"We are headed in the right direction," Laguna Beach Community Foundation Chairwoman Laura Tarbox said last week at the second annual grants presentations.
The foundation awarded $140,550 to 27 nonprofits that are based in Laguna Beach or serve Laguna Beach residents. The presentations were hosted by foundation trustee Don Clurman at his hillside home.
Last year, the foundation awarded $80,000 to 20 organizations.
"This year, we were able to increase the grant award total because of the generosity of our donor partners: Donnie Crevier, W L. Lyons Brown III, the Ellen and Greg Hurley Charitable Fund, Susie and Jim Jacqua, Barbara and Greg MacGillivray's One World One Ocean Foundation; Scott McIntosh, owner of Asada; and individual contributors to the Asada event sponsored by One World One Ocean," Tarbox said.
The Massen Greene Foundation was involved in five grants, in addition to a contribution to the Community Foundation's Disaster Fund. A check for $5,500 was awarded to the fund to be used for disaster relief or prevention.
"This is the first year we have contributed to the Community Foundation," said Rebecca C. Nelson, secretary director of Massen Greene — named for Roland Greene and Richard Massen, the late owners of Pyne Castle, the 62-room mansion in North Laguna once considered for Nixon's Western White House.
The mission of the Community Foundation is to encourage philanthropy in Laguna Beach. It was founded in May 2009 with an anonymous $500,000 donation. Founding trustees included Peter Kote and Mary Fegraus, both still on the board, and Trustees Emeritus Wayne Peterson and Michael Pinto.
"The purpose of a community foundation is to improve the quality of life in a population or geographical location," Tarbox said.
Based on extensive knowledge of local issues and conditions, the board and staff assists local nonprofits by providing information and assistance in areas such as taxes, governance, board development and fundraising support.
"The foundation emphasizes the need to give where you live and provides the vehicle to do that," said Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson.
Grants this year ranged from $550 to $10,000.
"Grant providers always want to give much more than they have," said Kathy Krinsky, chairwoman of the grants committee. "I wish we had a billion dollars to give to everyone in this room, to everyone who applied and everyone who didn't."
Gene Felder accepted a $550 check to be used for operation of the Laguna Beach Historical Society, which is dedicated to preserving an accurate history and artifacts of early Laguna.
Checks for $2,000 were presented to Friends of the Laguna Beach Library representatives Karl and Dee Koski for the purchase of furniture, and to Matt Wood, president of the Community Concert Band, which fosters the musical talent of its members while enriching the cultural life of the community.
The Friendship Shelter was awarded $2,500 to fund a program for homeless adults seeking to become more productive members of society.
A $3,000 check was presented to the Laguna Beach Girl Scout Service Unit 1, whose mission has been to build girls of courage, confidence and character and make the world a better place.
Laguna Outreach Community Arts' mission to provide artistic enrichment for all ages was rewarded with a check for $3,500. Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts, which promotes collaboration among the arts organizations in Laguna, also was awarded $3,500, accepted by Festival of Arts board member Wayne Baglin.
Parent Education, better known as Coffee Break; the Laguna Dance Festival; and Laguna College of Art & Design all received grants of $4,000.
Laguna Art Museum trustee Robert Hayden III accepted a check for $5,000 to help fund operations of the museum, with its focus on California art.
Glennwood Housing Foundation was the recipient of a $5,000 check to help with the construction of housing to enhance the quality of life of young adults with developmental disabilities.
Laguna Beach Live! Managing Director Sandy Robertson was presented with a $5,000 check. Connie Burlin picked up the $5,000 check awarded to No Square Theatre, and Laguna Nursery owner Ruben Flores accepted the $5,000 award for the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, to benefit animal care and educational expenses.
The application for funds for capital improvements at the Sawdust Festival was rewarded with a $5,000 check, presented to board President Susan Wade.
Andrea Miller, president of the Laguna Beach Woman's Club, and Marcus Skenderian, representing SchoolPower each accepted $5,000 for their organizations
Grants of $5,000 were also presented to the Laguna Playhouse and the Laguna Beach Community Clinic.
My Hero Project celebrates the best in humanity and empowers people of all ages to realize their potential to effect positive change. An $8,000 grant, presented in partnership with the Massen Greene Foundation, was awarded to the project to fund parts of the Celebrate Heroism program, which will be offered at the Boys & Girls Club and at the Susi Q Senior Center.
The senior center also was recognized with a grant for $10,000 to fund programs and operations.
Holly Morrell accepted an $8,000 check on behalf of Heartfelt Cardiac Project's for a screening program in Laguna Beach.
Three $10,000 grants were awarded in partnership with the Massen Greene Foundation: the Boys & Girls Club, the Crystal Cove Alliance and Laguna Greenbelt Inc.
"As I walked in the door today, I thought what an amazing group of people," said outgoing Mayor Toni Iseman. "People might look at the glorious view outside the windows, but what is happening inside is what makes this Laguna."
Board President and CEO Darrcy Loveland said writing out the checks with secretary-treasurer Fegraus was fun.
" 'There is no greater joy in life than giving' — Ted Turner said that, and I am saying it today," Loveland said.
Members of the grants committee who decided who got what included trustees Clurman, Bob Dornin, Bob Earl, Fegraus, Mark Powell, Tarbox and Mark Towfiq.
Among the cheering section: newly-seated Mayor Jane Egly and Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger, Elisabeth Brown, Cindy Prewitt, Chris Quilter, Jan Sattler, Carol Reynolds, Terry Smith, Marge Earl and Mary Ferguson.
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