Thursday, March 15, 2012

A "Quiet" San Pedro Hero Was Done With Her Volunteer Days With Kids -- Or  So She Thought

By Diana L. Chapman

   Yvonne Bogdanovich was over it. For years, she volunteered at her children's private schools, some even right through college.
    But with her own children's schooling complete, it was time to take a break away and do somethingdifferent.
     That 's when Mike Lansing, the executive director of the Harbor Area Boys and Club, approached her. Wouldn't she be interested in becoming a board member for the club? Her answer was going to be no.
    "I was going to send him a regret," the 73-year-old Bogdanovich said. "It didn't involve my kids. My daughters were off to college and my son. I thought I don't need to do volunteering. When I called him, he said: 'Just give me two years.'"
     She did -- and then some. Seventeen years later, Bogdanovich still serves on
 the board and for the second year in a row as board president. She has never 
regretted it -- especially as she watched the club evolve from being a loitering 
mess of kids outside to successfully sending off  hundreds of students
to college through the highly successful Boys and Girls Club College Bound 
program. This year, the club celebrates its 75  birthday and can boast of sending
off 234 members to college this past year alone.
     "The programs they offer, the arts, the digital studio, and the fact that 
homework is stressed before they can do any other work," Bogdanovich 
explained makes her proud. "And the College Bound program speaks for itself.
 My14-year-old granddaughter will be going there."
      Born and raised in San Pedro, Bogdanovich found herself helping the club in
many ways,including stuffing baskets for the club's Bid For Kids, it's largest 
fundraiser each year that includes a silent auction and dinner.  The club runs a
 total of 17 sites serving Wilmington and San Pedro and runs five centers out of
 two of its primary buildings in that region, Lansing said.
     He knew to tap Bogdanovich for a board post after working with her at Holy
 Trinity Elementary School where he was a former teacher and a coach.
     Persuading her to become a board member is a decision he will never regret.
    "She's quiet in many respects, but a strong and committed leader who has had such a positive effect on our organization over her 17 years as a board member and now our board president," the club's executive director of the Harbor Area explained. "San Pedro and Wilmington owe her so much for her tireless efforts in behalf of our most at-risk children.
    "She was the first board member that I ever recruited when I became executive director and I've been working with her ever since."
Tony Tripp, who is filling in while Lansing is on sabbatical, said he found Bogdanovich's efforts remarkable.
    "Yvonne has been a great asset to the club for 17 years she's been on the board," Tripp said. "She has brought in key funders, organized our annual auction event "Bids for Kids" which brings in more revenue for the club than any other event...In addition to being a good leader, she is a philanthropist, generously giving much of her own money to charity (including the club).
    "She is very well respected and is a staple of the San Pedro community. It is an honor to have her as a board president."
    Bogdanovich also has deep roots here, especially in the once thriving fisheries that resided in San Pedro. Her father, Nikola Vilicich, immigrated to San Pedro in 1908 from Yugoslavia around the age of 16. Her mother, Mary Zupan arrived from St. Louis about the same time.
Yvonne later married Louis Anthony Bogdanovich, whose father, Tony, was the
nephew of Martin J.  Bogdanovich, the founder of French Sardine
Co. that later became Starkist. Keeping it even deeper in the fish family, her 
father, Nikola, was an original partnerwith Martin Bogdanovich starting in 
1917 where he stayed until he died in 1964.
     Yvonne and her husband raised four children: Deborah Bogdanovich Murray, Laura Bogdanovich, Christine Bogdanovich Vidovich and Louis Anthony Bogdanovich Jr.  All four graduated from USC. Yvonne's husband died at age 55 in 1992.
    Besides the Boys and Girls Club, Yvonne Bogdanovich volunteers for the San Pedro Peninsula Cancer Guild -- supporting cancer research at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in the area of gastrointestinal/colorectal research. She served on the Mary Star High School, where her children attended school,  Steering Building Campaign and on some of the schools steering committees.
    In addition, she is the immediate past president of Town & Gown of USC, 
 founded in 1904 as one of the first women's support groups on the campus.
 The group yearly funds scholarships for merit based students.
     She now shows amusement when she thinks about how many years she
 served the Boys and Girls Club.
    The position "just kept on rolling over. They never asked me to leave,"
 she said. "I enjoyed what I was doing and to see the kids grow who weren't as
 lucky as my kids."