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Foundation taps into wealth of needs

Our Laguna

May 28, 2010|Barbara Diamond

The Laguna Beach Community Foundation began to fulfill its promise to energize philanthropy in town with the distribution of $80,000 in grants.

Twenty local nonprofit organizations were presented with checks ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 at the inaugural grant awards luncheon, held May 19 at the home of Trustee Don Clurman. Almost half of the grants were given for operations, always needed, but seldom funded.

"This is just the beginning," Board of Trustees Chairwoman Laura Tarbox said. "Our goal is to distribute $1 million in the next three years. It is an ambitious goal, but we are well on our way."

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The group's mission was publicly launched in May 2009 with the announcement of a $500,000 anonymous donation to seed an endowment fund, from which grants would be supported. However, the origins of the group went back to 2003 when Peter Kote, Michael Pinto, Mary Fegraus and former Mayor Wayne Peterson began kicking around the idea of a foundation that would be a source of information as well as cash for local nonprofits.

Their notion took a while to get off the ground, but it gathered momentum in 2008 after the founding group was expanded.

"We are young, but we are inspiring others in the community," said Cathy Krinski, grant committee chair. "We need your help. All of you here have the opportunity to go out and talk about the foundation."

Awards were distributed in alphabetical order, starting with Animal Crackers Pet Rescue and ending with The Collective Sound, which was awarded $1,000 to fund an after-school program to nurture future innovators and leaders.

Recipients were given a minute each to explain how the money would benefit them.

Animal Crackers was awarded $1,000 to help pay for the "re-homing" and care of adoptable pets found or rescued from high-kill shelters, by pet supply-and-grooming store owner Gina Kantzabedian.

"More than 700 animals have been placed in the last three years, mostly in Laguna Beach," said Helen Evers, vice president.

Some of those pets have been featured in the Coastline Pilot on a weekly basis.

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach received one of the two $10,000 awards for operations.

"All kids are at risk today," said Pamela Estes, executive director of the club, the mission of which is to enable Laguna's youngsters to reach their full potential. "Thanks for helping us build resiliency."

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