NewLeftHeader

clear sky

54.8°F

Laguna Beach


Lea Abel-Stone: The NextGen is stepping up

Written by: SAMANTHA WASHER

Photos by: Mary Hurlbut

Lea Abel-Stone is a fourth generation Lagunan.  Well-known for their artistic legacy, from architecture to wood-carving, the Abel family has contributed greatly to the aesthetic character that defines Laguna Beach.  Another legacy, equally lasting, is their community involvement.  “I’m really proud of the artistic side of my family,” says Abel-Stone, “but their legacy of philanthropy is a long one that I’m really proud of, too.  Everyone knows they can call them (Gregg and Kathy Abel) and they will be there with their support.” Abel-Stone, with six other Laguna Beach women, all with deep ties to the city, is carrying on this philanthropic legacy with NextGen.  

NextGen emphasizes community involvement

NextGen, according to the group’s website, ”represents the ‘next generation’ of local professionals and residents, with an emphasis on local involvement.” 

“You don’t really see our age group as much (doing philanthropic work).  We’re busy with work and kids.  But then I realized my mom and her friends started getting involved during this time in their lives,” she says.  Abel-Stone is 35.   

“Everyone (in NextGen) owns a business or works for a business in town.”  She herself is the Director of Anneliese School’s Manzanita Campus, as well as a former Anneliese student. “We all have different strengths.  We have a website, and we’re on Instagram.  Well, not me.  I’m good the old-fashioned way.” says Abel-Stone laughing. After referring to Instagram as “The Instagram”, she tells me, her friends have accepted that she will not be the group’s social media guru.

Click on photo for a larger image

 

Lea Abel-Stone, fourth generation Lagunan, and co-founder of NextGen

NextGen members have deep ties to Laguna

The group’s other members are Danielle Shuster, Katrina Puffer, Meghan MacGillivray Weil, Nicole Anderson, Katie MacGillivray and Catherine Talarico.  “An impressive group of gals,” as Abel-Stone describes them, who took the reins of the group when the original founder, Aaron Talarico, Catherine’s husband, had to take a step back.  “The wives just picked it up.  The husbands are involved whether they like it or not,” Abel-Stone says with a laugh. 

Wigging out for Friendship Shelter

NextGen put on their first fundraising event in August: a “Wig Out and Donate” event at the Marine Room benefitting the Friendship Shelter.  “It was our version of Dinners Across Laguna.  My mom started those.  I’ve been involved with the Shelter since I was 12 years old.  I would serve dinner, make care packages.  I always helped at events,” explains Abel-Stone.  “Our event cost $100 to come.  We raised about $6,000 for the Shelter.  We’d like to do other events for other charities, but we will always stay with the Friendship Shelter.  We are taking baby steps,” explains Abel-Stone.

Opportunities are everywhere

Their baby steps may be small but they’re definitely not slow.  With the group officially formed in May, it’s remarkable that four months later they successfully staged an event.  “We support each other’s causes and events.  That’s really important.  And even though we are just starting out we know we have a whole group to tap into.  People we all went to school with who are coming back, bringing their kids back.  We can use this group as a hub because making those connections are important,” says Abel-Stone, adding, “There is an opportunity to give back everywhere you look in Laguna.” 

The NextGen Social

In addition to putting on fundraising events, NextGen is also hosting a “Social” on October 7  at Villa Bella.  Abel-Stone stressed repeatedly her desire to “physically call people together.”  That is the purpose of the Social.  The NextGen members want to talk to other like-minded people and find out what is important to them.  

“We don’t want to be political.  We are open to different opinions.  We even talked about doing a survey because it’s good to have all the info,” she explains.  Newly planned is a holiday event – based around a toy drive, most likely – at Ritual Yoga studio.  Stay tuned!

Click on photo for a larger image

 

Lea Abel-Stone, and her husband, Zeda, await guests for their family get-together

Friendship Shelter is a family cause

  “I’m lucky to have a cause I feel so passionately about. To watch the progress at the Friendship Shelter is so exciting.  There is a difference being made there that you can see.  They make it so clear to everyone where their money is going and what good is being done with it.”  It is even more of a family cause as Abel-Stone’s husband, Zeda Stone, will join the Friendship Shelter’s Board of Directors in September.  In an email, Abel-Stone wrote that she’s “very excited and SO proud!!…as are Gregg and Kathy.” 

Learning about how Laguna Beach works

But her involvement does not end there, hence the group and their mission.  She says she has even been going to City Council meetings, not for an issue that directly impacts her, but because she wants to learn more about how the city works.  

“I went to the meeting about Air BNB.  It doesn’t effect me at all, but it was really interesting and really made me think about both sides of that issue,” she says.

Click on photo for a larger image

 

Lea Abel-Stone in her father, Gregg’s, wood shop

Worth the stress to live in Laguna

“I feel so blessed to be here.  I know it’s definitely hard for new families to move in because it’s so expensive.  It’s such a wonderful place to grow up – really a special place – no matter how stressed you get to live here.  The sense of community…you won’t find it anywhere else.  It’s unparalleled,” says Abel-Stone passionately.  

And she would know.  

She has a lot of history to fall back on when it comes to living in Laguna Beach, as do her NextGen compatriots.  Learning from the past to make the future better…the “present” generation just breathed a sigh of relief.  The “next generation” is here.  Whether they use “the Instagram” or rely on more traditional methods, they are already leaving a legacy for the next “next” generation.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising

949.315.0259

Email: Editor@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc.

949.315.0259

© 2019 Stu News Laguna - All Rights Reserved.