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Assistance for 50 years

The Laguna Beach chapter of the Assistance League and its more than 170 volunteers are lauded for a half century of service.

March 14, 2012|By Barbara Diamond
(Photo by Haiou Yang )

There were a lot of "whereases" in the City Council's March 6 proclamation honoring the Assistance League of Laguna Beach — but they can all be summed up by saying "50 years of service to the community."

It started with 14 friends, calling themselves Las Amigas, determined to use their energy and skills to meet some of the needs of the community. In the half-century since then, the group became the 29th chapter of the national Assistance League, with more than 170 volunteers and programs the founders could never have imagined.

"My favorite project is the early intervention program — it's probably everybody's favorite" said Ann Hyde, public relations chairwoman.

The project is a parent-infant training program serving families of developmentally delayed infants, founded in 1976.

Five professional therapists hired by Assistance League of Laguna Beach work with the infants in therapeutic developmental activities and give the parents instruction.

During group counseling, parents discuss issues involved in parenting a child with special needs. There is no charge to the families for this program.

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"While mothers and fathers of the babies get family counseling, the members get to hold the babies," Hyde said. "It can be hard to part with them.

"When we have a new members' coffee, we show the film and they are hooked."

And they stay hooked.

Former President Mary Jane Yohe, who was instrumental in starting the EIP program, recently was honored for her 41-year membership.

The next prospective members' coffee will be held March 28, chaired by Carrie Joyce, 1st vice president of the chapter.

"We welcome new members," Joyce said. "They are important to keep the chapter running smoothly. Many of us are getting older, and we need new blood."

Members participate in a wide variety of programs, including Operation School Bell, which provides children at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach with backpacks filled with school supplies, socks, underwear and jackets.

The chapter also funds special performances by the Laguna Playhouse for the city's schoolchildren, scholarships for Laguna Beach High School seniors, and therapeutic horse-related programs at the Shea Center for children with disabilities.

Chapter funds provide computers for the Camp Pendleton elementary school and school clothing for the children on base.

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