The Valley Line: Orthopaedic Guild fetes authors at luncheon; Hillsides celebrates donors at dinner event

Seats were completely sold out for the 60th annual Book and Author Luncheon sponsored by the La Cañada Flintridge Orthopaedic Guild, held in late October at the La Cañada Flintridge Club.

It was a clear day and the vistas from the club's huge windows looking out over the valley were spectacular.


Joan Cleven, president of the group, welcomed the guests and in turn she introduced Dr. Michael Sullivan, vice president and chief philanthropy officer at Orthopaedic Institute for Children, and Dr. Jennifer Beck, associate director, Center for Sports Medicine at Orthopaedic Institute for Children of Orthopaedic Hospital who spoke about the hospital and the work they are doing

Dr. Beck introduced one of her patients, Elizabeth Ruiz, who had received ongoing treatment at the hospital. Elizabeth, who is from Mexico, was there with some of her family members and an interpreter who relayed her grateful thanks to the doctors at Orthopaedic Hospital and the Guild for its work.

After the presentation by hospital officials, club member Wendy Nicoll introduced the day's featured authors.

Jim Stratton, a familiar face about town and former La Cañada Unified School District superintendent, college professor, prolific writer and author, presented his newest book, “Picture Business: L.A. Stories, Poems and Portraits” and his hot-off-the-press book, “100 Guilty Pleasure Movies.”

Also speaking to the crowd were co-authors Joyce Gittlin and Janet Fattal of the book "A Narrow Bridge." The two who collaborated on this book go under the singular pen name of J.J. Gesher.

It was interesting to hear of their writing journey and how they almost gave up the book project after receiving more than 50 "no thank you" rejections.

The three authors were also on hand to sign their books and to answer questions.

The Guild, although small in number, does an amazing job each year. Members include Marie Baker, Elinor Bunn, Marilyn Center, Louise ("Easy") Delaney, Margaret Dickson, Danette Erickson, Carolyn Geer, Maria Gero, Marie Gilhooly, Marianne Jennings, Jeanne Long, Arlene Massimino, Judith McClure, Wendy Nicoll, Caryl Pettit, Joanne Ploszaj, Ginney Pruitt and Patty Rademacher. Barbara Self, a provisional member of the Guild, also helped out.

Besides hosting the Book and Author Luncheon, members of the guild volunteer at "It's a Bargain Thrift Shop" on the campus of OIC. The Guild also assists at the annual Toy Party at OIC for more than 2,000 children, patients and members of the surrounding community.

All proceeds from the Book and Author luncheon go toward supporting the new Ambulatory Surgical Center on the downtown campus.

Before the luncheon began, guests had time to bid on silent auction items and later on joined in the live auction that was enthusiastically called by Orthopaedic Hospital staffer Mary Beth Perrine, senior director of Development and Community Outreach for Orthopaedic Institute for Children.

It was a great day of camaraderie for all who attended the luncheon.


Longtime Hillsides supporters Liz Rusnak Arizmendi and Susan Noce received Hillsides Lifetime Achievement awards at the foster care charity's annual Circle of Excellence Dinner. They were two of six individuals or organizations honored during an evening that recognized Hillsides major donors and volunteers.

The dinner, attended by more than 100 guests, was held on the charity's Pasadena campus, which is currently in the final stage of a $17.1-million renovation. The improvements include a 34,000-square-foot Student Center that includes art and music studios, a gym and recreation center, a new kitchen and dining commons.

Before the awards began, guests were given tours of the campus construction, which is slated to be completed by the fall of 2018.

The other award winners of the night were Tracy and Dick Hirrel and the Ayrshire Foundation, which received Hillsides Community Angel awards for their personal and financial support of Hillsides; Kim Weleba, Hillsides' nursing supervisor for 28 years, who received an Angel Award for her volunteer work at Hillsides outside of her job; St. Dominic's CL Group, which received a Hillsides Special Recognition Award for volunteering with the children; and visual artist and dancer Naomi Barrett, who was also awarded a Hillsides Special Recognition Award for mentoring youth in art.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. Email her at with news of your special event.