When Maureen Simons smiles her nose crinkles and her hazel eyes gleam. She smiles a lot, not surprisingly, when talking about her seven children, fifteen grandchildren and her deceased husband, John, to whom she was married for forty-two years. She also smiles often when talking about Carlsbad, her home since 2000, the place she describes as having “great people, great weather and a wonderful small town feel.” Simons, who has been nominated for the 2016 Carlsbad Citizen of the Year (the award will be given out in July) has spent nearly two decades giving back to the community she loves through her leadership roles and volunteer work in organizations ranging from her church, St. Patrick’s, to the Chamber of Commerce.
Maureen was born in Los Angeles and spent her childhood, teenage, college years and much of her adult life north of San Diego County. Once Maureen and her husband visited Carlsbad they were hooked. Eager to escape from the “big city”, John, a real estate developer, accepted a job with Anastasi Construction as the manager of the company’s Carlsbad projects and the Simons family moved south to the “…town we fell in love with the first time we saw it.”
After John’s death in 2010, Maureen continued his legacy in two organizations where her husband had been deeply committed the Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary Club and Carlsbad Chamber. She was a member of the Rotary board of directors for several years and served as the board secretary. The Chamber of Commerce recognized Maureen for her volunteer contributions by naming her Ambassador of the Year.
Maureen has been a member of the Assistance League of North Coast for sixteen years. During that time she served for two years as president and is this year’s co-chairperson of the Autumn Fantasy fundraising luncheon – The luncheon, which is held annually at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort is expected to raise $70,000 for needy children in the communities of Carlsbad, Oceanside and Vista. The Assistance League’s logo displays the words: “We’re All About Kids”, which is why Maureen feels so passionately about it. “I’m so proud to work with all the women in the League. We’re there for one reason: to help the kids. We all get along. They’re an amazing bunch.” Two of Maureen’s favorite programs are Footsteps and New Haven Boys. “During the school year we buy shoes for fifty to seventy children a week”, Maureen said and went on to describe the joy on the faces of the students, many of whom have never shopped for a new pair of shoes. New Haven Boys School in Vista is home to at-risk boys between the ages of 12-18 who are unable to be in foster care. “Many of these boys have no one in their lives, no family,” Maureen explained. “Sometimes both parents are in jail or have died from a drug overdose.” Assistance League volunteers take the boys shopping three times a year, and if a boy graduates he gets a new suit. “Most of them have never had anyone buy them anything. It means so much to them, it gives them a sense of pride in themselves.” Everyone understands Maureen’s charitable involvements, but it’s her volunteer work as a funeral minister at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church where she helps families plan funerals and get through the ceremonial process of saying goodbye to their loved ones, that usually leaves people baffled. “They ask me how I can be around people at such a sad time. I tell them that is the reason I do it, because I’m helping people through the most difficult time of their life.” Even though she’s always on the go, Maureen maintains a positive attitude: “I love what I’m doing for the community. If I wasn’t doing this I’d be sitting at home feeling sorry for myself.” The relationships she has developed over the years and the strong affection she feels for her adopted hometown keep her going. At the age of seventy-five Maureen Simons shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon! Carlsbad is a better place for it!!