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La Jolla Community Center chiefs tout progress on facility, programs

In its continued effort to be La Jolla’s community melting pot, the Town Council hosted two speakers at its Feb. 12 meeting at the Rec Center, and announced two upcoming community forums.

The first presenters informed attendees about upgrades and activities at La Jolla Community Center, 6811 La Jolla Blvd. Executive director Nancy Walters and board of directors chair Glen Rasmussen agreed that in the last six years, “we’ve done very well.”

La Jolla Community Center board chair Glen Rasmussen and Community Center executive director Nancy Walters.
La Jolla Community Center board chair Glen Rasmussen and Community Center executive director Nancy Walters.

Rasmussen told the group, “We’ve raised three-quarters of a million dollars and put almost all of it into the building. We’ve become energy efficient and all the lights were changed to LED bulbs. We plan to make the center energy independent by putting solar panels on the roof. We’d also like to landscape the front with the help of the community.”

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The Community Center’s lease with the city is up for renewal, and is being negotiated. With a renewed lease could come extended hours. To offset increasing utility costs, Rasmussen told La Jolla Light the center might offer additional programming to generate revenue as opposed to increasing the cost of membership. To accommodate the new programming, the center might stay open later, effective when the new lease is signed.

Citing the already extensive programming the center offers, including exercise, language and cooking classes, along with cultural events such as its Opera Wednesdays and Fourth Friday jazz series, Walters said the board is always working to better the offerings.

“We recently introduced Senior Express (transportation program). Florence Riford left this fund for seniors in La Jolla to provide safe, affordable and convenient transportation,” she said. “We’ve given 450 (door-to-door livery service) rides in the last few months and we’ve given back independence to seniors who can no longer drive. Now they can get to their doctor appointments or the grocery store or social events.” For more about Senior Express, call (858) 337-0275.

The Community Center will host an Open House 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27 for current and prospective members where a film about the center, produced by the Voice of Peace Network, will screen.

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A second presentation by Steve Kappes, Retired Navy officer and president of San Diego District Tennis Association, shed light on the San Diego Wounded Warrior Tennis Program. The WWTP will have a tennis camp May 18-24 for wounded servicemembers at the Balboa Park Tennis Club, 2221 Morley Field Drive in Balboa Park and volunteers are needed.

“(San Diego Wounded Warrior Tennis Program) uses tennis as a means of rehabilitation and community reintegration of wounded, ill or injured servicemembers and veterans,” Kappes said, adding the services are free to participants.

The co-founder of the program is Geoff Griffin, a La Jolla High School graduate and former classmate of Town Council president Steve Haskins. Griffin is now the tennis director at the Balboa Tennis Club, located less than a mile from Naval Medical Center San Diego, where most, if not all, the WWTP participants are patients.

“When we started making connections there, we discovered they already had a sports and recreation program for their patients from archery to water sports, but tennis was not one of them,” Kappes said.

“So they were happy to strike a partnership with us. In late 2009, we started bringing patients from Navy Medical to Balboa Tennis Club twice a month for hour- long tennis clinics, followed by lunch prepared by volunteers.”

Each month, there have been 12-25 participants with varying degrees of ability. “When you use the term wounded, ill or injured, people get a certain image in their minds of what that kind of person looks like. I can tell you, we have a broad spectrum of people who participate in our program,” he said. “We have some who are wheelchair users, upper and lower body amputees who use prosthetics, and we have quite a few who do not have physical disabilities, but they’re dealing with things like traumatic brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

Participation is not limited by age, with some participants in their early 20s and others veterans of the Vietnam War. “We are not trying to turn these folks into high-level tennis players; we’re trying to give them an outlet and a means to connect to their local community,” Kappes said. More at (619) 299-8647 or sdwoundedwarriortennis.org

Upcoming Town Council forums

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LJTC president Haskins said the council would soon host a forum on homelessness with details announced as they become available. Additionally, following its success with the inaugural “State of La Jolla” event in January, another “State of” event is planned for April or May.

“In the future, we will have three more; an arts and culture (State of La Jolla) that will include La Jolla Historical Society, museums, and other art organizations; another regarding education that will involve the schools; and another for charitable organizations and churches,” Haskins said.