The Atascadero Chamber of Commerce recently honored Grenda Ernst as its Citizen of the Year for “selflessly serving” her community.
Ernst, who has lived in Atascadero since 1972, is best known for her work with Friends of the Atascadero Library, which helped open a new building in 2014. Ernst and her mother, Sarah Gronstrand, began pushing for better library facilities in the 1980s.
“That’s a passion within their family,” said Linda Hendy, president of the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce.
Gronstrand helped open the library’s old Morro Road location in 1988, and Ernst led the charge for new facilities more than 20 years later. The library moved to a former office building at 6555 Capistrano Ave. as part of a joint project with San Luis Obispo County.
The North County Services Center shares the building with the library, which doubled its space to provide room for youth programs and public computers.
“I think it says a lot about the importance people put on culture and education,” Ernst told The Tribune in 2013, after her organization reached its fundraising goal. “And reading is the foundation of what’s good in our society.”
Ernst also served as a social worker at Atascadero State Hospital and raised two children with her husband, Bill Ernst. She’s been involved in other community organizations, including the Atascadero branch of the Association of American University Women, 100 Women Who Care and Meals on Wheels.
In 2015, Ernst served as a Colony Days parade judge and was honored as grand marshal in 2016.
“She (is) a humble spirit that continues to work for the betterment of Atascadero,” Hendy said.