Lions Club peace poster winners; St. Bernard open house; art therapist speech to Rotary

THE VENICE-MARINA LIONS CLUB recognized the local winners of the International Peace Poster Contest. Back row (from left): Angelica Mahboob, Venice-Marina Lions Club president; Jann Brauer, contest judge; Sibyl Buchanan, contest chair; Terry O’Connor of Visitation School; Sue Marozik and Andy Marozik, Visitation School parents. Front row (from left) contest winners Lydia Dawson, Madison Marozik and Jocelyn Reyes-Munoz; and Lindsay Merfeld of Free Arts for Abused Children.

Earlier this month, the Westchester Streetscape Improvement Association completed the removal of 19 trees along the west side of Sepulveda Boulevard as part of its Westchester Landscape Entry project.
The project removed the 50-plus-year-old ficus trees, many of which are diseased or structurally unstable, to allow for sidewalk, curb and gutter repairs on the stretch of Sepulveda from Manchester Avenue to Howard Hughes Parkway in Westchester.
“It is always difficult when we have to lose mature street trees, but in this case it is important that they be removed and the sidewalks be repaired so that pedestrians can safely and easily walk along the boulevard,” said Don Duckworth, executive director of the Westchester Business Improvement District (BID). “The reforesting will enhance the safety of both pedestrians and vehicles that use that stretch of Sepulveda.”
“Our goal is to ultimately create a much more walkable streetscape that will enable pedestrians, especially children and the elderly, to safely connect with the schools, churches and the YMCA, which are located on Sepulveda,” said John Ruhlen, president of the streetscape improvement group, who began the effort more than a decade ago.
The project will include the planting of approximately 100 new trees and vegetation, including New Zealand Flax, Fountain Grass and Pink Trumpet trees, which the group says will not present the problems inherent with the existing ficus.
In addition, the project will reconstruct the pedestrian areas, including creation of meandering sidewalks, landscaped pocket parks, hard-packed red sand and benches.
The $2.85-million project will be funded through a variety of sources. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Westchester) secured a $1 million federal grant for improvements along the west side of Sepulveda. Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl worked with Equity Office Partners, the owners of Howard Hughes Center, to secure a $1.85 million contribution from Equity Office to handle improvements on the east side of Sepulveda. Equity Office has also pledged $850,000 to create an ongoing endowment to maintain the improvements.
“We have spent a lot of time, sought ideas and support from the community, and it is exciting to know that, after all that collaboration, work has begun,” said Ruhlen, who indicated that many of the improvements will take time to complete. “I am hopeful that everyone will be patient with the process because the final result will be something of which we will all be very proud.”
Rosendahl said, “I have great respect for members of WSIA who volunteer their time to make Westchester a better place to live, work and play. Their actions represent a perfect example of how public/private partnerships can work to benefit the taxpayers and the local community over the years to beautify the streets, sidewalks, and medians in Los Angeles.”
The streetscape association and BID are also currently seeking funding to pay for a new “Welcome to Westchester” sign, and the association will also support ongoing tree watering outside of the town center BID area.
The Westchester Landscape Entry project and other tree plantings and beautification efforts in the surrounding area will not only increase property values and improve the local business environment, but will create an appealing gateway for visitors from across the globe who see Westchester as their first glimpse of Los Angeles, according to the streetscape group.
“This is a tremendous partnership to beautify our community and the business district for all that shop, dine and enjoy it,” said Jack Davis. “More customers are drawn to beautiful business districts, and a beautiful front door to our city benefits everyone.”
For 25 years, children from nearly 100 countries have taken part in the Lions Club’s International Peace Poster Contest, which encourages young people to express their visions of peace. Each year, 24 finalists are selected from throughout the world, and a single winning student is chosen to receive $5,000 and a trip to the United Nations.
Working with Terry O’Connor of Visitation School in Westchester, the Venice-Marina Lions Club exhibited the poster entries received from the local community at school and three judges – Sibyl Buchanan of Playa Vista, Jann Brauer, former president of the Lions Club and Audrey McIntosh of Free Arts for Abused Children – selected three winners.
The winners – Lydia Dawson, Madison Marozik and Jocelyn Reyes-Munoz – will next have their artwork judged at the district level and remain in the hunt to win the $5,000 award and a trip to the U.N.
St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey, with more than 11,000 alumni, celebrated its 55th anniversary last year. The school is inviting current sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students to an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26.
Guests can take campus tours, participate in interactive workshops, and hear presentations about the school’s teaching and curriculum highlighting academics, leadership, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), visual and performing arts and athletics. Guests will also have the opportunity to visit classrooms and meet current students, faculty and staff as well as gather information about the admissions process and tuition assistance.
The school is located at 9100 Falmouth Ave. in Playa del Rey.
For information and an application,, the office of admissions at (310) 823-4651, or
Paige Asawa will speak to the Rotary Club of Westchester at the club’s regular meeting at noon Wednesday, Jan. 30 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel LAX, 5985 W. Century Blvd., in Westchester. The art therapist will provide a glimpse into the experience of survivors of several global disasters and the use of art to inspire hope and recovery.
Asawa’s presentation, “Emissaries of Hope: Responding to Global Disasters,” begins with the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster, and the two-year mission to provide art therapy for residents of the Ninth Ward in New Orleans, relocated to a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer site in rural Baker, La.
Closer to home, the presentation explores the initial relationship with Save the Children in the 2007 firestorms in San Diego County. Responses to earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand and Japan are also illustrated, and the presentation concludes with the current response to Hurricane Sandy.
Asawa is a licensed marriage and family therapist, board certified art therapist, full-time professor and clinic director of the Helen B. Landgarten Art Therapy Clinic at Loyola Marymount University. She has worked in both real estate and management consulting for a number of years before shifting her focus to humanitarian efforts.
She first engaged disaster response in 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and received the Clinician of the Year Award from the American Art Therapy Association for her work. In 2007, she designed a traumatic event and disaster training and response program and in 2011, developed a memorandum of understanding between LMU and the American Red Cross and Save the Children to facilitate the Child-Friendly Spaces program in the Greater Los Angeles Region. For the past seven years, Asawa has traveled to central Mexico to teach therapists how to use art in the therapeutic process with families.
The luncheon presentation is open to the public.
Lunch is $20 per person and can be paid at the door; credit cards are not accepted. Those wishing to attend can RSVP at (310) 493-3835.