Sunday, January 15, 2012

Santa Clarita Valley, California: On the wings of philanthropy

By Michele E. Buttelman/The Signal

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of articles about the “Faces of Philanthropy” — the people involved in the nonprofit world of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Joyce and Lee Shulman in their Valencia home with framed photos of vintage aircraft.

Lee and Joyce Shulman, of Valencia, may be grounded as pilots, but their passion soars for Angel Flight West.

The unique nonprofit brings pilots, planes and people in need together.

The Shulmans are working to bring a chapter — known as a community service council — of Angel Flight West to the Santa Clarita Valley.

Angel Flight West provides free air transportation to people in need, such as a person who requires specialized medical treatment or families separated by disasters.

The Shulmans have been involved with Angel Flight West for more than 20 years.

Moving to the SCV

The duo were born and raised in Michigan. In 1977, they moved to Beverly Hills.

The couple, married in October of 1967, have been married 44 years.

The Shulmans have written a book about keeping romance alive in a long term relationship.

The book “I Do Again — The Renewable Marriage” teaches couples how to form a marriage renewable contract.

“We try to practice what we preach,” he said.

This is the second marriage for both Shulmans, who have six children, five  grandchildren and three great-grandchildren (with another on the way) between them.

The energetic couple works as psychotherapists with individual, marriage and corporate clients and moved to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1997.

“We love the Santa Clarita Valley,” Lee Shulman said. “We think it is heaven on earth.”

Joyce Shulman said the SCV is “the most community aware and community helpful place we’ve ever lived.”


Joyce Shulman earned her pilot’s license in 1964.

“I got my license two-and-a-half years before we were married,” she said.

Lee Shulman was in the U.S. Army Air Corps in WWII.

He enlisted to become a pilot, but the military had other ideas for him.

The Army discovered his talent for cryptography (secret codes) and put him to work on the Japanese code.

He was shot down in a B25 in Burma.

“I survived a crash in 1943 and spent three-and-a-half months in traction,” he said.

He obtained his pilot’s license to overcome his fear of flying.

“I was scared to death to get near an airplane,” he said. “I started to take flying lessons to overcome my fear. I got my pilot’s license in 1958.”

His fear of flying has allowed Lee Shulman to develop techniques to help others with the same fear.

He now has more than 5,000 hours of flight time.

“I love aviation; it is one of my passions,” he said. “Joyce and my family is my number one passion, my profession is number two, jazz music is number three and flying is  a passion,” he said. “I have to say chocolate is also a passion.”

The couple’s love of flying made their association with Angel Flight West a natural.

Angel Flight West


Angel Flight West recently completed its 50,000th mission to provide free non-emergency transportation.

“We love to fly, and we love to contribute,” said Joyce Shulman. “This organization brought together two of our passions.”

Joyce Shulman said it has been three years since she soloed a plane and needs to renew her medical certificate. Lee Shulman, who now boasts a pacemaker, lost his pilot’s medical certification.

“We no longer fly Angel Flight missions,” Lee Shulman said. “But we found there are other ways for us to volunteer.”

The Shulmans said children are among the best passengers.

“Sometimes the most memorable part of their treatment is the flight in the airplane,” Joyce Shulman said.

Giving back

Angel Flight West isn’t the only nonprofit the Shulmans work for and support.

They support Carrousel Ranch, Child & Family Center, Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer, Canyon Theatre Guild and Repertory East Playhouse.

Currently, they are working to get the word out about Angel Flight West.

“We want people to know that this service is here,” Joyce Shulman said. “We are here to help. Flying for Angel Flight has given more to me than I have given to it. It is has given me a lot of pleasure.”

Among the goals the Shulmans have for Angel Flight West in the SCV are to let other nonprofits know about the Angel Flight missions, to recruit pilots, to let the public know about Angel Flight and to raise funds.

“The most important thing now is to let people know about the availability of Angel Flight to the community,” Lee Shulman said.

To learn more about Angel Flight West in the Santa Clarita Valley call Lee or Joyce Shulman at (661) 263-2680 or call Angel Flight at 1-800-4 AN ANGEL (26 26435). Email: The Shulmans are also available to speak to groups about the mission of Angel Flight West.

Original article and photo:

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