Laguna Assistance League Recalls 25 Years of Work

"Talk about woman power!" said Lois Solomon at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Assistance League of Laguna Beach.

They talked about it plenty Monday as founder Solomon and 75 active and associate members celebrated the anniversary with a champagne brunch at Chapter House, league headquarters.

Founding president Patsy Tartaglia remembered the early days of Las Amigas, as the group was originally called, when the primary goal "was simply finding a sustaining source of income." Eventually, the founders opened Turnabout Shop, a second-hand clothing store, which has grown and flourished and is still a major source of revenue.

With income from Turnabout, an annual Town Hall lecture series and private donations, the 188-member chapter provides a variety of services to the community, including a traveling homemaker program to aid the elderly. Other projects are an early intervention program to assist developmentally disabled children and their parents, craft classes, scholarships and weekly Friendship Club meetings for local residents over 50.

"We do a lot for the community," said Turnabout chairwoman Evelyn La Lanne, who oversees the shop's volunteer sales staff as well as the "marking room," where members sort, wash, iron and price donated clothing. "But we also get a lot out of what we do."

Or as Margaret Wallace put it: "We love each other. It's that simple. And that's a great and wonderful thing. There isn't a person here who isn't a talented individual. It's just fascinating to know these ladies--I'm in awe of a lot of them!"

New member Karen Stevens, a South Laguna resident and retired nurse, said she joined the league last month to work in the programs benefiting senior citizens.

"I love working with seniors," Stevens said. "That's my bag. I've always had a friend who was 70-plus, a close friend I went to lunch with regularly. I want to really get involved with the seniors in this community."

As the last icy mimosas were ladled from a silver punch bowl, members headed for the buffet table and helped themselves to baked ham, lemon and date-nut breads, fresh fruit and Krasnapolsky.

Krasna what sky?

"Eggs, spinach and cheese," said Marcia Tweedie, pointing out the recipe in the "Laguna Souvenir Cookbook," compiled by the league. "You know we were just saying this morning, 'Why didn't we change that name?' "

The entree, which is named for a historic hotel in Amsterdam, disappeared in generous portions as members praised each other's accomplishments and looked to the future of a group whose charter, in the words of outgoing president Madeline Anderson, is "to act as friend to any and all in need of care, guidance and assistance--spiritually, materially and physically."

Also attending the event were past presidents Donna Thomas, Muriel Bradway, Barbara Maddock, May Griem, Mary Jane Yohe and Trudy Pessin.

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