Volunteerism in Laguna

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(Don't have much time? The highlights are in green!)

When we moved to Laguna Beach 25 years ago, we did so because of its beauty and its quality of life. Laguna was a place where creative people joined together in community endeavors such as the art festivals, the art museum, the playhouse, churches, Ballet Pacifica, Opera Pacific and the Greenbelt. Laguna was known worldwide as an art colony, where the spirit of its people kept the institutions we valued growing, fresh and alive. People gave freely of their time to keep these institutions growing and vibrant.

Since then, Laguna has lost Ballet Pacifica and Opera Pacific. We nearly lost the Art museum to the Orange County Museum of Art, and did lose more than $1 million of the Museum endowment to OCMA. We may lose the Festival of the Arts, an institution that has been here nearly 70 years.

Why have we lost these institutions--which were started here, incubated here, and made great here--to other locales? Certainly that which Lagunans start seems to be valued greatly by others. And that is the problem--others value what Lagunans create more than Lagunans value keeping what they create. Our fun seems to be in creating, and once the institution is launched, we seem to believe that it will last forever without our efforts.

What's missing? Involvement. If you go to meetings of Laguna institutions, you see the same faces over and over. Increasingly, those faces are from out of town--witness what happened to the Art Museum and what is happening to the FOA. The local volunteers that would keep those institutions Laguna based and focussed are missing.

What can you do to change this picture? Get involved in some activity that you love. We require our high school students do that--they don't graduate until they have performed community service activities. We should each make the same commitment. If we are going to live in a special place, we need to do special things to keep this place special.

Look in the mirror. Have you taught our children the importance of volunteering by example, or do you say, "I'm too busy. I don't have the time. I (fill in your own excuse here)."

Two years ago, my husband wrote a letter to the editor pointing to the possibility of losing the FOA. Imagine what would happen in Laguna if we lost local control of the Greenbelt; the Women's Club; the Community Clinic; groups that help animals such as RUFF, the BlueBell Foundation for Cats or Friends of the Sea Lion; Sally's Fund; Brandy's Friends; and many others. Each week our paper has a section that tells of organizations that need volunteers. Please call them.

Laguna will be better if you are a more active part of it, and so will you.

I want to see more of Cheryl's commentaries--return me to the commentaries page!

Last updated 9/17/00.