Dolphins given multitudes of thanks for community service

John Grams, second president of the Kiwanis Club of Malibu with Nidra Winger, left, and his wife, Dana. The Kiwanis Club was awarded a Dolphin.

A sea of Dolphins filled the room at The Mission Club in Malibu Saturday morning for the 13th Annual Dolphin Awards Ceremony. The annual event celebrates The Malibu Times Citizens of the Year for outstanding service to the community and for inspiring others to do the same. Organizations and individuals alike are recognized for their efforts and this year, nine recipients were presented with statues of dolphins sitting atop a wave of redwood.

Before proceeding with the presentations, Karen York, publisher of The Malibu Times, acknowledged several in the audience including Alan Emerson, who received an award last year but was not present for the ceremony as he was home with the flu, and a list of those who have died in recent years.

Dan Price, standing in for Msgr. John Sheridan, presented Carol Dillon an award for her service to the community, specifically recognizing her for the yard sales that she instigated to fund a bus program for Our Lady of Malibu school children. Now, the biannual yard sales’ profits go directly to the school and church. Price read a statement from Sheridan and, as Dillon accepted the award, she said, in response to a question as to what she thought about herself, “What can I do to help? That is the answer to the question as to what I think about myself.”

Saint John’s Health Center was awarded a Dolphin for its longstanding contribution to the Urgent Care Center in Malibu. Robert Klein, vice president of community development for Saint John’s, dressed in bike riding gear (Klein’s bike team was involved in a 100-mile race from Solvang, and he was planning to meet them in Ventura later), accepted the award on the health center’s behalf.

“This is what it’s all about,” Klein said. “We’re a community-based organization, we’re just doing what our mission is about.”

Klein acknowledged Marlene Matlow, a Dolphin awardee last year, and Helene Eisenberg, an awardee this year, for their hard work with the organization, Friends of Urgent Care, which has raised more than $1 million for the center.

Matlow then presented Eisenberg with her award for her contributions and hard work in keeping the urgent care center open.

“[We] will always have a center because of Helene,” Matlow said. She also described Eisenberg as having a “zest for life, and a desire to make this community a better place.”

“Great opportunities create great moments,” Eisenberg said, quoting a line from a film in her acceptance of the award.

Artist David Legaspi III provided laughs during his presentation of an award to Jane Seymour, whose friend Sherry Jason was present to accept on her behalf as Seymour was out of town until Monday.

“I was told to keep the speech under two minutes,” Legaspi said, as he detailed how he researched online and talked to Seymour’s PR agency to find more on what the actress has done. He then pulled out a thick stack of papers, which he said he was going to read from, and laughter erupted from the crowd. His research showed the extent to which Seymour has contributed to the community and to children of Los Angeles at large, especially through the organization City Hearts, which provides free arts and education programs to at-risk, impoverished children.

Jason, who works with City Hearts, met Seymour when she came to meet children Jason worked with through the program. She spoke of the patience and caring that Seymour showed in her involvement with the children.

The glamorous owner of the castle on the hill above the center of Malibu, Lilly Lawrence, was a recipient this year as well, presented by The Malibu Times publisher Arnold G. York. Lawrence’s friend Sheila Bezleh accepted the award on her behalf, as Lawrence could not attend on Saturday. Bezleh read from a prepared statement from Lawrence, in which she wrote, “… if I can make a difference in improving the quality of life on this beautiful planet … then I can consider that I’ve done my small share …” She wrote of the importance of cultural virtue and said, “I will do my very best to work on making the water we drink sweeter and cleaner…” Lawrence is involved in the Adopt-A-Stormdrain program and has contributed to the Malibu community in many ways, including sponsoring the Malibu Film Festival each year.

Next on the list of awardees was Pat Greenwood who is recognized for her numerous contributions to the Malibu community, which presenter Dermot Stoker listed in detail. Stoker told of how Greenwood organized an Olympic Torch committee in an effort to get the torch passed in Malibu. She received the nickname “Torchie” because of this effort. He also told of how she took leftover funds from the Torch committee and used them to improve the median on Webb Way by planting flowers, permits or not. He also listed other involvements of Greenwood’s, from fighting condominium development to starting a tennis league for children. Currently, Greenwood focuses her spare time on the Malibu Parks and Recreation Commission, of which she was a founding member six years ago.

In accepting her award Greenwood said, “It is such an honor to be included among such awesome people.” She also mentioned her family, of whom she said the “surfing part” was out that morning surfing “among the dolphins.”

“We are truly blessed,” she said of the Malibu community.

Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Barovsky presented the Kiwanis Club of Malibu with an award for its many contributions to Malibu including the annual Chili Cook-off event, with all the funds raised going toward youth programs. John Grams, the second president of the club, accepted the award on the club’s behalf. Nidra Winger and Scott Robinson also took the stage as the two have been tremendously involved with the club over the years.

Previous Dolphin award recipient Laure Stern presented Scott Robinson for his many contributions to the community, including his work with the Malibu Boys and Girls Club, of which he has been director for three years (not 10, as Stern pointed out an error in a March 11 Malibu Times profile of Robinson, saying she was impressed by the number of years he’s been director, since the club has only been in existence for three years). Overall, Robinson has been involved with the Boys and Girls Club organization for more than 40 years, helping to start seven branches in Santa Monica.

“We are unbelievably lucky to have him in this community,” Stern said of Robinson.

Robinson said in acceptance, “I truly love what I do, so it’s pretty effortless.”

He thanked his children, Tyler and Noelle, for “sharing daddy with the Malibu community,” and also thanked his wife, Kara.

The final presentation of the day was to Kathy Wisnicki by Laura Rosenthal.

Wisnicki is active in local organizations for youth and schools, including serving on the executive council for the Malibu Foundation for Youth and Families, and on the executive boards of the Malibu High PTSA and the SMMUSD PTA. She has been recently appointed to the school district’s Financial Oversight Committee. It was also announced that she would be running for the district school board.

“Jake, Julia, you should be so proud of your mother,” Rosenthal said to Wisnicki’s children who were present.

“[She] is tireless, indefatigable in striving to make this place a better community,” Rosenthal continued. “Her commitment extends beyond her children and their classroom to the entire city and education of all children.”

In speaking of her efforts in education, Wisnicki said, “… we’ll be able to look back to see another generation be educated in our public school system.”

The event ended with hors d’ oeuvres of bacon-wrapped shrimp, salmon-stuffed potato skins and other delicacies prepared by students of the California Institute of Culinary Arts and hosted by Doug Himmelfarb, owner of The Mission Club, who renovated the place, which was formerly a courthouse.