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Our Laguna: Week of homeless events a great success

Donations are still coming in, and organizers of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in Laguna Beach expect to reach — and maybe even exceed — their goal of collecting 50,000 pounds of food.

The food will help feed residents at Friendship Shelter and folks who turn to the Laguna Relief and Resource Center in their time of need.

More is needed.

“About 5,000 pounds of food is distributed every week by the center,” said Faye Chapman, who organized the week’s events with Andy Siegenfeld and Tracy Robinson.


Chapman is a member of the Laguna Beach Housing and Human Resources Committee, which coordinated the calendar of events and included a suggestion that folks try going meal-less Nov. 2 and donate what would have been spent on food to the shelter or the center.

Hers was the vision and camera that produced “Faces of the Shadows,” a photographic montage of Laguna’s less fortunate population.

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week kicked off Nov. 1 with a screening of Joey Valenti’s documentary “You and Me: The story of We,” which explores the human connection.

Valenti focused his cinematic eye on the homeless and low income people of Laguna Beach, highlighting the similarities that exist regardless of labels.


Boutique Benefit hosted the fundraiser, which also included dinner and a silent auction.

It was the first dinner fundraiser presented by the volunteer group that raises funds for the center with an annual sale of donated clothing.

The video also was shown at Coast Sotheby’s International Realty on Nov. 5, the First Thursday Art Walk, for which “Outsider Art,” created by homeless artists, was also displayed.

Donations of shoes and socks, scheduled for “Footwear Friday — Walk a Mile in My Shoes” on the Cobblestones at Main Beach was an unexpected bonanza.

The day started at 7 a.m. for Chapman, who set up bins provided by Waste Management. Volunteer Donna Valenti showed up at 8 a.m. Minoshia Gail Humphry clocked in at 9 a.m. They stayed until 7 p.m.

Donors included a Canadian man who brought a brand-new pair of shoes and Laura and Scott Javore.

The siblings were on their way to Goodwill with a carload of items she did not want to move back to Chicago.

“We saw your sign and there might be something you can use,” Laura Javore said.


You betcha — lamps, rugs and a folding stool, that came in handy for the volunteers who had spent all morning on their feet.

The Javores also offered to return with some nonperishable food they didn’t plan to take back East.

But the biggest haul came from contractor Josh Zeyak from Stonehill Construction and Development Inc., who arrived with two trucks loaded with 6,000 pounds of food.

“He was so jazzed that he wants to do it every month,” Chapman said. “Amazing!

“This has been a life-changing experience for me.”

Donations of nonperishable foods were accepted all week at designated Laguna Beach realty agents, churches, Friendship Shelter and the resource center.

The week concluded Saturday with the Homeless Concert and auction of art created by homeless or formerly homeless artists.

A crowd of about 100 came to hear and cheer, especially when Chapman announced that Top of the World students had held a grade competition and collected more than 2,000 pounds of food.


Guitar virtuoso Eric Henderson headlined the list of performers. Nick Hernandez opened the concert. His second song was titled, “As Long as I Breathe,” written about his son.

Hernandez was followed on stage by singer and guitarist Gina.

Other performers included Spider Harris, Ras Sherman, Richard McLeod, Ann Worth, Brian and Jackie Park and Eric “Redz” Morton.

Art was donated by Pegi Lopez, Daryl Gobe, Sonia Alexander, photographer Frank Anthony, Ped Xing, two Jims and Doug DuMaurier, whose painting and pencil drawing of the corner of Thalia Street were signed Ed Darder.

Center volunteers Cindy Buckley, Margi Hall and Julie Utley-McMullin brought home-baked cookies and pastries.

Admission to the concert was a donation of food or money.

The collection box that Chapman had toted around all week ended up with $600.

In the audience: Councilwoman Verna Rollinger, former Mayor Ann Chrisoph and her husband, Alfredo Carreaga, Bonnie and Advisory Committee on Homelessness member Arnold Hano, Bob Chapman, architect Morris Skenderian and his wife, Stephany, representing the Woman’s Club, and center volunteer Tony Rogers.

And: homeless activist Don Black and his wife, Joan Trivett, Mary Carter, an adorable toddler named Cadence, and Helene Ayres, one of Laguna’s longtime homeless. Police Outreach Officer Jason Ferris kept an eye an on the proceedings.

For more information, call Chapman at (949) 280-2885 or the center at (949) 497-7121.


Laguna Beach Sister City members were treated to a special showing at Vintage Poster on South Coast Highway, which included antique posters from Laguna’s sister city of Menton, France.

“Menton doesn’t even have these antique posters,” gallery owner Gary Gibson said. “They are stone lithographs from the late 1890s.”

Stone lithographs are the crème de la crème of the poster world.

“One stone lithograph took 16 color plates and 2 1/2 months to print with an entire factory working,” Gibson said.

Colored posters used for advertising began in France and spread throughout the world. They are valued as fine art.

“We are loaning antique posters to a new museum that is opening in Riverside,” Gibson said. “The greatest posters were for liquor because [the industry] had the most money to spend.”

“And rightfully so,” chimed in the irrepressible Pat Kollenda, chairwoman of the Arts Commission and board member of the Festival of Arts.

The gallery owns 90% of all the posters shown in the Pageant of the Masters, Gibson said.

“We have Kodak posters that Kodak doesn’t have in its museum,” Gibson said.

The gallery specializes in what Gibson called the golden era of posters, mostly post-World War I.

“It is the era I love and the era I buy,” Gibson said.

A Queen Elizabeth I poster was among the travel posters displayed for the Sister City members and guests.

Gibson said the printing process was as expensive as the boat. He may not have been kidding.

“We have the first ELAL [Israel’s commercial airline] poster.”

The gallery also owns the only known copy in the world of “Hold Your Horses.”

The poster introduced tanks to the world that weren’t pulled by horses.

Gibson said the gallery would give a copy to the Library of Congress.

Of special interest to the Sister City members was a contemporary Laguna poster by Bill Atkins that illustrates the similarities in topography and vegetation between the two cities

“One hundred years from now, Laguna will have antique posters,” Gibson said.

Following Gibson’s presentation, his associate Bryan Moffatt answered questions about specific posters.

‘We hope people will want to join Sister City,” said school board member Betsy Jenkins, an active member of the group, which is looking for another sibling.

Among the enthralled audience for Gibson’s presentation: Councilwoman Toni Iseman, Jennifer and Fred Karam, Steve and Chelle Rabago. Laguna Beach High School French teacher Odile Dewar, Jim Kollenda, Richard and Sandi Schwartzstein, and Dan Sitco.

Also: Festival of Arts Events Director Susan Davis, county Acquisitions Director Harry Huggins, Friends of the Library President Martha Lydick, Carolyn and Chris Wright, Laguna Playhouse Managing Director Karen Wood, Dr. Gary Jenkins and Laguna Sister City President Karyn Philippsen.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Write to Barbara Diamond, P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, 92652; call (949) 380-4321 or e-mail