Turlockers have long known of the humanitarian efforts of resident Jane Vilas, but now her efforts have been recognized on a statewide scale.
State Senator Jeff Denham (R-Merced) named Vilas the 2010 12th Senate District Woman of the Year earlier this month, commending her as the best female citizen in a massive district that stretches from Salinas to Madera and Modesto.
"Jane is an extraordinary community leader with a heart of gold and an unquenchable passion for giving back," Denham said. "She clearly deserves being named 'Woman of the Year' for the 12th Senate District."
Vilas said she was "thrilled" to receive the recognition, even if she wasn't quite sure she was deserving of the honor at first brush.
"I honestly didn't realize what I was getting this award for, but I thought it was very nice and flattering," Vilas said. "At first I thought, 'What have I done to get this award?'"
The ever humble Vilas, who was named the Best of Turlock 2010 Humanitarian of the Year, simply involved herself in just about every charitable organization in the city of Turlock.
Vilas has sat on the Salvation Army Advisory Board for 13 years. She is a member of the California State University, Stanislaus Foundation Board. She donated $75,000 to the University of California, Merced's stem cell research program.
As if that wasn't enough, Vilas was instrumental in bringing the Gallo Center for the Arts to Stanislaus County and has served on the organization's Board of Trustees.
Vilas is a founding member of the Emanuel Medical Center Legacy Circle, and works as part of the Emanuel Institutional Review.
She even volunteers at Emanuel Medical Center every Monday and — if that wasn't enough — volunteers at the Off Center Thrift Store each Friday.
"I don't think you need to volunteer me for anything else, really," Vilas said with a laugh as she described her many activities. "I just enjoy going wherever I can go to help."
Vilas said she started her tradition of community involvement back in high school — "many, many years ago," she joked — and has just continued to stay involved throughout her life.
Through 20 years spent in Patterson and her most recent 30 years here in Turlock, Vilas has simply made a habit of volunteering. And she's enjoyed every minute of it.
"I enjoy all of it," Vilas said. "I enjoy being with people and helping people."
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