By Mary-Justine Lanyon
History was made on July 19 when the mountain’s three chambers – Crestline-Lake Gregory, Lake Arrowhead and Running Springs – gathered together for a mixer with a luau theme at The Tudor House.
The chamber representatives and members were welcomed by Cecilia Ponce de Leon, owner of CAPRE Real Estate, who organized the event. “We are creating unity for the mountain community,” she said.
“It’s important for us to give back,” Ponce de Leon noted. “That’s why we have the Rim of the World Educational Foundation and the Mountains Community Hospital Foundation here.”
Each Foundation had opportunity drawing prizes available. Rim Ed sold tickets for a two-night stay at the Lake Arrowhead Resort and a basket of Uncle Nearest whiskey. MCH also had an Uncle Nearest basket as well as two baskets of Goop products. Ponce de Leon promised to match what was raised and she held to that promise. Rim Ed raised $265 and MCH raised $210 plus the match.
While folks mingled, they were entertained by Michael Acuña playing reggae tunes on the guitar.
Robin Bull, executive director of the Lake Arrowhead Communities Chamber of Commerce, introduced California State Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, who attended the mixer with her husband, Greg Bogh, mayor of Yucaipa.
“I am so grateful to be here with the three chambers at the first-ever such event,” Ochoa Bogh said. She presented each chamber with a certificate, noting that she has “huge respect for chambers” and called them “the backbone of the communities.”
Each chamber was given an opportunity to speak about their plans.
“We didn’t stop during the pandemic,” said Kevin Somes, president of the Running Springs Area Chamber of Commerce. “We adapted our events to keep the momentum going.” He invited everyone to their weekly farmers market and Mountain Top Days on Aug. 6 and 7.
Kathy Creighton, the office manager of the Crestline-Lake Gregory Chamber of Commerce, noted that Lake Gregory has been experiencing an average of 1,400 visitors every day. The chamber plans to hold a Corks & Hops event on Oct. 2. She added that the visitor’s center is open six days a week.
In addition to an upcoming ribbon cutting, Bull pointed to the Brewfest, scheduled for Sept. 11 at Tavern Bay Beach Club, and the chamber’s Home Tour on Sept. 18. “And we’re going to have more mixers,” she said.
Ponce de Leon then invited the two Foundations to talk about their work.
“The stress during the pandemic was palpable and sometimes unbearable,” said Terry Peña, MCH’s chief operating officer and chief nursing officer. “Congratulations to the community for making it this far. Our exceptional staff made it possible.”
Peña noted that regulations changed every day. She “watched the staff step up with uncertainty on their faces, take on extra shifts and duties and undergo a transformation from uncertainty to confidence.”
She urged everyone to get vaccinated, saying that the Delta variant is in the community. The positive rate on COVID tests has risen to 9 percent. “I beg you to do your research,” Peña said.
The MCH Foundation, Kim McGuire, the Foundation’s director, explained, raises money so the hospital can purchase equipment. Last year, she said, they raised $630,000 and have raised more than $6 million in the last 10 years.
The central registration project – which is critical from an infection control aspect – will begin in the fall.
There was no Le Grand Picnic last year or this but the Foundation will hold an online sweepstakes with $20,000 in prizes from July 31 to Sept. 12. Those who donate $500 or more will be entered in a drawing for a gold coin.
The goal of the Rim of the World Educational Foundation, explained President Jo Bonita Rains, is “to make sure every student gets the best educational program the mountain provides.”
Through the ROP (Regional Occupational Program) classes – like welding, woodworking, TV and video production, auto technology – students are exposed to opportunities.
AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) “teaches young people how to study and present their thoughts.” Many of the students who take the AVID elective become the first in their families to attend college.
And, through the Partnership with Schools grants, “every student in the Rim of the World Unified School District benefits from your generous support.”
After the serious business of recognizing the chambers and the Foundations, the fun began. The Teavanui Polynesian Dance Group entertained the mixer guests and then called folks up to teach them a move or two.
Lewis Murray, who presented certificates to the chambers, John Connor of The Tudor House and CAPRE on behalf of Supervisor Janice Rutherford, said, “I’ve been to a lot of mixers. This is the best!”
“This event with all three area chambers coming together was a platform to create unity in our mountain community,” said Ponce de Leon. “We are planning another tri-chamber event soon.” She added the next event will have a disco theme – “Stayin’ Alive (through COVID).”