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Sukkot activities at Chabad Laguna Beach will include an evening under the stars

Sukkot is a weeklong Jewish holiday that comes five days after Yom Kippur. Sukkot celebrates the gathering of the harvest and commemorates the miraculous protection God provided for the children of Israel when they left Egypt. Jewish people celebrate Sukkot by dwelling in a foliage-covered booth known as a Sukkah, and by taking the “Four Kinds”, four special species of vegetation.

Sukkot activities at kids

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Kids create crafts and enjoy fun-filled activities during the youth event

The following is the schedule of events at Chabad Laguna Beach. On Sunday, Sept 23, evening service will be at 7 p.m.; on Monday, Sept 24, morning service will be at 10:30 a.m. and evening service will be at 7 p.m.; on Tuesday, Sept 25, service will be at 10:30 a.m.

On Wednesday, Sept 26 beginning at 7 p.m., residents are invited to join in an evening under the stars and enjoy schmoozing, music and a delicious buffet dinner. 

Then, on Thursday, Sept 27 at 4:30 p.m., celebrate at a JYZ Youth Zone event for kids of all ages. Kids will create wooden holiday crafts, enjoy stories, activities, and Lulav and Etrog Shakes, for just $8 per child.

Ending the Sukkot celebrations will be a Simchat Torah festival on Monday, Oct 1 at 7 p.m. Enjoy dancing with the Torah’s, a fantastic buffet, and a celebration including flags for the kids. 

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ribbon cutting ceremony celebrates opening of Laguna resident Tala Brinderson’s Infinity Kids

Tala Brinderson and Amanda Fink, Occupation Therapists and founders of Infinity Kids, move fast. This past April, Brinderson and Fink decided to become “OTpreneurs” and quickly founded Infinity Kids pediatric therapy group, which opened its doors in Lake Forest two months later. 

Last month, they celebrated the opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Infinity Kids specializes in treating infants to school-aged children with developmental delays, Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism, feeding and/or swallowing delays, language difficulties, and other genetic and neurological disorders. 

Ribbon cutting group

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Group celebrates opening

Tala Brinderson, born and raised in Laguna Beach, always knew she wanted to work with children with special needs. She learned about the Occupational Therapy profession after going to college and immediately took the required pre-requisites for graduate school. She earned a Masters in Occupational Therapy from USC and worked in pediatric settings for several years before deciding to be a stay at home mom. 

Ribbon cutting kid with hat

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Child enjoys festivities

Brinderson says, “One feature that sets Infinity Kids apart from other clinics is its outdoor space and garden. The space was created to mimic a child’s natural environment and help children transition newly acquired skills into their home environment. We felt having a garden would be a great way to involve kids in the process of planting to enhance their sense of touch.” 

The group’s mission also appears to set them apart from other clinics: “Infinity Kids’ mission is to enable all children with and without a diagnosis to participate in all their daily occupations to the best of their ability through play. Infinity Kids consists of a multidisciplinary team that believes in looking at the whole child using a family-centered approach. 

Ribbon cutting awards

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Infinity Kids has received many awards and recognition

“Working with pediatric therapists from different disciples (occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech and language pathologists, and marriage and family therapists) enables us to collaborate together for the best benefit of each child we treat. All of our therapists have numerous years of experience in pediatrics with advanced certifications enabling them to provide the most evidenced based treatment,” says Brinderson. 

“The name Infinity Kids was an obvious choice for us as occupational therapists, because the infinity symbol is something frequently used in therapy to address ‘crossing midline.’ We believe that every child deserves infinite opportunities and possibilities to succeed in life.” 

Infinity Kids is located at 22691 Lambert St #502, Lake Forest.

For more information, go to or call (949) 273-6503

Rattlesnake avoidance training for dogs available

A rattlesnake training for dogs clinic will be held in Laguna Beach on Saturday, Sept 29 and Sunday, Sept 30 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Organizers encourage residents: “Protect you, your dog, and your family from deadly rattlesnake bites. Most rattlesnake bites occur in and around trails, parks, and even in back and front yard areas. As the drought worsens, rodents and snakes have moved closer to home and more bites are being reported and treated.

“The approximate cost to treat and save your dog from a deadly rattlesnake bite is between $4,000 and $6,000. The rattlesnake vaccination is recommended, however, at best it can only give you more time to get your pet to an emergency veterinarian.”

Rattlesnake avoidance training

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Photo by Marrie Stone

Rattlesnake avoidance training for dogs could save your pet’s life

The training sessions are organized by well-known local Sandi Thornton and Ce Ce Card, whose cat is Aragon the Cat, former Glee star and World Kindness Cat for Laguna Beach. Call Sandi at (949) 463-1904 to register and schedule a 20 to 30-minute appointment. 

The cost is $125 per dog.

Laguna Ocean Foundation seeking volunteer docents

The Laguna Ocean Foundation is currently looking for volunteer Tidepool Docents to educate the public about the unique ecology in Laguna’s protected tidepools. The next class training will be held on Wednesday, Sept 26 from 6:30 - 8 p.m. at the Back Bay Science Center, 600 Shellmaker Road, Newport Beach. Docents are required to be at least 18 years of age and volunteer at the tidepools at least once monthly. 

Laguna Ocean Foundation star

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Tidepool docents share the wonderful marine life in the tidepools with others

Explore the opportunity to become a Tidepool Docent and experience the excitement of sharing the marine life in the tidepools with local residents and visitors. 

To sign up for the program or for further information, contact Suzanne Welsh, Tidewater Docent Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (949) 522-5187. 

Laguna Ocean Foundation beach

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Volunteers are needed to educate the public on Laguna’s protected tidepools

The mission of Laguna Ocean Foundation is to preserve and protect the intertidal zone, watersheds and ocean waters of Laguna Beach and to educate the public about the importance of protecting these resources. For more information, visit

In colors of love and compassion: Artist Brian Peterson paints the faces of hope 


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

It seems fitting that as the sun sets behind Laguna Exchange on Tuesday evening, leaving the sky awash in corals and oranges, Artist Brian Peterson stands next to his painting and explains, “The color palette is based on the sun hitting the water.” He photographs his subjects in black and white, and then adds color as he paints. 

In colors portrait closeup

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Upper left, Gary Madsen, upper right, Kristi Wong, lower left, Sarah Smith, lower right, Richard Duke

Peterson, a car designer, has been painting Santa Ana’s homeless community (depicted in his documentary Faces of Santa Ana), and is at Laguna Exchange to unveil his painting of  Gary Madsen, Kristi Wong, Sarah Smith, and Richard “rock ‘n’ roll Rick” Duke.

To host the event, Pastor Don Sciortino of Net-Works opened the doors of Laguna Exchange, a nonprofit buy, sell and trade boutique, which aims to help the homeless come into a new season of life. The store’s profits go to helping the poor in Laguna including the homeless, single moms, mentally ill and those struggling with addiction. 

In colors Brian and Sarah

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Brian Peterson stands next to his painting of Sarah Smith

Brian explains on his website, “We sell the artwork and use proceeds to help in rehabilitating our newfound friends. The mission of Faces of Santa Ana is to locally help those in need in cities around the world while also inspiring and activating creatives and supporters of the movement. We believe that the creativity we’ve been given is meant for the outward pouring of love.” 

And evidently, he’s been painting for a long time. Peterson’s mother says, “His teacher in third grade said, ‘You have to come in and look at what he’s doing.’”

What he’s doing now is truly inspirational.

In colors Don

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Don Sciortino, pastor of Net-Works

Sciortino says, “Things happen in life, it knocks you down. We have to help people in Laguna Beach, reach our hands out, love is the most precious commodity, be generous when it’s received, and extend it to another person.” 

“People help People” is painted on the portrait, and that’s exactly what Net-Works and their program Helping Hands From the Homeless does. It’s a work program created, as Sciortino says, “to help our homeless friends give back and get back into the workforce and move out of homelessness.” Net-Works pays the workers $11 an hour.

And as evidenced by the testimonies of three of the painting’s subjects (Kristi Wong was working at Von’s), helping people is exactly what Net-Works does.

In colors group

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(L-R) Peterson’s assistant, Brian Peterson, Sarah Smith, Richard Duke, Gary Madsen, and Don Sciortino

After escaping an abusive marriage, in March of 2014, Sarah Smith, with only five dollars in her pocket and health issues to boot, came to Laguna Beach. She lived with Don and his wife, Karen, for a few years as well as at Friendship Shelter. She says, “I learned how to save money, got a job at Albertson’s, and worked my way up. I’m so grateful for the experience.”

Smith, who had her B.A. in Education prior to hitting hard times, is now in the process of getting her Master’s.

Richard Duke has been in Laguna off and on his entire life. In 2007 at the Laguna Resource Center, he was in a concert for the homeless, playing guitar, where he helped raise $30,000 for the nonprofit organization. His nickname “rock ‘n’ roll Rick” is well-earned. He plays at Mozambique and does a soul-wrenching version of Amazing Grace to the tune of House of the Rising Sun. Along with his guitar, which is a constant companion, he and Madsen work as a team. 

Madsen, who almost died nineteen months ago from cardiac arrest after he collapsed while serving food at church, was put into an induced coma. However, now he appears to be on the mend after a long journey that led him to Laguna. 

In colors Rick singing

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Rock ‘n’ roll Rick sings his unique rendition of Amazing Grace

Madsen says, “I was a multi-media artist when my mother passed away two and a half years ago. I hit a wall. I was working on music and living in Riverside, but I came here a lot. I was having high highs and then low lows, as low as you can get. I knew about the homeless shelter here. I had to get out of that environment, the drugs and people, so I came here in 2016 to Saddleback Church, I wanted to turn my life around. It was Easter, I dropped in for breakfast. I talked to the pastor and they were having baptisms. It got me.” 

Now, after his recovery from the health emergency, he has an apartment in Rancho Santa Margarita as a result of Friendship Shelter’s permanent supportive housing program, a car and is working in the Helping Hands for the Homeless program.

Sciortino says, “The Bible states that ‘there shall be no poor among you,’ and that puts it back on us. We have to respond to responsibility.”

As Peterson states in his website about Faces, “This project has also reignited our passion and purpose for the arts and continues to teach us about unconditional and sacrificial love.” 

And as the event winds to a close, he adds, “We hope to couple with Laguna to mobilize art and to help. Laguna is the art capital of OC.” 

Clearly, Peterson and Sciortino are champions for people who have great need. And after hearing the testimonies of Madsen, Smith, and Duke, there’s no doubt that they have entered a new season of life with the help of love and compassion. 

Laguna Exchange is located at 995 S Coast Hwy. For more information, go to 

For more information on Helping Hands for the Homeless, call Don Sciortino at (714) 231-1230 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For information on Net-Works, go to

Laura Tarbox offers investment advice on Sept 24 at Newport Beach Central Library

Longtime Laguna Beach local Laura Tarbox will speak at the nonprofit educational event, “It’s Your Money”. The event will take place at the Newport Beach Central Library on Monday, Sept 24 at 10 a.m. Laura will be conducting the second part of the event the following Monday, Oct 1. 

Laura Tarbox offers smile

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Laura Tarbox will focus on your overall financial plan at Sept 24 event

The two sessions are part of a series on Financial Planning, with a focus on finding the right advisor and how to think about your overall financial plan. Tarbox will talk about how to find the right advisor, the basics of comprehensive financial planning, and how to develop a healthy investment philosophy.

Tarbox is considered one of the pioneers of the financial planning profession. Her company, Tarbox Family Office, is recognized as one of the top wealth management firms in the country. 

A UCLA graduate, Laura founded her wealth advisory firm in 1985 and offers fee-only financial planning (including estate and tax planning, charitable giving, insurance and retirement optimization) and investment management. 

“It’s Your Money” is a program moderated by Peter Kote, founder of the workshop series and the not-for-profit, which complements the workshop series with articles and outlines for each.

The Newport Beach Central Library is located at 1000 Avocado St. No RSVP is required.

Naturopathic Doctor Vidya Reddy launches happiness website today

Dr. Vidya Reddy, a Happiness expert, has launched her Naturally Happy website today, Sept 21. The website is dedicated to making the world a happier place one person at a time. The site is also dedicated to helping people reach their highest potential by focusing on tools to make people happy. 

“I’m so excited to share the launch of my website, [today] Sept 21st. This site encompasses everything I’ve been fortunate to learn and teach in 15+ years in the health care field and my training with the greatest enlightened masters of the East,” Dr. Reddy said. 

Naturopathic Doctor Vidya red

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Dr. Reddy is committed to making the world a happier place through her new website

Dr. Reddy’s ‘five pillars to happiness’ is based on healing through concentration on food, breath, emotional freedom, meditation, and service. This model helps people manage their day-to-day lives by increasing energy and awareness. Readers will also find access to Dr. Reddy’s guided meditations, spiritual cleansing processes and healing techniques. 

Dr. Reddy says: “Naturally Happy will help people understand the value of living a life that is joyous, dynamic, interesting, and fulfilling, while providing tools to help people become happier, naturally.” 

Jenna Hillier, Transformational lifestyle coach said, “Dr. Reddy has been such a blessing to my life. She has a unique magic to her: a deep wisdom for conscious truth and a heart for service coupled with incredible knowledge of the word. She is of the most generous, thoughtful and spirited people I know, her work is transformative. Truly, one can’t help but find clarity and peace in her presence.” 

Through use of this website, users will be able to naturally increase their happiness and develop concrete skills to battle their demons, develop better habits, and help make the world a better place. 

“Profits from the website with enable me to continue the charity work I’ve done in India since the age of 16. We’re educated over 700 girls and now it’s my dream to help build orphanages and I hope to do that with the profits from the website,” Dr. Reddy explains. 

In the heart of every child is a hunger for home. Not just for food and a place to sleep, but for safety and community. Through the profits from, Dr. Reddy’s goal is to expand her already established charity work to achieve the biggest dream of all: to build orphanages for the children without a future, the discarded, in India. This will not only provide a safe space for the children to live, but also the finest education to change their destiny. 

Dr. Reddy is a naturopathic doctor that is building on thousands of years of spiritual practice developed in the country of her ancestors, India. She is trained in naturopathic medicine and has 15+ years of experience coaching, healing, and inspiring people around the world.

Proposed Changes Threaten the Kenyan Safari Experience

By Tina Pirazzi

As August heat melts into September, and as family holidays morph into scrapbooks, autumn is clearly upon us, which translates into the ideal time for more serious travel. With theme parks checked off the to-visit list, immersion into foreign cultures, exploration of ancient worlds, or the experience of witnessing Mother Nature’s magic beckons more seasoned voyagers at this time of year. And topping the list of once-in-a-lifetime travel adventures, it’s hard to beat the African safari, which for many means a trip to Kenya, although pending regulation changes that are certain to affect Kenya’s wildlife populations prompt a second look.

Characterized as quintessential Africa, for decades Kenya has enjoyed and benefited from its standing as the iconic safari destination, including herds of thriving wildlife populations stretching across its vast ecosystems, the water ways and lakes of its Great Rift Valley showcasing incalculable numbers of exotic bird life, set against stunning vistas that include both savannahs and mountain peaks, topped off by a sky so grandiose and blue that it goes from here to there and back again. Truly Kenya has offered it all. While historically this has proven accurate, recent proposals to legalize game hunting and to reinstate consumptive utilization of wildlife threatens to undermine Kenya’s reputation, as well as its recent attempts at more effective wildlife management.

Proposed changes elephant family

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Elephant family

Across the entire African continent, and due to rampant poaching, many of the most iconic species are threatened with extinction. Catching even a glimpse of the classic “big five” – those animals determined most desirable to see while on safari – is increasingly difficult to accomplish, as elephant, rhino, lion, and leopard populations are all critically endangered. Only the Cape buffalo is “not vulnerable”.

While Kenya is making efforts to get serious about wildlife crime, illustrated by a recent proposal to recommend a death penalty plan for poachers, a second proposal issued by Cabinet Secretary (CS) Najib Balala threatens to restore big game hunting in Kenya. Likewise, a newly formed task force is addressing the consumptive utilization of wildlife through increased cropping and culling. Cropping is the harvesting of wildlife for a variety of products that can be sold for commercial gain, while culling refers to the selective removal of large numbers of wildlife based on scientific principles for management purposes. In 1990, the Kenya Wildlife Service initiated a pilot cropping program, which led to such severe population declines that the government was forced to place a ban on hunting to help wildlife recover. 

Suspecting economics to be the driver behind CS Balala’s proposal and task force, both sides of the equation should be considered. 

Proposed changes snare traps

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Rangers in Kenya removing snare wire traps

Certainly, there is no denying that hunters pay a hefty price tag for the alleged thrill of bringing home a “trophy”, which typically consists of the head of the deceased.  The bigger the animal, the bigger the fee: an average elephant hunt can bring in upwards of $20,000. (Click here for sensitive photo) In defense of hunting, enthusiasts claim that these costs are reallocated to support surrounding communities, providing a one-time financial boost to local economies per each animal killed. Extending this practice to the finish line, one is prompted to wonder about the continuation of these economic benefits once the animals are gone. 

Viewing wildlife through the lens of tourism, and using the same example, one single elephant can contribute nearly $23,000 per year to a local economy, which has the very real potential to grow to $1.15 million over a conservatively estimated 50-year lifetime. Further increased by multiple elephants, clearly the greatest long-term financial gain is on the side of promoting tourism, which relies on abundant wildlife populations, elephants and others. 

Kenya faces a landmark decision: whether to reinstate consumptive utilization of wildlife to include cropping, culling and hunting, or to support flourishing wildlife populations, and benefit from the economic advantages which are a direct result of a thriving safari industry. With the money-making advantages for this type of policy change debunked, it does beg for an explanation behind the new proposal, which has yet to be clearly identified. 

Proposed changes dead wildlife

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Wildlife populations are threatened questions in Kenya

Meantime, travelers are a savvy group and, hoping to see ample varieties of wildlife, know well before booking that safari where the odds will be best for seeing the “big five”. Indeed, tourists will throng to Kenya as the iconic safari destination it has historically been only if its healthy wildlife populations are maintained and allowed to thrive. 

Before booking your safari, get a first-hand update on the latest status of the proposed policy change from Ranger Raabia Hawa from “Walk With Rangers” in Kenya, who will be speaking in Laguna Beach on Saturday, Sept 29 at 4:30 p.m. 

In addition to providing updates to Kenya policy, Raabia will be introducing a new line of fair trade products made from recovered snare wire and offered locally through The Peace Exchange. Snare wire is an indiscriminate and under-reported method of wildlife poaching, and when removed by rangers before animals are captured, the wire is being repurposed into stylish jewelry for a cause. 

Details can be found at

(Sources: The Star, 20 Sept 2018

Daily Nation, 22 August 2018)

Dennis’ Tidbits


September 18, 2018

Just in the nick of time, waves pumping for Brooks St. Surfing Classic 

Dennis 5The sun was out, the winds were generally favorable, water temps were in the high ‘60s, and the waves were pumping as the 55th Annual Brooks Street Classic finally became a reality last weekend. The swell direction wasn’t all that great, but the size was there, especially on Saturday, and the action was there too. 

The window for waves on a weekend was closing, and we were wondering if we’d ever pull it off, but King Neptune finally came through after a long generally flat summer was coming to a close. 

Contest results can be found on Front Page I in today’s Stu News Laguna.

A few spots in North Carolina collected as much rain in four days as we get in two and a half years! As of Sunday evening at 9:45 P.D.T., Florence is a tropical depression about to become a remnant low, as she speeds up to 12 mph to the NNW with only 30 mph winds with a central pressure up to 1,007 millibars. Her accompanying Biblical rains are still very much a factor as she takes aim at the Atlantic Seaboard and New England.

Dennis Tidbits Brooks St

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LB Lifeguard Porter Hogan competes at Brooks St. Surfing Classic

We’re approaching the anniversary of the tropical system that hit our area way back on September 25, 1939. Actually, the week of September 19 - 25, 1939 was probably one of the wildest weeks ever seen around these parts. More on that and a rundown on a tropical system that found its way all the way from West Africa to Southern California in Friday’s edition of Stu News.

Pretty soon it will be the beginning of the 2018-19 rainy season. I have no idea what to predict for the upcoming season, so I won’t even go there, especially when the last El Nino broke all the rules. 

See y’all on Friday, Aloha!

In the Green Room

In the inside a wave

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Photo by Scott Trimble

The wondrous view from inside a wave

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