LAX VIPs; New Rotary president; New Toastmasters Club

The Rotary Club of Westchester recently honored four local residents as Citizens of the Year in recognition of their efforts during the club’s Home Makeover Project earlier this year.

Recognized at the club’s June 29 meeting were Mike Alexandros, Lourdes Russell, Frank Heaney and David Diaz. The Citizen of the Year award is presented annually to non-Rotarian recipients in the community who live their lives by Rotary’s “Four-Way Test” of integrity and ethics.

From Jan. 22 through 30, Westchester resident Gloria Dresser was treated to a Hawaiian vacation while volunteers from the Rotary Club of Westchester and throughout the community rolled up their sleeves and painted and landscaped her home.

Thanks to contributions from the Drollinger Family Charitable Foundation, the Westchester Woman’s Club, the Westchester Rotary Foundation and many others, Dresser returned to her Dunfield Avenue home to find new paint, new flooring, new landscaping, new kitchen and bathroom cabinets, new furniture and plenty of additional surprises.

Alexandros, a retired Westchester resident who lives around the corner from the Home Makeover project site, played a key role in the renovation efforts, serving as the project’s general handyman, according to the Rotary. He did everything from lay new flooring and repair door jams to build fences and construct a redwood deck in the back yard.

Russell, who owns House of Lourdes Interiors, put her skills to work, selecting all new furniture, making decorating decisions and giving the home a comfortable, warm atmosphere, the Rotary said.

Heaney, of Frank’s Plumbing and Heating, was originally brought into the project as a paid plumber to install a new dishwasher, new toilets and move the water heater outside. But after seeing the project in action, he didn’t charge the Rotary Club for his services and even got his supplier, Express Pipe & Supply Co., to donate all the plumbing supplies.

Diaz, of Landscape Discoveries, volunteered his time and secured donations from the nurseries with whom he works to transform Dresser’s back yard. On site nearly every day, Diaz handled the landscape design and assisted a large team of enthusiastic, but sometimes unskilled, volunteers in creating a new garden in the back yard and giving the front yard a whole new look, the Rotary said.


Los Angeles World Airports has officially kicked off its new volunteer program to enhance customer service at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Approximately 260 Volunteer Information Professionals (VIPs) have signed up to provide passenger assistance at LAX to help create a positive and friendly experience at one of the world’s busiest airports.

Airport Commissioner Fernando Torres-Gil joined a ceremony late last month to officially launch the program and acknowledged the efforts of the new VIPs.

“At LAX, we are spending millions of dollars daily on physical and infrastructure improvements,” he told the volunteers. “What passengers will remember most is not the brick and mortar, but the person who took the time to help them navigate their way through LAX. That’s why your role as a VIP is extremely important and we are grateful for your volunteer work.”

LAWA Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey added, “I want to personally thank you for your time and dedication to helping our LAX passengers. Your assistance will help alleviate the stress and anxiety that passengers often experience during their travels.”

The volunteers, wearing bright red blazers, started duty on July 1 and are now stationed at information booths in LAX terminals from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.

Volunteers will assist passengers by providing directions to various airport and community facilities, and guiding them to appropriate ground transportation options, local attractions and other venues in the Los Angeles area.

Those interested in volunteering as a VIP can visit The next training session is scheduled for this fall. For more information about the VIP Program, Heidi Huebner, volunteer director, at (424) 646-8471, or ROTARY PRESIDENT

Cindy Williams has been appointed as the new president of the Rotary Club of Westchester and will serve until June 30, 2012.

Williams, who owns C.W. Business Center in Westchester, has volunteered to work on the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade since 1999 and has been president of that group since 2003.

Due to budget cuts by the county, the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show in Marina del Rey was initially cancelled, but Williams stepped up and contacted all businesses in and around the Marina. With the promise of their sponsorship, she took on arranging all the various paperwork, permits and contracts with the fireworks company, and as a result of those efforts the show went on.

Williams has also received the Pierre Basbous Honorary Mayor’s Award from the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce and has been a Rotarian since 2006.


Talk on the Water, a new Toastmasters Club, is forming in Playa del Rey.

The club will hold its next meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 13 at the Westchester Masonic Center, 7726 W. Manchester Ave., Playa del Rey.

A Toastmasters meeting is a “learn-by-doing” workshop in which participants hone their speaking and leadership skills in a friendly atmosphere.

There is no instructor in a Toastmasters meeting. Instead, members evaluate one another’s presentations. This feedback process is a key part of the program’s success, members say.

Meeting participants also give impromptu talks on assigned topics, conduct meetings and develop skills related to timekeeping, grammar and parliamentary procedure.

Information, (310) 354-4064.