Karen Pearson wasn’t exactly prepared for the news.
Tammy Wolfe, president and chief executive of the Sanger District Chamber of Commerce, put the word out to a select group of Pearson’s friends and relatives that she planned to surprise her administrator with news that she had been named the chamber’s Mother of the Year. Pearson will be honored along with various others at the Sanger Chamber Annual Awards Banquet on May 17 at the Sanger Community Center.
“My mother always told me to never leave the house without your lipstick and sunglasses,” Pearson said.
Pearson remembered her lipstick, and her mom, Edith Alcorn who was there for the announcement, gave a slight nod. Photos were part of the surprise, and Pearson made sure she looked presentable.
Char Jones, who Pearson described as her “bestie,” praised the selection. “I’m beyond proud of her,” Jones said. “I can’t even stand it. She’s amazing. She gives and gives and gives some more.”
Wolfe said the selections this year were made by an independent panel that used a standardized rubric to judge nominations. “Karen rose to the top,” she said. “Her parenting, skills, her service to the country, her kids.”
Andrew and Rebekah Pearson nominated their mother for consideration. “She stopped working so that she could be home with us,” they wrote. “She raised us to treat people kindly and with respect. She instilled in us compassion, a good work ethic and integrity.
“She spends countless hours volunteering with the Sanger Chamber of Commerce, Sanger Faith Community Church as well as the California Air National Guard 144th Fighter Wing.”
At the 144th, Pearson organizes a support group for the families of those who are overseas or on temporary duty at another location. She serves as a liaison between service members' families and the Air Force. David Pearson, her husband, said, “She’s the maintenance squadron Room Mom.”
Rebekah has been deployed to Australia in the Air Force. Andrew, an Air Force veteran, now works for Lockheed Martin.
Lt. Col. Cesar Gonzalez, commander of the 144th, also wrote a recommendation letter for Pearson. “In the last year and a half, we have been out eight times doing exercises across this nation and in Canada in order to prepare us for our three month deployment in Europe with the F-15C fighter aircraft,” he said. “Every time our members were away from their families, we had Karen Pearson there hosting coffee socials, bringing families together during weekends, and just keeping everyone informed of their loved ones.”
Her husband is a fan.
“She deserves it for everything she does and everything she has done,” David said. “She truly sacrifices everything for her children.”
Toni Avila-Sanchez told Pearson that she would have to make a 10-minute presentation before the Sanger Woman’s Club.
“An interpretive dance?” Pearson asked.
“No,” Avila-Sanchez said.
Pearson has a larger than life personality. She moved to Sanger in 1977, attended its schools and graduated from Sanger High. She has been married to David for 25 years. She met him at a church youth group.
“I’m so nervous, I’m shaking,” Pearson said. “OK. Can we get back to work now?”