Helena Yee grew up in South Pasadena, has been a teacher in the local school district for 27 years and is loving parent.
Not surprisingly, she makes an easy declaration: “I love South Pas!”
It can be seen in her actions, as the longtime Arroyo Vista Elementary School kindergarten teacher seems to always be smiling, caring for others while showing a willingness to lend a helping hand.
Giving back, supporting causes and pushing the positive are simply part of Yee’s good nature. It’s what she does. That’s why on Friday nights during home football games at South Pasadena High you’ll find Yee and a friendly group around her selling everything from hotdogs and grilled chicken teriyaki bowls to spicy instant noodle dishes, drinks and more in the snack stand at the school’s home football games.
They’re all part of South Pasadena High Music Booster Club, in which Yee serves as president, busy selling a wide assortment of items before, during and after games. With an unwavering commitment, the dedicated contingent will be back at it, performing their seasonal duties Friday night when Bassett High of La Puente rolls into town for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. All proceeds from food sales go to support SPHS’s instrumental music program, headed by teacher Howard Crawford, who has logged more than 30 years in the district.
“He’s fabulous,” said Yee, showing her admiration for the man who puts in countless hours, whether overseeing demanding band practice sessions on SPHS’s Roosevelt field or taking the unit on the road during weekend band competitions away from home.
Funds raised through snack stand sales go to support fees associated with those trips, including meals, sheet music, band techs, travel costs and new instruments.
“We have a lot of expenses and they all add up,” said Yee, 1987 graduate of South Pasadena High. “It’s on and on at how much it costs. This is one way to offset the budget because I know the district doesn’t have enough money for us and it has to be spread out through the whole high school.”
The boosters rent two U-Haul trucks for competitions to carry the large instruments when the marching band goes on the road.
On game nights, dedicated volunteers move around in the close quarters inside the snack stand, getting ready for the droves of customers that line-up for food during the course of a game.
The top seller? “Oh, it’s still the hot dog,” Yee quickly replied.
“Instant noodle by itself is a big seller, but spicy instant noodle is something we think they will really like,” Yee said of the new item on the menu this year. “So, we’re going to see how that goes.”
There seems to be a family atmosphere among the friendly faces inside the snack stand who for the first time are accepting credit cards this year.
“We work so much together that we get to know each other well,” said Yee, noting, “It’s really sad when somebody’s son or daughter graduates from the school and we lose them.”
Yee likes to say, “We do it for the kids,” recognizing band members put in long hours of practice perfecting routines and at competitions trying to impress judges. “As volunteers we want raise money for them so they have the best experience possible. We don’t want Mr. Crawford to have to worry about this part. He has enough to do.”
So, Yee and her fellow supporters are there faithfully on Friday nights throughout the fall working behind-the-scenes making a difference for others.
“A lot of us help out because we know the importance of music in the schools,” said Yee. “We want the best for the band members.”
And it shows.