On the Town: GCC students check out Festival of Books; "The Art of the Scarf" event

On a recent sunny weekend on the USC campus, more than 100,000 bookies gathered to read, attend author seminars, panels and lunch from ubiquitous food trucks.

The Los Angeles Times 19th annual Festival of Books also featured author readings and screenings as well as musical and cooking demonstrations. It attracted Southland readers, many of them pushing strollers for the littlest of would-be wordsmiths.

About 60 Glendale Community College students from two freshmen comp classes, taught by yours truly, met at the popular statue of Tommy Trojan to begin their field trip.

Their assignment was to interview an author and/or publisher of their choice. Some of them headed to the Angel City Press booth that displayed books with Los Angeles themes. Those students with an artistic bent paged through "Exhibitionist" written by April Dammann. The coffee-table book is about art dealer Earl Stendahl, grandfather of the author's husband.

The students stood in front of Tommy Trojan to snap selfies with their friends and families joining them at the festival. Anihit Grigoryan posed with her mother, Satenik Gabrielyan. Amineh Ghazarian took a selfie with friend Nairi Mnasaghanian. Her husband, Mher Mgerdoun, approved. Farnaz Yazdani left her camera at home, but brought her 10-year-old daughter, Elin Hovsepian. Nancy Sayadian was accompanied by her 5-year-old son, Ejmin Manokian.

Oscar Martinsson, going solo, decided to do some exploring on campus and ran into a large, blank poster titled "What Books Inspire Your Fire." Readers were invited to write down their favorite books and authors.

Martinsson, an international Glendale Community College student from Sweden, scribbled "Jan Guillou" and the Swedish author's book "Ondskan." The semi-autobiographical book is about a 14-year-old boy living in 1950s Stockholm.

Hopefully, the students ended their day with a greater appreciation of reading for pleasure, not just for class.

This week's events went from the art of reading to "The Art of the Scarf." Last Wednesday, designer/artist Louise Wannier presented her artistic, silk scarves and, more importantly, how to wear them through various ways to tie them. Trattoria Neapolis Garden Room in Pasadena was the setting for the fundraiser to benefit Women at Work.

Some 25 supporters gathered to sip, sup and socialize. New Executive Director Camille Levy (formerly holding the same position at Glendale Healthy Kids) enthused that the staff at Pasadena-based Women at Work finds jobs for 18 women a month.

Levy added that 40% of the organization's clients are over 50 years old, which includes out-of-work men, also clients of Women at Work.

One of those who spoke at the fundraiser was Taralynn Frasqueri-Molina. In her mid-30s, she described herself, before Women at Work stepped in, as "an unemployed woman of color collecting unemployment." Frasqueri-Molina is Puerto Rican.

Three months into her unemployment, she found Women at Work through information at a local library. Eight months later, she was employed as a project manager at YP (formerly Yellow Pages) in Glendale.

"I strapped on that backpack of knowledge," Frasqueri-Molina said.

It takes a lot of money to offer Women at Work's free services. To that end, Levy announced that the organization's current fundraising goal is to meet a $50,000 Founders' Challenge.

"We are 42% there," Levy said.

Another fundraiser for Women at Work, called "Santa Anita Mystique and Fun," is set for May 31 at Santa Anita Park's Club House Terrace.


RUTH SOWBY may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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