From preschool to Winter School, exemplary citizen has helped local youth
The trap was set and Val Chin fell right in.
The Park City Rotary Club has a playful tradition of surprising its twice-yearly honorees Businessperson of the Year and Volunteer Citizen of the Year.
On Tuesday the ruse worked perfectly. Ostensibly invited to participate in a presentation about one of the many volunteer boards she is on, Chin approached the podium to join several other board members. But when she was singled out for more than a passing introduction, her jaw dropped.
For the next hour or so, a parade of friends and representatives from nonprofits she has helped over the years paid tribute to Chin’s dedication and hard work.
Marlene Ligare told the Rotarians that Chin was instrumental in forming Park City’s first cooperative preschool.
As the Chins’ two sons grew into the public school system, Val then turned her attention to the Park City School District and eventually earned a seat on the Board of Education. Reading a letter from former school superintendent Nancy Moore, Mike Andrews recalled Chin’s "grace and dignity through some tough times."
One of Chin’s most well-known efforts, though, has been her involvement with Park City’s student-exchange program with Beijing High School #4.
Describing herself as a coconspirator, Shirley Smith recounted how, during the first years of the program, Chin taught Chinese cooking classes to help raise the funds both to send Park City kids to China and to bring Chinese students here.
Last year, Smith added, the program completed its eighth round of exchanges. "They love her in China just like we love her here," Smith said.
Chin was also praised for her pioneering efforts to establish a school for winter athletes that would accommodate their competition schedules. According to Sue Basmajian, several parents with children on the Park City Ski Team "dreamed of a place where our kids could go to school from April to November." With knowledge gleaned from her years on the school board Chin helped to formulate a curriculum, Basmajian said. Their tiny program grew into what is now known as the Park City Winter School that serves about 50 to 60 competitive high school-age athletes in a variety of winter sports.
In listing numerous other organizations’ debt to Chin’s volunteerism, Ann MacQuoid said, "Val has deserved this award for 20 years." In particular, MacQuoid recounted Chin’s 15-year association with the Egyptian Theatre and the Park City Performing Arts Foundation. "We’ve worked hand in hand and side by side. Val has supported all of the arts in Park City," she said.
Chin also currently serves on the board of the Utah Museum of History. In front of Chin’s long-time friends and coworkers its director, Sara George, summarized her impressions by saying, "I don’t know anyone with more optimism and can-do spirit."
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The move would align the community with others that have opted to honor those who already called the Americas home.