Westchester/Playa Hometown News May 2022 edition

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playa del rey

p l a y a v i s t a • m a r i n a d e l re y

May 2022

F INDI NG BALANCE Westchester resident inspires others to find mindful living ...page 10

Calling all parade entries,, volunteers and sponsors...page 4

Care, for life

Pediatric care available in Marina del Rey

13160 Mindanao Way | Suite 315 | Marina del Rey, CA To learn more or to book an appointment, please visit uclahealth.org/marinadelrey or call 310-596-1249

Page 2 • May 2022 UCLA_PedCare-LAXCoastal-10x14-FNL.indd


Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News 2022-04-21 8:02 PM

This Month Brings You

help you prom help you prom nization or even l a c o L p Sho nization orin 20even 22! A look inside your HTN

Calling all parade participants Westchester resident inspires others to find balance 2022 Teacher Eddy Award Honorees Our picks for May events and activities Sam First brings great jazz to Westchester

04 10 16 18 22


Jeff Blair, Contributing Writer Fay Craton, Contributing Writer

Lydia Smith, Contributing Writer Consuelo Israelson, Contributing Writer

Front page: Rachel Butler-Green poses at Playa Vista’s Bluff Creek Fields Park. Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner.

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: westchesterhometown@yahoo.com • Website: thehtn.com • Facebook: facebook.com/thehtn • Instagram: instagram.com/thehometownnews The deadline for submissions is the 22nd of each month.

act us for rates and act us for rates and hesterhometo Pastor, Larry Becker

Now, more than ever, Westchester retailers and service


providers need your help. Slammed by the


pandemic, our small businesses need

10:00 am (Indoors & Livestream)

hesterhometo your help to survive. Please make “Shop Local” your

SUNDAY, MAY 8 MOTHER’S DAY WORSHIP SERVICE 10:00 am (Indoors & Livestream)

mantra for 2022 – it’s not just a slogan, it helps keep the


businesses we love and the families they support alive!

10:00 am (Indoors & Livestream)

SUNDAY, MAY 22 SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER 10:00 am (Indoors & Livestream)

us on Faceboo to-date with news and us on Faceboo SUNDAY, MAY 29 SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER 10:00 am (Indoors & Livestream)


Westchester Lutheran church & school

7831 S. Sepulveda Blvd. (310) 670-5422

Westchester, CA 90045 www.WLCS.org

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

May 2022 • Page 3

Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner.

Community members and parade sponsors kick-off last year’s parade by walking the flag down Loyola Blvd.

Community spotlight: Participants, sponsors and volunteers sought for 22nd Annual Fourth of July Parade

Calling all parade entries, volunteers and sponsors! With a little less than two months to go, the Fourth of July Parade Committee is hard at work making sure this year’s event is a special celebration, and they’re calling on the community to come out in full force to support this beloved neighborhood tradition. After two years of having to pivot and put on a smaller event, organizers led by the LAX Coastal Chamber are excited to be back this summer hosting a full-sized parade on Monday, July 4, complete with 50 entries, marching bands, cool classic cars and entertainment for the whole family. The parade is held on Loyola Blvd. from Westchester Park to Loyola Marymount University. The 2022 parade theme is “Yours for a Better Community: Celebrating the Best of America.” The committee selected this theme to honor the 100th birthday of Howard Drollinger. An entrepreneur and philanthropist with a passion for supporting his community and seeing it thrive, he would sign all of his letters with, “Yours for a better Westchester.” The theme is a play off his signature

Page 4 • May 2022

The Immortals Lion Dance troupe delights the crowd as they make their way down Loyola Blvd.

sign-off. During Drollinger’s long career in Westchester, he would build his company to become the largest property management firm in 90045. Today, Drollinger Properties is led by his daughter, Karen Dial, who continues her father’s legacy of philanthropy through the family’s charitable foundation. Some of the programs the foundation supports include numerous community events like WAM, the arts and yoga at local

schools. Dial, who is President of Drollinger Properties, will serve as the parade’s 2022 Grand Marshal and is also sponsoring the creation of a float. Community organizations and groups interested in participating in this year’s festivities are asked to fill out an application that describes their idea for an entry. Organizers are encouraging groups to create interactive floats or entries with

musical entertainment that highlight the best of the community and the country. Some suggestions for floats include: recognizing one of the community’s natural wonders like the Ballona Wetlands or Toes Beach; celebrating diversity by paying tribute to a wide range of American heroes or showcasing Los Angeles by creating an entry that focuses on cultural landmarks, important industries, or popular tourist attractions. Awards will be given out at the parade for Best Overall, Best in Relation to Theme and Spirit of the Parade. The parade committee is also inviting community members to audition to sing the National Anthem during the event. It’s the chamber’s tradition to select a local singer to perform at the opening ceremony, and those interested in applying are asked to submit an audition video by May 13. Everyone is encouraged to apply. For more information about participating in the 22nd Annual Fourth of July Parade, sponsoring or volunteering, please email laxcoastalonparade@gmail.com. More information is also available at laxcoastalonparade.com.

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


• Kentwood Home Guardians • •

• Kentwood resident since

member since 2014, life-long California resident Home furnishings industry executive 20 years experience working with financial statements, government regulations and architectural drawings

• • •

“Kentwood deserves a homeowners association that works for its members. As a director, I’ll approach decisions with an open mind and from the perspective of our membership, working within our bylaws to do what’s best for the community.”

2019 Results oriented problem-solver 15 years tech & community experience Currently a volunteer helping to transition and update KHG Digital Assets

“When I’m not spending time with my two-year-old son, I work for tech start-ups with a focus on community engagement and small business growth. KHG should help us all and amplify everyone’s voice. I’m excited to assist Kentwood Home Guardians in whatever way I can.”


Help older adults live independently and remain active in their communities by volunteering with Westside Pacific Villages (WPV).







WPV is a volunteer driven organization!

Volunteer drivers get reimbursed for miles driven!

Whether you are employed, retired, or a student, less than 30 minutes a week can make a big difference in the life of an older person in your community.

We are seeking volunteers of all ages and talents. WPV will work with you to create a flexible schedule that fits with your lifestyle. Call us today and join our large group of volunteers!

Our Comprehensive Program Includes: • Serving students with special needs 3-22 years • We offer Designated Instructional Services (DIS) which includes: - Speech & Language Therapy - Occupational Therapy - Physical Therapy - Counseling • Individualized Programs • Case Management

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May 2022 • Page 5

TheHTN.com Photos courtesy Otis.

Business & Nonprofit News

Otis fashion student Tico Conde-Porto (‘22) makes changes to the hem of her garment at the Kevan Hall fitting. Otis will host its annual Runway Show on May 14 with limited standing space for the general public.

Otis College of Art & Design readies for O-Launch. It’s an exciting month of activity at Westchester’s Otis College of Art and Design! The campus is readying for O-Launch 2022, a weekend full of opportunities for the community to see firsthand the amazing artwork created by graduating students. On Friday, May 13 from 6 to 9 p.m., the school will host the opening reception for its Annual Exhibition. During the event, guests will have the chance to tour the campus and preview work from students in a variety of departments, including fine art, graphic design and toy design. The campus-wide exhibition continues on Saturday, May 14 from noon to 9 p.m., and will also launch online. For those with a passion for clothing design, Otis will be abuzz on May 14 for its annual Runway Show featuring the work of the Junior and Senior class. With the theme, “Agents of Change,” attendees can expect to see models walk down the catwalk with clothing that celebrates eco-friendly and sustainable design. The fashion show will be held on Saturday, May 14 at 7:45 p.m. with limited standing space available for the general public. Get the full list of weekend activities and RSVP at Otis.edu/olaunch. Community invited to Concert in the Park(ing lot). Visitation is inviting the community to visit its campus for a night of live music, food trucks and fun. Organizers were looking for a way to bring the neighborhood together to get an early start on summer festivities, and Page 6 • May 2022

can purchase a flag in memory of a loved one, or to honor the holiday. All the flags purchased will then be displayed in front of the Woman’s Club located at 8039 W. Manchester Ave. in Playa del Rey during Memorial Day weekend. Proceeds will benefit Shelter to Soldier, a nonprofit that rescues dogs from California shelters and trains them to become psychiatric service animals for combat veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Flags can be purchased by May 23 at givebox.com/521117. For more information, please contact Julie Lansing at julielansing@ymail.com. Otis College is back to hosting in-person events this month with O-Launch 2022, a weekend of exhibitions, a fashion show, art sale and commencement ceremony.

Rotary offers High School Community Service Scholarship. Applications are now being accepted for the Rotary Club of Westchester’s annual Jim Hill Scholarship. Each year, the club offers this $1,000 scholarship in memory and honor of Jim Hill, a former member who was exemplary in his service to the youth of the community. The scholarship will be awarded to a graduating high school senior demonstrating outstanding leadership in community service, who either resides in Westchester, Playa del Rey or Playa Vista and/ or attends Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnets or St. Bernard. The application is due by May 28 and may be obtained by emailing eric_medrano@lennoxk12.org. The applicant will be asked to write an essay limited to one page, single-spaced, regarding the applicant’s history of community service. (continued on next page)

kids getting the chance to run around decided to do a throw-back to their Food Truck Friday Night event. When with their friends, and enjoying good food, to the Visitation event on May it came time to book entertainment, 20 from 5 to 10 p.m. the choice was a no-brainer. “We invite everyone in the “During the pandemic, Dwight community to come out to this Kennedy started playing in his garage concert,” said O’Donoghue. “Bring and then in his driveway to provide entertainment to his neighbors during your family, tell your friends and don’t forget to bring a blanket and low the lockdown,” said event chair Courtney O’Donoghue. “Word quickly chairs to watch the entertainment. Our beer, wine and margarita garden spread, and soon he was playing free will be stocked, there will be great concerts to the community and for food options, and we’ll let the good anyone who stopped by. Over the last times roll until it’s time to go home.” two years, he’s played more than 100 Visitation is located at 8740 shows, with people literally dancing in Emerson Ave. in Westchester. the street.” Dwight Kennedy has produced Woman’s Club hosts Memorial shows for luxury special events, Day Fundraiser. concerts, theme parks, world The Woman’s Club of Playa del premieres and more. He is also a Rey will commemorate Memorial director, writer and music producer. Day with their second annual Field O’Donoghue hopes to bring that of Flags fundraiser taking place this same relaxed block party vibe, with month. For a $10 donation, people people hanging with their neighbors, Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner. AMCS will honor Commissioner Velasco at the May 19 fundraiser. Here she poses in front of LAX’s Theme Building.

Support mental health with raffle and at AMCS’ Spring Gala. It’s the last call for tickets to attend the Airport Marina Counseling Service’s (AMCS) Spring into WellBeing Gala. The fundraiser will be held on Thursday, May 19 at the newly completed Drollinger Family Stage at Loyola Marymount University. The event is AMCS’ largest fundraiser, and this year, the organization has set a goal of raising more than $350,000. The money raised will help the nonprofit to continue to provide community-based mental health services and support the training of the clinic’s more than 60 mental health therapists. The event comes at a critical time for AMCS, which has seen the need for its services skyrocket over the course of the last two years, as the pandemic continues to take a toll on people’s mental health. For the first time in recent memory, the clinic has a waiting list for services. At the event, Playa del Rey resident Valeria Velasco will be awarded the Community Builder Award. Velasco, who is an estate planning attorney, is being recognized for her decades of service to the community in the fight against LAX expansion, airport noise and other airport-related issues. Velasco currently serves as Vice President on the Board of Airport Commissioners, a position she has

held since 2005, making her the longest-serving commissioner in L.A. history. As part of the fundraising festivities, AMCS is also selling 50 tickets for $100 each for a chance to win a fine wine, spirits and cigar basket. The basket includes three red wines; two white wines; a bottle of champagne; five spirits; six cigars and $500 in gift cards to area restaurants including Ruth’s Chris and Cafe Pinguini. For more information on the gala or to purchase a ticket, visit amcshelps. com. To purchase a raffle ticket for the basket, please email bmorgan@amcshelps.com or call (310) 670-1410.

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Bingo Fundraiser. Join the Venice-Marina Lions Club for their 17th Annual Bingo BBQ on Saturday, May 7. The fundraiser will be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 8049 Manchester Ave. in Playa del Rey. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $70, which includes dinner and eight games of bingo. Proceeds benefit local charities like the YMCA and Bob Hope USO at LAX. Tickets can be purchased by calling event co-chair Sharlene London at (310) 384-4596 or at the door. Cash, check and credit will be accepted. Have info to share about your business or nonprofit? Email us at westchesterhometown@yahoo.com.

Robert Milligan, Partner Business, Intellectual Property and Employment Counseling & Litigation (310) 201-1579 rmilligan@seyfarth.com

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

May 2022 • Page 7





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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

May 2022 • Page 9

By Shanee Edwards

Westchester resident Rachel ButlerGreen is a vibrant young woman, as beautiful as she is determined to succeed. As a dancer, she’s traveled nationally and internationally, using her body to explore her creativity and human connection, while pushing her physical boundaries. As an entrepreneur, she’s created a fitness business, Fit Mindful Body Club, to help others reach their fitness goals. She even started working in the virtual realm years before anyone had ever heard of a virus called COVID-19. But shockingly, at the height of her career, everything changed in ways no one could have predicted. In fact, she’s lucky to be alive. Life was going well for both her and her college sweetheart husband, Justin Ramirez, whom she met as they were getting degrees from LMU. They dipped their toes into homeownership, became dog parents and were both exploring business ownership when life took a turn. “It was just a normal day,” said Butler-Green, who was teaching a fitness class in Beverly Hills on a day she’ll never forget. In the middle of teaching, ButlerGreen attempted to navigate around a rowing machine when the normally graceful and agile dancer crashed face-first into a concrete pillar in the center of the room. “I walked smack into it,” said ButlerGreen. “That really confused me because I was intentionally trying to walk around it.” When one of her students asked if she was okay, she assumed the incident must have looked pretty bad, but she had no idea exactly how bad. “I just had this headache–it was sort of a fuzzy or buzzy feeling and it was starting to be all over my body. I’m thinking, maybe I’m just hungry, I didn’t eat enough, or maybe I’m dehydrated,” she said, recounting how she tried to keep the class going but soon started bumping into her students. Then things got even stranger as she attempted to adjust the volume of the music by reaching for her cell phone. “It felt like someone else’s arms were coming out from behind me, it was almost like Go Go Gadget-arms. My arms seemed 10-times longer than they were and didn’t feel like they were mine,” she said. After class, she looked in the mirror and noticed a gash on her head. “Running into the pillar was definitely harder than I expected!” she said. Back at her apartment, she was unable to open her front door. Luckily, her husband was home and let her in. Her head was now pounding, her vision Page 10 • May 2022

Butler-Green poses in Playa Vista’s Ballona Discovery Park.

blurry, and nausea had set in. “I tried to stand up and as soon as I did, my whole body collapsed. My whole left side went out,” she said. Her husband called 911. When Butler-Green woke up, she was in the ICU at Cedars-Sinai Hospital and had been there for 14 days. The cause was an abnormal tangle of blood vessels in her brain called an AVM (arteriovenous malformation). The AVM ruptured, causing her brain to bleed–something that occurs in less than one percent of the population and can be fatal. “I was having a stroke. And I had no clue. The first thing I asked was, ‘Will I be able to dance again?’ And they said ‘yes.’ For me that was a very important point. I just needed to assess where my body was, where my life was and who I was going to be after this,” she said. Butler-Green’s road to recovery was long and hard. Doctors told her it would be months to years. Most troubling was that she had no control of her left side–something she’d need to restore if she wanted to dance again. “I had three surgeries. One was a craniotomy where they go in, pop open your skull and they take out a piece of your brain.” Luckily, after three brain surgeries, she was able to have better vision on her left side and more control of her limbs. But as a dancer and fitness professional, probably the most difficult thing for Butler-Green was not having complete command over her

finely tuned, elastic body that had been capable of the highest leaps, dazzling spins and somersaults. “I have definitely always been in tune with my body and that was scary. I just kept saying, ‘I’ve got to get my body back strong, I’ve got to be able to go back on stage and hit double turns and do all these things.’” It was insight from her godfather, however, that really put things into

Keep your mind strong and everything else will follow. perspective. Like many of her friends and family from the Bay Area, her godfather flew down to Los Angeles to offer support. “He said, ‘The physical part is going to happen, you’re going to get stronger. But you need to put focus on this part,’ and he pointed at his brain. ‘That’s where you need to prioritize, to keep your mind strong and everything else will follow.’ When he said that, it just made so much sense to me! It immediately switched my priorities from my physical body to my brain,” she said.

Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner.

Westchester resident inspires others to find balanced lifestyle

Still, she was challenged with setbacks like developing post-stroke epilepsy and having her driver’s license taken away. She spent months in both inpatient and outpatient rehab, learning simple things like how to dress herself and to tell time on an analog clock. “There were many times I felt myself being pulled down, feeling like a victim. I had to literally stop myself and say, ‘You don’t have to go that way,’ because I knew that if I went down that road it was a never-ending spiral, and I wouldn’t get better. And I was so determined to get better!” It took time, but Butler-Green did get better. She gives a lot of credit to her family. She also believes the experience strengthened her marriage. “I was very open with my husband and asked for a lot of help. My husband was there by my side every step of the way,” she said. Though the pandemic has prevented her from dancing in the public arena, her fitness business has exceeded all expectations. She’s fine-tuned her virtual instruction model and taken valuable lessons from her own recovery, like developing a meditation practice, packaging up those lessons and sharing them with her clients. She’s helping others in ways that wouldn’t have been possible pre-stroke and that’s thrilling for her. “All the learning I did in rehab– things like making sure to socialize, getting enough sleep, managing stress– I dove deeper into those things and packaged it all up to create another leg of my business model. Now I have my Fit Mindful Body Club and other trainers that work for me. Together, we bring in practices that help others not just with their physical health, but also their mental health. This experience has allowed me to push and grow my business more. Because of COVID, people want options to make sure they are being taken care of,” she said. She hopes people will take inspiration from her story and relates her journey to anyone who’s experienced hardship during the pandemic. She offers this advice: “Instead of asking, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ Just accept that it happened. You can’t go back, and you can’t change it, but what you can change is your trajectory and your future. You can work on that. It may not look exactly like what you thought it would, but who knows what kind of doors this moment will open for you? It might fuel something you never knew was in you. You have to continue to get back to the world and if that means someone reads this and it encourages them to do something different or change their mindset–to me that is a win.” Learn more at fitmindfulbodyclub. com/for-companies.

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

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

May 2022 • Page 11


Wright Middle School STEAM Magnet and Gifted Magnet provides students with an inspiring, challenging and engaging environment that creates opportunities for research and exploration through project-based learning.


It’s never been more important to share your local favorites, and we need your help in selecting our 2022 Best Of honorees! 2022




Join us in making this our biggest poll yet! Help us celebrate the eateries, businesses, places, and organizations that make our community special!


Email us your nominees and who you'd like to see on this year's poll at westchesterhometown@yahoo.com Page 12 • May 2022

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




Memorial Day Weekend Ralphs Parking Lot, 8824 Sepulveda Blvd., Westchester Thursday, May 26 - Tuesday, May 31 | Open Daily 9 am to 7 pm *Please drop your book donations to the Westchester YMCA by 5/21

New this year: • Senior Shopping at 1 pm on Thursday, May 26 • Family Friday Night featuring art activities for kids and food truck • Senior & Military Discounts

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

May 2022 • Page 13

Last chance to view Discovery Center’s “Celebrating Women” exhibit; community invited to honor veterans at next show

The Historical Society’s latest exhibit features paintings by local women that highlight the history of the area. Pictured left to right: “Summer Solstice” by Mary Leighton Thomson and “Terminal One L.A. Airport” by Gail Grover are displayed in the Discovery Center.

By Cozette Vergari The Westchester/Playa Historical Society Discovery Center will launch its next exhibit in honor of our local veterans this month. “Commemorating Veterans” will open on Sunday, May 29 and runs through Sunday, June 26. The Westchester/Playa Historical Society (WPHS) is calling on the community to participate in this exhibit by submitting the names of veterans who currently reside (or previously lived) in the Westchester/Playa area. The WPHS also encourages people to submit the names of veterans who have passed away to be recognized posthumously. To be included in the upcoming exhibit, please email the veteran’s name, branch of service, dates of service and photo to info. wphistorical@gmail.com. The deadline to be included is May 14. The exhibit is sponsored by Richard Moon & Associates, Certified Public Accountants. Moon is a longtime Westchester resident, as well as a veteran.

The Discovery Center’s “Celebrating Women” exhibit runs through May 15 and a new exhibit featuring local veterans will open on May 29.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit the WPHS’ current exhibit “Celebrating Women,” the last chance to see the display is May 15. The exhibit features three renowned local artists, JoAnn Cowans, Gail Grover and Mary Leighton Thomson, who have captured the history of our local community in their exquisite

works of art. Additionally, the exhibit highlights the contributions of Rowena Ake, Mary Ellen Cassman, Mary Lou Crocket, Ella Drollinger, Ruth Landsford and Shirley Pfeil during the first half of our 101 years. Recognition will also be given to our contemporary pioneers Karen Dial, Lisa Schwab, Christina Davis, Val

Velasco and Maxine Waters. During the remainder of the “Celebrating Women” exhibit, which is sponsored by the Woman’s Club of Playa del Rey, the music video “Put A Woman In Charge” will play at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon each Sunday. Join the fun and come by the Discovery Center! The Discovery Center is located in the Westchester Triangle at 6207 W. 87th Street in Westchester. It is open to the public on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., or otherwise by appointment. Most Sundays, volunteers also have a booth at the Sunday Farmers’ Market with familyfriendly activities. Visit wphistoricalsociety.org for more info. Cozette is an attorney and lifelong resident of Westchester. She is the President of the Westchester/Playa Historical Society. Together with a group of dedicated volunteers, the organization is working on creating new programming and events to celebrate the history of the area and engage the community in preserving it for future generations.

Thanks, Westchester/Playa. I love being here to help in a community where people are making a difference every day. Thank you for all you do. Tatiana Ruiz More, Agent 8705 Truxton Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90045 310-450-8833 tatiana@coveredwithmore.com

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Page 14 • May 2022

State Farm, Bloomington, IL

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

WISH continues to thrive due to the incredible support of the Westchester community, strong parent partnerships, and a commitment to high-quality meaningful and engaging public education for all students by our amazing team of educators! be valued and understood be held to high expectations experience exciting & engaging curriculum receive a chromebook have the opportunity to join a sports team participate in exceptional art, music, technology & PE instructional experiences have high quality SEL, STEM, & GATE instruction receive hands-on project based learning benefit from university & business partnerships take rigorous High School pathway courses in Engineering, BioMedical Science, Social Justice & Performing Arts

v i s itati o n p r es e n t s

may 20, 2022 5 - 10 PM

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


May 2022 • Page 15



! N E P HAP PRESENTED ON MAY 12 BY THE LAX COASTAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE In 1998, the LAX Coastal Chamber began presenting its teacher honorees with a beautiful crystal award dubbed “The Eddy,” at the annual Teacher Eddy Awards. The Eddy represents excellence in education and only the most committed teachers are eligible to

Page 16 • May 2022

receive this prestigious award. We are thrilled to join together this year on May 12, at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport Hotel, to celebrate our most magical teacher honorees.

working in the classrooms to make sure their students, the future leaders of our community, are receiving the best education possible.

The Chamber thanks those individuals who spend every day

Thank you, teachers, for tirelessly working your magic!

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


Braddock Drive Elementary Gifted Magnet and Mandarin Immersion



Goethe International Charter




Otis College of Art & Design



Paseo del Rey Natural Science Magnet Elementary School

Katherine Johnson STEM Academy

Cowan Avenue Elementary

ELIZABETH DRUMMOND Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Village Fine & Performing Arts Magnet Elementary



St. Anastasia Catholic School







Playa Vista Elementary School

Venice High School


Windsor Hills Math & Science Magnet

Visitation Catholic School


Wish Academy High School

Westchester Enriched Sciences and Magnet High School


Wish-Community School Elementary (TK-5)

St. Bernard High School


Kentwood Elementary School


Playa del Rey Elementary


St. Jerome Catholic School


Westchester Lutheran School

Westport Heights Elementary



Wish-Community School Middle (6-8)

Wright Middle School STEAM and Gifted Magnets

Want to support our teachers by donating a gift for the swag bags or raffle? Please email info@laxcoastal.com Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

May 2022 • Page 17


EVENTS & ACTIVITIES Check out this month's local festivities

Mother’s Day at the Farmers’ Market The Westchester Farmers’ Market is always a fun, familyfriendly Sunday adventure, and this month the market is hosting extra activities to celebrate Mother’s Day. Stop by on Sunday, May 8 for specials throughout the market, all day kids’ crafts like card and flower making and live music. Visit the community hub between 11:30 a.m. and noon for a children’s storytime and author reading courtesy of The Book Jewel. If you haven’t been to the market lately, cherries, mulberries, kumquats and citrus are all in season. The market is open Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 6200 W. 87th St. in Westchester. Photo courtesy Friends of Ballona.

NCWP CD11 Candidate Forum

Migration Celebration at Ballona Discovery Park Interested in learning more about the candidates that are running to represent Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista and Council District 11 on the L.A. City Council? The Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa (NCWP) has invited the eight candidates that are running to a Zoom candidate forum on Tuesday, May 24 at 6 p.m. The event is hosted by the NCWP’s Public Safety Committee. Visit ncwpdr.org for more information and the Zoom log-in.

The Friends of Ballona Wetlands are bringing their Migration Celebration back this year for an in-person extravaganza of all things feathered. Attend the family-friendly event on Saturday, May 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ballona Discovery Park (13110 Bluff Creek Drive in Playa Vista) for a day filled with games, food trucks, crafts, music, plant sales, a science lab and more! Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet and learn about a variety of birds, hawks and other raptors at the celebration. Make sure to save time for a photo with these fascinating creatures while you hear about their habitat and how you can support the Ballona Wetlands. Learn more at ballonafriends.org.

Annual Rotary Book Sale

The 67th Annual Westchester Rotary Book Sale is back this month to help you stock up on your summer reading list!

Marina Culture Jam

The sale, which features thousands of books in every genre, is scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend, May 26 through May 31 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Books start at $1 and proceeds support the club’s service projects that impact the Westchester/Playa area and beyond. Have books you’d like to donate? Drop your donations at the Westchester Family YMCA at 8015 S. Sepulveda Blvd. through May 21.

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Visit Burton Chace Park for the Marina Culture Jam! The event will feature live performances, arts and crafts, cultural learning activities and more. On May 15 the performances will include Ballet Folclorico do Brasil at 11:30 a.m. and Pacifico Dance Company at 1:30 p.m.

The sale is held in the Ralphs shopping center, located at 8824 S. Sepulveda Burton Chace Park is located at 13650 Mindanao Way Blvd. in Westchester. Learn more at in Marina del Rey. Learn more at beaches.lacounty.gov. rotary-westchester.com. Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

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May 2022 • Page 19


student artists, schools, sponsors,

Thanks to your generosity, over $20,000 was raised! The proceeds will go back to schools via art grants. Since 2017, the LAXCEF has given back more than $300,000 to local schools! Join us in making local schools thrive. Visit laxcef.org to donate, sign up for our newsletter and for partnership opportunities!

businesses and community for supporting our 2nd Annual

ART Show & Competition!

John and Nancy Edwards Family Foundation

Page 20 • May 2022

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

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May 2022 • Page 21

The Grant Levin Trio plays at Sam First during a recent Thursday night performance.

Westchester’s Sam First offers world-class jazz at Century Boulevard hotspot

By Lydia Smith

When one thinks about where to listen to live, amazing jazz music, does Westchester come to mind? It absolutely should! Hidden away on Century Boulevard is one of Westchester’s best-kept secrets, Sam First, a top-notch jazz club and cocktail bar. “Sam First is very serious about music, specifically jazz and all of its subgenres, and serves serious drinks in a casual environment,” says Sam First’s music manager, Dave Robaire. “Sam First caters to the community in the sense that it is a community of music lovers and whiskey lovers… you’re in a small room with musicians you love, building community in a musical sense.” Sam First opened in Westchester four and a half years ago, just a stone’s throw from LAX, as a passion project for owner Paul Solomon. Born out of his love for jazz, architecture, photography and cocktails, Solomon named the club after his grandfather, Sam First, a tailor from Poland who made Los Angeles home. First’s legacy is not only evident in the club’s name, but also in its logo, a needle and thread, a nod to his grandfather’s profession. Robaire explains that although jazz in Los Angeles has a long-revered history, it is still common for people to think of New York first when the musical style comes to mind. While Page 22 • May 2022

Valiente makes a cocktail behind the Westchester club’s bar.

New Orleans is the agreed-upon birthplace of jazz, New York will always be associated with the music’s innovation. In the 1920s, New York was the place to be for musicians, but Los Angeles came onto the scene in the 50s and 60s with a new type of sound, West Coast Jazz, a subgenre of cool jazz. “Very different things were going on in jazz music on both coasts at that time, but it gave jazz musicians big opportunities for creativity and expression,” said Robaire. He says that the jazz scene in Los Angeles is always evolving, but in the last decade especially there’s been a lot of changes. “Traditionally, musicians would

attend one of L.A.’s many prestigious music schools and then immediately move to New York to have their career,” said Robaire. “But now great young jazz musicians are staying in L.A. and populating the jazz scene. Sam First provides a quality venue for these amazing musicians.” Sam First’s intimate size–they sell only about 35 tickets per set–allows the music to be consumed and enjoyed in a setting that is optimal for both the musician and the listener. By design, there’s little separation between the audience and the performers; there is no stage, no green room, so everyone is intertwined in one small space. While a pianist slams on the keys and the drumming gets more

frenzied, visitors might catch a glimpse of Bar Manager Pedro Valiente, behind the counter quietly dropping ice into glasses. To not disturb the performances, he shakes a martini in the back, away from the musicians. The atmosphere is one of reverence for the music. The audience understands that this is a listening room, where artists are performing their craft and it must be treated as such. Robaire says that Sam First’s unique space, its reputation for being a great place to play and the club’s passionate team, has made the club a destination for all jazz musicians who are touring the west coast. He says he gets daily inquiries from musicians hoping to get a slot at the Westchester location. An artist who recently played there was Grant Levin, a jazz pianist and composer based in San Francisco who plays with the Grant Levin Trio. With his turtleneck and dark sunglasses, Levin fits the mold of a cool jazz cat. When Robaire heard Levin’s music he knew he wanted him to play at the venue. He books musicians that play all types of jazz music—from bebop to modern or anything in between–as long as the music and the musician are genuine. “Grant is very serious and invested in the music that he is playing. I knew immediately that he is genuine and a perfect fit for Sam First,” said Robaire. As we all know, COVID brought (continued on next page)

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

Jazz (continued)

(continued from previous page) many challenges to the entertainment industry. Musicians didn’t have venues to play, actors didn’t have stages to act on and movie and television productions ground to a halt for a time. During the period when guests weren’t allowed in the club, Robaire and Solomon saw the opportunity to invest in quality equipment to allow them to livestream musical performances from their location. Eventually, as they added more high-end audio recording gear, they were able to realize another dream, starting the club’s own record label, Sam First Records. All of the music for the label will be available for digital download and eventually pressed on vinyl. Right now, however, there is a huge backlog for records due to a shortage of materials, so getting an album pressed can take six months to a year. Luckily, Sam First Records has built a small but mighty fan base that is happy to wait to receive their LPs. The label’s first project features Justin Kauflin, a jazz pianist and composer who is signed to Quincy Jones Management. Kauflin shared that he enjoyed recording at Sam

First because recording in a small setting with an audience is really where jazz thrives. “Sam First is a congenial venue that celebrates the best in jazz,” said club owner Solomon. “It’s a place that offers a beautiful background for a night out, and a respectful background, too, for creative music of the highest caliber.” Want to go? Sam First is located at 6171 W. Century Blvd. in Westchester. It is walking distance from LAX at the western edge of Century Blvd., but since it’s a little hidden, allow time for a bit of sleuthing around. The club is open Tuesday through Saturday with two sets per night: one at 7:30 and one at 9 p.m. Seating is very limited. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $25 on their website at samfirstbar.com. They have a beautiful bar with an extensive menu featuring some local breweries and a long list of top-shelf whiskeys and mezcals. Valiente, the bar manager, has a passion for these two spirits as well as innovative and exciting cocktails. They also have a small bar snacks menu. Parking is limited, so refer to their website for instructions. Learn more at samfirstbar.com.

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

May 2022 • Page 23

NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL OF WESTCHESTER / PLAYA Working together to improve our communities!

“If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools.” CWP~ Plato

CERT Classes Set to Begin in Westchester C.E.R.T. Classes are coming to Westchester / Playa for the first time in three years. Community Emergency Response Teams, or CERT, are community-level response teams that help out in disasters and other emergencies. The program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. CERT offers a consistent, nationwide approach to volunteer training and organization that professional responders can rely on during disaster situations, allowing them to focus on more complex tasks. Classes will include between 50 and 60 people with with social distancing and will be held once a week for seven consecutive weeks. Once participants complete all seven weeks of training, they will become a certified CERT member. DATES Start: Thursday, June 2 (6:30pm-9:00pm) Ends: Thursday, July 14 (6:30pm-9:00pm) LOCATION: Covenant Presbyterian Church 6323 W 80th Street Los Angeles, CA 90045 SIGN-UP www.eventbrite.com/e/315716314997 ADDITIONAL INFO: www.lafd.org/join/volunteer/cert

Next Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa Monthly Board Meeting:

6:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 7, 2022 via Zoom

www.ncwpdr.org • 213.473.7023 Page 24 • May 2022

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

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May 2022 • Page 25

Random Notes/Opinion


Only you can take the first step in your fitness journey By Jeff Blair

again. She sees a program online that suggests she work outs 90 minutes Opinion: If you have been away per day for 30 days. The program tells from exercise for a while and want her this will help “build the exercise to start again, your first instinct may habit” and implies things will be be to make a huge commitment. smooth sailing after she completes the Committing yourself completely to program. Jennifer questions whether a fitness program makes sense if you want to succeed, right? We have heard she can make that work in her life. She that message throughout our lives; scans the internet and finds variations “No Pain, No Gain,” “Go Hard or Go of the same idea: dedicating yourself Home,” and other popular phrases completely to fitness for a short time reinforce the all-or-nothing approach. is the path to success. She does not see This month, I am going to explain why anything that contradicts those ideas. that is usually not the best strategy She assumes it is true. when trying to start a fitness program. In my experience, Jennifer will often I will also provide a strategy that will take one of two paths from this point. increase your chances of getting started She will consider her life demands and continuing for the long term. and think there is no way she can Jennifer is a (fictional) 40-something make such a commitment to exercise, accountant who works full-time and and will completely write off exercise has two kids. Since the pandemic for the time being; or she will try the program. She has no idea how she can began, her fitness routine has gone possibly fit that much exercise into by the wayside. She walks the dog her current lifestyle but she is feeling daily, but her old fitness routine has disappeared and she wants to start desperate. She is often very tired and again. She has only gained a few her mood is somewhat unpredictable. pounds, but she is just not feeling like She snaps at the kids when she does herself and she feels noticeably weaker. not want to and feels bad about that. She would like to tone up, increase her She feels swallowed by the demands placed on her and knows she needs to strength and get back to enjoying life

do something. She starts the program with cautious hope. During the next 30 days, a kid gets sick, or she has to work late or something from the real world makes it impossible for her to follow the intense commitment required by the program. She often will stop exercising completely since she was not able to complete the program that promised her success. If she was desperate before she started the program, after she quits, she is almost despondent. “Another failed attempt,” she thinks to herself. Her confidence drops to near zero. She feels very discouraged about feeling physically good in the near future. She blocks those feelings out and pushes through with her life. I have seen this happen more times than I can count over the past 20 years. When the only fitness choice is all or nothing, sometimes life forces us to choose nothing. I think there is a better strategy. Instead of making such an extreme time commitment like Jennifer did, consider committing to simply starting and building as you go. Look at your life honestly and ask what commitment you can sustain right now. If one hour on Sunday morning

is all you can do, start there. If it is two hours per week, go with that. Make a commitment that is realistic for you. Once you get started, several positive things can happen. You can begin building an exercise habit. Your confidence will increase since you carried through with your commitment. Your mood and outlook might noticeably increase. You could even find that consistent but reasonable physical activity makes it a little easier to say no to certain foods and drinks. One gentle caveat to the above recommendations: starting at a realistic level still means starting rather than thinking about starting. Except in very unusual circumstances, I would recommend almost everyone start immediately after checking with your doctor. As in all things, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Only you can take that first step. Jeff Blair is celebrating 20 years as a Certified Personal Trainer throughout 2022. He founded the SoCalSport Personal Training Studio in 2011. Reach out to him at jeff@socalsport. com.



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

Can you imagine being loved for who you are? By Fay Craton Opinion: In the mid-1800s, Ralph Waldo Emerson described different ways of seeing as, “A feeble man can see the farms that are fenced and tilled, the houses that are built. The strong man sees the possible houses and farms. His eye makes estates as fast as the sun breeds clouds.” Of course, since we live almost 200 years since Emerson wrote his essays, and live in highly populated Los Angeles, we must use our imagination to envision Emerson describing the rural, sparsely populated Massachusetts farmland communities of the 19th century. Imagination has the power to profoundly impact your life. Whatever you imagine, you can create. You choose if you want to create healthy relationships, or conversely, to create unhealthy relationships that lack strong supportive connections with others. Let’s stop and think about this. Sometimes imagination naturally flows from a life experience. Imagine someone saying something mean or shaming to you. How does it feel? Are your thoughts pondering how much you are hurt? Perhaps the comment turned your thoughts toward something scary from your past? The longer you dwell upon the comment and the generated pain, the longer you will feel bad. Holding onto the bad feelings creates misery for you. After a few hours, there is a strong chance that whoever said the mean statement to you does not even remember it. However, if you are feeling upset, you might be impacted for days or weeks from the upset, which ends up creating a life full of tension for you. Other folks who have no idea about what was said to you may start to distance themselves from you or negatively react to you based on your behaviors. If this is the case, chances are you are not creating caring relationships. You have a choice to either shift your thoughts away from the negative statement or use your imagination on something healthy and loving. Is the nastiness of another person worth taking up even a minute of your life? Consider another quote from Emerson: “For every

minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” Now imagine having supportive people in your life. While you are envisioning, think about how it feels. Can you accept having support and being supportive to others? Does your vision include the judgment of other people? If so, consider what it would feel like to not be judged. Are you ready to mirror non-judgment of other people’s behaviors? Frequently, the judgment of other people comes from a place of needing to control how they act. Assuming the behaviors do not place you or another person in physical or emotional danger, can you imagine loving another person enough to let go of the judgment? From our own generation, another great writer, Maya Angelou said, “Each of us has that right, that possibility, to invent ourselves daily. If a person does not invent herself, she will be invented. So, to be bodacious enough to invent ourselves is wise.” Can you imagine inventing yourself daily, to let go of what happened yesterday and to instead create a loving group of people? Can you let go of anger toward a loved one? Or, will you allow yourself to be created from anger, from a controlling remark, from hostility? Will you let a situation external to you create your internal experience? Will you let antagonistic experiences created by others become the reality from which you act, speak, and relate to others? My wish is for you to have a sense of wellbeing and healthy supportive connections with other people. Can you imagine being part of a group of loving people? Can you imagine being loved for who you are? Are you ready to engage your thoughts, feelings and actions toward creating the healthy, connected life you want? My wish is for you to at least entertain the possibility that a healthy life is something you can have. 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). She provides video-based counseling and is located in Westchester. If you have any questions, please contact Fay at (310) 645-6762.

circa 1956

Motherhood is my greatest joy.

It is with gratitude that I remember my own mother Jewel and

grandmother Ella. They taught me,

loved me and inspired me to be the

woman I am today. May all mothers be loved and cherished on this special day and every day. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!”

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Karen Dial President/CEO Drollinger Properties

8929 S. Sepulveda Boulevard, #130 Westchester, CA 90045

w w w. D ro l l i n g e r P ro p e r t i e s. c o m


Happy May y'all - cherries, mulberries, kumquats, citrus, all in season now! Save the date (May 8!) - join us for Mother's Day activities, follow us on social media for updates.


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


May 2022 • Page 27

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


Transforming the Travel Experience. From hi-tech modernized terminals with biometric gates for faster boarding, to smart parking and a people mover train, exciting changes are arriving daily. World-class is here.


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Get Your Fine Wine, Spirits, Cigar & Dining Out Drawing Tickets Now! Tickets Are Going Fast We are just a few weeks away from our signature fundraiser, the “Spring into Well-Being” Celebration, and this year’s Celebration will include a spectacular wine, spirits, cigar and dining out basket drawing! AMCS is selling 50 tickets for $100 each for a chance to win an amazing collection of wine, spirits, cigars and more! The value is more than $1,500! The winning ticket will be drawn at the event. This is just a sample of some of the truly special items in this year’s basket: • • • • • • • • • •

2015 Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie Cuvee Ampodium 2015 San Filippo Brunello di Montalcino Le Lucere 2015 Catena Zapata White Stones Chardonnay (Adrianna Vineyard, Argentina) Widow Jane Lucky Thirteen 13 Year Straight Bourbon Macallan Double Cask 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Michters Single Barrel US*1 Rye Casa Dragones Blanco Tequila Chateau de Laubade XO Bas Armagnac Montecristo Platinum cigars La Gloria Cubana Serie R cigars

Plus $100 restaurant gift certificates to Paul Martin, Cafe Pinguini, Eddie Vs, Ruth Chris, Flemings and much, much more! So, get your tickets today! You need not be present to win. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by emailing Bill Morgan at bmorgan@AMCShelps.com or calling (310) 670-1410.

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

May 2022 • Page 29


SoCalGas photos by Mike Harriel.

Earth Day in Ballona Wetlands

On Saturday, April 23, the Ballona Wetlands were filled with community groups eager to roll up their sleeves and volunteer their time for a restoration cleanup in honor of Earth Month. Led by the Friends of Ballona Wetlands (FOBW), four groups of volunteers, including the LAX Coastal Chamber’s Network for Change Committee and SoCalGas, spent two hours filling up bag after bag of invasive vegetation like ice plant, mustard and dandelion. While spring brings out a super bloom of brightly colored yellow flowers, FOBW staff and volunteers explained that although the foliage may look nice, the non-native plants don’t really help the local ecosystem. When those plants are removed, however, native seedlings can be added, which not only bring beauty to the area, but also provide support and food for native animals and insects. The Friends of Ballona Wetlands offer numerous monthly opportunities to help restore this community gem and help it thrive. This month, check out their Friday Habitat Restoration events on May 6 and May 20 from 3 to 5 p.m.; the Ballona Creek Cleanup on May 14 from 9:30 a.m. to noon or the Community Habitat Restoration Day on May 28 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Sign up and learn more at ballonafriends.org. Pictured: Volunteers from the chamber’s Network For Change Committee and SoCalGas get to work in the wetlands. Page 30 • May 2022

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

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