Optimists Give $30,000 to Local Groups
The Palisades Optimist Club, which aids the Will Rogers 5/10K Race Foundation with registration and passing out water and t-shirts, received $30,000 from the Foundation last fall. The money is now being donated to 21 local nonprofits, schools and organizations that support youth.
Since 1987, the Optimists have partnered with the Race Foundation (also known as the Ridge Runners) on the Fourth of July. After race expenses are paid, the money from registration fees goes to the Optimists for distribution.
An announcement is made that grants are available and after applications are vetted, the money is donated to various groups and nonprofits.
This year’s largest grant ($8,500) went to the Optimist Youth Homes, located in Highland Park and Woodland Hills, the largest provider of residential services to youth placed on probation in the state of California.
Each Optimist Home provides extensive individual, group and family therapy; education; recreation and athletic activities for 650 children and families each day. Of the youth who are tracked through the agency’s aftercare program, 65 percent are crime-free and no longer in need of any type of out-of-home placement one year after discharge.
Seniors at Palisades High School will receive $4,000 scholarship money, and $2,000 will go to the Palisades Americanism Parade Association (PAPA). Annually, the volunteer committee must raise almost $200,000 for the fireworks show, street permits, security, insurance, grandstands, loud speakers, porta potties, the use of Palisades High School and other costs such as producing the evening concert.
PAPA treasurer Daphne Gronich thanked the Optimists at a recent breakfast meeting and noted that the late Arnie Wishnick (an Optimist member) “was always the first person to write a check,” including $1,000 this year.
A check for $1,500 was presented to Marquez Elementary for its STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program. Currently they have 12 kids in the program, and they made it through the state championship and went to the nationals in Ohio.
The Pacific Palisades Baseball Association, the Optimist Roads to Your Future and the Palisades-Malibu YMCA all received $1,500 checks. The Y will use its money to help continue a teen program that enables teens to work out for free at the facility and also sign up to work with personal trainers.
Receiving $1,250 was the Experience Learning Support with Animals (ELSA) organization. The money helps pay to transport special-needs kids (autism and other mental and physical disorders) from PaliHi to a ranch environment in the Calabasas area.
The Cathie Wishnick Scholarship Fund received $1,000 towards the annual Teen Pageant. (Every year, Arnie Wishnick would also contribute $1,000, so the two winners would each receive money.)
Palisades High School received $1,000 for its career awareness program.
Receiving $750 were Paul Revere’s PRIDE booster club, Bryan’s Smile, and Better Angels (which works with low-income PaliHi students to help them prepare for SAT and ACT testing).
Since Dr. Melanie Gullet’s son’s accidental heroin overdose five years ago, she has devoted herself to educating parents and their children and helping them talk about drugs through Bryan’s Smile. The program has appeared at different schools, including Revere.
Grants of $500 went to California Poets in the Schools, Palisades Cares, STAR, Inc., Movies in the Park, Palisades Village Green, Palisades Lutheran Church and Palisades Elementary’ s booster club PEP.
Accepting for Village Green was Marge Gold, who explained that the park, located in the center of the town, is a nonprofit, which means money for maintenance and improvement must be raised each year.
Dave Williams from MITP accepted the award at the May 7 breakfast. “This is our 16th year and we’re dedicating it to Arnie,” he said, noting that the last film this summer will be “Black Panther.” There is a free movie every Saturday in August and the cost to rent a movie is anywhere from $400 to $800. “All we want to do is break even,” Williams said about the nonprofit.
Pastor Kenneth Davis told Optimist members that the money would be used towards hosting a Feed Your Starving Children Event on June 20 at Corpus Christi. He hopes with help from the community that more than 100,000 packets of food can be packed that day.