Updated: Jan 2
It takes a big heart to be a member of the United Cerebral Palsy Central California board off and on for 40 years. When it comes to Janice Noga, having a big heart is an understatement.
Janice is UCPCC’s 2019 Heart of the Program Award winner. The honor will be presented at Pulling Strings, a wine-pairing dinner and silent auction fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 15, at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District building. Proceeds from the event benefit UCPCC.
Janice is a retired educator, teaching Valley children for 33 years. She has been honored as Teacher of the Year in Clovis School District. She was UCPCC board president four times and an acting executive director for a short time. Janice was a member of the State Coalition of United Cerebral Palsy and attended at least 15 of the national conventions.
“I joined (the board) first because of Vonny and Ed and Brian (Sturgeon), who are dear friends. Immediately, UCP felt like a family. The staff was incredible. The donors were generous and loving. And the best part were the students. They became personal friends. And they’ve touched my life. I do not see disabilities – ever.”
Janice credits her parents for encouraging her to find the opportunity to give back.
“My father said, ‘If you live in a community, you give back to that community.’”
When Janice isn’t using her voice to spread knowledge about UCPCC and its programs, she’s using it to sing and act. She has also performed three concerts to raise money for UCPCC.
Since 2002, Janice has been touring the country in a one-woman drama titled “Janka,” written by her husband, Oscar Speace, about his mother, Holocaust survivor Janka Festinger. She has performed the drama more than 160 times around the globe. She is especially proud of her off-Broadway run in 2015.
Janice says what she wants people to know about UCPCC is the care the organization takes with the incredible people it serves.
“We serve many different disabilities,” Janice says. “There is a safe place at UCP where parents and children feel at home. And they are able to traverse this world with an ability to move or speak or learn or to share who they are with others.”
UCPCC’s Heart of the Program Award was created in memory of Ed Sturgeon. His devotion to the disability movement began when his son, Brian, was born with cerebral palsy.
Ed was one of the founders of UCP Central California in the 1950s and served UCPCC in almost every capacity: board president, vice president, treasurer, VIP chairman.