In what has become a real local tradition, the publishers of The Malibu Times and founders of the Dolphin Foundation, Arnold and Karen York, hosted the 26th annual Dolphin Awards and brunch on Sunday, Feb. 21 at Malibu West Beach Club. This year, 11 awards were given out.
Coordinator Mary Higgins organized the event, which offered a selection of food from Jennifer Naylor Catering as well as wine from Malibu Family Wines. Decorations were provided from Malibaloons and Cosentino’s.
The award winners are selected through a nomination process; people are encouraged to write letters to The Malibu Times, nominating someone and explaining why they deserve to win.
Among the hundreds in attendance at the awards were all five city council members, State Assemblyman Richard Bloom, Asst. Fire Chief Anthony Williams, State Senate candidate Henry Stern, Scott Houston of the West Basin Municipal Water District, and representatives from the offices of Ted Lieu, Sheila Kuehl and Fran Pavley.
A previous Dolphin Award winner presents each Dolphin Award.
Vintage Grocers received the Harvey Baskin Award for “contributions to Malibu and the welfare of its residents by a local Malibu business or business person.” Vintage Grocers was recognized for bringing the community together by sponsoring a well-attended weekly “Summer Concert Series” of live music.
The award was presented by Rod Bergan and accepted by Vintage Grocers Manager Eric Fuchser, who thanked everyone for shopping at the store and said, “Our heart is in the market and the concerts. What an amazing thing, watching the community come together.”
Jay Scott was honored for his volunteer work in the Malibu community since his retirement in 2007, helping the needy, jobless and homeless. He has been on the Board of Directors of the Malibu Community Labor Exchange (MCLE) since 2011 and is one of the founding members of the Community Assistance Resource Team (CART).
Scott is also in the Malibu Task Force on Homelessness and part of an interfaith group that provides dinners for the homeless every Thursday evening at Malibu United Methodist Church (MUMC). He served on the Board of Directors of MJCS from 2011-14.
Oscar Mondragon, executive director of MCLE, presented the award, thanking Scott for picking up surplus food at the grocery store every day and bringing it to MCLE. He said Scott was a jefe — a Spanish word meaning “boss,” but also colloquially “papa” or “father.”
Carol Moss accepted the award on behalf of CART — a group initiated in 2015 to help the homeless in Malibu. Moss and Rev. Sandy Liddell of the MUMC began a series of regular meetings that soon attracted over 50 Malibu residents to join, and Moss was chosen as the leader. So far, CART has sponsored Malibu’s first Homeless Connect Day outreach event in October of 2015 and obtained a free county shuttle to take the homeless to a shelter.
The award was presented by Kian Schulman, who said that Moss was a “respected attorney” who had been involved in a number of Malibu issues and has offered “healing and loving support to a countless number of people over the years.”
Moss thanked Pamela Conley Ulich, LA County and the LA County Sheriff’s Department for their help with the homeless. She said that before CART was formed, “there were all these agencies mandated to help Malibu, but there was no local contact for them.”
Presenter Raquel Ravaglioli described Brianna Galeas, recipient of a Youth Dolphin Award, as a junior at Malibu High School (MHS) involved in the Boys & Girls Club and Leaders in Training program. Last summer, she said that Galeas was selected to help rehabilitate a Boys & Girls Club in Hawaii that was destroyed by a storm, and will be the first in her family to go to college. Galeas has accumulated 280 hours of community service, mostly with the Boys & Girls Club.
Galeas thanked her mother and the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu “for always believing in me and giving me the tools I need for the future.”
Misael Espinoza introduced Caleb Gomes, the second recipient of a Youth Dolphin Award, as a MHS senior who traveled to South Africa to build a Boys & Girls Club where he “learned that some kids don’t have enough to eat and don’t even own a ball.”
He has been accepted to three different schools and will be the first in his family to go to college. In a moving acceptance speech, Gomes said the Boys & Girls Club has meant “stability, opportunity and family.”
After recently announcing his retirement from the position of Malibu city manager, Jim Thorsen was added to the list of 2015 Dolphin Award winners.
“He’s been our city manager for 10 or 11 years now, and he’s an engineer who actually has some people skills,” Arnold York joked.
The current Malibu mayor, Laura Rosenthal, presented the award.
“I’ve worked for Jim for the past six years and I’m sure almost every person in this room has dealt with Jim on something; after speaking to him, they came away knowing that he listened, he was sincere and he cared,” she said.
“When I first came here, I heard someone say this city’s biggest accomplishment was putting trash cans at the bus stops,” Thorsen said. “Over the past 10 years, we’ve built three parks, purchased a City Hall building, completed numerous storm water projects, put down 50 miles of paved road, gotten through the wildfires of 2007 and done the Safe Walks to Schools program. I like to think we’re leaving the city in a better place than when we got here.”
Jennifer deNicola was recognized for founding the nonprofit organization America Unites for Kids, formerly known as Malibu Unites, after concentrations of toxic PCBs were found in Malibu schools.
Malibu’s sole representative on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District school board, Craig Foster, presented the award.
“Jennifer deNicola has led an ongoing battle for … toxin-free schools at Juan Cabrillo and Malibu High schools by pushing for the PCBs to be fully remediated and temporarily moving those classes to portables,” Foster said. “She’s partnered with a Washington, D.C. advocacy group, done impressive fundraising , recruited well-known public figures and begun litigation to compel action.”
DeNicola thanked her family for their “tireless support.”
“It’s always been about protecting our kids and their teachers … Our public schools are poisoning our kids and school leaders are refusing to remove the poison,” she said.
Malibu Under Dogs
Former mayor and city council member Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner presented an award to Timothy Hazelip and Jean Pierre Pereat of the nonprofit organization Malibu Under Dogs. The group gives special needs children the experience of surfing, which often results in a kind of surf therapy that stimulates them physically, mentally, spiritually, socially and emotionally.
“In my 60-plus years of hanging by the wall [at Surfrider Beach], I’m proud to see that members from the beach side of the wall have done something for their community,” Wagner said. “Thanks for not being a wall hanger anymore.”
Pereat said the whole idea of surfing with special needs children started 17 years ago when his sister had a child with autism. He eventually learned that exposing the child to the ocean and surfing “made a huge difference”
“We’re here to embrace all the children in Malibu and we want to take this worldwide,” Pereat said.
“I love this city so much,” Hazelip said. “We weren’t doing this for the reward. We can’t say enough about how this community’s helped out, and how everyone’s gotten behind us.”
Malibu Guitar Festival
Presenter and musician Scott Hosfeld said the first-ever Malibu Guitar Festival was “the kind of event that brings people together.” In addition to providing four days of music in Malibu, the event raised funds to benefit several local nonprofit organizations.
Event co-founder and co-chair Doug DeLuca accepted the Dolphin Award along with local event specialist Matt Diamond.
“You can’t be a taker, you have to be a giver, and that’s how a community evolves,” DeLuca said. He thanked his wife, Alejandra, the various venues that hosted the music, the city and “all the musicians that played for free.”
Kathleen Sullivan was honored for her dedication and work for the Malibu Public Library, including her work with the nonprofit Friends of the Malibu Library, which raises money for special programs at the local library through its annual book sale and used bookstore inside the library.
Pamela Conley Ulich presented the award and told the story of how in 1992, Sullivan went out on her balcony to try to retrieve her cat from a tree and fell, breaking her arm and pelvis.
“In her recovery, she discovered books and reading,” Conley Ulich shared.
When Sullivan accepted the award, she said, “Books are my life, and I believe in the power of books to transform people’s lives.”
As regional director of the nonprofit Gentle Carousel West Miniature Therapy Horses organization, Victoria Nodiff-Netanel has been using her team of five house-trained miniature therapy horses to spread comfort, happiness and healing to children and adults who are bereaved, stressed, sick, traumatized or in crisis.
Lieutenant Jennifer Seetoo of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station presented the award.
Nodiff-Netanel and her horses are all first-responders, and the Sheriff’s Department calls on them in the event of a traumatized child.
“A seven-year-old son in a spousal assault case was brought in, so we called Victoria and she brought horse Willow to the station to see the little boy,” Seetee shared. “It was a spotted horse, and he thought the horse had bruises … Kids won’t tell me certain things because of the uniform, but they’ll talk to the horse.”
“Being able to share the horses is very healing,” Nodiff-Netanel said.