A group of teenagers armed with brooms, rakes and trash bags joined a Clean and Green program to help to beautify the Westchester Central Business District.

The youngsters added a sparkling touch to the stretch of Sepulveda Boulevard between the airport and Manchester Avenue.

The program, which gives thousands of teenagers every year their “first break,” was originated by former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and is operated by the Los Angeles Conservation Corps.

Clean and Green trains and pays students 13 to 17 years old to work on urban beautification projects such as planting trees in local neighborhoods, building community gardens and painting murals on school campuses.

By employing students, the Clean and Green program provides young people with the opportunity to earn a paycheck while serving the community.

“It was great seeing these kids take an interest in improving our community,” said Howard Drollinger, who has, himself, spent years working to improve the area.

“This is a great program,” he said.

The focus is on more than earning money, though, as staff members serve as mentors to students and counsel them about how to stay on track in school and in their personal lives, too.

Clean and Green staff members teach the students about the importance of responsibility and commitment to their jobs, their families and their community.

Students also participate in environmental studies that explain the impact of the work they perform across the city.

Newly elected Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl encouraged the Clean and Green crew to focus on the Sepulveda corridor in what he said he hopes will be a continuous relationship with the merchants, customers and residents of the area.

REMEMBERING

THE EDELSTEINS — Many people in the community will miss Gerald’s Hardware.

The hardware store closed Sunday, July 31st, after 51 years of serving the Westchester community. Gerald’s Hardware had been a family-owned and -operated business since 1954.

“It has been a great privilege for us to have served your commercial and home improvement needs for these past 51 years,” said owners Elaine and Zev Edelstein in a letter to their “valued customers, neighbors and friends.”

The Westchester Vitalization Corporation recognized the couple and their efforts in community service. The Edelsteins received certificates of apprecia- tion from Councilman Bill Rosendahl and Steve Napolitano, field deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe.

Elaine and Zev, we will certainly all miss Gerald’s and we wish you all the best in your next endeavors.

LOCAL MOM TURNS

AUTHOR — And speaking of new endeavors, congratulations to Westchester mom Corinne Weldon who recently completed her first book, It’s MY Wedding!, with co-author Jean Ramsden.

The book presents 101 hilarious, heartbreaking, theatrical and sometimes unbelievable testimonials from real women — and a few men — who have gone through the wedding planning process from engagement to the big day.

Following each anecdote, the authors present sane, human and helpful advice for prospective brides and grooms with the goal of reminding readers about the one thing that is truly important during the wedding process — love.

This is a hilarious — and sometimes scary — book for anyone going through the wedding planning process.

I wish it had been around when we were planning our wedding.

Corinne is already planning the next volume and is looking for brides and grooms to contribute their own wedding story — funny, touching, crazy or sad.

Visit the Web site at www.ItsMyWeddingSite.com and your story may be featured in Corinne’s next book.

SOBOROFF SPEAKS — Playa Vista president Steve Soboroff will be the keynote speaker at the Westchester/LAXñMarina del Rey Chamber of Commerce annual Membership Breakfast Tuesday, August 30th.

The breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m. — doors will open at 7 a.m. — at the Radisson Hotel at Los Angeles Airport, 6225 Cen-tury Blvd., Westchester.

Tickets are $30 per person or $300 per table. Reservations may be made at the chamber office, (310) 645-5151.

The breakfast is open to chamber members and non-members.

A great deal of interesting news has come out of Playa Vista recently, including the announcement by the Los Angeles Clippers that the team will build a new state-of-the-art training facility at the site.

Soboroff will speak about the Clippers deal, the recent approval of the project’s second phase, The Village, and much more.

COMMUNITY PICNIC — The Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey will host the Annual Community Picnic Saturday, September 24th, beginning at 11 a.m. at Westchester Park, 7000 Manchester Ave.

The goal of the Neighborhood Council is to foster a sense of community spirit, while offering Westchester, Playa del Rey and Playa Vista residents an opportunity to meet their neighbors as they all enjoy a fun-filled day in the park.

Members of the Neighborhood Council will be on hand to speak one-on-one with community members about important local and citywide issues.

There will be food, games, entertainment and great community spirit.

The Neighborhood Council will sponsor the “Stars of the Neighborhood” awards, honoring community members at the picnic who have selflessly donated their time and efforts to help others in our area.

Information on making an award nomination and details about the picnic are available from event chair Pat Lyon, (310) 641-0474.

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