Around Town: Laguna Beach launches matching grant program for COVID-19 relief

Rachel Berger
Rachel Berger of Sally’s Fund shares a laugh and chat as she delivers a bag of groceries to Laguna Beach resident Muriel Matlock on March 20.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Laguna Beach has launched a matching grant program to provide financial assistance to its residents and people working in the city who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The matching grant program kicked off Monday as part of the Laguna COVID-19 Relief Fund. It is being run through the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, and those in need can receive aid in the form of grants of up to $1,000 per household for those who qualify.

The Laguna Beach City Council included the matching grant to encourage the community to help with the relief effort. All donations to the Laguna COVID-19 Relief Fund will be matched by the city up to $300,000. Donations are also tax deductible.

The Laguna Beach City Council approved $1.4 million in assistance for businesses and the community, including a grant program called “LB Cares” to provide financial relief to local restaurants, bars and retail businesses.

The Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach is also assisting with application submission and the delivery of the grants, which will be paid out primarily by checks and gift cards.

“Right now, we are in the darkest days of this pandemic and hundreds of local workers and residents have been laid off again,” Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen said in a statement. “They are stretched to the breaking point to pay their rent, keep their utilities turned on and feed their families. I urge our community to do what it always does in times of crisis which is to rise to the challenge and raise $300,000 to match the city funds. Please dig deep and give what you can to help the cause.”

Those looking to apply for a mini grant or wishing to donate can do so by visiting

The Laguna COVID-19 Relief Fund was established in April. The first round of financial relief saw 850 residents and people employed in the city benefit from $475,000 that was distributed.

O.C. Women’s Solidarity March, a virtual event, takes place Saturday

In light of the recent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Orange County community leaders and grassroots organizers are hosting an OC Women’s Virtual Solidarity March Saturday, from 10 to 11 a.m., to celebrate women and victories in Orange County and to share opportunities for action in 2021.

The virtual solidarity action aims to “uplift the flame,” while the official OC Women’s March is on hold during the coronavirus pandemic. To participate in the Zoom conference, visit to RSVP for a link to view the event.

The event is hosted by the Democratic Party of Orange County, in partnership with the Contemporary Policy Institute, UNITE HERE Local 11, the Community Action Fund of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino counties and Wound Walk OC.

O.C. Black leaders join together in virtual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Black leaders across Orange County’s community service, education, business and civil rights sectors will gather virtually for an online celebration of the holiday’s namesake.

“Creating the Beloved Community: A Virtual Celebration of the Life, Legacy and Leadership of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr takes place Monday, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. via Zoom. Guests will include civil rights activist and professor the Rev. James Lawson, known as an architect of the non-violence movement.

To participate, visit to RSVP for the link to view the event.

Event partners include the National Women’s Leadership Council, the National Panhellenic Council’s Orange County chapter, New Spirit Baptist Church, the OC Black Chamber of Commerce, Women for American Values and Ethics (WAVE), the county chapter of the National Women’s Political Caucus and the Democratic Party of Orange County.

Delivering with Dignity O.C. asks residents to support restaurants feeding at-risk

Delivering with Dignity — a collaboration among Orange County restaurants, nonprofit organizations, donors and volunteers that has so far delivered nearly 55,000 free meals residents in need during the pandemic — is asking for the public’s help.

Since June, eight local restaurateurs have opened their hearts and their kitchens, preparing free meals to the county’s neediest families and residents, many of whom have been shut in during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But since stay-at-home orders issued last month effectively ended outdoor dining, many of the restaurants who’ve participated in Delivering with Dignity Orange County are now finding their own livelihoods at risk.

So, to help their business partners, organizers of the effort are holding a series of raffle drawings with $50 restaurant gift cards for diners who visit participating restaurants throughout January and February.

Diners can post a photo of their restaurant receipts to their Facebook or Instagram accounts and tag Delivering with Dignity or email the image to

Raffles will be conducted each week, and winners will be notified directly. Participating restaurants are Cambalache, Fountain Valley; Taco Mesa, Costa Mesa; the Recess Room, Fountain Valley; Taco Rosa, Newport Beach; Toast Kitchen + Bakery, Costa Mesa; Villa Roma, Laguna Hills; WaSa Sushi & Teppan, Newport Beach; and Saltwater Catering, Irvine.

For more information, visit To learn about qualifying for meal delivery in Orange County, call 2-1-1, visit or text your ZIP code to 898211. Those interested in volunteering can visit and sign up to deliver meals.

Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce hosts ‘Lunch and Learn’ on COVID-19

The Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce will host its monthly “Lunch and Learn” series on Jan. 27, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Dr. Adam Solomon, chief medical officer of the MemorialCare Medical Foundation, will be the guest speaker. Solomon will be sharing the latest COVID-19 updates regarding data, policy and vaccine distribution.

Registration is required at to receive the Zoom meeting link. The cost is $5 for members and $10 for non-members.

Festival of Arts continues ‘Concerts on the Screen’

The Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach is moving forward with “Concerts on the Screen,” a virtual entertainment series it introduced in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Kicking off the 2021 lineup will be Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Terry Steele in a pre-recorded show set to air on Jan. 29 at 5:30 p.m.

Tickets for the event are $25 per household and are good for one device only. They can be purchased at The concert is free for Festival of Arts members.

O.C. teens invited to apply for paid internships through Bank of America Student Leaders program

Civic-minded teens still have time to apply for Bank of America’s prestigious Student Leaders program, which provides paid summer internships at a number of area nonprofit organizations. The deadline to apply is Jan. 29.

Each year, Bank of America selects 300 high school juniors and seniors across the country to participate in the program, including four teens from Orange County. The program is part of the bank’s investment into education and workforce development for young adults to obtain job and leadership experience while making a difference in their communities.

Last year’s eight-week program converted into an online format that allowed Orange County students working with United Way of Orange County to participate on a special project while learning firsthand how to work within a local organization.

Students must be able to work 35 hours each week for the eight-week interim, which includes an all-expenses-paid trip to a Student Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., July 12 through 17. Applicants must include a letter of recommendation from a teacher, guidance counselor or school administrator.

To apply, visit Questions may be emailed to

Surfline names new head of marketing

Surfline\Wavetrak Inc., the Huntington Beach-based company behind the popular surf forecasting website Surfline, has appointed Kim Centeno as its head of marketing.

Centeno comes to Surfline from Apple, where she most recently led marketing for high-profile subscription services.

Centeno’s hiring comes a month after Surfline announced that it had named Kyle Laughlin as CEO and secured a $30-million investment from TCG.

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.