Our Laguna: Another successful Grapes for Grads

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Americans say "Bottoms up" when they hoist a few.

The French toast is "A votre Sante." When Italians raise a glass they say "Salute" or "Cin Cin," their version of a Brit's "Cheers." In India it is "Tulleho," a combination the Raj "Talley Ho" and the colloquial Hindi word for drinking. My favorite: the Zulu "Ooogy Wawa."

The Rotary Club of Laguna Beach deserves every one of them for the successful Grapes for Grads fundraiser held on Sunday at Tivoli Too!, which showed off Laguna's community spirit to great advantage.

Proceeds will fund eight scholarships: four for Laguna Beach High School graduating seniors and four for Laguna College of Art & Design students.

"We probably will have raised $30,000 when everything is collected — and the crowd was up," said John Campbell, club president, event committee member and sponsor. "The nice thing is it is growing. We are already looking forward to next year."

When Grapes for Grads started in 2005, only a few wineries participated, but it was so successful the organizers, which included 2013 co-chairs Steven Dotorotos and Jeff Redeker, decided to make it an annual event.

Since then, more than $80,000 in scholarships has been distributed.

The focus is on students who show excellence in academics or art and a strong commitment to the community and might otherwise lack the resources to achieve their educational goals.

Last year: LCAD students Geanna Anstey, Benjamin D. Gibson, Charity Oetgen and Emalyn Tringali received scholarships.

"For me and most every college student I know, the hardest thing about college isn't all the work we do for our classes; it is paying for everything," Tringali wrote in her thank you note to the club. "From groceries to art supplies to tuition, life is a lot more expensive than I can afford on my own."

LCAD President Jonathan Burke said Grapes for Grads makes a big difference to students who need some financial aid.

"It's a wonderful event and the college is very appreciative," Burke said. "Last year, almost $14,000 went to the college."

Laguna Beach Unified School District Supt. Shereen Smith stated that the young people of Laguna Beach are truly fortunate to be served by the local Rotary Club.

"Thank you for helping me fund my education and giving me the opportunity to help add to this world," wrote Macklin Thornton, one of the 2012 high school scholarship recipients.

Thornton is double majoring in history and political science at UC Berkeley and intends to go to law school to study constitutional law.

Scholarships were also awarded last year to LBHS graduates Hannah Johns, Kate McMahon and Caroline Cannan, daughter of retired city Community Services Director Susan Cannan.

Ticket sales and proceeds from the silent auction and opportunity prizes fund the scholarships.

More than $20,000 in services and items were donated this year, said Veronica Nice, owner of Nice Touch Chiropractic who has chaired the auction for six years.

As usual many local restaurants contributed gift certificates, including [370 Common], Hennessey's, Claes Restaurant, La Sirena, the White House and Chris Keller's K'ya and Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer, which also donated to a collection of T-shirts from other local watering holes such as the Marine Room and the Sandpiper.

Artists John Eagle and Scott Moore and glass blower John Barber donated art pieces. Meg Monahan and event committee member Marge Earl gave handmade quilts. One of Kim Salter's hand-knit shawls was also up for bid. Tickets to the Festival of Arts, Laguna Beach Live!, Laguna Playhouse and the Sawdust Tickets were part of the booty.

The opportunity prize was a one-night stay at Montage Laguna Beach.

Dotorotos said the number of wineries was also up this year.

More than 80 wineries and, for the first time, a beer company participated. Singha beer is an 80-year-old Thai brewery, said booth staffer Barrett Protas.

K'ya catered the savory snack plates, which included the scrumptious signature meatballs, and a table of desserts. Danielle Voight of Little Deevas styled the event. Dentist Dave Norton served water. The Magnolia Memoir, which included Burke's son, Alexander, on the keyboards, entertained.

LCAD students Branko Stanojevic and Haeno Uu So and graduate Junghwa Hong demonstrated their work at the event. Senior Renee Granilla designed the 2013 Grapes for Grads logo, for which she was paid, to her delight.

Tasters included Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson, Gil Tibo, Chad Conley, Harry Bithell, Linda Burke, Art and Bree Burgess Rosen, and Daniel Mattos from the Orange County School of the Arts, which the Rosens' son, Noah, attends.

Maggie Hempen, still jazzed by the success of the inaugural Soroptimist International of Laguna Beach Healthy Girls event she chaired on Saturday, attended with her husband, Tony, and members Kim Bailey and Lynn Csernotto.

The committee that put on Grapes for Grads included Beverly Barnes, Peter Jones, Joan Mclean, Marianne Raczkowski and Kerri Redeker.

Laguna Beach Police Employees Assn. President Larry Bammer was in charge of security.

Union Bank, K'ya and Big Fish underwrote the event. The Kenneth A. Picerne Foundation, Southern California Gas Co., Waste Management, Doctors Ambulance Service, Lippa Insurance Services, John and Patty Barnett, Hill Insurance Co., ISD Security Inc., Stained Glass Garden, Laguna Escrow Services Inc., RTC Mortgage Corp., Super Dave's Print & Mail and the Passionate Collector were among the sponsors.

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Angels in Laguna

Folks who are not Angels fans — and I know who you are — may have missed the visit of 2012 rookie sensation Mike Trout to Laguna Beach this year, televised this week on Angels Live. He made stops at El Morro and Top of the World elementary schools, "trouting" the value of education.

Both of his parents were teachers and his goal in school was always to get straight A's, he told the kids.

Last year Torii Hunter visited the schools. Too bad he isn't around this year to revisit.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (714) 966-4608 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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