By Hardy Brown –
I first met Valerie during an off campus Sociology Class put on by the University of California, Riverside throughout Riverside and San Bernardino County. The purpose was to bring people of different races together for greater understanding of each other and work on issues common to each group.
The next time I ran into Valerie was at a request to turn her electricity on for a hair dressing business, if my memory serves me correctly. Of course our paths crossed many times during political elections and she supported me for my school board election. But the thing I will most cherish about our relationship is in her position with the welfare mothers.
I was the collector of overdue electric bills and if you could not pay, I had the responsibility to turn the electricity off and the westside was part of my territory for the Edison Company. Delman Heights, above Highland Ave., had a reputation of people being bad and moving around, destroying property, replacing electric meters from one home to another to get free electricity and stripping vacant homes of cabinets, electrical conduits and selling them. I started working with Valerie and found out it was not the people on welfare but contractors who was refurbishing homes and wanted to get the federal government to fund various housing projects. I shared this information with my supervisor to change the perception of the people living in the community, thanks to Valerie.
Valerie also asked me to give more time in collecting unpaid bills to coincide with when the mothers got their checks at the first of the month. This way it would prevent lights from being turned off and them having to pay a deposit. I could not change Edison’s collection policy but I could and did give more extensions on over due bills, without the knowledge of Edison management. In turn the mothers got their checks and true to form paid me when I came back to collect. As a result more of them improved their credit rating with us as good customers. Also at the same time my good friend Don Griggs was in management training at our local district office and he used his position to have lights turned on for Valerie and her mothers with no deposits. He will tell you they never let us down.
Valerie went on to use the relationships she encountered throughout the years to hold public office as San Bernardino City Council Member and I will cherish her with fond memories. Her late husband Jack was my son’s baseball coach on Delman Heights Little League Baseball Team.
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