In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many local residents were looking for ways to help.
Some donated online.
Others made donations to organizations traveling to the New Orleans area.
And still others planned to travel to the Bayou to help in person.
But knowing that as many as 5,000 people devastated by Hurricane Katrina were on their way to the Los Angeles area, a group of Westchester residents, including many students from Loyola Marymount University (LMU), began preparing for the influx of people.
Through a cooperative effort of LAWA (Los Angeles World Airports, the City of Los Angeles entity that operates city airports), Loyola Marymount University, and Pat and David Lyon, owners of Pawz the Wild $ Store and Westchester Watch Works, the community began collecting water, food and other necessities to assist those whose lives have been shattered by the hurricane.
Paola Garcia, a senior and member of the LMU Center for Service and Action Hurricane Katrina Relief Committee, was instrumental in the relief effort.
“When I received the call from LAWA, I called all the service organizations, clubs, fraternities and sororities on campus,” she said. “They were more than willing to help.
“We arranged over ten drop-off locations, rallied volunteers to man those locations and after collecting goods, delivered them to Pawz.
“I am amazed at the overwhelming support from the university and our community as a whole.
“I never imagined we could raise so much for the victims. We are planning concerts, car washes and other benefits.
“LMU as a school is really doing its part to help.”
The Lyons’ store, Pawz, was the drop-off location for many of the donated items, and Pat Lyon helped spread the word via e-mails to a variety of community organizations.
“We appreciate all the people who helped make this drive successful,” she said. “We had people come from as far as Westwood.
“We had all walks of life come to our store to donate.
“We’ve had little kids come to drop off brand-new toys while their moms sat outside the store double-parked.
“That’s just what Westchester does.”
After collecting the goods, LAWA employees are now sorting the more than 2,000 cases of goods and compiling gift bags for the thousands of people who will soon arrive in Los Angeles from hurricane impacted areas in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Local hotels have offered up free rooms so that the new arrivals can shower and clean up before they take up residence in a long list of shelters from San Francisco to San Diego.
“Local hotels have donated rooms, local community members have opened their houses, and the community as a whole is doing whatever they can to make these people feel welcome,” said Diana Sanchez of the LAX community relations department. “Our community has once again come together and showed tremendous support.”
Pawz is no longer collecting donations of goods for this effort, but many local organizations are continuing to collect goods to be sent to the New Orleans area.
FESTIVAL OF FAITH — Sunday, September 18th, Westchester Christian Church, B’nai Tikvah Congregation and Iglesia Aguas Vivas will celebrate the inaugural Festival of Faith — a joyous celebration featuring food and live music.
The event will highlight the relocation of B’nai Tikvah Congregation from its former site on Manchester Avenue to its location at 8820 Sepulveda Eastway, which is shared by Westchester Christian Church and Iglesia Aguas Vivas.
“We are pleased that B’nai Tikvah will be joining us at what has been our home for more than 60 years,” said Westchester Christian Church pastor John-David Webster. “This celebration will be a great reminder that our community’s diversity is a true strength and that we all need to work hand-in-hand to make Westchester and Playa del Rey a better place.”
The event will be held between 1:30 and 4 p.m. at 8820 Sepulveda Eastway, at La Tijera Boulevard, and is open to the public.
“We hope everyone in Westchester will join us for this wonderful coming-together ceremony,” said B’nai Tikvah rabbi Jason van Leeuwen.
“We are very excited about our new home, and this Festival of Faith is a great reminder that no matter what our individual faiths, we can all work together to achieve great things for our community.”
Van Leeuwen, who has produced a CD called Shabbat Rocks, featuring his own compositions and rock-‘n’-roll versions of timeless Jewish prayers, will perform live during the ceremony, along with Rebbe Soul and Imaginary Friends.
In addition to music, the event will feature a variety of family activities and a welcoming ceremony for B’nai Tikvah Congregation and its members.
There is a charge of $8 per person for a kosher barbecue, and those who plan to eat at the event are encouraged to reserve at (310) 645-6262.
ARDEN TO BEGIN PROJECT — Arden Realty is about to break ground on its newest building at Howard Hughes Center, a five-story office structure that will include nearly 150,000 square feet of space.
Arden’s Patty Loch said the company plans to begin construction Tuesday, November 1st, with construction continuing through March 15, 2007.
She said Arden has worked hard to address questions about construction noise and traffic during the building process.
To that end, construction will take place between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and as needed from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
Loch said street-cleaning in the affected area will take place weekly, especially during the dirt excavation process, which is scheduled to last until the end of February.
In addition, Loch said all construction equipment and parking will be handled on-site at Howard Hughes Center, and trucks hauling material to and from the site will not be using local streets.
Because of the center’s proximity to the San Diego Freeway, she said trucks could arrive and depart from the site without leaving Howard Hughes Parkway, Park Terrace or Center Drive.
SUPPORTS PARK — Tuesday, August 2nd, the Del Rey Park Task Force made a presentation to the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey board of directors, seeking Neighborhood Council support of the Del Rey Park Task Force plan for a park to be located at the site of the U.S. Postal Service property at Jefferson Boulevard and Alla Road in the Del Rey area.
At that time, a motion to support that plan failed in light of the lack of information regarding other proposals, but following a meeting Wednesday, August 17th, of the Neighborhood Council Planning and Land Use Committee, the Neighborhood Council board voted unanimously at its meeting Tuesday, September 6th, to endorse the park plan.
The group expressed hope that funds from State Senate Bill 153, the Healthy Parks Bill — which would provide more than $3 billion to purchase private property for parks and recreation facilities — could be found to pay for the project, which would include baseball, softball and soccer fields.
The board also voted to support a “back-up” plan in case the funds could not be found, agreeing to support a proposal for a comprehensive senior community at the site by Senior Urban Living Concepts.
This conceptual plan provided for mixed-use housing, a skilled nursing facility, and senior-serving retail uses on the property.
Also, included in the conceptual plan was recreation and open space.
HONORING HUGHES’ 100TH ANNIVERSARY — The Flight Path Learning Center of Southern California will present a centennial celebration of the life of Howard Hughes Wednesday, October 5th, at the Flight Path Museum, 6661 Imperial Highway in Westchester.
The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a reception during which attendees may stroll through the museum galleries and walk out onto the ramp to view aircraft of the Hughes era and the Golden Age of Aviation.
Dinner will begin at 7 p.m., and will be served in a spacious tent pitched on the LAX flight ramp.
In addition, the event will include a film presentation highlighting the life of Howard Hughes.
The filmmaker, aviation pioneer and later recluse, was born in 1905, and the video will show off some of his most famous accomplishments, including the 1947 flight of the Spruce Goose, which was built on the site that became Playa Vista; Hughes’ record-breaking 1938 round-the-world flight; and clips from his famous films, The Outlaw with Jane Russell; and Hell’s Angels, with Jean Harlow.
Finally, the Flight Path Learning Center will present its annual scholarship —Ýthe Pete Conrad Scholarship —Ýto a college or high school student who has an eye on a career in aviation.
This should be a great event.
Tickets are $80 per person and can be purchased by calling (310) 215-5291.
FARMERS MARKET — The Westchester Farmers Market will celebrate its 12th anniversary Wednesday, September 21st, by serving up healthy hot dogs and lemonade from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the market, on 87th Street off La Tijera Boulevard in the Westchester Triangle.
Turkey, tofu and veggie hot dogs will be served free, courtesy of Commercial Capital Bank, and HeatherLemmon.com will provide lemonade and water.
The market, which is open Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., is operated by Westchester Vitalization Corporation and provides the opportunity for local residents to get fresh fruits, vegetables and other products directly from farmers and growers.