Ann Schwab: Finding Her Way By Making a Difference
Schwab is an assistant director at CAVE, an organization that played an important role in her life as a student. Through CAVE, she mentored a young girl in Chapmantown, an experience that she says gave her a much-needed opportunity to make a meaningful connection.
“When I came to Chico State, I didn’t know a soul here,” says Schwab, who grew up in Santa Clara. “I had grown up being my older brother’s little sister, trailing him all through high school. Chico is where I became Ann.”
Her affinity to Chico also developed through opportunities to become involved in community service. “One of the reasons I stayed in Chico was that I found that it was a small enough place where you could make a positive difference,” says Schwab. “If you experience that success of making a difference—no matter if it’s helping a child learn to read, learning about evasive weeds in the park, or helping someone in a psychiatric hospital—that is a magic that is within yourself. It’s not so much just helping that other person, but realizing that you can help and what it changes inside of you.”
At CAVE, Schwab helps students discover that they do have an influence on the world around them. “That’s important for young adults to find out about themselves,” she says.
Community service comes naturally to Schwab as she had strong role models in her grandmother and mother. “My grandmother was a very instrumental 4-H leader,” she says. “Through her and my mother, I learned about what it meant to be part of a community.”
Schwab served two years on the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission, an opportunity for her to “find her voice,” she says, and one that led her to being elected to the Chico City Council last fall. “I’ve learned that if I want something to be different, then I need to be that difference,” she says. As a council member, she enjoys meeting people and finding out their issues. “The challenges include the reading—volumes of material,” she admits. “I really try to read all the information that comes to me, and listen to different people, and make up my own mind on what I think should be the future of Chico.”
Schwab is passionate about Bidwell Park, for its natural beauty and the sense of community she finds there. “I walk in the park every morning,” she says. “I like seeing the regular folks along the way.” Schwab co-chaired the Bidwell Park Centennial Celebration, which culminated this summer in several events, including a re-enactment at Bidwell Mansion of Annie Bidwell deeding the park to the city of Chico. “My favorite part of the celebration was the re-enactment. We tried to do it just the way it happened,” says Schwab. “We had it in the evening, with people on the lawn, Chinese lanterns in the trees. We had a band, and a chorus sang ‘God Bless America.’ ”
Schwab found Annie’s speech to be moving. “I think everyone felt tingly,” she says. “One of Annie’s tenets was that we would protect the park so that it would stay the way it was,” she says. “I think we’ve done a good job of that. The park is as important now as it was in 1905.”
—Lisa Kirk, Public Affairs and Publications