On Sunday, May 31, 2020, SchoolPower presented “The Bill Steel Award,” its annual recognition of exceptional volunteerism, to Kendall and Chris Clark. The Clarks have been passionate, unwavering supporters of SchoolPower for 23 years. In 1997, their neighbor invited them to become SchoolPower trustees, prompting them to make an usual decision–to join before their children had even entered Laguna Beach Schools. “Chris and I looked down at our 3 kids aged 4, 2 and 6 months and wondered, isn’t it a little early for us to get involved?,” says Kendall. “But Chris said it was precisely the time to get involved, so that we could help make sure the district is in solid shape on their first day of kindergarten.”
The Clarks went on to serve as trustees for six years, with Kendall becoming President of SchoolPower in 2001. She moved on to the Endowment Board, where she served until 2006. Kendall returned to the Endowment Board in 2013 for two more years before Chris took over as President of the Endowment Board in 2015, a position he held for three of his five years of service. Kendall continues to support SchoolPower today as a member of the Real Estate Honor Roll.
Over their 23 years of involvement, the Clarks’ four children Jack, Grace, Livie and Will graduated from LBHS and went on to dedicate themselves to careers in engineering, medicine, law and military service, continuing their parents’ legacy of hard work and giving back. Kendall and Chris say they cherish their time volunteering and raising children. “The volunteers in SchoolPower make far more of an impact on our schools and town than just raising money. You set an excellent example for your own children who will see you doing all you can for them,” says Chris. “Paying it forward in 1997 and leaving a legacy now have been a huge honor for our entire family. These years raising kids are hectic and fleeting, but being in the middle of it all are the best seats you can get.”
Reflecting on their efforts, the Clarks insist they received far more in return than they gave. “We are shocked, surprised and deeply honored. We have loved every minute of our involvement in the organization,” says Kendall. “What we gave we got back 100 fold in the way of lifelong friendships and top notch education for our four kids.”
The award was created in honor of Bill Steel, who championed SchoolPower’s Community Campaign (now called the Wave of Giving) for 10 consecutive years starting in 1997. That year, the Community Campaign spiked from raising $30,000 the year prior to reaching an unprecedented $81,000. He went on to grow the campaign to the significance of where it is today and added SchoolPower Board President to his resume in 2000-2001. Like Mr. Steel, recipients of this award are individuals who are not only dedicated but also possess stamina as firm believers in Laguna’s public schools.