An enthusiastic crowd of past winners, new honorees, and friends and family of Dolphin Award recipients gathered at Duke’s Malibu Saturday for the 14th annual Dolphin Awards ceremony. Six individuals, a husband and wife team, and two families were honored for their work in the community and elsewhere.
The ceremony began with words from The Malibu Times publishers Arnold and Karen York. They spoke about the importance of charity and acknowledged two Dolphin Award recipients, Reta Templeman and Ronn Hayes, who had died during the past year.
Mayor Sharon Barovsky presented former Mayor Joan House with an award for her service to the city. House was on the City Council for 12 years, including three stints as mayor. She also was a member of the General Plan Task Force, which formed shortly after Malibu became a city to draft the document that set the vision for the new municipality.
“She’s a devoted wife and mother,” Barovsky said. “And she carried her love of family over to her love for Malibu. As a result, we all became her family. And she treated us with all the respect and affection she did for her family; even her political adversaries, who she thought of as her problem children.”
House thanked all the community members who had volunteered their time for her City Council campaigns. She triggered laughter around the room when she joked about being allowed to bring just three guests to the ceremony. “Telling a politician they can only bring three guests is like telling the mayor she can only have one cigarette for the rest of her life. Or it’s like informing Arnold and Karen York that they must limit themselves to one political ad for the next council election.”
More humor came from Laure Stern, president of the Malibu Foundation for Youth and Families, when she presented the award to Wes Walraven, founder of the Malibu Shark Fund. She joked about Walraven’s small-town Georgia roots, adding how he has gone on to become a successful businessman and philanthropist.
“He is amazing,” she said. “He is a hero to me. And he has the ongoing belief that Malibu High School can be the premier high school in the country.”
Upon accepting his award for forming the organization that raises money for Malibu High School, Walraven shared some eye-popping statistics. He said California ranked 50th in per-pupil funding when adjusted for cost of living. Walraven said this lack of appropriate funding made the Shark Fund a necessity.
“We’re not going to change state spending,” he said. “And the only way [to bring more money to Malibu High] was to reach out to the public in Malibu to ask for private donations to help fund the shortfall.”
A man who helped to create Malibu High School, Councilmember Jeff Jennings, presented an award to Carol Randall, a resident of Malibu for more than 40 years and who serves on the Planning and Public Works commissions. Jennings spoke of her dedication to the city and her involvement in PTA, city government and Malibu Little League, and her never-ending quest to create a double-fine zone on Pacific Coast Highway.
“Carol managed to take what was really a personal tragedy and turn that into something to benefit the community,” said Jennings, referring to the 2002 death of Randall’s son-in-law, who was killed while standing along Pacific Coast Highway when a driver swerved off the road.
Randall said she has loved every minute of her involvement with the city. She also spoke about her husband, Carl, who died in 2002. He was an active community member along with his wife.
“This is a wonderful community that Carl and I loved for over 40 years,” Randall said. “And I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Another longtime Malibu resident, Rich Davis, was recognized for his contribution. Davis heads Malibu Coastal Vision, an organization working to create a long-range vision document for the city. The veteran surfer said those who would benefit most from this are the children, who will be living in Malibu for many years to come. He then invited to stand with him Carol Randall’s son, Carl, and his month-old daughter, Callie Page, and Davis’ daughter-in-law, Lorraine, and her seven-week-old son, Nolan Gregson.
“The future of Malibu is for these people,” he said. “That’s what this is all about.”
Local Realtors, husband and wife Lea and Leon Johnson received an award for their help with orphans in Tijuana. The couple annually organizes volunteers to take supplies to an orphanage there. Lea Johnson said she began helping orphanages in her native Romania, where she still travels every four years. She and her husband decided five years ago they wanted to help children closer to home.
Lea Johnson spoke about the hardships of the children she and her husband help. She said she hopes she can do even more for them in the future.
The Welch and Ettenger families were recognized for their contributions to charity. They have been serving Thanksgiving dinners to Labor Exchange workers and the homeless for eight years.
Roy Ettenger said that every Thanksgiving is a wonderful experience for him and his family. He then spoke about his wife, Janet, and her motivation to do the dinner.
“She feels that since so many of us have so much, that it’s incredibly important for us to give,” he said.
Jacqueline Bridgeman was awarded for her contribution to the Malibu Stage Co. She co-founded and is the president of the nonprofit group, which brings plays and other performances to its theater located off Pacific Coast Highway, just west of Heathercliff Road. Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art curator Michael Zakian, who presented her award, said Bridgeman was more than just the president of Malibu Stage Co.
“Her participation really transcends names and words,” Zakian said. “…she is the heart and soul of the Malibu Stage Co.”
Bridgeman spoke briefly, thanking others who have helped with Malibu Stage Co.
Actress Téa Leoni was unable to attend the event to receive her Dolphin Award. Karen York spoke about her efforts to raise money for breast cancer research and for her involvement with UNICEF.