Hermosa Beach Fiesta focuses on ‘local’ with Unsung Hero Awards

Laura Pena, chair of the Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce Unsung Hero Awards. Photo by Kevin Cody
by Kevin Cody

The Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce underscored the word local in its rebranded Fiesta Hermosa Locale this weekend by recognizing local “Unsung Heroes” at the start of the fiesta, on Friday evening. The awards were presented between band performances in The Garden, an adaptation of the popular Beer Garden from pre pandemic years. In addition to the past years’ music, beer and food, The Garden includes carnival rides, and community service booths. It’s located in the parking lot behind Bank of America.

Saturday, on Pier Plaza, Veritas Testing, of Manhattan Beach, offered free COVID-19 vaccinations, and throughout the weekend, the Los Angeles County Firefighters, who serve Hermosa Beach, conducted search and rescue dog demonstrations. 

Free tickets to The Garden were offered people who showed proof of having been vaccinated by the Veritas.

Tickets to the Garden range from $25 per day to $120 for a weekend family pass. 

This year’s Labor Day weekend fiesta also included a sidewalk sale through the downtown and a curated art exhibit of work by local artists on the Community Center lawn, at Pacific Coast Highway and Pier Avenue.

Fiesta Hermosa Local continues through Monday. For more information visit Fiesta Hermosa.net. ER

Unsung Hero Honorees

Teen: Kina Desai

In 2019, when Kina Desai was a 13-year-old Hermosa Valley School eighth grader, she spent five days in Mexico, working with children from Central America. Among the basic necessities they lacked, she learned, was underwear. Upon her return home she founded Draws for a Cause with funds from a Kickstarter campaign. 

This past summer, the now 15-year-old Mira Costa High student delivered over 2,000 pairs of underwear to children in Antigua and Guatemala. Desai was unable to attend Friday night’s Unsung Heroes awards. But Laura Pena, the program chair, who spoke on her behalf, asked local businesses to begin carrying Draws for a Cause underwear, which Desai designs and manufactures. For every pair sold, she donates a pair to Central American children.

For more information about Desai’s work, visit Draws4ACause.com.

Education: Carol Reid Kluthe

In introducing Carol Reid Kluthe, Hermosa Beach Councilman Raymond Jackson described her as a behind the scenes worker who avoids the limelight. But her contributions to the Hermosa Beach Education Foundation are difficult to overlook.  During the three years she served as president of the Foundation, concluding this past July, its endowments increased 45 percent, to $3.2 million.

Upon receiving the award, Reid Kluthe urged everyone to “volunteer. It will change your life.”

Reid Kluthe became involved in the Hermosa Beach Education Foundation in 2012, the year she and her family moved to Hermosa Beach and her daughter started kindergarten. 

Sports: Jeff Miller

Hermosa Councilwoman Stacy Armato credited Little League president Jeff Miller with bringing  the baseball program back to full strength, following the season lost to the pandemic. Over 400 young players enjoyed a full season this year. Upon receiving the award Miller stressed the importance of the work his board did. 

City worker: Ann Yang

Ann Yang wasn’t present Friday evening to receive her Unsung Hero Award. 

“She went camping for two days. These are the first days she’s taken off in 18 months [since the start of the pandemic],” Hermosa Beach City Manager Suja Lowenthal said, in accepting the award on Yang’s behalf.

Yang and her family arrived in the U.S. as political refugees when she was three-years-old. She has worked for the City of Hermosa Beach for 14 years, the last seven in the city manager’s office. 

“She’s the glue that holds the city hall together. Actually, she holds the whole city together. I’m honored to work with her,” Lowenthal said.

Family: The Bacallaos

The Bacallao family — Jose, his wife Katrina, and daughters Izzy and SaraJane have lived in Hermosa Beach for 20 years. They worked on the campaign to stop oil drilling in Hermosa, and with Heal the Bay, Surfrider and the Sierra Club. They worked with the City of Hermosa to establish the single-use plastic bag, and the polystyrene bans. In July, Izzy led the effort to have Hermosa declare Gay Pride Month, for the first time in the City’s history, and to have the lifeguard tower at 13th Street painted in the colors of LGBTQ Pride flag.

Higher Grounds Management Unsung Hero honorees Nolan Crtalic , Shelby Tomlinson, Tynan Mason, and Nick Salvemini. Photo courtesy of the Hermosa Chamber

Business: Higher Grounds Management

Tynan Mason and Mike Beiras founded Higher Grounds Management to help teens and their families in resolving issues when traditional therapies have failed. They focus on at home help, rather than on rehab centers. Their services included family intervention, relapse prevention and mentorship.

Adult: Nick Salvemini

Nick Salvemini, a health and life coach with Higher Grounds Management is a highly regarded mentor of South Bay youths. He is a proponent of journal keeping and believes that families that read and write together stay together.

Adult: Shelby Tomlinson

Shelby Tomlinson mentors many South Bay high school girls. She is a certified personal trainer,  and a life and health coach, with an emphasis on nutrition and wellness. “As much as these teens need me, I need them too,” she said. Most of her clients struggle with nicotine, drug and alcohol abuse, low self esteem, eating disorder, poor grades, poor coping skills, and disrespectful behavior. ER

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