Jami Posten Kennedy, 1989 Santa Clarita Valley Woman of the Year, died at Henry Mayo Hospital in Valencia on July 4, 2022, after a long illness. She was a longtime resident of the Santa Clarita Valley, moving to the SCV at age 7.
Born June 6, 1948, Kennedy was one of three elementary school representatives that broke ground for Sierra Vista Junior High, the first junior high in the SCV. There were only three elementary schools in the SCV at that time.
After living in the San Fernando Valley and Bishop for four years, Kennedy returned to make her home in the SCV where she and her husband, Bob, owned and operated a plumbing contracting business for 15 years.
The SCV Boys and Girls Club Auction was Kennedy’s first volunteer endeavor.
“Jami gathered more auction items over the years than anyone I have known,” said Jim Ventress, past Chief Professional Officer of the SCV Boys & Girls Club. “She headed various auction sub-committees. She was the SCV Boys & Girls Clubs Volunteer of the Year in 1984. She also was the recipient of the Sam Dixon Award in 1987.”
Ventress said the Sam Dixon Award is the highest honor bestowed by the SCV Boys & Girls Club, one usually reserved for companies or other large institutions.
“It is rare that an individual wins the Sam Dixon Award,” said Ventress. “That tells you what she meant to the club.”
Kennedy served as a volunteer for the club for more than 30 years.
“There are certain people you meet in your life and the words ‘caring soul’ is reserved for those people who go the extra mile,” said Ventress. “She was that ‘caring soul 2.0.’ That was Jami Kennedy.”
Kennedy was a member and past president of the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley and a member of the SCV Crisis Community Hotline, serving as treasurer and working on the annual fund raiser, Rent-A-Santa which later became a fundraiser for the Zonta Club when the Hotline closed.
Fellow Zonta Club of SCV member Gloria Mercado-Fortine remembered Kennedy as “a big sweetheart.”
“She had a big heart and whatever she could do, she would do,” said Mercado-Fortine. “She would volunteer for everything. She was a very giving person. She was a mentor to me and to so many of us. She was at the forefront as a community leader and volunteer.”
Barbara Cochran said Kennedy introduced her to the Zonta Club.
“Jami took me to a Zonta meeting and I was immediately enthralled with what they were doing. They were volunteering for all kinds of good things,” said Cochran. “She was one of the kindest women I have ever known. She would give you her heart and soul if you needed it. She was involved in so many organizations in the SCV.”
Cochran said she worked closely with Kennedy for nearly three decades on volunteer activities to benefit the SCV Boys & Girls Club auction and the club.
Kennedy also volunteered for the American Heart Association Celebrity Waiter Dinner which later became a fundraiser for the SCV Senior Center. She worked on annual fund-raising for the Red Cross as well as working on the Save-A-Life Sunday around the holidays, recruiting blood donors.
Kennedy’s many other volunteer endeavors in service to others included:
• Member of the board member for Carousel Ranch, serving as secretary.
• The Monopoly Mania fundraiser for the School and Business Alliance.
• Board member of the Gibbon Conservation Center.
• Project Town Angels, which brought a family with two small children to the SCV after they survived Hurricane Rita. The Angels raised money so the family could live in a fully furnished apartment with rent paid for a year. Also included were donations of clothes, food, utilities, furniture, linens, toys for the children, a job for the husband, ESL classes for the husband, then citizenship classes, high school diploma for the wife, then nursing school.
Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste, a longtime friend of Kennedy, said she cherished the memory of having Kennedy as a friend in her life
“She was a good soul. I loved her dearly,” said Weste. “She was one of those people if you knew her for five minutes you knew her forever. She was loving and caring and had a great sense of humor. She was a good friend and will be missed by so many.”
Weste said Kennedy was known for her love of exotic birds.
“She rescued birds, I used to say she had about a million parrots. She had all kinds of exotic birds,” Weste said.
After her nomination for Woman of the Year in 1989 Kennedy said she felt “in awe” of the honor.
“I knew many of the Men and Women of the Year who went before me. I admired them for what they had done. This elite group represented hope for the future in our community. Giving of themselves, they really made a difference in so many lives. The core of volunteers in this community will hopefully keep growing, so the needs of our neighbors will always be met,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy was preceded in death by her husband Bob. She is survived by her daughter Denise (John) Rubenstein and grandchildren Connor and Keira.
A celebration of life has been scheduled for Sunday, July 31, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley at the James T. Ventress Clubhouse in Newhall, 24909 Newhall Ave., Newhall, CA 91321.