The Valley Line: Trivia contest draws smiles, raises funds for Pinola/CV Chamber Education Fund

USC Verdugo Hills Hospital was a beehive of activity on March 7 when nearly 200 people assembled in teams in the facility's council rooms to compete in the Pinola/Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce Education Fund's annual Smart-A-Thon.

The Education Fund, founded by La Cañada Flintridge resident Mary Pinola, was established in 1990 to provide grants for educational programs or projects of public and private schools and community organizations in the Crescenta Valley. Edna Karinski, chief executive of the Community Foundation of the Verdugos, oversees the fund.


Greeting all the contestants was little Harlow Bacon, proudly held by her grandfather. Charlie Kenny, and admired by her grandmother, Mary Pinola. Harlow's daddy, Caleb, was part of the Annsley Strong team #2.

For the third year in a row, the team representing Rep. Adam Schiff's office did very well and were declared the second-place winners while S.I.G. Property Management was a first-time winner of the event.


Mike Smith, of Bob Smith Toyota, was for the 22nd year master of ceremonies assisted by Capt. Chris Blasnek from Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station.

Helping out in this 30th Smart-A-Thon fun was Chris Waldheim, who serves on the board of the fund. He was dressed as an inspirational wizard in a long robe and tall pointed hat. Steve Pierce served as judge. Other members of the board of advisers helping out in this fun event along with Pinola were Rick Dinger, Jo Loomis, Jean Maluccio, Bobie Parker, Julie Rabago, Teri Rice, Renee Riendeau, Patty Steur and Eleanor Wacker.

Two nonprofit organizations won the opportunity drawing for $500 each — USC Verdugo Hills Hospital and Rose Bowl Aquatics Center. S.I.G. Property Management won the "pot o' gold" and gave it back to the Education Fund.

In special presentations, a new oboe was gifted to the Crescenta Valley High School instrumental music department, two baby manikins were given to be used for CPR training at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, and special water aerobics equipment went to the local YMCA and to the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center.

Before the challenging trivia contest of 100 questions began, competitors had an opportunity to bid on silent auction items and dine on a hearty lunch.

Currently, the Education Fund has a principal of approximately $430,000 and has been able to give out close to $250,000 to educational programs in our community. In 2018, the organization was able to provide a little more than $20,000 in assistance.


A private club in downtown Los Angeles was the setting for the Feb. 24 Stardusters Alaroma dance, "Dancing for Valentine's Day." The event's theme was "Let's Fall in Love." Fifty-nine guests enjoyed the dance chaired by Gloria de Olarte and Art Rothberg, presidents of the group.

Members and guests in attendance included Polly and Brent Allen, Fran and Terry Buchanan, Lisa and Tom Campbell, Liz and Bob Craven, Gloria de Olarte and Art Rothberg, Ginny and Bob Doyle, Marlene and Bob Evans, Janis and Riccardo Gallo, Marion and Paul Greene, Kitty and Jack Gurash, Henry and Janet Minami, Jim Mramor and Edie Askew, Ed and Etta Ovsenny, Pete and Cathy Palermo, Rosemary and Bob Risley, Don and Carole Roback, Gigi and Jim Schlueter, Judy and Bob Snyder, Barbara Thomas, Lynne and Joe Thompson, Keith and Michelle Wien, Jim and Ruth Wong.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. Email her at with news of your special event.