By Jason KUROSU
After pledging to raise $100,000 over a 10-year period to help fund the construction of a new children’s orthopedic center, members of the La Cañada Flintridge Orthopaedic Guild announced Tuesday that they were only $17,000 short of their goal in far shorter time than expected.
The Guild held its annual Book & Author Luncheon on Tuesday at the Angeles National Golf Club, one of the organization’s regular fundraisers for the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in downtown Los Angeles.
Along with the price of admission, the luncheon raised funds through raffles and both a silent and active auction on a wide variety of items, including gift baskets, gift certificates to various local restaurants and businesses, and tickets to movie theaters, museums and live theater productions.
In addition to the auction items, the Book & Author luncheon lived up to its name with authors available to sell and autograph their works, as well as speak about their writing process and how their books came to be.
Shari Shattuck discussed her latest book, “Becoming Ellen” the follow-up to “Invisible Ellen,” both of which follow a protagonist who feels she exists on the fringes of everyday life. Initially seeking to become invisible, as the title suggests, Ellen finds friendship and hope in unlikely places. Her journey continues in “Becoming Ellen,” where her newfound personal growth has given her the confidence to help others in need.
Shattuck said the character of Ellen came from her work with nonprofit City of Hope and the Desi Geestman Foundation, which she said “really changed my perspective on life, of what we see and what we look away from.”
Karen Keskinen’s new murder mystery “Black Current” follows private investigator Jaymie Zarlin’s investigation of a murdered teen at the Santa Barbara Aquarium, the second Zarlin mystery after 2013’s “Blood Orange.”
Keskinen expounded on her observations and experiences as a writer, something she considers a deep passion that has been with her all her life, though her published author status is relatively new.
Keskinen said that as an older author, she has found numerous advantages to writing at her age, including not having to search for her writing voice or worrying too much about what others will think of her work.
But she also said that as an older reader, she has taken to stories that resonate on a greater scale than mere escapism.
“Older readers devour mysteries. Some people say that as you get older, you must want more escape. Nothing wrong with escape, I like it, but I don’t see it that way. I think that as we move into older age, we are no longer so distracted and we are acutely aware of the brutality of life. Frankly, I don’t know about you, but I’m not so interested in reading anything anymore that doesn’t at least touch on a larger picture that matters.”
Keika Yamaguchi is the illustrator of children’s books, including “Puddle Pug” and “Sick of Being Sick,” both of which were available for purchase at the luncheon.
Yamaguchi described her unorthodox entry into the art world, which began when she had her parents do a school book report for her, creating illustrations well beyond her means at the time. With teachers and fellow students impressed by the work she turned in, Yamaguchi’s embarrassment over having cheated through her assignment prompted her to gain some actual art prowess.
Yamaguchi pursued art seriously after that, graduating from the Pasadena Art Center College of Design and working in animation with Walt Disney Imagineering.
Yamaguchi gave the attending crowd a live sketch of Percy, the titular “puddle pug,” which was the first auction item of the event, and eventually went for $300.
The gratitude for the number of attendees and their generous donations were expressed by keynote speaker Mary Beth Perrine.
“It is because of the La Cañada Flintridge Orthopaedic Guild and all of you who are here today who come every year to this luncheon that we are going to be able to build an ambulatory surgery center on our downtown campus and keep taking care of kids,” said Perrine. Perrine, senior director of Volunteer Services and Community Outreach for the Orthopaedic Institute for Children, said that she saw a “circle of life” inherent in the efforts of the Guild and the hospital. Construction began this summer for the $10 million, 13,000 square foot Ambulatory Surgery Center, which will provide outpatient surgical care for children.
She added that the fundraising efforts to build a new Ambulatory Surgery Center at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children represented a continuation of the mission of Dr. Charles LeRoy Lowman, who founded the institute in 1911.
“He believed in taking care of the whole child,” Perrine said of Lowman. “He believed in taking care of their heart, their soul, their mind, as well as their orthopedic condition.”
Perrine noted the hospital’s roots as a school and how the “circle of life” continues today with the Orthopaedic Hospital Medical Magnet High School, founded in 2004 and serving inner city youth with interest in science or the medical field.
That service towards children, whether as patients or students, was the continuing goal of the institute, through its services for children whose families cannot afford necessary medical services and the International Children’s Program, which takes in children from around the world.
“We believe that all kids, no matter what, need to have the opportunity to lead healthy and productive lives,” said Perrine.
The new ambulatory surgery center is expected to be completed by May 2016.