Community Commentary: PMMC grateful for all the support

It is with a grateful heart that we at Pacific Marine Mammal Center extend to all of you our best wishes for a new year. We have been truly fortunate to have come through this challenging year with the extraordinary support of our donors, supporters, visitors and colleagues.

The "new" PMMC is better than ever. What seemed, at the time, a major catastrophe has become the catalyst to rebuild and fortify our center on many levels.

The exterior yard is more welcoming, and we have continued to redesign and improve the center's infrastructure to ensure, as much as possible, against such major damage in the future. We have plans to rebuild a permanent gift shop and to add on additional storage, a restroom and small meeting room for staff and volunteers.

The generosity of so many donors, as well as the major gift from former "The Price is Right" host Bob Barker, has made it possible for us to resume services in an efficient and timely fashion. We could never have done this without the help of so many "friends," as well as the continued support of City Manager John Pietig, his staff and the many contractors, architects and engineers who live and work in Laguna Beach. Dozens of volunteers spent hours in the mud, helping the staff recreate a safe place for our patients.

The highlights of our days are when we prepare to release a healthy pinniped back to its home environment. The miracles that take place under the care and skill of our staff and volunteers are heart-stopping experiences, believe me.

None of this could have taken place without the support of more than 100 dedicated volunteers who serve as animal care volunteers, docents, board members and other dedicated "friends" who give of their time, talents and energy.

Thank you for making sure that we fulfill our mission every day, 24/7!

CAROLE ZAVALA is the interim executive director at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

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