Democratic clubs presidential forum; computer center changes name, MDA needs volunteers

BY GEOFF MALEMAN

Rain nearly kept Santa Claus from making his appointed rounds in Westchester, but a small band of dedicated — and wet — volunteers made sure local children weren’t disappointed.

With the rain coming down hard Thursday, December 20th, organizers informed Santa (longtime Westchester Rotarian Pat Davis) that his tour would be cancelled. Never one to give up, Santa collected his elves, including his daughters Stephanie and Christina Davis, president of the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce, and headed out.

With help from city firefighters at Los Angeles Fire Department Station No. 5, Santa, a bit soggy and about an hour late, visited children along his publicized route.

“What could we do? We couldn’t disappoint the children,” said Davis, who thanked the Playa Sunrise Rotary Club for continuing the Santa Tour tradition, even in the rain.

Davis, who bears a striking resemblance to Jolly Old St. Nick, said he was sorry to disappoint some of the children and parents along the route who gave up waiting because he was late.

“Next Christmas season, we will have a plan so that if it rains all the parents will know when and where to find Santa in Westchester,” he said.

And that’s how a soggy Santa saved Christmas in Westchester.

DEMOCRATIC CLUBS, LMU HOLD CANDIDATE FORUM — The Westchester Democratic Club, Loyola Marymount University Community and Government Relations, West L.A. Democratic Club and LAX Area Democratic Club will hold a Democratic Presidential Candidate Forum from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, January 14th, at Loyola Marymount University’s McIntosh Center, 3900 University Hall on the Westchester campus.

Scheduled to present their candidates’ platforms are Los Angeles City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel for Hillary Clinton; Lisa Jones Johnson, media and entertainment executive, for Barack Obama; Susie Shannon, executive director of Poverty Matters, for John Edwards; Sharon Jimenez, Western U.S. publicist for Dennis Kucinich; and David Buchanan, California political director of the Bill Richardson Campaign.

Westchester Democratic Club controller and political science professor Robert Shurtz will moderate the forum, which will cover the candidates’ positions on issues ranging from healthcare, education, tax restructuring and the economy to the environment and the war in Iraq. Representatives from the campaigns will also take questions from the audience.

The forum is free and open to the public. At the conclusion of the forum a straw poll will be conducted.

Information, Shurtz at (310) 494-0477 or Mark Waier, LMU’s state and federal government relations manager, (310) 258-4618.

COMPUTER CENTER CHANGES ITS NAME — EmpowerTech (formerly the Computer Access Center) has officially changed its name.

EmpowerTech is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “empowering and educating people with disabilities.” More information can be found at www.em powertech.org/.

“We have changed our name to better reflect our work, using technology to empower people with both physical and developmental disabilities to use computers,” said Marcy Kaplan, executive director. “We continue to have the latest in assistive technology and the same highly trained, caring staff.

“We serve people of all ages living with both physical and developmental disabilities, and offer a wide range of programs both at our Westchester location and throughout the community.”

EmpowerTech holds weekly Open Access programs for people with disabilities to use the computers every Wednesday from 3:30 to 6 p.m. at its Westchester Triangle office, 6234 W. 87th St. Information, (310) 338-1597.

MDA SEEKS VOLUNTEER COUNSELORS — The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) is seeking volunteer counselors for a summer camp at Loyola Marymount University.

Each counselor becomes a companion to a camper with a neuromuscular disease and helps with daily activities such as eating, bathing and dressing. They also help with recreational activities such as arts and crafts, swimming and horseback riding.

Applicants must be at least 16 years old and be able to lift a young person between six and 21 years old.

The camp will run from July 28th to August 2nd. To apply, (310) 450-9032 or www.mda.org /clinics/camp/.

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