Josephine Anderson may not have been the epitome of charm and warmth, but she was the strong and able leader who created and built what has become one of the best known and effective organizations in Monrovia and the San Gabriel Valley. Thanks to Foothill Unity Center, people of all races and religions have received sufficient food for their families and - over the years - school needs for their children and dental and ophthalmological care .Josephine was in charge of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church’s food program in the late 70s when she realized that
those needing food were going from church to church seeking help. Feeling that this was both ineffective and wasteful, she called the leaders of the various church programs together and Unity Center was born. I first met Josephine in the early 80s when she first came to the Coordinating Council meeting to talk about this new program. While it was obvious that this woman didn’t have the personality or skills to recruit support from community leaders, it was obvious that her ideas and her efforts were important. Under the wings of the Monrovia Centennial Committee, Monrovians began to see Unity Center in a
positive light and Josephine helped us to develop a Child Care Consortium - one of the follow-up projects to the Centennial. Meanwhile, Immaculate Conception needed the space and asked Unity Center to leave. While there was a location on Walnut St., near Myrtle Ave., the City Council was reluctant to make the code changes necessary for Unity Center to move in. Pro and con groups approached the Council members on the matter. Josephine spoke to the homeless people, about which
merchants and close-by residents were concerned, and successfully urged them to stay away from the area. Dick Singer, then
Editor of the Monrovia News-Post, wrote a column asking for a leader to come forward to help Josephine and the Unity Center. I responded and brought together a group of Monrovia and Duarte community leaders who concluded that what Unity
Center needed was a Board of Directors. With Dr. Fred Loya (CEO of Santa Anita Family Service) as president, a Board was formed and Unity Center eventually moved into the Walnut location. While Josephine continued to prefer to make her own decisions, Unity Center was on the way to becoming the outstanding program that we cherish today.