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Honoring a Force for Good

 

Jean Raun

Jean Raun

Laguna Beach resident and tireless philanthropist Jean Raun received more than the usual cards from well-wishers for her 90th birthday.

The town she’s made home for half her life issued a proclamation honoring her 90th birthday for the years of dedicated service.

“It is my privilege to honor you this evening,” said council member Toni Iseman, who presented the proclamation. “The shorthand is that you are the moral compass for our community.”

When she was similarly recognized as Woman of the Year by the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club in 2007, then president Peggy Ford said, “Jean lives by the courage of her convictions, working tirelessly to demonstrate the power of good government and to better the lives of the less fortunate.”

Indeed, Raun’s most visible public service may be her steadfast advocacy for an informed electorate as a leader of the local chapter of the League of Women Voters. And beyond urging citizens to take the time to gain a full grasp of the issues in any election, Raun collaborated with the Friendship Shelter to inform some of their residents, who had been disenfranchised through jail time, of their renewed right to vote. Most did not know that in California convicted felons who have completed their sentence and probation may, in fact, vote.

Since moving to Laguna in 1966 after marrying Dick Raun, she has been involved in many other volunteer efforts including, but not limited to, the Cross Cultural Council, the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club, the Interfaith Council, the Great Decisions discussion group, the 2030 Visioning Committee, countless candidates forums, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and the Laguna Resource Center, as well as paying weekly visits to encourage the homeless at the shelter in the canyon.

Friends also toasted her many contributions to the church and the community at a reception last week, said Daga Krackowizer, a Unitarian Universalist congregant who presides over the Laguna Beach Interfaith Council. Raun serves as a matriarchal figure in the church, and all who pass through its doors benefit from her warm welcome and genuine concern, she said. But Raun has been especially involved in social action activities, said Krackowizer. “Her major concern is justice for all,” and members depend on her to inform them about local issues needing their attention.

Promoting permanent housing for the homeless is one of Jean Raun’s many causes.

Promoting permanent housing for the homeless is one of Jean Raun’s many causes.

As an example, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials stopped local day laborers and asked them for identification, Raun immediately got the word out to volunteers who gathered at the bus stop and street corners in protest, Krackowizer recalled.

“When I first came to Laguna Beach, as a new nonprofit executive, I was told by more than one person that it was important that I meet Jean and learn from her,” said Dawn Price, executive director of the Friendship Shelter. “That has certainly been true. She is an incredible force for good, always reminding us of what we’ve done together and what we should be doing next.”

Even as she graciously accepted the City Council’s proclamation, Raun continued to serve as a role model. “May I say thank you to all of you for the privilege of living in this marvelous community,” she began. “We honor beauty and art and music. We are compassionate. We are advocates for good government. And it isn’t just the League [of Women Voters]. We work with many other non-profit, non-partisan organizations in doing the things that were mentioned as accomplishments of mine,” she said, making sure credit was given where due. “And we live in a marvelous, wonderful place. Let’s all appreciate it.”

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