From the daily archives: Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Imperial Valley College will be celebrating the life of the late Mel Wendrick and his contributions to local and statewide disabled students programs during a special commemoration Oct. 18 at Imperial Valley College.
It will begin at 1:30 p.m. in Room 2734, the large lecture hall in the new IVC Science building. A reception will follow at the Mel Wendrick Access Center on the campus.
Wendrick, who died July 19 at age 80, had been residing in Pinetop, Az., since his retirement from IVC.
He was renowned in the Imperial Valley and throughout California as an expert on disabilities and as an advocate for services for people with disabilities. During his 26 years at IVC, he founded and headed IVC’s Disabled Students Programs and Services department. It was one of the first of its kind in the California Community College system .

Wendrick was honored in 2004 by having the DSP&S office renamed the “Mel Wendrick
Access Center” during the 30th anniversary of its founding.

“Mel was an example and a mentor to all who work in this profession,” said Ted Ceasar who succeeded Wendrick as head of the DSP&S program at IVC. “He championed the need to provide accommodations for disabled students in pursuit of higher education in Imperial Valley, including those countless students who transferred to four year colleges after graduating from Imperial Valley College,” said Ceasar who is now Dean of Counseling.

Norma Nava, another Wendrick protégé, now heads the program. “Mel was truly one of a kind. We are planning this to be a celebration of his many contributions to the education of people with disabilities as well to the broader Imperial Valley community,” Nava said.

Wendrick was a founding member of the California Association for Postsecondary Education and Disability and was an active member of the Brawley Chamber of Commerce. He headed a number of Cattle Call activities over the years.

Wendrick was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1959 and served 10 years in the Archdiocese of Detroit. He resigned from the active clerical ministry in 1969 and entered a doctoral program at Indiana State University. It was there that he met and married his wife, Mary.
The couple relocated to the Valley when Wendrick took a counseling position in the Calipatria Unified School system. He was recruited by IVC in 1973 to develop and direct the disabled students program at IVC and served there until his retirement in 1999.
Wendrick will be interred at at 11 a.m. Oct. 20 at the San Luis Rey Mission Catholic Church in Oceanside. His survivors include his wife of 40 years, Mary, who is a retired IVC English instructor.


Betty Predmore and Stacie Chandler greet participants at Pioneers Memorial Friday evening as the two day conference was about to get started.

Women from Calexico to Salton City gathered this past Friday and Saturday at Pioneers Memorial (Brawley Ca.) in the Walker Auditorium.  These ladies were participants in the first free women’s conference hosted by the Women of Virtue Empowerment Network (WOVEN).

The conference, entitled “Ruth and the Truth” was based around the Book of Ruth.  Friday evening, those in attendance enjoyed an overview of the Book of Ruth given by Elizabeth Crews of Westmorland Community Church.  They also got a small presentation from keynote speaker Diana Brizendine of El Cajon.

Saturday was packed full of presentations and break-out group sessions as women listened to presentations on various topics.  Dolly Eager spoke on “Widowhood – Finding Your New Normal”.  Keynote Diana Brizendine presented on “The Helping and Healing of Wounded Women”.  “From Moabites to Modern Day – What is a Family?” was presented by WOVEN director Betty Predmore.  Joy Tucker engaged the audience with her presentation “Ruth – An Adoption Story”.  WOVEN director Stacie Chandler shared with the ladies about “Hope While Waiting for Mr. Right”.  The final presenter of the day was Vivian Yacopi who spoke on “Redemption for the Faithful”.  After each presentation, the women were able to break into small groups and discuss the topics presented.  There were smiles, tears, and much fellowship among the women and many lives were touched and friendships formed through the course of the two days.

The conference was well received by all who attended.  Tanya Herrera of Brawley had the following to say:  “I enjoyed the conference.  It was nice to hear other women’s path to Jesus.”  Dolly Eager thought the conference was great.  “It was great for Pioneers to serve a lunch for us.  They let us use the room and took good care of us.  The tostada dinner was great.  There is just too much to tell you.  I think you all at WOVEN did a great job.  The music was wonderful.  Jim (Shinn) also did a great job (as MC).  Thank you for a great weekend.”  Michelle Lima was very thankful to have attended the conference.  “It was beautiful to hear each woman’s journey and path, and how it led them to the Lord.  My experience with this organization (WOVEN) has been a very positive one!  I love it and am very grateful for its existence!”

WOVEN would like to express their appreciation to Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District for donating their auditorium for this event, and for providing food and drinks.  Also, several churches and organizations sponsored this event:  Turning Point Life Center, Valley Baptist Church, Trinity Lutheran Church, First So. Baptist Church of Imperial, First Presbyterian Church of Brawley, Westmorland Community Presbyterian Church, Son-Shine Counseling, Birth Choice of Imperial Valley, and PEO Chapter WU.  The following persons are much appreciated for their group facilitating:  Vivian Yacopi, Joy Tucker, Ramona Campos, Nancy Fields, Esty Cuevas-Favela, Cathy Coronado, and Antonia Pacheco.  Much appreciation goes to Jim Shinn for acting as Master of Ceremonies, and to Renny Currin, Sylvia Rios, and Cathy Coronado for the beautiful praise and worship music.  WOVEN is also grateful to Holtville Tribune, IV Press, KGBA Radio, The Desert Voice, and the Desert Review for helping to promote their conference.

With such positive feedback, the WOVEN directors are moving forward with their next free women’s conference.  Due to the recent domestic violence tragedy that has occurred in the Imperial Valley, they will be hosting a mini-conference on Thursday, November 18th from 6-8 pm at Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District’s Walker Auditorium.  The topic will be domestic violence, and along with presenters, there will be several domestic violence resources available.  For information on this upcoming conference, contact the WOVEN office at 760-344-0411.  In addition, WOVEN continues to provide free small support group sessions to women at no charge on such topics as marriage, parenting, grief, anger management, weight loss management, and building self-confidence.  For a schedule of current classes, visit the website at or call the WOVEN office.

Keynote Speaker Diana Brizendine

Dolly Eager

Jim Shinn

Joy Tucker

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