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Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner. Clockwise from top left: LAX Coastal Education Foundation’s Andrew Chereck, Friends of Ballona Wetland’s Scott Culbertson, Westchester Y’s John Loussararian, AMCS’ Eden Garcia-Balis and Westside Pacific Village’s Christine Caruso pose for a photo to represent their nonprofits.

Page 2 • November 2019

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

This Month Brings You

help you prom help you prom nization or even nization or even A look inside your HTN

The Book Jewel gets ready to shine 04 Sneakertopia opens at HHLA 06 St. Bernard opens new 99-seat theater 08 Season of Giving: A look at local nonprofits 12 Neighborhood Council Westchester/Playa update 21


Jeff Blair, Contributing Writer Fay Craton, Contributing Writer

Kirby Israelson, Graphic Design Consuelo Israelson, Contributing Writer

About The HomeTown News (HTN)

The HomeTown News is a monthly community newspaper dedicated to providing information about the people, events and happenings of Westchester, Playa del Rey, Marina del Rey and Playa Vista. Look for the HomeTown News the first Thursday of the month at your home or at one of our drop-off locations.

Connect with the HTN:

Mailing Address: 8939 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Ste. 110 #745 Westchester, CA 90045 • Email: • Website: • Facebook: The deadline for submissions is the 22nd of each month.

act us for rates and act us for rates and hesterhometo


us on Faceboo to-date with news and us on Faceboo Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

November 2019 • Page 3

Community Spotlight: The Book Jewel gets ready to shine in the Westchester Triangle as new gathering place This spring, Westchester will have its very own independent bookstore when The Book Jewel opens its doors on 87th Street. Having a bookstore in Westchester has long been the dream of Drollinger Properties owner, Karen Dial, who has made it her mission to help keep her hometown thriving by championing public art, supporting local causes and serving as the president of the business improvement district. This new space, that serves to connect the community and bring everyone together to appreciate literature, watch a cooking demonstration or enjoy some delicious eats is just another part of her vision for the area. “Westchester is such a vibrant community and sacred space,” said Dial who named the store after her mother, Jewel, who was an avid reader. “Westchester deserves a world class bookstore. We need more places where the community can gather to meet and build synergy.” The Book Jewel is on track to open between March and May, according to Sean Moor, who will manage the store. Moor, who also owns the successful Gatsby Books in Long Beach, is looking to bring some of the magic that he’s been able to create there over to Westchester. With no shortage of ideas for the store, he’s excited about hosting

Page 4 • November 2019

The Book Jewel manager Sean Moor and owner Karen Dial promote the bookstore and unveil its new logo at a recent Westchester Farmers’ Market.

author events, creative writing readings led by local students, open mic nights, book club meetings and small intimate musical performances. The store will even have a piano to encourage spontaneous playing. “We’re looking to create a store that is successful for the long run and that gives the community the best experience possible,” said Moor. “We’re right in the heart of Westchester and this will be a cultural hub that is welcoming to everyone.” The building will feature three levels:

a roughly 3,000-square-foot bottom floor that will serve as the store and café; a smaller second story that will double as a demonstration kitchen and event space; and a rooftop deck with garden. “It really is going to be a jewel of a bookstore with a beautiful facade and lots of windows,” said Moor. “When it’s lit up at night it is really going to pop. It will be something you can spot as you land at LAX.” With four paintings on Drollingerowned properties along Sepulveda,

including the large-scale pieces “Welcome to Westchester” and “You Are Beautiful,” it’s no surprise there’s talk of adding artwork to the building located in the Westchester Triangle, either as a mural or in the form of banners that can be changed out to help showcase the store and the community. Moor says there will be tons of literary works, a deep and interesting selection of new and used books and a special emphasis on travel and cooking titles. To cater to the area’s growing number of families, there will be a generous children’s section, as well. Food will also play an important role at The Book Jewel. A café, called Tomat, will open later in 2020, and will be run by Dial’s daughter, Natalie Dial, and her partner, Harry Posner, who share a passion for food and backgrounds in health. The café will feature dishes made with seasonal and local ingredients; house-made breads and ferments; California beer and wine and excellent coffee, according to Dial. The vision for the café came after Posner–a doctor–took time off to attend culinary school in Ireland and Natalie—who is finishing her DrPH and is a public health practitioner—began to think about how to combine health, engagement and shared space. (continued on page 10)

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

November 2019 • Page 5 Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Sneakertopia, Inc.

Business & Nonprofit News

Visitors check out HHLA’s Sneakertopia. The pop-up attraction features Instagram-worthy displays, iconic sneakers and information about the role they have played in popular culture.

Pop-up sneaker experience and museum opens at HHLA. If you love shoes and immersive, Instagram-friendly experiences, you won’t want to miss Sneakertopia at Westchester’s HHLA. The pop-up, featuring all things sneaker culture, opened on October 25 and will run through at least January 12. The 15,000-square foot attraction features what organizers call “one part pop art gallery, one part insanely huge sneaker closet” complete with rare and limited-edition kicks, larger than life murals and a history of how sneakers have become a cultural phenomenon. A look at how sneakers have influenced art, music, movies and design will also be highlighted. “HHLA was designed to serve as a morning-to-late-night entertainment portal the entire family can enjoy,” says Marla Eisenberg, HHLA property manager. “Sneakertopia is a wonderful example of the types of exciting and authentically L.A.-inspired experiences we aim to provide for both locals and visitors to the area.” Tickets to Sneakertopia are $38 for adults and $23 for kids 12 and under. For a list of dates and times, visit HHLA is located at 6081 Center Dr. in Westchester. LAX-it continues to work out issues with new taxi and rideshare policy. If you’re planning on leaving LAX in a taxi or rideshare vehicle, be prepared

Page 6 • November 2019

Councilmember Bonin, LAWA CEO Deborah Flint, BOAC Vice President Valeria Velasco and LAWA representatives break ground on the new LAX Police Department facility.

for a whole new policy due to the airport’s LAX-it program. Launched on October 29, LAX-it no longer allows taxis and rideshare companies to pick up passengers at the arrivals level. Instead, passengers will need to head to the LAX-it lot adjacent to Terminal 1 (next to Southwest airlines) to catch their ride. Passengers can walk to the lot, which is an estimated three minutes from Terminal 1 and eight minutes from Terminals 2,7 and 8 or take an LAX-it shuttle. The shuttles operate in a dedicated lane along the arrivals inner-curb and stop at a maximum of two terminals each to pick up riders. Friends and family are still able to

pick up passengers at arrivals, although at a new-outer curb location. Once passengers request a ride from Uber, Lyft or Opoli, the app will provide instructions to head to a specific zone at LAX-it to wait in line. When the rider reaches the front of the line, they’ll be prompted by the app to provide the driver with a code that the driver will then enter into their app to be matched. LAX-it was designed to help alleviate traffic in the Central Terminal Area (CTA) as the airport prepares for construction of the Automated People Mover (APM). When it opens in 2023, an estimated 30 million passengers a year will ride the APM along a 2.25

mile elevated guideway to get to and from the airport. To make way for the APM and the unprecedented construction at LAX, the airport will need to close 30 percent of curbside space. While LAX continues to try to improve the LAX-it experience by adding more shuttles and increasing the size of the lot, passengers are reporting long shuttle waits, surge pricing and long wait times that are unpredictable during the first week of operation. During the first week, the airport is reporting an average daily decrease of 15.3 percent of cars in the CTA. As conditions at LAX-it continue to change, visit for up-to-date info. To find the current average wait times at LAXit and average traffic times, LAX is also updating its Twitter at @ FlyLAXAirport and @FlyLAXstats every 30-60 minutes. New day spa opens in Westchester. In late October, My LAX Spa celebrated its grand opening. Located on Sepulveda Blvd. at the former site of Leelavadee, the spa offers treatments including massages, body wraps and medical spa treatments. Membership packages for services are also available. The spa is located at 8732 S. Sepulveda Blvd. (second floor) in Westchester. Visit for more information.

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Photo by Ballerini Cooley Studios.

Erika Puzik poses with her two sons for the Hometown News’ Super Mom edition earlier this year. She was recently recognized for her work as a top financial advisor.

Erika Puzik receives recognition as a top wealth advisor mom. Westchester resident, Erika Puzik, was recently named to the list of “Working Mother Top Wealth Advisor Moms” published by Working Mother Magazine. The list recognizes women financial advisors with children in the home under the age of 18 who represent high levels of ethical standards, professionalism and success in the business. The rankings are based on data provided by more than 11,000 of the nation’s most productive advisors. Puzik was chosen based on assets under management, industry experience, regulatory and compliance record and revenue produced over a three-year period. Puzik is part of Erika Puzik & Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services. Puzik, a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, has 21 years of experience in the financial services industry and has an office near HHLA in Westchester. First groundbreaking for Northside Plan is for new police facility. Los Angeles World Airports broke ground on a new $220 million airport police facility on Westchester Parkway in October. The new facility, which is scheduled to open in mid2021, will consolidate LAX’s police operations from eight separate locations to one. “The new consolidated LAWA Police facility, which will watch over all of LAX as well as the LAX Northside, will improve public safety and allow for faster response times to calls on or immediately adjacent to airport property,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin. “It will also be a revitalizing improvement for the neighborhood, bringing more business and economic growth to the many small businesses in downtown Westchester.” The 160,000-square-foot building on a 12-acre development will be located on the northeast corner of Westchester Parkway and Loyola Blvd. near Otis College. The facility will also include a 960-stall parking

structure. “The design of this new facility is as functional as it is beautiful, and will help us to continue operating LAX safely and securely, which is important, not only to our guests, but to our neighbors as well,” said Valeria Velasco, Vice President, Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) and Playa del Rey resident. “This is LAWA’s first project groundbreaking in Westchester that is part of our Northside Plan, and we are excited to see it get underway.” The new facility, which will support the largest airport police department in the country, will include space for the Los Angeles Airport Police Division’s Office of Operations, Office of Support Services, Office of Homeland Security and Intelligence, Emergency Service Unit, Traffic and Security Group, Bomb Disposal Unit, K-9 Unit, a practice range and a multipurpose room. It will also include a landscaped paseo along Westchester Parkway. Badge of Heart readies to distribute Thanksgiving dinners. Badge of Heart, a nonprofit created by Pacific Division officer Ken Lew to help families and children in times of need, is collecting donations for its Fifth Annual Holiday Program. Donations of $25 will provide a family of four with a traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings for the holiday, which Lew and fellow officers will distribute. The giveaway will take place on Saturday, November 23 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Venice Japanese Community Center, located at 12448 Braddock Drive, 90066. The dinners will be distributed on a first come, first served basis (while supplies last) to those in need. Sponsors of the Holiday Program include HHLA, the Drollinger Family Charitable Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Los Angeles World Airports, SoCalGas and the Parking Spot Westchester. Visit badgeofheart. org for more information. Opened a business? Celebrating an anniversary? We want to hear about your business or nonprofit! Email us at

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

November 2019 • Page 7

Head to T Salon

St. Bernard High School opens 99-seat 92nd Street Playhouse Among the vast jumble of non-descript buildings dotting the landscape of Los Angeles, there are hundreds of abandoned warehouses, obsolete sound stages, former factories, aging storefronts and other, faceless structures that have been turned into theaters. There’s even an open-air theater in Topanga Canyon, an aquatic one on the lagoon of the old “Gillian’s Island” TV show and a theater in Culver City housed in a former electric car power station. Los Angeles is the capital of 99seat theaters, a unique niche formed in response to the regulations of the Actors’ Equity Association, which allows producers of small theaters to not have to pay union scale wages. Hidden on the campus of St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey is one of these below-the-radar

buildings that houses a brand new 99-seat theater being dubbed the 92nd Street Playhouse. “It’s a little gem of a space,” said Brad Vincent, owner and director of The Actor’s Spot, who, along with his creative director Patrick Malone, are working with the school to give the 6,000-square-foot space some new life. “It can be so many things for so many people.” Vincent said the theater has already hosted the school’s Black History Month performance, a community mixer and even a birthday party and dance. “We looked at it, and we knew what it could be,” said Malone, an acting teacher and coach, who has worked with some of the biggest names in the business, including Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman,

Johnny Depp and Paul Newman. “We want this to become a state-of-theart theater, not just for us, but for anyone on the Westside to use.” Malone envisions the space as the home for not just his regular, Monday evening acting classes but for all kinds of performances and events. “By this time next year, we are hoping to have three or four productions in there and use it for mixers, as a TED talk space–it can really transform into lots of things,” he said. Vincent said plans for enhanced lighting and improved sound equipment are well underway. “As it is, it is certainly competitive with lots of other spaces I see throughout Los Angeles, but we want to make this the best spot possible,”

he said. “There’s an outdoor courtyard that would be perfect for pre-show and intermissions. It would be nice to have separate restrooms for the talent. We’d like to upgrade the seating. But the number one thing is to get people in the space and make this a great community resource.” After all, Vincent said, “the more people use it, the more people will see how this could be the go-to theater spot in West L.A.” For more information about using the space (including prop, costume and wardrobe rental), please visit or call St. Bernard High School directly at (310) 8234651.

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Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

November 2019 • Page 9

A rendering of what The Book Jewel will look like when it opens early next year.

The Book Jewel (continued)

(from page 4) “The idea of Tomat came from these turning points and setting up this vision next to The Book Jewel is an absolutely ideal place to start,” said Natalie. “Both The Book Jewel and Tomat are meant to be a gathering place and new dynamic for the area– the Sunday Farmers’ Market is just outside our doorstep, which will be the first of many new synergies the cafe and bookstore will bolster. Westchester is a caring, diverse and down-to-earth community, and we hope these new businesses will radiate and expand the ethos that’s always existed here.” While opening a bookstore may seem like a difficult business in a world full of next-day Amazon packages, Moor says there’s been a resurgence in indie stores in the last five years, with

Page 10 • November 2019

sales up and shops opening ready for book-lovers to search for new novels along the shelves and find a sense of community, which online shopping can’t offer. Although there’s been a slight delay with the construction timeline because “it’s taken this long to get it just right” and plans have had to be readjusted a few times, Moor is confident that the community won’t be disappointed by the results. “Westchester is a great place for a bookstore and on days like the farmers’ market, the Triangle is buzzing with energy,” said Moor. “We want this to be another thing that puts Westchester on the map. The first thing people do when they land at LAX is head to In-NOut, and we hope the second is head to a really great bookstore.”

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

November 2019 • Page 11

Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner.

The holidays are here and as our thoughts turn to family, parties and presents, it also turns to giving back. We recently connected with some of our favorite Westchester/Playa area nonprofit leaders to learn more about their organizations and find out how people can get involved to support these worthwhile causes. Below are our Q&As with the executive directors or board presidents of 7 groups that are passionate about their missions and supporting the community.

For the Friends of Ballona Wetlands it’s all about education, restoration and advocacy. Executive Director, Scott Culbertson, has been with the nonprofit for three years and is proud of the group’s education programs including Explore Ballona!, which provides youth with handson learning that establishes a strong basis to recognize the impact they can have as environmental stewards. The Friends have spent more than 25 years conducting habitat restoration efforts in the Ballona Wetlands. Its staff, docents, board members, interns and volunteers comprise an array of active individuals committed to serving as environmental stewards. In 2018, the group even removed 20 tons of non-native weeds from the Reserve and 2.5 tons of trash from Ballona Creek! Q. In your own words, what is the mission/goal of your organization? A. The Friends were founded 41 years ago to save the Ballona Wetlands from development and that was accomplished. Today, we continue in those footsteps to preserve and restore this important land, and involve the community in doing so. The Ballona Wetlands is more than a regional ecological resource, its impact reaches far beyond Playa del Rey. Q. How does your nonprofit positively impact the Westchester/ Playa area? A. The Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve provides students, families and the community a unique hands-on learning experience to understand the important role wetlands play in the Los Angeles Page 12 • November 2019

watershed. Since its relaunch in 2017, the LAX The wetlands are a source of Coastal Education Foundation has been community involvement in education able to distribute more than $250,000 and restoration, a part of our cultural back to local schools through grants history and a great way to meet and its signature event, the Rock people. Each year, more than 9,000 Roll & Run. Led by board president people visit and volunteer with The and Westchester resident, Andrew Friends, including 5,000 students who Chereck, the foundation is working on participate in our “Explore Ballona!” a strategic plan to bring more funds education program. and support to the 27 public, private, Q. What is something that most charter and parochial schools that people might not know about your are within the group’s boundaries of organization that you wish they did? Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, A. I have three. For public schools Marina del Rey and beyond. throughout the Los Angeles area Q. In your own words, what is the that cannot afford to transport their mission/goal of your organization? students to the wetlands for our on-site A. My goals for the LAX Coastal educational activities, we provide 25 Education Foundation are threefold: bus scholarships. Environmental justice • to support and enrich the LAX does not have a zip code! Coastal educational environment by The Friends brought the federally providing resources and opportunities endangered El Segundo Blue Butterfly to all of our local schools, educators back to the Ballona Wetlands. and students, including through grants, So many people mispronounce training and other programs; Ballona. It’s By-own-uh (accent on the • to provide an invaluable resource to first syllable), not buh-loan-uh. parents and students when considering Q. What are some opportunities the unique and diverse educational for people to get involved with your opportunities in the LAX Coastal organization? A. Check out our community; and website We have • to be a catalyst for partnerships opportunities for anyone to volunteer, between our local schools and local intern, train to be a docent or just businesses with the common purpose come for a tour and birdwatch with of further increasing the quality of one of our experts. Corporate groups education in our community. including Google, Ernst & Young, Q. How does your nonprofit Paramount Pictures, United Talent positively impact the Westchester/ Agency, The Honest Company and Playa area? A. Most notably, since others volunteer regularly with The our inception in 2017, we have Friends. All the opportunities are listed had the privilege of giving back on the “Get Involved” and “Calendar” more than $250,000 to our local tabs. schools. These funds have included Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del

STEM grants, teacher grants, arts & beautification grants and more. In addition to providing much needed funding and grants to our schools, teachers and students, we host free education-focused events throughout the year, including the Neighborhood School Expo each fall and a Spelling Bee for local elementary students. The foundation also sponsors and participates in community events supporting our schools, including the LAX Coastal Chamber’s Teacher Eddy Awards and the Teacher Mini Grants. Q. What is something that most people might not know about your organization that you wish they did? A. Unlike many local and regional educational foundations, the LAX Coastal Education Foundation was established to serve and support all of our local schools, whether public, magnet, charter, private or parochial. Q. What are some opportunities for people to get involved with your organization? A. Volunteer! Anyone interested in getting involved with the LAX Coastal Education Foundation can simply email info@ We are always looking for eager volunteers to help with our events and programs, particularly the Rock, Roll & Run in March. This event brings together the entire community and includes hundreds of participants, but requires significant manpower to put on each year. And, donations are of course welcomed and greatly appreciated. Visit us online at to learn more. Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Photos by Jee Hyun Lee.

Photo by Venice Paparazzi.

For more than 50 years, the Airport Marina Counseling Service, or AMCS, has provided hope and help to people dealing with stress, trauma, grief, life transitions and other mental health issues. For the last six years, the organization has been led by Eden Garcia-Balis and has grown to offer more services including expanded group classes and the launch of a LGBT Center. This month, AMCS is offering group therapy classes that cover topics like holiday stress, anxiety and navigating your 20s. Q. In your own words, what is the mission/goal of your organization? A. The mission of AMCS is twofold: to provide affordable community-based mental health services and to train mental health therapists. All of our programming is in line with our mission, and we are so glad to be serving the community since 1961. Q. How does your nonprofit positively impact the Westchester/Playa area? A. Being mentally healthy is just as important as being physically healthy. There are many people who want to access mental health services, but are not receiving mental health care because it has become so costly. AMCS positively impacts the Westchester/ Playa area by providing low-cost mental health services to anyone in need throughout the community. All of our services are based on a sliding fee scale. We are open seven days a week and can accommodate virtually anybody’s schedule. Q. What is something that most people might not know about your organization that you wish they did? I really wish everybody knew about our At Risk Kids Program where we have been providing comprehensive mental

health counseling to children and their families since 2003. This program includes individual and group counseling, parent education groups and psychiatric services, if appropriate, at the clinic and currently on site at Paseo del Rey Elementary School, Wright STEAM Middle School and Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnet, as well as the Boys and Girls Club of Venice. The youth we typically serve have specific challenges such as learning disabilities and behavioral issues. They often live in chronic poverty with negative peer influences and no positive role models. They are typically struggling in both their school and family setting. Through the At Risk Kids Program, AMCS aims to change the trajectory of the lives of youth to more positive outcomes, including remaining in school and developing positive relationships, while addressing the trauma and key issues in their lives. And AMCS provides these important services for free! AMCS’ Spring into Well-Being Celebration fundraiser helps raise funds so we can continue to provide these services free of charge and even grow the program. Q. What are some opportunities for people to get involved with your organization? A. AMCS’ sister organization the Westchester Mental Health Guild’s sole mission is to raise funds for AMCS. They are an all-volunteer organization and are always looking for people to help with their fundraising events. The events are more fun than work. For more info about the Guild’s fundraising events or how you can volunteer, please visit their website at You can visit us online at

Carol Kitabayashi has been helping “seniors age in place” in her role as Executive Director of the Westside Pacific Villages (WPV) for the last seven years. Based in Westchester, WPV offers a variety of services to its members with the help of prescreened volunteers that assist in transportation to and from medical, hair and other appointments; help with technology issues; and social/wellness programs. More importantly, however, the large pool of village volunteers provide companionship, friendship and a healing human connection through the organization’s activities and events. Q. In your own words, what is the mission/goal of your organization? A. At WPV we seek to strengthen and recreate a sense of community of “neighbors helping neighbors,” with a focus on the older adult population. Our goal is to enable seniors, often neglected and overlooked, to maintain their independence, dignity and respect, from the homes they love. Our efforts are vitally important as we help combat loneliness and social isolation, which negatively impacts overall health and wellbeing. Q. How does your nonprofit positively impact the Westchester/ Playa area? A. Our nonprofit positively impacts our community’s area by addressing loneliness and supporting healthy purposeful aging, while simultaneously creating civic engagement opportunities for individuals of all ages by volunteering in meaningful ways. In fact, we have been voted as one of the best places to volunteer for the past seven years, and received a 2019 top-rated award from GreatNonprofits. In terms of numbers, this translates to more than 100 seniors receiving support from approximately 200 dedicated volunteers. WPV provides more than 400 services per month to our client members. Q. What is something that most people might not know about your organization that you wish they did? A. Many people think that WPV is a physical place where seniors live or a senior citizen center. However, we Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

are not a facility or residence. WPV is an intergenerational community (or “village”) of older adults and volunteers from local neighborhoods who come together to support one another, but in particular, the oldest adults in our community. WPV is made up of people living in the neighborhoods of Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Marina del Rey, Del Rey, Mar Vista, Culver City, Ladera Heights, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach and adjacent areas. There are many ways that someone can be part of WPV; it is not limited to senior citizens. Some people join to receive full services such as transportation and additional supports to stay active and connected in the community and home. Others join the Village to find a sense of purpose and civic engagement, volunteering their time to become more deeply connected to the community through supporting older people who have been part of the community for years. We also recently implemented a volunteer driver mileage reimbursement program so our volunteers can receive reimbursement for driving our members. Q. What are some opportunities for people to get involved with your organization? A. There are many ways that people can get involved with WPV! We welcome volunteers of all ages and talents. WPV will work with you to create a flexible schedule that fits with your lifestyle. Whether you are fully employed, retired, or a student, less than 30 minutes a week can make a very meaningful and huge difference in the life of an older person in our community. Volunteers can help with transportation (even if it’s only one way), become a friendly visitor or monthly caller, help with yard work, chores or minor repairs around the house, run errands, provide technology support and much more! Overall, you can volunteer directly with the older residents in the community, at our office, or find ways to volunteer tailored to your specific interests. Call us at (310) 695-7030 or email us at to learn more. November 2019 • Page 13

Photo by Glenn Marzano.

The Westchester Family YMCA has been a community hub since it was founded, and under the leadership of John Loussararian, the organization is thriving. A lifelong supporter of the YMCA organization–he learned to swim at his local Y before volunteering as a junior lifeguard and started his career with the Y at the age of 18– Loussararian knows the YMCA is more than just a gym. The Y’s members find a network of support in the friendships they make because of their involvement with Adventure Guides, exercise classes and camping. Always looking for ways to support health and wellness, the Westchester Family YMCA partners with 14 local schools for youth yoga and P.E. classes. Q. In your own words, what is the mission/goal of your organization? A. The Y’s focus is to strengthen the foundations of community through helping our youth find their full potential, improving the health and well-being of our communities and encouraging our neighbors to give back. All Y programs represent a vehicle to solve a critical community crisis, such as teaching our youth the life saving skill of swimming and thereby preventing drownings, which is the leading cause of death in children under 4, according to the CDC. One thousand youth each year participate in our swim lesson program. Q. How does your nonprofit

positively impact the Westchester/ Playa area? More than 4,000 households benefit from their participation in Y programs through their membership and an additional 4,000 youth are healthier as a result of our school-based health initiatives. One thousand children build their self-confidence and learn the value of teamwork and sportsmanship through our youth sports and recreation programs and 200 youth realize their spark through enrichment programs such as STEM classes. Adults and seniors feel less of a sense of loneliness as a result of the lifelong friendships they form through a variety classes and programs. Q. What is something that most people might not know about your organization that you wish they did? A. The YMCA is a charitable nonprofit organization that carries out our mission through the various programs we facilitate. If not for the generosity of our donors and volunteers, many of our outreach initiatives would not be possible. Q. What are some opportunities for people to get involved with your organization? A. Volunteering, donating or serving on the Board of Managers are great opportunities for people in our community to get involved in a meaningful and fulfilling way. Learn more at westchester.

Located on the campus of Wright STEAM Magnet and WISH, Emerson Avenue Community Garden (EACG) opened in 2011, and since then has blossomed into a community green space with garden plots, events and an outdoor classroom thanks to the hard work of volunteers. The organization’s president, Dorothy Stone, has been with EACG since the beginning, and is excited for people to learn more about the garden’s educational opportunities, including how to grow fruits and veggies. The EACG is also an integral part of the Westchester Arts & Music Block Party (and the location for the event’s kid zone), which raises funds for the community garden. Q. In your own words, what is the mission/goal of your organization? A. In my mind, our mission is to provide a space for sustainable gardening for personal use, community education on best practices for gardening and to provide a space for the community to come together to build a stronger bond among neighbors. Q. How does your nonprofit positively impact the Westchester/ Playa area? A. We welcome

involvement from all who live in or work in the greater Westchester/Playa area to meet our goals. As a community space, we can provide people with a place to go to enjoy nature and see the day-to-day process of growing food. Q. What is something that most people might not know about your organization that you wish they did? A. We welcome visitors to the garden whenever someone is there, after school during the week, or on the weekends. Q. What are some opportunities for people to get involved with your organization? A. We have several ways people can get involved. We have a community workday on the first Saturday of the month, from 9 a.m. to noon where volunteers can help with the myriad of projects required to keep a garden going. We have many committees which also welcome help from the community, including event planning, fund raising, hospitality, garden projects and the like. If you’re interested in getting involved, please email us at


Emergency Food Distribution to those in need. Sponsored by the Westchester Clergy Association

Open Tuesday & Friday, 10am-12pm 355 Beach St., Inglewood

Bring donations of non-perishable food to Covenant Presbyterian Chuch. Volunteers and money donations also welcomed and encouraged!

For more information, please call (310) 677-5597 Ad donated by the Covenant Presbyterian Church

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Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

The Rotary Club of Westchester has been supporting the community for more than 50 years. Currently led by president Darlene Fukuji, the group continues its service to Westchester and beyond with a variety of programs like the Extreme Makeover Project that revamped the Westchester Townhouse earlier this year, its annual book sale and Citizen of the Year award. More than just a weekly lunch meeting group, the Westchester Rotary Club offers opportunities each month for members to give back, whether they’re painting fences at St. Bernard, hosting back to school shopping trips for Westport Heights students or organizing scholarship competitions. Q. In your own words, what is the mission/goal of your organization? A. We are committed to building strong and healthy communities, both locally and internationally. Our goal is to ensure that community needs are being met, and the strength of Rotary is that we have diverse backgrounds that bring various resources–time, talent, and treasure–together. This can only be done with a high degree of trust in each other, which takes time and friendship, and happens through gathering weekly and breaking bread with one another. Q. How does your nonprofit positively impact the Westchester/ Playa area? A. We have more than 40 projects and programs each year that benefit our community ranging from “boots on the ground” projects like our beautification projects at our local schools and programs where we partner with the District Attorney’s office and our first responders to honor our courageous citizens. We have four avenues of services: international, community, vocational and youth. One area that I’m most excited about is our initiative to end human trafficking by providing a network of resources for victims. You can learn more about this initiative at Q. What is something that most people might not know about your organization that you wish they did? A. We believe that everyone has something to offer, and we strive to help people develop their talents and use their abilities to build strong and healthy communities. In fact, we have an active group of young professionals that benefit from the mentorship of seasoned Rotarians, and it has resulted in a culture of collaboration. Take, for example, for the past two years, our club’s presidents have been young professional women. Q. What are some opportunities for people to get involved with your organization? A. Donate books! Donate your gently used books for our annual sale during Memorial Day weekend that takes place in the parking lot of Ralphs and CVS on Sepulveda and Howard Drollinger Way. We have book collections at the Westchester YMCA, Covenant Presbyterian Church, Airport Marina Counseling and other community establishments that also help to promote literacy in our community year after year. Extreme Makeover projects! Every other year, we identify a community need and help in the form of a makeover project where hundreds of volunteers come together for a family or a community center. Past projects can be found in previous editions of the Hometown News. Donate to our foundation! Our foundation funds teacher grants, student scholarships, back to school shopping sprees for disadvantaged youth, meals for our first responders, meals for seniors at the Westchester Senior Center, youth exchange programs, services for homeless teens and helps launch new programs to meet more community needs. Learn more about our club at

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

November 2019 • Page 15

Community Spotlight: Youth flag football league helps promote teamwork and leadership Local kids have been showcasing their athletic skills and learning valuable life lessons thanks to a youth flag football league based in Playa Vista. NFL Flag LA recently completed its 20th youth flag football season culminating in Super Bowl XX at Playa Vista Sports Park. The league, which plays three seasons a year in the spring, summer, and fall, was first formed in 2012 by league owner Tony Son. In this six-on-six game, the offensive team plays for a first down at midfield and a touchdown in the end zone. Running and passing plays are allowed. The defensive team covers receivers, rushes the passer and grabs flags. The league offers four different divisions for boys and girls of all skill levels from 6- to 13-years-old (Peewee 6-7, Juniors 8-9, Majors 10-11 and Pro 12-13) and two different competition levels (club and recreation). The different levels of competition cater to beginners up to advanced players. Each team is allowed to pick their favorite NFL team, including the Rams and Chargers, to use as their team name. During the spring and summer seasons, the teams typically play

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The Junior Club Giants (top) and Major Club Chargers pose for championship photos in Playa Vista.

once a week on Sunday afternoons at Playa Vista Sports Park. In the fall, teams play on Saturdays afternoons at Crossroads Elementary School in Santa Monica. The program provides young players a fun and exciting opportunity to engage in non-contact, continuous action. The league is based on the principles of having fun, equal opportunity, safety first and learning important life lessons. The league promotes being active in a healthy competitive environment while rewarding the value of good sportsmanship, leadership and teamwork skills, according to Son. The league is open to players in Playa Vista, Westchester, Playa del Rey, Inglewood, Marina Del Rey, Venice, Ladera Heights and other surrounding communities. During this past season, the Peewee Eagles; Junior Recreation Raiders; Junior Club Giants (pictured); Major Recreation Falcons; Major Club Chargers (pictured); and the Pro Lions won championship titles. The fall season is currently under way and will culminate in Super Bowl XXI on November 23. For more information about the league, please visit

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

November 2019 • Page 17

Random Notes/Opinion The old vs. the new way of thinking of exercise

By Jeff Blair

Opinion: I remember it like it was yesterday. I was starting my sophomore year at Centre College when my mom called and said my dad had a heart attack. Until that time, I thought my dad was immortal. He achieved career success as a lawyer and was a great dad. He was athletic in his youth and even played college baseball. He was always my idol. Yet he had a heart attack at 42-years-old due to unmanaged stress, little physical exercise and some other lifestyle issues. I actually remember feeling guilty because he had worked so hard to provide for me and my four siblings. At that time, there wasn’t nearly enough knowledge about how to make exercise fit into the schedule of a hard-working adult. It was just a different era in so many ways relative to health. Exercise was discussed. I just think it might have seemed unrealistic to my dad, given the time and energy demands of his career and family. But the reality is that first heart attack started a series of health problems for my dad and he eventually passed away much too

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early at 63-years-old. That process was one of the most formative events of my life. I can’t say it caused me to immediately change, but it certainly triggered an interest in learning about health. That eventually led me to my own lifestyle transformation in 1999, and then starting my career in the health and fitness field in 2002. I didn’t get things immediately, but I’m happy I was able to transform my health. If there is a positive from my dad’s experience, maybe that is it. Today, we live in a different era. Education about exercise’s benefits is at an all-time high. You can’t turn on the news or be online without reading something about how good exercise is for you. Maybe even more impressive is knowledge about how to make exercise more efficient is at an all-time high. A 2019 study from one of the world’s top exercise researchers showed people can make incredible strength gains with just 39 minutes of strength training per week. Many people use shorter duration, higher intensity cardio training in their workouts. These are just two examples where we can make exercise fit in our lives without working out two hours per day. Access has also increased

dramatically. Every neighborhood seems to have at least one workout facility or studio. Streaming workouts are available on our phone. Some gyms charge as little as $10 per month for membership. There are running groups, walking groups and yoga groups among many others. The “my career keeps me from working out” narrative is also losing steam. Studies show people who work out consistently are more motivated at work, concentrate better and are more likely to get things done on time. Exercise can even increase the part of your brain responsible for memory and learning. Without question, exercise makes you a better worker. Many people are already embracing the reality that exercise enhances work productivity. Extraordinarily successful people like billionaire Mark Cuban, 86-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Virgin founder Richard Branson are well-known workout devotees. Branson has been known to say exercise gives him an extra four hours of productive work per day. In the old way, people basically traded in their health for career success. Many people didn’t know better. People often believed taking

time to exercise would hurt their career. That’s just the way it was. Today, we know the opposite is true. Exercise makes us more productive at work. In the old days, we had Lycra, Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons. Today, we have endless neighborhood boutiques offering strength training, cardio classes and other niche approaches. There is a flavor for almost every taste. Thankfully, even more change for the good is coming. Gym memberships have increased 37 percent in the past decade. More than 70 million Americans used exercise facilities in 2018. Eighty percent of large U.S companies (with more than 50 employees) offer fitness or wellness benefits to employees. It was okay back in the old days to neglect exercise. I don’t think it’s okay any more. Jeff Blair (MS, CSCS) is a fitness author and has been a certified personal trainer in Westchester for 17 years. He has been featured in numerous national and international fitness publications. Contact him at for story comments. *Before you start any fitness routine, please consult your doctor.

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Are you ready to live life with a sense of gratitude? By Fay Craton Opinion: We are close to the end of the year. Soon it will be Thanksgiving and the rest of the end of the year celebrations. The gatherings with family and friends, the parties, annual routines and even the change in weather can spark reflections on how satisfied you are with life and what has unfolded since last year’s holiday season. It is the time of year where I often witness mood swings among the people with whom I counsel. How has your year been? For many of us, this year has flown by. There has been more to do than there has been time to do it. Unanticipated frustrating changes are increasing, causing more stress on our available time. This year, we have witnessed an increasing amount of aggressive confrontational behavior in many walks of life. Tempers are short. For some, it has become easier to look at how another person caused discomfort because reflecting on ourselves and our own pain may have become unbearable. Have you experienced a greater desire to make demeaning statements than to listen? Or, are you feeling demeaned and shamed when you try to express your thoughts and needs? All of this frustration is a part of life. But it does not need to be the “driver” of your life. Amid our fast-paced lives, we can take a few minutes each day to find balance. Those handful of minutes will clear your mind, enabling you to handle the multitude of tasks with less stress in your mind and body. When change is happening, it is important to consciously take care of yourself so you can keep your resiliency. When you are hurting, it is possible to shift how you view the situation–allowing yourself to grow— and helping you to experience an increased amount of comfort. You can choose your “default” perspective; just like a computer naturally returns to a preferred setting. I recently observed an example of a person choosing her life perspective while waiting at the doctor’s office. While standing in line to check in, the person in front of me had words printed all over her casual clothing. Down her legs were printed the word “love.” Across her chest was printed, “hope,” “peace” and “joy.” I remarked to the woman that her clothes had a great message. She laughed and said, “I wear the clothing as a reminder.” She wants to remember what matters.

You can orchestrate reminders in many different ways. For any of the ways to work, you must first have a true intention. You must want to change your perspective. The process of change can present feelings and memories you find difficult to experience. If this is true for you, seek a therapist for assistance. Here are some methods you may find helpful: • One fun way is to write notes to yourself and mingle them among work you are doing. Throughout the day, the notes come to the surface along with your memory of your chosen “default” perspective. • Keep a daily gratitude journal. • A mantra can be effective when written down and posted where you can see it every day. • Some people find meditation at the start of everyday beneficial. • Throughout the day, pay attention to how you are viewing life. If your life is being driven by something you don’t desire, simply make mental note of it and start over. There is no need to feel as if you failed. Change is part of a normal life journey. What you are doing is a process. You may need to start over several times before you start seeing the desired change. Be patient with yourself. Since the holiday season is a natural time when many people reflect upon their lives, you may find it a good time to explore living from the perspective of hope and gratitude. With Thanksgiving arriving soon, you may wish to have a daily routine between now and then of: • Writing down in the morning a positive intention for the day. • An evening routine of writing down what was your experience that day for which you can be grateful. My wish is for you to have a positive perspective in life. Difficult and frustrating situations do not need to set the tone for your mood. You can choose the frame in which you see life. My wish is also for you to enter the holidays with a positive intention and with a sense of gratitude. Fay Craton, M.A. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (mfc40011), which is the psychology license specializing in relationships (with ourselves or with others), and she has an office in Westchester. For more info, please visit or contact her at (310) 645-6762.

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

November 2019 • Page 19


You’re invited to bake some of the best pizza and bread you’ve ever tasted, right in Westchester’s own blazing, 800 degree oven! Join your neighbors at this community gathering where you can meet new people, share recipes and try baking in an adobe oven with a 15,000-year-old design tradition. For the pizza bake, bring dough and toppings to share with other neighbors. Pizzas will then cook to perfection in 90 seconds. For the bread bake, bring your ready-for-theoven loaf at 2 p.m. If you can’t make it this month, the group fires the oven the second Saturday of every month. Check the weather; the group won’t light the oven if rain is expected. Please RSVP at The oven is located at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, located at 6700 W. 83rd St. in Westchester.

Photo by Gloria Plunkett.

1. Pizza & Bread Bake at Westchester’s Community Oven Saturday, November 9 @ 11:30 a.m.

The March sisters as played by Lyndsay Palmer, Lauren Jennerjohn, Jackie Fiske and Francesca Farina pose for a photo at the Westchester Playhouse. Performances will run from November 15 through December 21.

toward the Elk’s children’s charity. Vendor spots are available. RSVPs are requested at or by calling (310) 821-3005. The Westchester Elks is located at 8025 W. Manchester Ave. in Playa del Rey.

4. Little Women at Westchester Playhouse 2. Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair Saturday, November 9 @ 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Opening Friday, November 15 @ 8 p.m. Kentwood Players is kicking-off the Sunday, November 10 @ 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

St. Jerome Church will hold its annual arts and crafts fair this month. The fair will be held in the Parish Hall, located at 5550 Thornburn St. in Westchester. Attendees can peruse handcrafted items for sale and there will be raffles every few hours. Food and beverages will also be available for purchase. Vendor tables for this event are available for $75 for the two days. To reserve tables or for additional information, please call Joan at (310) 670-7801 or Joyce at (310) 649-5586.

3. Holiday Boutique at the Elks Lodge Sunday, November 10 @ 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Join the Westchester Elks Lodge for a holiday boutique and day of beauty. The boutique will feature a variety of vendors, a Pilates class, mini facials, chair massages, raffles and more. There is a $20 entrance fee to attend, which includes lunch. The lodge’s bar will also be open and showing the football game. Proceeds raised from the event will go

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celebration of its 70th anniversary with the story of Little Women, The Broadway Musical based upon Louisa May Alcott’s classic story. The musical opens November 15 and runs through December 21. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The story follows the lives, loves and tribulations of the four March sisters growing up during the American Civil War. Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy live in Concord, Massachusetts with their Marmee while their father is on the battlefield. Filled with adventure (both lived and imagined), heartbreak and a deep sense of hope, the struggle of these “Little Women” to find their own voices, mirrors the growing pains of a young America, reminding us that “sometimes when you dream, your dreams come true.” Reserved seat tickets are $27 with a $2 discount for seniors and students. To purchase tickets, please email the box office at boxoffice@, call (310) 645-

5156 or visit During the run of the musical, the theater will also be holding its Seventh annual Kentwood Kares Coat Drive. Donations of new or gently used coats, sweaters and/or jackets for men, women and children are appreciated. All items will be donated to the Los Angeles Mission. The Westchester Playhouse is located at 8301 Hindry Ave. in Westchester.

5. Native Garden Workshop Saturday, November 16 @ 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Learn how to create a beautiful, sustainable native garden with the Friends of Ballona Wetlands. Whether you have a yard or want to create a garden on your patio or balcony, this Grow Native Plant Sale and Workshop can help you create a garden that can reduce water use for your plants by 85 percent, creates less pollen, and helps support bees, birds and butterflies. RSVP at to attend the free workshop. Native plants and supplies are available for purchase for $3 and up. The event will take place at the Ballona Discovery Park, located at 13110 Bluff Creek Dr. in Playa Vista.

6. Playa Music Fundraiser Concert Saturday, November 16 @ 4 p.m.

Join Playa Music Lessons for a fundraiser benefiting City of Hope. The Playa del Rey music studio, which offers a variety of music lessons for kids through adults, will have performances from faculty and friends on piano, cello, guitar and vocals. The cost to attend is $25 with proceeds going to charity. The concert will be held at Our Savior Lutheran Church, located at 6705 W. 77th St. in Westchester. For more information or to purchase a ticket, email playamusiclessons@

7. Thanksgiving Luncheon at Westchester Senior Center Tuesday, November 19 @ 11:30 a.m

Enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving lunch, musical entertainment by Michelle Crenshaw and camaraderie with new and old friends at the Westchester Senior Center. Tickets for the luncheon will be sold at the Senior Center on November 12 from 10 a.m. to noon. The cost to attend is $7 for Westchester Senior Citizen Club members and $12 for non-members. No tickets will be sold on the day of the luncheon. The Westchester Senior Citizen Center is located at 8740 Lincoln Blvd. in Westchester. For more info, please call (310) 649-3317.

8. Holiday Boutique Fundraiser at Westchester Lutheran Church & School Sunday, November 17 @ 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Get started on your holiday shopping at Westchester Lutheran’s (WLS) annual Holiday Shopping Boutique. The event will feature vendors selling crafts, jewelry, fashion, candles, beauty products and more. Vendors include ONEHOPE Wine, Color Street, Bodewell Candles and Imperfect Foods. The event also doubles as a fundraiser with 10 percent of purchases being donated to the school. In support of The Power of a Shower, travel-sized toiletries and gently used or new clothing will be collected. WLS is located at 7831 S. Sepulveda Blvd. in Westchester.

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

November 2019 • Page 21

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Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the 6200 block of 87th Street, commonly referred to as the Westchester Triangle, transforms into a bustling neighborhood hangout during the Westchester Farmers’ Market. While the market continues to grow, manager Cynthia Rogers, is always looking to add new vendors and brunch options for attendees to try. On October 20th, the market celebrated the season with its annual Harvest Festival. During these supersized event days which happen throughout the year, the market has additional community booths, vendors and activities for the whole family. At the Harvest Festival, attendees enjoyed live music from local Irish band, The Praties, while shopping and mingling with friends and neighbors. Free energy efficient light bulbs were passed out courtesy of LADWP, while Westchester’s Centinela Pet Feed passed out goodie bags for pets. A petting zoo, rock climbing wall and pumpkin painting crafts hosted by Westchester Parents’ Nursery School were a big hit with families. The Knights of Columbus also helped add to the festivities with a vintage car show and by creating a fun photo backdrop, complete with skeletons. If that wasn’t enough, there was even a Pie Baking Contest, which featured five community members showcasing their best apple and pumpkin dessert recipes. The market will hold a “Day of Giving & Gratitude” on Sunday, November 17 with crafts, storytime, vegetable pickling and a canned food drive. For more info, visit

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

November 2019 • Page 23

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Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Profile for Westchester/Playa del Rey HomeTown News

Westchester/Playa HomeTown News November 2019 edition  

Please enjoy the November 2019 edition of the Westchester/Playa HomeTown News.

Westchester/Playa HomeTown News November 2019 edition  

Please enjoy the November 2019 edition of the Westchester/Playa HomeTown News.