Riviera Cake Fairy Sweetens the Lives of the
Disabled in El Salvador
Riviera Cake Fairy Anna Spallino recently flew thousands of miles to deliver wheelchairs to disabled children and adults in El Salvador. When Anna began selling homemade cakes two years ago to raise money for Free Wheelchair Mission, she never imagined she’d have the chance to actually deliver the wheelchairs to needy people.
A junior at South High, Anna’s cakebaking mission began as a Girl Scout Gold Award project. After selling more than 100 cakes, Anna raised enough money to purchase 60 wheelchairs for the non-profit organization. When the organizers of the charity invited Anna to join them a few weeks before they left for El Salvador this summer, she jumped at the chance.
“We drove for hours every day to visit impoverished villages from the borders of Guatemala to Honduras, places where there was no running water,” said Anna.
“When we’d get to the villages the people needing wheelchairs were often carried to the town square on peoples’ backs and in wheelbarrows. One woman crawled there. It felt so good to literally help them get off the ground so they could lead more dignified lives.”
Anna, her mom and six other volunteers delivered 60 wheelchairs in the week they were in El Salvador.
“Everyone was so grateful that now they could go to the store or school, enjoy the outdoors and go to church – things we take for granted,” said Anna. “It not only changed their lives, it changed the lives of the whole family since now they wouldn’t have to carry their relatives, and they could do more together.”
Anna was particularly touched by a young child named Jennifer who was born without the ability to walk and was carried by her parents her whole life. Anna couldn’t get a smile out of her until she helped place her in her own wheelchair. When she started wheeling her around, Jennifer squealed in delight.
Anna will continue raising money for Free Wheelchair Mission by selling her made-from-scratch cakes. Each cake costs $30 and all proceeds are donated to Free Wheelchair Mission. For every two cakes sold, Anna can help Free Wheelchair Mission provide a disabled person with a wheelchair. She also takes donations at her Free Wheelchair Mission website at www.fwm.kintera.org/mobilityfor550.
To watch a very touching 4 minute video of Anna and other volunteers delivering wheelchairs in El Salvador, go to youtube.com and type in Free Wheelchair Mission El Salvador, or watch it below:
To order a cake from Riviera Cake Fairies, you can email Anna at Spallino4@yahoo.com or call her at 310-375-9234.
Character Counts at Riviera Elementary
Students at Riviera Elementary School are taught more than just reading, writing and arithmetic. They also learn how to be respectful, caring, trustworthy, fair, responsible and a good citizen – six pillars of character we all hope to emulate.
For more than 10 years, Riviera’s Character Counts program has provided students with a framework on which to base their behavioral choices. Through daily lessons and classroom management students are taught how a person of character acts and behaves in different situations.
Igor has sponsored Riviera’s Character Counts program every year since 2005. All three of his children (now 21, 19 and 17) attended Riviera, as did his wife, Suzy Silver Nastaskin. Through his annual donations Riviera has been able to host student body assemblies that engage and inspire students to practice the pillars of good character. The funds have also been used to hold Character Counts essay and mural contests, and then recreate students’ artwork around campus with the assistance of a local muralist. His sponsorship also allows the school to purchase items for their peer mediator program as well as Character Counts student incentives, such as pizza with the principal.
This year’s Character Counts assembly, called “Bully Dudes,” featured professional performers in an engaging presentation that covered verbal and psychological bullying, playground bullying, girl bullying, reporting a bully and what to do if the bully is your friend. Previously, the Drumming Up Character assembly encouraged students to use rhythms, drum playing, dances and songs to learn about positive traits such as fairness, responsibility and respect.
“Our students and staff really enjoy the Character Counts program and its impact can be seen in the fact that we have very few behavior referrals to the office,” said Christie Forshey, principal at Riviera since 2003. “Through Character Counts we all celebrate student successes at school and their participation in community service.”
A South Bay native, Mrs. Forshey says the best part of her profession is the chance to work with amazing educators and families in a community that values student achievement and enrichment.
“No two days are ever alike,” she says. “I interact with 70 employees, 715 students and their families daily. I love learning along with my students and staff.”
We’re fortunate to live in a community with a top-notch elementary school that is teaching future generations to practice the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
– Rodney Freeman and the Jamele Boys
The concept of neighbors helping neighbors is alive and well in the Hollywood Riviera. For proof, all you need to do is drive by the upper Riviera just about any afternoon and there’s a good chance you’ll see Rodney Freeman on a walk with the help of his young neighbors.
Rodney, who turned 96 years old in June, is at an age where he still loves walking outdoors, but his legs are a bit shaky. So several times each week his neighbors down the block, the Jamele boys, stop by his house to take him on a stroll. Though eldest son Matthew used to walk with Rodney, now that he’s away in college the next Jamele in line, Chase, gets to lend a hand. And not too infrequently Chase is joined by his friends — a group of five or six very tall teens enjoying some outdoor time with a very wise older man.
Rodney and his wife, Sheryl, have lived in the same house in the Riviera since 1953. They raised three sons there and wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else. Their journey to this area started when Rodney owned three lots in Palos Verdes across from the La Venta Inn. Though the lots were beautiful, when Rodney and Sheryl learned they wouldn’t be able to have sidewalks for the kids they decided to look elsewhere for their home. Driving down the hill toward the Riviera, they came upon a real estate office with a blackboard outside listing a home on Via Pasqual. The Realtor on duty showed them the house using the glow of matches – it was dark by then – and the rest is history. Like many homes in the area at the time, the tract house was built to attract GIs returning from the war with its affordable price and desirable location.
The Hollywood Riviera has changed substantially since Rodney and his family moved in. The area sloping down the hill toward the ocean was once bean fields, where farmers cultivated their crop and hang gliders took off for the beach below. Local kids would come to hunt jack rabbits and skunks. Today, that area is dotted with million dollar-plus homes boasting panoramic ocean views.
For a night out, Rodney and Sheryl would head to the Hollywood Riviera Club for dining and dancing. The Club opened in 1930 on the site that is Miramar Park (just north of the main Torrance beach ramp). The Club was the site of many wedding receptions, proms and parties. On Christmas Day 1941, at the start of WWII, the first sighting of a Japanese submarine was made from the Club’s veranda.
Because one half of the club was in Redondo – where the liquor licensing regulations were stricter – and half in Torrance, at a certain time each night the bartender would close the Redondo half of the bar and tell his customers to slide down to the Torrance side to finish their martinis and gin and tonics. This persisted even when the club was in outside hands, as a public bar, until it burned down in 1958.
You don’t have to look far to see the good will in our community. One generation helping another …..the gift of giving continues on in the Riviera.
Councilman Cliff Numark, an Accomplished Riviera Resident
Cliff Numark is one busy man.
By day, he works as director of the American Red Cross, where he is responsible for recruiting nearly 400,000 Southern Californians to donate blood. In the evenings, he participates in Torrance City Council meetings as a Council Member. And in between, he serves as a vice president of the Torrance Historical Society and the Torrance Symphony, and board member for the Madrona Marsh Foundation and California State University Dominguez Hills’ business school.
But despite his busy schedule, Cliff makes it a priority to spend quality time at home in the Hollywood Riviera with the two people he adores most, his wife, Diane, and their two-year-old son, Lincoln.
“My family and my home are the foundation for all my success,” says Cliff. “I grew up in the South Bay and this will always be home for me.”
Fortunately for Cliff he is surrounded by family. His mother and his in-laws live in the Hollywood Riviera just a few blocks from Cliff and Diane’s home. The son of teachers, Cliff grew up in the Torrance area and graduated high school at the top of his class. He was voted “Best Personality” — which is not hard to imagine once you meet him. Cliff’s impressive education includes a bachelor’s degree with honors from
Pomona College, a Masters of Science from the University of Sussex Engineering School, a law degree from UC Berkeley, and a Masters in Public Affairs from Princeton. He began his career as a journalist and then served as CEO and COO of two technology companies, launched his own market research business, and worked as managing director of a management consulting firm. He also was a former senate fellow and legislative aide for the California State Senate.
Prior to his election to the Torrance City Council in 2008, Cliff was a City Commissioner for Parks and Recreation and held numerous other community service positions. Work. Community service. Volunteering. It makes for a long day. But for Cliff it’s all part of giving back to the hometown he loves. And living in the Riviera makes relaxing on his days off that much easier.
“Diane and I love taking Lincoln on walks to El Retiro park, the Riviera Village and the beach,” said Cliff. “I work hard, but I also play hard. We’re living the good life.”
Local Centenarian Lived Life to its Fullest
When Riviera resident Charles Ferguson was born 104 years ago, the world was a much different place. In 1908, petroleum production had just started in the Middle East, Henry Ford developed the first Model T automobile (which sold for $850), and the population of Las Vegas was only 30. That was also the year that it became illegal for a woman to smoke in public in New York City, only 8 percent of homes had a telephone, and the average worker made between $200-$400 a year.
And the average life expectancy in 1908? A meager 47 years — a number that Charles more than doubled. Charles celebrated his 104th birthday on January 31 the same way he celebrated every birthday since he turned 100 — with family and friends at the local Bob’s Big Boy, where he was considered a celebrity.
Charles was born in New York and spent most of his childhood living with his family on his grandparent’s chicken farm in Connecticut. He moved to California in 1936 after marrying his wife, Mildred.
He worked in the aircraft industry (Lockheed Skunk Works) for many years. Charles and Mildred had three children and the family grew to nine grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. The newest great grand baby, Quade Charles Nielsen, was born one week before Charles’ 104th birthday.
Charles and Mildred , who passed away in 2002 at the age of 84, moved to the Hollywood Riviera when he retired 38 years ago to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Charles said he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
So what’s the secret to living to 104?
Do what your mom told you — eat your vegetables and get away from the TV. In fact, Charles attributed his ten-plus decades of healthy living to eating lots of vegetables (many of which he grew himself) and staying active. He never smoked and only tried alcohol once — a beer he was offered by his boss after work that he reluctantly gagged down. Up until the age of 102 Charles drove his own car and played 18 holes of golf three times a week. An important side note — Charles was not one of those golfers in plaid pants whizzing from hole to hole in a golf cart. No, he walked the course from the first tee to the last, pulling his clubs beside him.
And don’t think he slouched off when he wasn’t golfing. Instead, Charles used those “rest days” to walk his Riviera neighborhood. Charles grew fresh fruits and vegetables and was an excellent baker. In fact, his family always looked forward to the mince pie he made for Thanksgiving, cherry pie for Washington ’s Birthday, Scotch cake for Christmas, and lemon meringue pie when his lemon tree was overflowing.
Our sincere condolences to his family on the loss of such an inspirational man and member of our community.
10th Annual Torrance Relay for Life April 28 at South High
Sometimes it takes more than a village to make an impact. Which is why every year for the past decade our community has pulled together for 24 hours to raise awareness and funds for cancer research at the annual Torrance Relay for Life. This weekend event raises funds for the American Cancer Society with the help of teams of volunteers who camp overnight and commit to having at least one team member walking on a track at all times, because cancer never sleeps.
For many Riviera residents, the Torrance
Relay for Life is an important family tradition. Take LaVerna Edmonds, a longtime Riviera homeowner who has participated in nine of the 10 Relays held in our community. A cancer survivor herself, LaVerna formed the Milestone Drive team nine years ago, chaired the event the past two years, and this year serves as the Fight Back Chairwoman. You’ll find LaVerna and hundreds of other participants walking the South High track at the 10th Annual Relay for Life of Torrance, April 28-29. The event honors cancer survivors, pays tribute to those who have lost their lives to the disease, and raises money to fight cancer.
Cancer is a leading cause of death in the US. With Relay for Life events held in more than 5,000 communities and 20 countries, the fundraiser raises nearly $500 million a year, making it the largest such event in the world. The funds pay for research on cures for cancer, services and education for those battling the disease, and advocacy efforts with the Federal government.
Last year, the Torrance Relay for Life raised $220,000. The goal for this year’s Torrance relay is to raise $250,000 for the American Cancer Society.
The Hollywood Riviera Sportsman’s Club is fielding a team again this year, with Igor serving as team captain for the seventh year in a row. Please consider joining the Riviera Sportsman.’s Club.’s Relay team if you.’d like to get involved (women and men are welcome). The team raised more than $10,000 for the American Cancer Society last year, and hopes to exceed that amount this year.
Highlights of the Relay for Life are a survivor lap at 9:15 am Saturday just following the 9 am opening ceremony. At 9 pm Saturday, a Luminaria Ceremony will honor survivors as well as those who lost their battle with cancer.
The luminarias burn through the night to light the path for those walking to fight back against cancer. You can purchase and decorate your luminaria at the event on Saturday. Entertainment is provided throughout the event, including performances by local bands and dance groups. The event concludes Sunday at 9:00 am with a closing ceremony.
To sign up for the Hollywood Riviera Sportsman.’s Club team, or to donate funds, please contact Igor at 310-892- 6016 or email@example.com. You can also mail your donation, payable to the .“American Cancer Society” to Igor at 601 Calle de Arboles, Redondo Beach, CA 90277, and he will forward it to the American Cancer Society. Please mark on the memo line: “Relay for Life of Torrance.” Or, you can donate to Relay for Life and/or join the Hollywood Riviera Sportsman’s Club team online at www.relayforlife.org/torranceca.
Donations are accepted even after April 28, so don.’t be discouraged if you can’t make the event. Your gift is tax deductible as a charitable contribution to the fullest extent allowed by law.
For more information about the American Cancer Society’s support for survivors and patients, please call them 24/7 at 1-800-227-2345.
We hope to see you at South High the weekend of April 28-29 as together we fight back against cancer.
Begonia Farm A Fond Riviera Memory
If you’ve lived in the Riviera for many years like my family has, you probably have fond memories of the Palos Verdes Begonia Farm. Though it said Palos Verdes in its name, the Begonia Farm was actually located in Torrance and was the go-to nursery for Riviera residents for many decades. The Begonia Farm was opened in 1941 by Dr. John Reticker, the greatgrandfather of Riviera resident and former Begonia Farm owner John Bauman. Dr. Reticker was a retired physician who raised begonias and fuchsias as a hobby in a greenhouse at his daughter’s home in the late 1930s. He opened the begonia farm near the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Anza to sell tuberous begonias to plant lovers like himself.
Back then, the Begonia Farm was a real working farm surrounded by fields and Walteria Lake. When customers found a begonia they wanted to buy, they’d place a colored flag next to it so the nurseryman could dig it up and plant it in a clay pot.
At one time, a famous fish restaurant stood where the Calvary Church is now, and the dining room patrons enjoyed a scenic look out onto the shade house of begonias. In later years, the Palos Verdes Bird Farm opened nearby featuring exotic feathered friends, while the bright pink Super Yarn Mart was a few steps away.
John’s father, Jack, was the third generation to run the Begonia Farm. John grew up on the legendary nursery and the whole family took part on weekends planting seedlings and pollinating the begonias with small paint brushes. Even when John took over the business, Jack could be found in his plant doctor chair patiently answering questions about ideal growing conditions or how to rid plants of pests.
The Begonia Farm was known for its wide variety of plants and friendly customer service. Customers and employees knew each other by name, and it wasn’t unusual for nurserymen to drive past client’s homes to see how their new plants were thriving.
The Begonia Farm closed its doors in 1997, a victim of the Southland’s drought and water rationing in the early 1990s and the aerospace cutbacks. Home improvement chains were also impinging on the independent nursery’s business. Today, the Begonia Village, a townhome complex, sits where the Begonia Farm once stood, just behind a drive-through Walgreens.
John, his wife Martha, and their two children moved to the Riviera in 1979, and just as in past generations, the whole family worked at the Begonia Farm at one time.
“I still have good friends whom I met through the Begonia Farm,” said John. “It may no longer be just down the street from my home, but it will always be a part of my life.”
Though the Begonia Farm is now just a fond memory, John still puts his green thumb to use in his business, Rolling Hills Landscape Design and Installation. You can contact him at 310-378-0029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.