Finding inspiration in tough times

Emma Patterson’s interest in political science started soon after she began taking a leadership class at Allan Hancock College.

The Arroyo Grande resident said she volunteered to serve as the college’s student activities director in the spring semester. She then ran for vice president but lost. Undeterred, she decided to go for the student trustee spot instead.

“I thought it would be more interesting to give input on an upper level,” Patterson, 20, said, “to be the liaison between the students and the people who make the main decisions.”

Patterson was sworn into the position Oct. 16 and will hold it until next June.

Patterson was born in Santa Maria but was raised in Arroyo Grande. She attended Harloe Elementary, Mesa Middle and Arroyo Grande High schools.

At age 2, she was diagnosed with leukemia, an experience that has instilled Patterson with a desire to help others and a sense of gratitude for what she has. The disease has been in remission since she was 5 years old.

For about a decade, Patterson has been involved with the American Cancer Society’s Camp Reach for the Stars in Cambria, first as a camper and now as a counselor.

Patterson said she hopes to eventually work in government or become a politician. She’s also starting a new club on the Hancock campus called “Follow Pol-Lo” dedicated to following local politics.

Club members will discuss local political issues, research careers in politics and raise their classmates’ awareness about voting.

For years, Bob Pringle’s home has been full of music, thanks to teachers in the Lucia Mar Unified School District.

His daughter took up the piano in sixth grade at Shell Beach Elementary. His five sons also play; two chose the trumpet, two the clarinet and one the saxophone.

Learning an instrument teaches kids discipline and teamwork and enriches their lives, Pringle said.

Pringle, who owns Pismo Bob’s True Value Hardware, says he’s tired of seeing the district’s music programs struggle to stay afloat.

It’s time to help, he said recently.

Pringle plans to donate 15 percent of his profits every Monday to the program at Judkins Middle School. He started donating Nov. 1 and has no end date in mind.

“You need the arts,” Pringle said, “and I think maybe this would be the one step to say, ‘Listen, it’s important to maintain the music program.’ ”

The hardware store is located at 930 Price St. in Pismo Beach.

Cynthia Lambert and Gayle Cuddy write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.