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Laguna Beach

Safety Net Tour provides insights into five Laguna nonprofits that serve those in need of assistance 


Above all, Tuesday morning’s Safety Net Tour of nonprofits was a real eye-opener. And I suspect that was the intention of Barbara McMurray of McMurray Marketing, who organized the tour. 

Laguna Food Pantry, Friendship Shelter, Seaside Legal Services, Susi Q Senior Center, and Laguna Beach Community Clinic opened their doors to visitors and provided tours and information on their organizations. 

Individually, they supply a wide range of services such as food, temporary and long-term housing, legal and medical assistance, and care management for those 55 and over. As a whole, they are irreplaceable sources of aid for those needing a helping hand.

Sue Kempf and Sue Marie Connolly, both candidates for City Council, were spotted on the tour.

Laguna Food Pantry

I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never been to Laguna Food Pantry, but the joyful atmosphere is immediately apparent to anyone who enters. Executive Director Anne Belyea said, “Monday was an unusually busy day with 126 people coming through. Normally an average of 80 come through in a day.” 

The hours of operation are from 8 - 10:30 a.m., Monday through Friday. 

Their staff consists of one full-time and two part-time employees, 100 pantry volunteers and 30 volunteer drivers. To gather inventory, they collect food from eight grocery stores and purchase additional supplies from Second Harvest. The produce and food staples have a number limit, and food quantities are based on the number of family members. Shoppers can come in once a week. The Food Pantry also has single pre-made meals for those who don’t have access to refrigerators. 

Safety Net pantry

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Photo by Dianne Russell

Shoppers can visit the Food Pantry once a week

When asked what she considers the Pantry’s biggest success, Belyea says, “The dedication, support, and commitment of the volunteers. A lot of the volunteers started as shoppers, and then want to give back. One volunteer has been here for 25 years, another works three part-time jobs and still finds the time to volunteer. Volunteer Marianna Hoff is here six days a week.”

Even the board members help out, on a rolling basis, as greeters. 

Belyea adds, “It’s humbling to see how much the community gives back and supports us. It’s an honor and privilege to serve people in need, and it’s with joyful hearts that the volunteers give their time.”

Leslie Henderson, volunteer coordinator, says that if there is an overflow of food, they give it away. 

The Food Pantry celebrates their 30-year anniversary in October.

Friendship Shelter

Next to the Pantry, Dawn Price, Executive Director of Friendship Shelter, greets visitors at the door. She tells me that they started out as an emergency shelter nine years ago, and then explains the check-in procedure. 

“Clients come at 5 p.m. and sign up at the table at the gate to enter the lottery for the 45 bed spaces. Locals who have been designated by the City as homeless don’t have to participate in the lottery.” 

The lottery is held after dinner (served at 6:30 p.m.) and Price says, “Those who we can’t accommodate with a bed leave shortly after, usually around 7 or 7:30.” 

However, those who aren’t accommodated can use the showers and laundry facilities before they leave. Dinners are provided by volunteers, some of which have been doing so since the shelter opened. 

In the morning, clients leave at 10 a.m. when the program closes.

Safety Net Dawn and David

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Photo by Barbara McMurray

Executive Director Dawn Price gives David Raber a tour of the facility

A volunteer doctor visits weekly, and there are vans available to take clients to the DMV or Social Security office. Storage facilities located out back store their belongings for convenience as they undertake housing and employment searches.

Friendship Shelter launched its first Permanent Supportive Housing Program (PSH) in 2014. 

Price explains, “Our focus is housing. Each client works one-on-one with a staff member to determine the most appropriate housing solution. So far, we have placed 87 people in housing.” 

Although housing is the ultimate goal, according to Price, their biggest challenge is lack of housing. Sometimes a client must wait a month for appropriate accommodations.

The self-guided tour continues…

Seaside Legal Services

Attorney Jane Fulton, Founder and Executive Director of Seaside Legal Services, explains their services, “This is a nonprofit formed in 2013, and we’ve been working full-time to serve the poor since then. We don’t take cases from other lawyers.” 

They provide free legal help in civil cases for those who cannot afford representation and work with other attorneys to find solutions for clients. Those who prove economic hardship can access assistance for a variety of legal matters including divorce, child custody, bankruptcy, wills and trusts.

Fulton brings considerable experience to this endeavor, having practiced law for 52 years. She’s been in Laguna since 1979, first in criminal and family law, then family law, and five years ago, she started the nonprofit. 

Safety Net Jane Fulton

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Photo by Barbara McMurray

Jane Fulton, founder and director of Seaside Legal Services

Seaside Legal Services works closely with Susi Q Senior Center. Each month they offer a free legal clinic at the Center from which they take referrals for cash-strapped clients aged 55 and older. 

Susi Q Community Center

Founded in 1975, Susi Q Senior Center is one of the first senior nonprofits in Orange County.

Beyond panels on subjects important to the senior population such as “Senior Fraud,” “Elder Abuse,” and “Medicare Navigation,” Susi Q has an excellent Care Management program. 

They serve a compassionate supportive role to seniors, family member, and caregivers experiencing difficulty with life changes.

Martha Hernandez, Care Management director, explains, “We link seniors to resources, concerning medical needs, safety, health care, and mental health. We lead people to city, state, and federal services. We also try to be innovative with mental health issues. We are the only senior facility that has face to face mental health care, as well as providing good consistent care.“

Through their “Feeling the Blues” program, they offer one-on-one sessions with a mental health care professional and a variety of support groups such as Grief and Loss” and groups for chronic illness. 

One of their programs, Lifelong Laguna, provides in home help.

Conducted in one’s home by Laguna Beach Seniors professional staff, this comprehensive home safety program gives residents a customized report full of suggestions for age-friendly modifications. The assessment helps seniors plan for bigger changes to make their homes easier to navigate when faced with the challenges that can come with time.

Laguna Community Clinic

Laguna Community Clinic is located just down the street from Susi Q. 

As I’m introduced to the staff by CEO Jorge Rubal, MD, it’s obvious that it’s a great place to work and once there, no one wants to leave. In most cases, the number of years staffers have been there ranges in the double digits, and no doubt provide a consistency appreciated by patients. Last year, they saw 12,000 patients.

Founded in 1970, a group of concerned physicians and community leaders established a free clinic to meet the needs of low-income and medically uninsured people of South Orange County. 

However, they do provide services to those with HMO, PPO, Medicare and Medical.

In 1985, the Laguna Beach Community Clinic became a licensed community clinic. The Laguna Beach Community Clinic is a nonprofit, primary care health facility that provides family-centered medical care, offering non-emergency, curative and preventive care as well as educational services.

Dr. Rubal describes their Teen Clinic, “We hold it on Friday afternoon to discuss topics such as HIV and contraceptives. We want them to make informed decisions.”

They have their own lab on site, and the Assistance League donated an ultrasound machine.

Dr. Rubal explains that the clinic is in the process of making a major change. “We’ve applied for an FQHC. It’s been two years in the process and another six months to go, and it’s been a long road. We should know in early July if we get the Federal funding, which will mean we will be financially sustained.”

As per, Federally Qualified Health Centers are community-based health care providers that receive funds from the HRSA Health Center Program to provide primary care services in underserved areas. They must meet a stringent set of requirements, including providing care on a sliding fee scale based on ability to pay and operating under a governing board that includes patients.

When asked what he considers the clinic’s biggest success, Dr. Rubal says, “Staying true to our mission, which is to provide excellent medical care regardless of the patient’s inability to pay.” 

The tour comes to an end

Five nonprofits, five different ways in which to assist those in need of help. Safety Net is an apt title for this tour, as it is apparent after visiting these organizations, that without them, many would be in jeopardy.

For more on Laguna Food Pantry, go to

For more on Friendship Shelter, go to

For more on Seaside Legal Services, go to

For more on Susi Q, go to

For more on LB Community Clinic, go to

Proclamation and Come to the Table event launch Laguna Food Pantry’s 25th anniversary year

Proclamation and ladies

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Submitted photo

Dozens of supporters ate, drank, and lingered in the garden in support of Laguna Food Pantry’s Come to the Table event, held at the home of longtime volunteers Sharon and Roger McErlane. The event launched the Pantry’s 25th anniversary year, marked by a proclamation read by Orange County Fifth District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, center, with Laguna Food Pantry Board Vice Chair Suriya Mastroberti, left, and City Councilwoman Toni Iseman.

Guest Column

What you need to know about the Flu Shot

By Jorge Rubal, CEO & Medical Director,

Laguna Beach Community Clinic

It may seem a little early to start talking about it, but it’s actually the perfect time. Yes, I am talking about the flu vaccine, this very important health topic that affects us all.

The best way to protect yourself from immunization-preventable diseases is to vaccinate. Not only will doing so protect you, but it will help safeguard the health of family, friends, and others in the community. This sounds simple enough, but there are many questions that arise with vaccines, in particular with the flu vaccine: Who should get it? Which one is best for me? I never get sick, and the last time I got the flu vaccine I ended up in bed for 2 weeks, so why repeat that? I am allergic to eggs, so I can’t receive the vaccine, right?

Before we answer the questions above, let’s first discuss what the flu is and why it is so important. Influenza is an acute respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses. It occurs in epidemics nearly every year, mainly during the winter season in temperate climates. Influenza causes more than 200,000 people in the US to be hospitalized every year. Up to 56,000 people die each year from flu-related causes.

What you Rubal

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Dr. Jorge Rubal, CEO & Medical Director, LB Community Clinic

The United States Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends influenza vaccination for all individuals six months of age and older. A single dose of an influenza vaccine should be offered soon after the vaccine becomes available, ideally by October.  Annual immunization is necessary, because immunity declines during the year following vaccination. 

The choice of vaccine formulation depends upon several factors, including age, other illnesses, and risk of adverse reactions. The following is a quick reference:

--For healthy non-pregnant adults between 18 and 49 years of age, we use either an  inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or the live-attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV).

--We use an inactivated influenza vaccine in those patients in whom the safety and/or efficacy of LAIV has not been established, including:

1. Adults 50 years of age or older

2. Individuals who are immunocompromised 

3. Patients with chronic cardiovascular, pulmonary, or metabolic disease

4. Pregnant women

5. Those with egg allergy.

--For individuals 65 years of age or older, we recommend the high-dose inactivated influenza vaccine (Fluzone High-Dose) when available rather than a standard-dose inactivated influenza vaccine. 

What you Miller

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Kaylin Miller RN administers flu shot

Think the flu vaccine can give you the flu? It can’t. The vaccine is made with a dead or weakened form of the flu virus, which can’t give you influenza. Since there are many different strains of the influenza virus, it’s not possible to create a vaccine that covers all of them. 

Every year scientists cull data to make a well-informed prediction about which strains they are most concerned about for the current season. Though you may catch a different strain than the one targeted by the vaccine, the good news is that you should have an attenuated course of illness. In fact, many experts state that the vaccine is not really so much to prevent the flu, but rather it is to prevent complications of the flu, which are what end up hospitalizing and killing people. 

IIVs and LAIVs contain a small amount of egg protein. The amount of egg protein in the vaccines has decreased significantly over the years. No serious reactions have been reported after administration of egg-based LAIV or IIV in recipients with an egg allergy, including in those with a history of anaphylaxis. Therefore, even with a known egg allergy, it is completely fine to get the flu vaccine without additional evaluation.

So as we enter the fall season, our calendars will be filled with social functions for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Holiday Season, and the New Year. Therefore, let’s all be good neighbors and help protect each other by getting the flu vaccine.

For more information on the Laguna Beach Community Clinic, go to

Car enthusiasts rev your engines for the Laguna Beach Classic Car Show next Sunday, Oct 7

Photos by Ward Blackburn

The Rotary Club of Laguna Beach invites the community to the 15th annual Laguna Beach Classic Car Show on Sunday, Oct 7 from 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the City parking lot. 

Car enthusiasts rev blue

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A classic woodie will be one of the 200 cars on display at the show 

Join hundreds of fellow classic car enthusiasts at this annual invitational, designed to attract the finest examples in each category. There will be 200 classic cars ranging from woodies to muscle cars, antiques to minis, Austin Healeys to Porsches, and more. All classic cars on display are models made before the early ‘70s.

Food trucks and music can also be enjoyed throughout the event. Tickets are available at the door on the day of the event. Admission is $10 for adults, $3 for children under 12, strollers are free. All proceeds from this event will be donated to Laguna Beach nonprofit charities. 

Car enthusiasts rev white

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The old coupe style car will be among the classics to check out 

For more information, visit If you are interested in entering your classic car, contact event chairman Harry Bithell at (949) 874-1742.

The City parking lot is located across from the Festival of Arts grounds at 650 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Don’t miss the ever-popular 22nd annual Pet Parade and Chili Cookoff this Sunday

Pets and chili chefs will be competing for the attention and awards of judges this Sunday, Sept 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the 24th annual Pet Parade and Chili Cookoff, at Seven 7 Seven, formally known as Tivoli Too, 777 Laguna Canyon Road. 

The event will raise funds for the Blue Bell Foundation for Cats, Laguna Beach Animal Shelter, the Laguna Board of REALTORS® Charitable Assistance Fund, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, and PUP (Protecting Unwanted Pets).

Pet owners of all ages can compete for awards by entering their pets in six different categories. Pet parade participants are $10 per category. Registration is the day of the event from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Dont miss the dog

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Courtesy of Diane Armitage/Best of Laguna Beach

Don’t miss out on the popular 22nd annual Pet Parade and Chili Cookoff this Sunday

Chili contestants will decorate their booths and will prepare their prize recipes on site to woo the vote of the distinguished chili judges to win the most sought after First Place Chili Trophy. This year’s special treat will be the “People’s Choice” award going out to the attendees’ favorite chili. 

From Paw readings to face painting to doggy and me yoga, there will be fun for all to have. The day closes with awards handed out and photo opportunities on the stage.

For more information, call Natalie Alvarez, Community Events Chair at (949) 923-9186.

Free workshop at the Community Center about retirement account planning

Laguna Beach resident and estate planning attorney, Michael Simon, is offering a free workshop about retirement account planning on Friday, Oct 12. The workshop will include discussions about how to calculate the IRS’s Required Minimum Distribution, choosing beneficiaries for retirement accounts, how to avoid common mistakes with retirement accounts and information about Roth IRAs. The information presented will benefit those who are just beginning to save for retirement as well as those who have already retired.

Free workshop

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Estate planning attorney Michael Simon to hold free retirement planning workshop on Oct 12 at Susi Q

The free workshop will run from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at The Susi Q Community and Senior Center. This workshop is part of a free educational series of workshops called “It’s Your Estate” and is sponsored by a number of charities, including Laguna Beach Community Foundation. Nothing is sold at the workshops and all are welcome. The “It’s Your Estate” series is offered throughout Orange County. Learn more at

Simon has practiced exclusively in the area of estate planning for over 15 years and has extensive experience in all aspects of estate planning, probate and trust administration. Simon is a frequent lecturer in the area of estate planning and has made numerous presentations to fellow attorneys, professional advisors and industry trade groups as well as presentations to the general public and community groups.

For more information, call (949) 954-6999 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Susi Q Community and Senior Center is at 380 Third St.

Laguna Beach Beer Company announces what’s brewin’ this fall


Laguna Beach Beer Company is brewin’ up some weekly events and specials in The Hive. Every Monday, the crew hosts Monday Night Football with $4 Core Beers and Apps. They also feature a night of Foosball fun on the first Monday of the month.

Laguna Beach Beer trivia

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On Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., Laguna Beach Beer Company hosts a trivia night with prizes

Every Wednesday is “Locals Night” featuring live music by local artists and beer specials. Every other Wednesday, mountain bikers meet at Troy Lee Designs at 6 p.m. to hit the local intermediate trails. Afterward, everybody is encouraged to finish their ride at Laguna Beach Beer Company where they are offered a “rider special” for the evening. 

Laguna Beach Beer music

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Local musicians including Andrew Corradini play every Wednesday from 6 - 9 p.m. for a special “Locals night”

On Thursday – Sunday there are additional food and drink specials, as well as a Sunday Funday with all games playing all day. 

For more information, visit www.lagunabeer.comor call (949) 715-0805.

Laguna Beach Beer Company, located at 859 Laguna Canyon Rd, is open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

This week’s safety tip from the City: build an emergency kit

September marks National Preparedness Month and the City of Laguna Beach has been encouraging residents to engage in weekly tasks that will help residents be more prepared in the event of an emergency – including registering for AlertOC (week 1), making an emergency plan as a family (week 2), and registering for CERT classes (week 3).

This week (week 4), the City encourages residents to build an emergency kit, to have supplies on hand to keep everyone warm, safe, fed and hydrated until help arrives. Create or purchase a 72-hour survival and first aid kit and locate a place to store your food and water, the City urges.

September is National Aliso new

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Photo by Scott Brashier 

The recent Aliso Fire, which resulted in widespread evacuations, reminds us how important it is to be prepared for an emergency

Visit for an easy to use template.

League of Women Voters to zero in on Measure P


Measure P will be the sole topic addressed at the League of Women Voter’s forum, set for 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct 4, in the City Council Chambers. 

The forum is sponsored by the Laguna Beach Beautification Council and Transition Laguna. The announced purpose is to inform and clarify impacts of the measure, which proposes a one-cent sales tax increase to fund undergrounding utilities on Laguna Canyon Road and related fire safety projects.

Councilman Bob Whalen and Tom Gibbs of Underground Laguna Now will present the case for passage of the measure. Whalen has been the most powerful voice on the Council in support of the measure, conceived after utility companies balked at assuming any of the costs to accelerate undergrounding in Laguna Canyon.

Mike Morris and Jennifer Welsh Zeiter, representatives of Stop Taxing Our Property, will represent the opposition. S.T.O.P. was founded by Zeiter specifically to combat the sales tax increase, which she maintains is unnecessary and will not keep the town safer. Nor does she believe the money would be used exclusively for utility undergrounding and fire safety.

League of utility lines

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Measure P to be discussed at forum on Thursday, Oct 4

Each side will have 15 minutes for opening remarks, three minutes to respond to questions and 90 seconds for rebuttal.

Additional time may be added at the discretion of the league member and forum moderator, Armid Brasheer, based on the complexity of the questions. 

The remainder of the two hours allotted for the forum will be devoted to questions posed by the audience or submitted by email. Only questions from residents of Laguna or folks who work in town will be asked.

“If possible, the questions will be evenly divided,” said George Weiss, Beautification Council president. 

Questions and respondents will be selected by the league. 

Transition Laguna and the Beautification Council are sponsoring the forum due to the belief that voters are uncertain if the increased sales tax makes sense, according to the press release announcing the forum. The release also stated that some folks feel there are less expensive methods to assure public safety from possible hazards caused by power poles or lines.

The two groups may assist in the forum, according to Weiss, but the league will have final say to assure the forum stays neutral at all times.

Public Workshop scheduled on plan to meet Regional Water Board Trash Provisions

The City of Laguna Beach Department of Water Quality would like to invite the community to a workshop detailing the draft municipal plan to comply with San Diego Regional Water Board Trash Provision Order no. R9-2017-0077. The workshop takes place on Wed, Oct 3 from 9 - 10:30 a.m. at the City Council Chambers.

Public Workshop scheduled ocean

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

This sign is a reminder to please keep our ocean trash free

On April 7, 2015, the State Water Board adopted an Amendment to the Water Quality Control Plan for Ocean Waters of California to Control Trash and Part 1 Trash Provision of the Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries. The project objective for these amendments is to provide statewide consistency for the Water Boards’ regulatory approach to protect aquatic life and public health beneficial uses, and reduce environmental issues associated with trash in State waters, while focusing limited resources on high trash generating areas.

For more information, contact Mary Vondrak, Senior Water Quality Analyst at (949) 497-0781 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Laguna Beach City Council Chambers is located at 505 Forest Avenue.

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