Volunteers fed over 1,000 people in need at the Ruben Salazar Park

November 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The senior center at Ruben Salazar Park in unincorporated East Los Angeles was filled to capacity Saturday for the annual Thanksgiving lunch hosted by the Friends of Salazar Park with help from an army of volunteers, local businesses and the county’s parks and recreation department.

Organizers said close to 1,000 people were served during the 27th annual program, which aims to provide a Thanksgiving meal to seniors, low-income families, and the homeless who call the area home.

Volunteers of all ages arrived to the senior center early Saturday morning to start setting up for what many of the participants said was one of the best meals they’d had in a while.

A hefty serving of roasted turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, cranberry sauce, salad, rolls and a side of pickled jalapenos and carrots, followed by pumpkin pie and other deserts were some of the items on the menu served to the mostly Latino attendees.

Dozens of pre-identified needy families were also given turkeys and other food items to take home.

Over 1,000 people enjoyed the Thanksgiving meal at the senior center in Ruben Salazar Park. EGP photo by Jacqueline García

Over 1,000 people enjoyed the Thanksgiving meal at the senior center in Ruben Salazar Park. EGP photo by Jacqueline García

86 year-old Gaby Salazar is one of the pioneers of the programs offered at the center, and told EGP she was exited to help. “I have been coming to the center for over 33 years,” she said, “I’m here every year [for this event] as a volunteer, we are here as a family,” said the senior who is also very active in the center’s aerobics program and appears more fit than many of those half her age.

The Thanksgiving luncheon was like a big family event, where there is no distinction between ethnicities. People from all parts of the world were there, either eating or volunteering. “We are very grateful to be able to enjoy this food in this great time” said Maria Orozco, who attends the senior center on a regular basis. “I come here all the time to eat and to dance,” she said.

“It is my honor to be here, especially for the seniors,” said Rodrigo Tan, a first time volunteer.

“We [invited people] in churches, it doesn’t matter if they are Christian or Catholic, and we go to food banks,” said 82 year-old Cris Mojica, a volunteer organizer of many of the center’s activities. “This is done by seniors volunteers and we invite a lot of needy families and homeless too,” he said.

“We are very happy to be reunited in this special day,” said Yolanda R. Palacios, “Thank you to all who made this possible.”

After all, the event wouldn’t have been possible without the help of those seniors who gladly participated by donating their time and energy.

“Seniors are the ones who get it together,” Mojica proudly told EGP.

 

 

Thanksgiving Traditions Vary, Except for the Giving Thanks Part

November 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

For most Americans, the fourth Thursday of November marks the day they sit down with loved ones to show their gratitude for the positive things in their lives.

Thanksgiving is a national holiday but the celebration varies from home to home. Some celebrations include elaborate feasts that take a whole day of preparation; others are more casual, consisting of watching football, putting up the Christmas tree or just a welcome day off work. Although the traditions and customs may vary by household and sometimes by ethnic group, for many Thanksgiving is still the day when friends and family come together with the purpose of giving thanks.

There are also those who don’t have anyone to share the holiday with, or who cannot afford the expense of an American-style holiday feast, as demonstrated by the long lines at turkey giveaways and free holiday meals this week. And for others, perhaps new to this country, Thanksgiving is not yet part of their tradition.

Nonetheless, today millions of people across the country will take part in some sort of Thanksgiving related activity.

This year, EGP reached out to some of the elected officials in our coverage area to ask them about their Thanksgiving traditions. Some of those we reached out to have undergone controversy in recent months, some of it still ongoing. But that’s not the focus of this article, which is a lighter look at how they will spend the holiday. We asked them who they will spend the day with, what’s on the menu for the Thanksgiving meal, and if they will conclude the weekend with some holiday shopping. Here’s what they had to say:

 

City of Los Angeles – District 1

Saying he’s no chef, Councilman Gil Cedillo told EGP he always brings dessert to the Thanksgiving meal, pumpkin pie to be exact.

He says he eats the usual Thanksgiving faire, which for him includes turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and what he claims to be “the best tamales in town.”

“Thanksgiving has always been a family affair, my family tends to get together every year to enjoy one another’s company,” he said. “This year we have two very important family members joining us from above, my mother and father.”

When he is not attending events in the district, Cedillo says he’s makes sure to hit the treadmill to burn off everything he eats.

The councilman said he’s not much of a shopper, but when it comes to finding the perfect gift, you can usually find him at Barnes and Noble picking out books for friends and family.

“I hope every family has a Happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season,” Cedillo said. “We have much to be thankful for.”

Gil Cedillo, Los Angeles councilmember -D1

Gil Cedillo, Los Angeles councilmember -D1

 

City of Los Angeles – District 14

Thanksgiving can be a little different for men, who often are not in charge of the cooking but are assigned other tasks to perform.

Councilman Jose Huizar told EGP he is relegated to the work crew in charge of setting up and cleaning up after the meal. Aside from the Thanksgiving staples like turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and his mother’s egg salad, Huizar’s family includes Mexican dishes like tamales, rice and beans on the dinner table when they give thanks.

Each year, the “full house” consists of Huizar’s entire immediate family and his in-laws. He said he, his siblings and mother always end up reminiscing about his late father and their childhood in Boyle Heights and Mexico.

“Thanksgiving gives us time to reflect on our blessings; I’m thankful for my family,” said Huizar, whose 3-year-old daughter Aviana has leukemia. “My daughter is doing better, she’s responding to treatment. She has a long road ahead of her but we’re hopeful she’ll be OK and that is the greatest blessing for me this Thanksgiving holiday.”

José Huizar, Los Angeles councilmember D-14

José Huizar, Los Angeles councilmember D-14

 

City of Montebello

Thanksgiving happens to be Mayor Christina Cortez’ favorite holiday. Her family makes a trip to Whole Foods to buy an organic turkey and after graduating beyond preparation duties, Cortez now makes the “highly anticipated” mostaccioli pasta dish.

For her the day is truly a family affair, with her mother planning meals, her aunts and uncle in charge of trimmings and her grandmother’s secret stuffing recipe was highly protected until last year when her secret recipe was passed on to Cortez.

With the china set, all 22 family members sit down to eat at exactly 5 p.m. Pictures are taken, which are later used as Christmas cards. The evening comes to an end with desserts and board games for some or a game of basketball.

“This Thanksgiving, I am specially blessed to have the opportunity to serve the residents of Montebello as Mayor – for that I am truly honored and humbled,” she said. “I wish you [residents] the very best of holiday blessings and an enjoyable gathering with loved ones this Thanksgiving.”

Christina Cortez, Montebello Mayor

Christina Cortez, Montebello Mayor

 

City of Monterey Park

A vegetarian, Mayor Teresa Real Sebastian is not in charge of the turkey or ham at her Thanksgiving celebration, instead she makes a vegetable side dish or her favorite cranberries and yams.

Real Sebastian and her husband will share thanksgiving dinner with more than 30 friends and family members, she told EGP. The location of the meal alternates every year between the homes of her family and her husband’s family, she said, noting that they both have very families.

She said there is typically a lot of laughter during the holiday celebration, in fact they make it a point to laugh and be happy, she said. Real Sebastian said you won’t see her waiting in line to shop the on Black Friday, because she’d rather spend time with her loved ones.

“I prefer to do online shopping because you get better parking and can use the express checkout lane,” Real Sebastian said jokingly. “I hope everyone has a safe and memorable Thanksgiving with family and friends,” she added.

 Teresa Real Sebastian, Monterey Park Mayor

Teresa Real Sebastian, Monterey Park Mayor

 

City of Vernon

When it comes to Thanksgiving, Mayor W. Michael McCormick says is a “traditionalist.” He spends the day at the home of his brother in Simi Valley, where they are joined by other close relatives for a dinner of turkey and all of the trimmings.

Like many families, he spends the day watching football and says he has no plans to go shopping on Black Friday because, as he puts it, he will likely complete shipping for his gift list on Christmas Eve.

This year McCormick will also be celebrating with the members of his Boy Scout Troop at their Thanksgiving meal service at the Oldtimers Foundation in Huntington Park. He said it’s a way to give back to the community an

d show the scouts that community service is a Thanksgiving tradition that must be preserved.

“We often lose sight of the true meaning of Thanksgiving Day,” McCormick said. “I make it my practice to give of myself on Thanksgiving Day to those who need a meal and companionship on this important national holiday.”

W. Michael McCormick, Vernon Mayor

W. Michael McCormick, Vernon Mayor

 

 

Tempers Flair at Bell Gardens Council Meeting

November 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Door-to-door campaigning, phone banks and campaign mailers may have ended in the City of Bell Gardens since the election results came in earlier this month, but that doesn’t mean all the candidates are done talking.

Things got rowdy Monday during the first council meeting since the Nov. 5 election and since an alleged threat against council members prompted the last scheduled meeting to be canceled. A former candidate took advantage of the public comment period to hurl accusations of voter intimidation and corruption by the winners in the city council contest. Jazmina Saavedra, who lost the election, and her mother Lissette Saveedra, accused two of the winners of not even living in the city.

Former city council candidate Jazmina Saavedra is asked to sit down by an officer during Monday’s meeting.  EGP photo by Nancy Martinez

Former city council candidate Jazmina Saavedra is asked to sit down by a police officer during Monday’s council meeting. EGP photo by Nancy Martinez

Though the county has not yet officially certified the results, Mayor Daniel Crespo and Mayor Pro Tem Priscilla Flores were each reelected to another term. Jose Mendoza, a teacher and former planning commissioner who ran on the Crespo and Flores slate, ousted Councilman Sergio Infanzon.

“What a great fraud, what a dirty campaign,” said Lissette, speaking in Spanish. “You bought the vote-by mail votes with food … you took advantage of the poor people’s hunger,” she said angrily.

Speaking only in Spanish, Jazmina — who placed fifth in the race where the three candidates who earned the most votes were elected — said the entire campaign was filled with controversy, and charged Crespo, Flores and Medina with illegally using the city seal on campaign flyers that were circulated to residents, among other accusations.

“The election was a fraud, I have people that can say they were pressured to vote by you [the council],” she said. “That is illegal.”

Councilwoman Jennifer Rodriguez, who was not up for reelection, told EGP that she was not aware of any such flyer, adding ironically that she’d been told it was Jazmina’s camp that had improperly used the city seal.

“Is she confusing the flyer with the seal with her own,” she said sarcastically.

EGP has received a copy of the alleged flyer, which looks more like a letter on city letterhead.  In addition to the city seal, it also includes the address of Bell Gardens City Hall and the headline: “An important message to our community,” refers to the election, and appears to have been signed by Crespo, Flores and Mendoza.

As of press time, EGP was unable to verify the veracity of the flyer or its source. Nor were we able to confirm that the district attorney is investigating the matter as Jazmina said.

“Its unfortunate that some can’t move on after they had an opportunity to gain support from the constituents,” responded Councilman Pedro Aceituno, who was also accused of being corrupt.

“You didn’t win, well look in the mirror, don’t blame no one but yourself.”

Jazmina said the city needs to pass terms limits. Aceituno countered that the city already has a form of term limits, every four years voters can reelect or remove a councilmember from office. But Jazmina told EGP following the meeting that what she was referring to is the need for a maximum number of terms a person can hold office.

“How is it that our country’s president has a two-term term limit and these people [council] don’t?”

At one point on Monday, the meeting escalated into a shouting match between Rodriguez and Jazmina, who had rattled off a slew of attacks against Mendoza and used a vulgar term when accusing Rodriguez of spreading lies about her.

“You are out of line,” a clearly furious Rodriguez shouted as a police officer attempted to usher Saavedra back to her seat as she tried to talk over the councilmembers.

“This is the kind of person that wanted to represent Bell Gardens,” Rodriguez continued. “It is a blessing that you [Saavedra] are sitting there and not over here.”

The audience, larger than usual, clapped and cheered when they heard something they liked from either side.

Later in the meeting during council orals, Rodriguez apologized for her outburst and said that if true, all of Jazmina’s allegations would be serious, but added they are unfounded.

“She [Jazmina] claims Priscilla [Flores] doesn’t live here, prove it, that we have robbed the city, prove it,” Rodriguez said in Spanish.

On Tuesday, Jazmina told EGP she regrets using a curse word at the meeting, but alleges Rodriguez was the first to use the derogatory term to describe a woman. She has no regrets about her comments, which she claims are “all true.”

“I get too excited” but I just want the residents to be informed, she said.

Jazmina and her mother Lissette were not the only people taking a swing at councilmembers, resident Martha Carrasco asked Infanzon to explain a campaign flyer that she says claims he is the only councilmember who would reduce water rates in the city,

Infanzon, claiming he never sent out such letter, told the woman to show them the mailer allegedly from his campaign.

“You should bring it in or take it to the newspaper so that you can be sure that I wrote it because I never sent out anything promising to reduce water rates,” Infanzon said also speaking in Spanish.

Rodriguez said she was upset that “people like [Jazmina]” can run for the council.

“They make these accusations and misinform the community causing them to distrust the council,” Rodriguez told EGP.

She believes residents see the council’s hard work and the progress in the city, “that is something they can never cover up,” she said.

But for Jazmina, the fight is not yet over, She told EGP she will continue to press the district attorney to look into her allegations, and promised more revelations at the next council meeting.

 

Young Commerce Runners ‘Trot’ Ahead of Thanksgiving Feasting

November 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Runners of all ages gathered Saturday morning to celebrate the 22nd Annual Turkey Trot in the City of Commerce. This year, 382 participants arrived as early as 6 a.m. to warm up and be ready for the 5k run and walk. While some saw the race as a chance to demonstrate their running skills, others just wanted to experience the race at a more leisurely pace.

The Turkey Trot is a family event started in 1991 to promote fitness before the Thanksgiving holiday when people are likely to eat more than usual.

Runners of all ages ready for the 5K Turkey Trot in Commerce. EGP photo by Jacqueline García

Runners of all ages ready for the 5K Turkey Trot in Commerce. EGP photo by Jacqueline García

“It has been a tradition, it is a community race,” said Robert Lipton, assistant director of the Dept. of Parks and Recreation. “All residents here try to encourage people to come and exercise before the [Thanksgiving] big meal.”

“They come to start their exercise program and early resolution for new years,” said Frank Garcia, a parks and recreation sports supervisor.

By 8 a.m., the starting lane was packed with runners young and old. Parks and Recreation Commission Chairperson Rudy Torres fired the shot that signaled the start of the 5K Turkey Trot.

Steve Mendoza, 22, was the first male to cross the finish line, 17 minutes, 3 seconds after the official start.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Mendoza, referring to the turnout for the event. “It is nice to see some local people running here and having a good time,” he added.

Thirty-nine-year-old Mirna Underwood claimed the first place spot among the female runners, finishing the race in 21 minutes, 51 seconds.

By coincidence, Underwood happens to be one of Mendoza’s former teachers. Underwood told EGP she was a supporter of Mendoza’s running career in high school.

Because the Turkey Trot is open to people of all ages, trophies are also awarded to the top performing runners in the senior category. This year, husband and wife, 74 year-old Martha Torres and 79 year-old Raymundo Torres, claimed those honors.

“They … have participated in our races for many, many years,” according to Garcia.

Jorge Ortiz, a teacher at Rosewood Park School and a park and recreation leader, said he was pleased to see so many people turn out for the annual event: “I’m all about promoting fitness and what a better opportunity than this,” he said. “This is our city event. I think getting kids out here on a Saturday morning and [seeing them] following in my footsteps, following the teachers’ footsteps, brings me a lot of pride.”

Garcia said he is grateful the city council and the parks and recreation commission support these types of “special events in the city.” He invited the community to participate in the city’s next race, the 5K Freedom Run on July 4, 2014.

Holiday Cooking In High Gear, Some Tips to Keep Food Safe

November 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

With the holidays upon us, cooks across the country are busy chopping, mixing and baking their holiday feast. Whether it’s turkey or tamales you are making, you’d be wise to follow some food preparations tips state health officials say will make your food safe as well as delicious to eat.

On Monday, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Ron Chapman reminded consumers that not following food safety recommendations could lead to foodborne illnesses, ruining the holidays, and more importantly, putting people at serious health risk.

“Bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and others can be present in foods, such as meat and poultry, and can cause illness due to insufficient cooking, inadequate cooling and improper food handling practices,” Chapman said.  “Properly prepared and handled foods can assure us all a safe meal every day of the year.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in the United States, 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths are related to foodborne diseases annually. Most of those cases could have been avoided by proper food handling throughout the meal preparation process, say health experts.

Many people think that salmonella, E. Coli and other such illnesses come from unsafe practices during the processing stage at farms and factories, or at restaurants, but that’s not always the case. People are often sickened by foods prepared in their own home or by someone they know, and in most of those cases because someone failed to handle the food properly and that’s where the contamination started.

Simple safety steps in the kitchen, such as washing hands with soap and warm water before and after food preparation, and especially after handling raw foods, could be the difference between life and death.

State health officials advise consumers to clean all work surfaces, utensils and dishes with hot soapy water and to rinse with hot water after each use. They say it’s important to make sure that foods are cooked thoroughly, especially meat and poultry, and to refrigerate items between meals.

Consumers can find more information about food safety tips on the CDPH’s website.

Symptoms include fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that may be bloody. Most infected people recover from foodborne illnesses within a week. Foodborne illnesses, can be more dangerous to the elderly, young children, pregnant women and anyone with a weak immune system, which makes it harder for them to fight off the sickness, and a higher risk for potentially life-threatening complications.

Additional resources for information on food safety include the Federal Food and Drug Administration Food Information line at 1-888-SAFEFOOD (1-888-723-3366) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). Consumers can also access the national Partnership for Food Safety Education’s “Fight BAC” (bacteria) Web page.

Commerce Recall Backers Decry City Attorney’s Decision

November 28, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Recall waters in the City of Commerce are even murkier following a decision by the city attorney that the newspaper the city has published its public notices in for nearly two decades does not qualify as a newspaper of general circulation as required by state election law, therefore disallowing three of four recall campaigns to move forward.

The City of Commerce has experienced more than its fair share of political tussles in recent years, including several recalls and two council members convicted of political wrongdoing. Today the city is once again in the midst of a political tug-of-war that has two different groups seeking to throw out four of the city’s five council members.

So far Mayor Joe Aguilar is the only member of the council who has not been served with papers notifying him there is an effort underway to remove him from his council seat.

A group going by the name Commerce Residents for Better Government and spearheaded by Jaime Valencia is seeking to recall Councilmembers Tina Baca Del Rio, Ivan Altamirano and Lelia Leon.

Shawn Thomas, who cited no group affiliation, has filed a petition to recall Councilwoman Denise Robles.

In a three-page letter to Jaime Valencia, Deputy City Clerk Victoria Alexander informed him that “unfortunately” City Attorney Eduardo Olivo had determined that the Notice of Intent to Circulate Recall Petitions published in the Commerce Comet, Eastside Sun and 9 other neighboring newspapers do not “satisfy the requirement” of Government Code 6000 to 6004.5, “for a newspaper of general circulation in the City of Commerce” because it is not printed or published in the city. Alexander’s letter, however, also notes that “we are not aware of any newspaper that satisfies this statutory requirement.”

Jaime Valencia has himself unsuccessfully sought election to the council on multiple occasions and has backed other recall efforts. He is calling foul this time around, however, and says the decision preventing the current recall effort from moving forward “ridiculous.”

He said he asked the city if the Commerce Comet does not meet the adjudication requirement, what newspaper does? But has not received an answer.

According to Valencia,  he and others were “shocked” by Olivo’s decision since the city publishes all of its public notices in the newspaper. When asked, he said former Interim City Clerk Theresa Jackson confirmed that the Commerce Comet is where the city publishes its public notices required by state law..

He wanted to know why the recall of Denise Robles was allowed to proceed when it was published in the same newspapers?

During a Tuesday phone interview, Olivo told EGP that the difference is the proponents of the recall effort against Robles had also posted the notice in three separate public locations as required by law when there is not a recognized newspaper of general circulation in the jurisdiction of the person being recalled, which Valencia had failed to do.

EGP Associate Publisher Jonathan Sanchez, however, points out that the Eastside Sun’s county adjudication extends to all 11 newspapers in the group, including the Commerce Comet, because the newspapers carry the same content, carry the Eastside Sun name on the mastheads, and Commerce is located in the County of Los Angeles.

No other newspaper carries as much coverage of the city as the Commerce Comet, Sanchez asserts.

Last week, during the city council meeting, Robles asked the adjudication issue be placed on the next city agenda. She said she is getting inquiries from the community. She said she  was  surprised when she learned of the city attorney’s opinion.

Robles said she wants to know how the decision will impact the city, including the validity of notices previously published in the Commerce Comet.

Olivo told EGP that the item is on next Tuesday’s City Council meeting, and that his office will be making a report to the council.

He further noted that his opinion was specific to the recall issue, adding that other considerations can be taken into account when publishing public notices related to planning and other city activities.

Community Calendar

November 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Sunday, Dec. 1

1pm—The 69th Annual Northeast Los Angeles Holiday Parade Heads Down Figueroa in Highland Park. ALMA award winning actor Jose Yenque is this year’s Celebrity Grand Marshall. Dancers, bicycle groups, drill teams and local high school bands will be among the hundreds of participants. Santa will also make a appearance. The parade is sponsored by the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce. The parade will travel along Figueroa from Ave. 60 to Ave. 50.

82nd Annual Procession and Mass in Honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Sunday, Dec. 1. Thousands of Catholic faithful will gather to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe. There will be decorated floats, dancers, music and more. Following the procession, Archbishop José H. Gomez and participating clergy will celebrate Mass at East LA College-Weingarten Stadium with mariachis, bandas, dances, hymns and poems. For more information, call Resurrection Church at (323) 268-1141.

 

Monday, Dec. 2

5-6pm & 6-7pm—Kids Money Matters Workshops at the East L.A. Library. Kids, come learn the importance of how to earn, spend, save, and donate money. Ages 6-9 at 5pm; ages 9-12 at 6pm. Sponsored by Los Amigos of the East L.A. No charge to attend.  The library is located at 4837 E. 3rd St. LA 90022. For more information, call (323) 264-0155.

 

Tuesday, Dec. 3

6-7pm—Road to Job Success: Networking and the Hidden Job Market, a free workshop at the Anthony Quinn Library. Learn effective ways to get a job or new clients and how to find the “hidden” job market using social media, Facebook and Linkedin as networking tools; resume basics & tricks to get your application to the top of the pile. Library is located at 3965 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. LA 90063. For more information, call (323) 264-7715.

 

Wednesday, Dec. 4

11am—Holiday Toy Drive Lunch With Montebello Police Chief at the Senior Center. Bring new unwrapped toys for children 12 and under. Lunch will be served from 11am to 2pm. Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased at Heavenly Choice located at 534 N. Montebello Blvd. The Montebello Senior Center is located at 111 S. Taylor Ave. For more information, including sponsorship opportunities, call Event Chair Denise Hagopian at (323) 728-2728.

 

Upcoming-Plan Ahead

City Terrace Library Presents A Mobile Film Classroom for Teens on Dec. 5 from 4 to 7pm. Learn all the latest tips and techniques for filming and editing your own movies. This is a special 3-hour program led by professional instructors. The library is located 4025 E. City Terrace Dr. LA 90063. For more information, call (323) 261-0295.

Heritage Square Museum 19th Annual Holiday Lamplight Celebration Dec. 7 & Dec. 8. Amidst historic Victorian homes, guests follow costumed characters from the Jazz Age to the late Victorian period.  1-hour tours run every 20 minutes from 4pm to 8:40pm. Reservations required. Admission: adults $30; children 6 & over $15; museum members 25% discount (special terms apply). Not suitable for children under 6. Heritage Square is located at 3800 Homer St., off the 110 Freeway in Northeast LA. To RSVP or for more information, call the box office at (323) 225-2700 ext. 223, Mon & Wed-Fri 9am-4pm.

Virgin de Guadalupe Celebration Dec. 11 & 12th at El Pueblo Historic Monument/Olvera Street. Music, processions, and more take place all day on the 11th and continue overnight and all day on the 12th.

Las Posadas at El Pueblo/Olvera Street, Nightly Dec. 16 to the 24th. Depicts the nine-day journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem with singing, a candlelight procession, and the breaking of a piñata each night in keeping with Mexican traditions. Admission is free. Program runs from 5:30-8:30pm. El Pueblo is located at 125 Paseo de la Plaza, in downtown L.A., across from Union Station. For more information, call (213) 485-8372 or visit www.calleolvera.com.

L.A. County Holiday Celebration Dec. 24 at the Music Center Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Choirs, instrumental groups, and dance companies representing the many cultures of Los Angeles celebrate with seasonally-themed music and dance. Around 1,500 performers from 35 groups will participate. Free admission. Doors open at 2:30pm, program runs 3-9pm. Free parking at the Music Center: 135 N. Grand Ave., Downtown LA. For more information, call (213) 972-3099 or visit www.lacountyarts.org .

 

To submit an event or announcement to the Community Calendar, e-mail calendar@egpnews.com. All submissions are subject to space availability. Paid advertising available for guaranteed calendar placement. For more information contact advertise@egpnews.com

 

Union Bank Promotes Early Financial Literacy with Book Donation to L.A. Unified

November 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Students at Multnomah Elementary School in Hillside Village proudly hold their copies of “What a Bank Can Do,” a limited edition children’s book focused on advancing age appropriate financial literacy.

Union Bank has donated 10,000 copies of the book to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Beyond the Bell Branch (BTB). Colorful and easy-to-read with rhyming text, What a Bank Can Do explores the importance of saving money through its main characters Luke and Linda and has become a fun learning tool for parents, teachers and all adults to share with the youth in their lives.  Union Bank provided underwriting support for the development and initial distribution of What a Bank Can Do, and has also donated many copies to youth organizations throughout California.

“What a Bank Can Do helps to explain the critical role that banks have in our communities and explores how fun saving can be,” said John Tuzee.  “The book’s key message is simple – always save more than you spend and you’ll never run out of money. Words to live by for all of us!”

Foto cortesía de J. Emilio Flores

Foto cortesía de J. Emilio Flores

 Joining the students for the recent giveaway are (L to R): LAUSD Board Member Moníca García; Multnomah Principal Ana Escobedo; Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Special Advisor for Education Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana; Beyond the Bell Branch Director Timothy Bower; authors Diane and John Tuzee; and Union Bank’s Regional President Leticia Aguilar, Foundation President Carl Ballton and Foundation Officer Rossina Gallegos. 

 

Commerce se Adelanta a “Trotar” para el Día de Acción de Gracias

November 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Corredores de todas las edades se reunieron el sábado por la mañana para celebrar la vigésimo segunda Carrera del Trote del Pavo o Turkey Trot en la ciudad de Commerce. Este año, 382 participantes llegaron desde muy temprano para comenzar a calentar y allertarse para la carrera/caminata de 5 kilómetros. Mientras unos llegaron a participar para demostrar sus habilidades atletas, otros solamente querían experimentar la carrera sin prisa.

“Ha sido una tradición, es una carrera comunitaria”, dijo Robert Lipton, asistente de director del departamento de áreas recreativas. “Todos los residentes tratan de animar a otras personas a que vengan y se ejerciten antes del gran día [de Acción de Gracias]”.

“Ellos vienen para comenzar su programa de ejercicios y una temprana resolución para el año nuevo”, dijo Frank Garcia, supervisor de deportes del departamento áreas recreativas.

A las 8 de la mañana la línea de partida estaba llena con corredores jóvenes y mayores. Al disparo de salida por parte del presidente de la comisión de áreas recreativas, Rudy Torres,  comenzó el Turkey Trot.

Steve Mendoza, 22, fue el primero en cruzar la meta, con un tiempo de 17:03. “Esta cool”, dijo Mendoza. “Es bueno ver a personas locales correr aquí y que disfruten de un buen tiempo”.

Mirna Underwood, 39, fue quien llegó en primer lugar entre las mujeres, terminando la carrera en 21 minutos, 51 segundos.

Por coincidencia, Underwood fue la maestra de Mendoza en la preparatoria. Underwood le dijo a EGP que ella era una motivadora de Mendoza en sus carreras.

Y como el Turkey Trot está abierto para todas las edades, se les entregaron trofeos a los corredores de mayor edad. Este año los esposos Martha Torres, 74, y Raymundo Torres, 79, fueron los ganadores de dicho reconocimiento.

“Ellos… han participado en esta carrera por muchos, muchos años”, dijo Garcia.

Jorge Ortiz, maestro en la escuela Rosewood Park y líder recreativo en el departamento de áreas recreativas, dijo que estaba complacido de ver tanta gente llegar a este evento anual. “Yo siempre estoy promoviendo el ejercicio y que mejor oportunidad que esta”, dijo. “Este es nuestro evento de la ciudad, yo creo que traer a los niños aquí en un sábado por la mañana y [mirarlos] que sigan nuestros pasos, que sigan los pasos de los maestros, me llena de orgullo”.

Garcia dijo estar agradecido con el apoyo por parte del concejo de la ciudad y la comisión de áreas recreativas para tales “eventos especiales [como este] de la ciudad”, e invitó a la comunidad a participar en la siguiente carrera, 5K por la Libertad, el 4 de Julio del 2014.

Corredores de todas las edades participaron en la carrera "5K Turkey Trot". Foto de EGP por Jacqueline García

Corredores de todas las edades participaron en la carrera “5K Turkey Trot”. Foto de EGP por Jacqueline García

Small Businesses Get Ready For Holiday Shopping Rush

November 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

With Thanksgiving slowly becoming the new Black Friday as many national retailers plan to open their doors before the Thanksgiving turkeys even gets cold, small businesses are finding they too have to find a way to get their holiday shopping message out to potential consumers. For some, that means piggybacking on the outreach for Small Business Saturday, a shopping event dedicated to supporting small businesses.

Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, was developed as a way to bring shoppers into stores, and is supported with advertising and other promotional tools from American Express.

Theresa Martinez, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Latino Chamber told EGP that small businesses don’t always have the same steady stream of revenue as national chain retailers located in area malls, which makes it harder for them to get their advertising message out.

She said she has had conversations with several business owners in the Los Angeles area and many say the holiday season is when they generate the income needed for the entire year to keep the doors open, she said.

This year, five fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas means small business owners have less time to maximize their holiday sales, and in some cases the results of their efforts will determine if they are still in business in 2014.

Damien Orozco owns Iron Dog Fitness and is an Executive Board Member of the Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce. He told EGP that the holiday season brings out shoppers that don’t walk in the door at other times of the year.

“Some businesses may be thinking about closing their doors but the holidays may be their lifesaver,” he said.

Small businesses everywhere are gearing up to be the alternative to crowded malls and mass merchandising, with many offering special discounts on unique and quality gifts.

In the city of Bell Gardens, shoppers have many options that do not involve a trip to a large shopping mall and which contribute to the “city’s vitality,” says Bell Gardens Chamber of Commerce Director Carlos Cruz. Located on Florence and Eastern Avenue, the Bell Gardens Marketplace, Los Jardines and Village Square all offer small businesses, larger retailers and restaurant options.

The Latino Chamber’s Martinez suggests shoppers check out some cultural hubs such as East Los Angeles, Little Tokyo and the El Salvador Community Corridor, for shopping and dining. Eagle Rock and Highland Park also have great shopping districts.

In the heart of Los Angeles, a block from the Union Station mass transportation hub, sits the historic Olvera Street marketplace. It has the added benefit of offering museums and live entertainment, along with great shopping.

“People don’t always think of Olvera Street as a place to go for gifts, but our store has many beautiful and unique gifts, imported from Mexico or made by local artisans, and in a variety of price ranges,” said Debbie Seanez, one of the owners of Corazon de Los Angeles, an art gallery and cultural gift store on Olvera Street.

“The advantage to shopping on Olvera Street, and in our store —upstairs from La Golondrina restaurant and underneath the Siquieros mural — is that you can find something special and unique for everyone on your gift list, and not just have to settle for another sweatshirt or scarf,” she added.

Some small businesses, like Corazon de Los Angeles, are stepping up their print advertising and are using social media more aggressively, sending out more frequent email promotions to customers letting them know about their holiday discounts.

According to an NFIB survey, this year more small businesses are pulling all the stops to reach customers, including starting sales earlier, offering discounts or in some cases a free gift with purchase.

“The holiday season is very important for Olvera Street, for the same reasons it’s important to any retailer, big or small – it’s the opportunity to highlight our businesses and share our products with patrons,” says Christina Mariscal-Pasten, a founding member of the Olvera Street Merchants Association Foundation. Her family also owns Myrosa Enterprises, which carries a wide array of Mexican themed items.

“We [Olvera Street] have something for everyone –Taquitos for the foodie, beautiful pieces of art for the art collector, traditional garb for anyone really, and of course, one of the largest selections of trinkets and souvenirs – both traditional and not.”

The third annual Small Business Saturday is being hailed by many local officials who recognize that small businesses are important both for the taxes they generate, and for creating jobs.

Even California Gov. Jerry Brown weighted in this week on Small Business Saturday, noting that 3.4 small businesses in California account for “99 percent of the state’s employers and employ 52 percent of the workforce.

“Small businesses embody the entrepreneurial spirit that has driven the economy of our Golden State. Over half of our private sector workforce is employed by small business. On Saturday, November 30th, I urge all Californians to support small businesses and merchants on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year.”

Denise Hagopian owns A Heavenly Choice in Montebello. She told EGP that when customers flock to small businesses to shop they get a more personal experience because the owners “live and breathe” the products they sell, not to mention they actively support the community they are in.

“Everyone should appreciate what a small business does to the community and understand the impact if they close down,” she said. “Small businesses support the local community.”

 

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