Our Laguna: Strengthening the Susi Q center

The Susi Q is where Laguna's seniors can make new friends, visit with old friends, learn new skills, eat a hot meal and get advice.

Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. built the center with help from the city, and no one is more passionate about maintaining it than the Quilter family. The sons of Susi Q — the nom de plume of the late Coastline columnist Elizabeth Quilter — donated $750,000 toward the construction. But that was only the beginning.

"We are very committed to a place that will be around when your children have grandchildren," Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. President Emeritus Chris Quilter told the guests at the annual luncheon Monday at Tivoli Terrace.

"No one should go through life alone, which brings me to my brother Pat — our secret Santa, who is going to once again cough up five grand for a challenge grant," she said.

"I will kick it off with $1,000."

Not to be outdone by his brothers, Charlie Quilter quickly pledged $1,000, followed by past Seniors President Pauline Walpin's $1,000 pledge. Mayor Kelly Boyd, Councilman Steve Dicterow, Joy and Tom Peters, Randy Kraft, Maggie Hempen, Katy Moss and another past President Louise Buckley made pledges to more than meet the challenge, which took about five minutes.

"Keep it coming," Pat Quilter said. "I'll meet it."

The luncheon began with the guests singing "The Star Spangled Banner," after which event co-chairwomen Buckley and Tina Haines were introduced. Haines took over as president from Chris Quilter.

"I started begging her a couple of years ago to be president," Quilter said. "We have big dreamers, and she is such a perfect person to take over the reins."

Haines said it was a privilege to be a member of the board and the community.

Board members include Quilter, now secretary; Bob Arovas, vice president; Jim McBride, treasurer; and directors Ann Quilter, Pam Horowitz, Terri Johnson, Dorene Butler, Linda Butterwick, Leslie Daff, Debbie Meeker, Dr. Ruth Stafford and Becky Barber.

Haines praised the center staff, headed by Nadia Babaji.

"We couldn't do it without them," Haines said.

Haines also acknowledged the contributions of the Laguna Beach Seniors Council, headed by Bill Allen.

"They provide programs we really need and they have created a scholarship a high school scholarship," Haines said.

It was Haines' pleasure to introduce the entertainment: Deborah Glass and the Laguna Beach High School Strings — Leani Kramer, Eliot Glass, Casey Koprowski and Jace Rosenthal — and singer Clare Howell.

Howell, 16, is a junior at Laguna Beach High School, familiar to those who saw her as Patty Simcox in the school's production of "Grease" and as Rapunzel in "Into the Woods."

Besides her passion for the theater, Howell is an animal lover. She is president of Broadway Barks, which raises money and awareness about unwanted dogs and cats.

The luncheon also offered opportunity and door prizes donated by Fawn Memories, Horowitz, Inn at Laguna, Laguna Drug, Laguna Handbags, the Playhouse, Madison Square and Garden Café, Ralphs, Ruth Richards family, Waste Management, the White House, Carol Zavala and Zinc Café and Market.

Guests at the luncheon included City Council members Robert Whalen and Toni Iseman and Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson, who in her guise as Playhouse development director hosted a table of eight, City Clerk Lisette Chel, City Treasurer Laura Parisi and City Manager John Pietig.

Also there: former City Councilwoman Verna Rollinger and recent acquaintance Verna Glancy, past Seniors President Skipper Lynn, Michelle Clark, Darrcy Loveland and Dwayne Bickell, Magda Herslicska, Betty Anderson and Jean Law.


Holiday Visit

The annual Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau holiday reception Wednesday at Tivoli Too was a glittering affair. Lights twinkled, champagne bubbled and conversation sparkled.

As a special treat, the cast of "Plaid Tidings" sang a couple of songs from the show and guests at the event were invited to have their pictures taken.

Elena and the George Gilliam Jazz Trio entertained.

Guests were presented with five tickets for a lottery of goodies donated by local businesses. The tickets could all go into one basket or be split.

Donors who ended up winning prizes: Jane Hanauer of Laguna Books, who won a necklace and a Tommy Bahama gift certificate; Fawn Memories' George Nelson, who won a one-night stay at Best Western Hotel and dinner for two at Avila's El Ranchito; immediately followed by Old Pottery Place developer Joe Hanauer picking up a beach tote and sun visor, donated by Nelson.

Other prize winners included Laguna Beach Live! founder Cindy Prewitt, who walked off with a Nirvana Grille gift certificate; Billy Fried, winner of two-night stay at Art Hotel and a Gina's Pizza gift certificate; Kathy Conway, who won an Asada gift card; Jim Kollenda, winner of one-night stay at Casa Laguna Inn; Planning Commissioner Linda Dietrich, who won a reproduction toy donated by Madison Square and Garden Café; and insurance broker John Campbell, winner of two tickets to Medieval Times and a "Dough" Certificate from Gina's Pizza.

Bureau board chairwoman Karyn Philippsen and bureau President and Chief Operating Officer Judy Bijlani greeted the guests and introduced VIP Chris Locke from the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau; and bureau staff members Ashley Johnson, marketing director; Janelle Enriquez, marketing assistant; Jackie Curran, administrative assistant; and Cecilia Frigarde, part-time concierge — who help make Laguna's visitors welcome.

Guests included Sharbie Higuchi, Festival of Arts marketing director; Susan Davis, festival events coordinator; Karen Wood, Laguna Playhouse executive director; Pat Kollenda, arts commissioner; Dr. Korey Jorgeson; Community Clinic physician and Peggy Trott, from the Inn at Laguna Beach.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (949) 302-1469 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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