Tompkins says goodbye to Westchester

The last beer was poured and the final burger was served at Tompkins Square Bar & Grill on Saturday, November 17 when the bar closed after 14 years of being a popular Westchester hangout.

“I have to say there has been a river of love from this community the last few weeks that I’ll take to my grave. It’s surreal,” said Billy Tompkins who owned the bar along with his brother Jeffrey. “You don’t know until you know. It just lets me know that we did it right, and we’re leaving Westchester better than how we found it. We’re so proud of what we’ve done here.”

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Westchester’s SOFESA works to help homeless families and children in need

Jess Echeverry is no stranger to a life of transience. Now a mother of five, living with her family in Westchester, she spent much of her youth on the streets in and out of motels and homeless shelters in her hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She endured her parents’ divorces at a young age, sexual abuse as a child, and at 16, she was pregnant and homeless, and eventually forced to give up her baby.

But by 25, her life had changed dramatically for the better: She was married and ready for a new adventure in California. In her new city, Echeverry and her husband began taking notice of the large homeless population in West Los Angeles, particularly on the streets of Santa Monica. The hardships and tribulations Echeverry had endured growing up made her very empathetic towards the homeless she witnessed there, so she began volunteering her time to give back to a community she felt a connection with. Continue reading

Think Sepulveda looks great? You can thank John Ruhlen

For more than five decades, John Ruhlen has been a fixture in the Westchester community. He has been involved with Westchester Vitalization Corporation, the local chamber of commerce and the Westchester Town Center Business Improvement District, but more than anything, his name has become synonymous with the incredible beautification efforts along Sepulveda Boulevard.

On December 4, the Westchester Streetscape Improvement Association and the BID honored Ruhlen with a plaque that will be placed along the street to commemorate his efforts that have helped transform the street into what it looks like today. Continue reading

Looking to give back this season? Check out these local groups

Interested in donating to a collection drive or giving back this holiday season? Consider checking out these local groups that are working to make a positive impact in the lives of others:

St. Margaret’s Center

Just a stone’s throw away from Westchester, St. Margaret’s Center is collecting toys for its annual Christmas program. Every year, the center distributes thousands of toys to children in need. Locally, there are two drop-off locations. Head to Toe Salon, located at 6310 W. 89th St. in Westchester, is collecting toys through December 10 during regular business hours. Miss Haircut Salon, located at 8733 La Tijera Blvd. in Westchester, is collecting toys through noon on Friday, December 14. Toys can be dropped off Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Interested in donating online? Visit amazon.com, choose “Find a List or Registry,” type in St. Margaret’s Center and browse their wish list. Purchased items will be sent directly to the center. St. Margaret’s Christmas Program will take place on Saturday, December 15 at Lennox Middle School. Continue reading

Our picks for the best local holiday events

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and we can all be thankful that there are tons of events and activities this month to help celebrate!

Santa will be making special appearances all over town, so we’re confident that this year, Westchester/Playa is on the good list! And the Marina will once again be hosting some of the area’s most festive events full of lights, music, wonder and even (literal) tons of snow!

Whether you get your photo taken with jolly old St. Nick, enjoy carolers, make holiday crafts or take in a holiday movie, this month you’ll have plenty of chances to enjoy the magic of the season!

Mark your calendars for this month’s best holiday happenings: Continue reading

Applications sought for school arts & beautification grants

The LAX Coastal Education Foundation is offering its first round of grants to help support arts and beautification efforts at local schools!  The grants are intended to help enhance all forms of arts education and/or the beautification of campuses, classrooms, etc. Grants are in support of specific activities, projects and programs for the school year, including but not limited to: materials, new or ongoing curriculum, supplies and instruction.

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Help choose the Fourth of July Parade theme!

Every year, thousands of community members gather for Westchester’s largest patriotic celebration in honor of America’s birthday and to show a little hometown pride at the Westchester Fourth of July Parade. Next year, when America celebrates its 243rd birthday, the parade will also be celebrating a momentous occasion–its 20th anniversary!

Organizers have already started meeting to create a wish list of entries, floats and entertainment, but first they need the community’s help in selecting a parade theme. The parade committee is asking anyone with an idea for a fun, engaging theme for the event to email laxcoastalonparade@gmail.com by Friday, November 23rd. Every person who submits an original idea will be entered into a $25 gift card raffle to a local restaurant. If a submitted theme is selected for the 20th anniversary event, the winner will be invited to ride in the parade with their family and will also receive a parade swag bag.
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Sharing Westchester and Playa del Rey’s history

Westchester/Playa Historical Society supporters and volunteers including Christina Davis, Karen Dial, Jaren Rhodes, Darlene Fukuji and David Russell pose in the storefront located in the Westchester Triangle. Photo by Bill Ballerini.

Take a step inside the Westchester/Playa Historical Society Room located in the Westchester Triangle for a glimpse into the past of these two connected communities. The room, dubbed Westchester’s Jewel and Playa’s Treasure, has been open for just over a year and volunteers are encouraging people to stop by, share their memories, chat about the neighborhood and view its mementos. Continue reading

Save the date: 36th Annual Holiday Home Tour

This November, the Westchester Mental Health Guild will hold its 36th Annual Holiday Home Tour featuring five distinct houses beautifully decorated for the holidays. The featured Westchester homes include a Kentwood bluff residence with amazing views that will feature Thanksgiving decorations; two totally redone two-story homes both decked out for Christmas and a renovated bungalow ready for New Year’s Eve. A modern Playa del Rey home with an open floor plan will be decorated for the Chinese New Year. Continue reading

Community Spotlight: For Sunrise Community Service Award recipient, it’s an honor to be recognized in Westchester/Playa

This month, the Playa Venice Sunrise Rotary will honor Trevor Daley with its highest honor, the Sunrise Community Service Award, at its annual Cultural Dinner Gala at the Playa Vista CenterPointe Club.

Daley has long been an advocate for the Westchester/Playa community and has built a reputation for being passionate about public service and giving back. It’s this drive and dedication, dating back almost two decades in the local community that has the club excited to recognize Daley as their 2018 honoree. Continue reading