to public safety. Her closest colleagues admired her honesty, commitment, vision and humility.

Jollota’s accomplishments outside the council chambers have also helped establish and support a number of civic groups and causes in Clark County. She is a member of 10 civic organizations and has served on more than 15 boards and commissions. Of all her efforts, Pat is most passionate about advocating for the safety of vulnerable populations, such as animals, children and the elderly.

Jollota helped to establish, and regularly supports, the Children’s Justice Center and Justice for Children—organizations committed to protecting children who are victims of abuse and increasing local awareness of child abuse. She also supports the Humane Society for Southwest Washington and serves as the Clark County Animal Control Board’s chair.

The nearly 45 letters recommending her nomination made it obvious that her service and volunteerism continue to inspire many. Her colorful speeches at public events also have this effect — weaving the region’s history into engaging and entertaining tales. She also passes this wealth of knowledge onto others by teaching corporate and continuing education courses at Clark College and giving guided tours of Vancouver to businesses, organizations and citizens.

“This year, we fielded nine First Citizen nominations that were all high caliber candidates for the honor,” said Richard Melching, President of the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington. “The selection committee felt Pat’s personal and professional contributions to our community were labors of love that went above and beyond the criteria.”

Recipients of the First Citizen Award, presented since 1939, are selected by a volunteer committee of community leaders and past award recipients. Recipients are chosen for their accomplishments and contributions to the community in a number of areas, including effectiveness in leadership roles, raising community standards and expectations, strengthening community identity and civic pride, and exemplary giving of time, self and resources.

A reception in Jollota’s honor will commence at 4 p.m., while the formal awards program will be held at 5 p.m. Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served at the event. Tickets are $35 per person and can be reserved by contacting the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce at (360) 694-2588 or online at www.vancouverusa.com.

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