ALICE RYAN-INDIVIDUAL SERVICE AWARD
Our first recipient of the Les Tupper Individual Community Service Award is Alice Ryan. She and her husband Tim and their family moved to La Cañada Flintridge in 1985. Her volunteer involvement started in early 1986 as newsletter editor for LCE for three years. Alice’s involvement with schools continued as she held a PTA board position as either treasurer or auditor for LCE, 7/8 Middle School, LCHS, and La Cañada Council until 2007. During that time she worked on campus beautification committees, volunteered in the classroom, helped with the 7/8 fundraising Home Tours, and served as Football Food Booth Chair twice. For three years, she also served as treasurer of Prom Plus.
Starting in 1988, Alice taught religious education at St. Bede’s for 17 straight years. She also served on the church’s Women’s Council for 5 years during that time. She currently is on the rotation for lector at St. Bede’s weekday Mass.
In 1995, her love for plants and flowers, allowed her to join the La Cañada Valley Beautiful board and she has held numerous varied positions including President for three years. She continues to be part of their organization to this day, now serving as treasurer and computerizing their bookkeeping.
Girl Scouts were also important to her, particularly as she has 6 daughters! Alice was a troop leader for many years and volunteered at the Service Unit Level for three years as a registrar.
Currently, in addition to her work with LCVB, Alice serves as financial secretary for the La Cañada Thursday Club – five years on their board, as well as treasurer for the local chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, again computerizing their books this past year.
As a side note, years ago the prior local Valley Sun newspaper had a full-page photo of Alice and her 6 daughters on their cover the week of Mother’s Day. Would love to know the secret of how her husband survived with all those females in the household. There is a saying “Volunteers are paid in six figures…(spell out) S-M-I-L-E-S” (and then say) Smiles. I know Alice would agree with that. She has a big heart and is always smiling. The Coordinating Council is proud to honor and present Alice Ryan with the Les Tupper INDIVIDUAL Community Service Award.
GREG BROWN-INDIVIDUAL SERVICE AWARD
Greg Brown and his wife Joyce were born and raised in nearby Glendale. But then in 1977, La Cañada Flintridge gained a treasure, when he and Joyce decided to move to our town. Greg is a graduate of George Washington University and UCLA School of Law. He co-founded his own law firm in 1980, the same year their daughter Melanie was born, and then 16 years later joined the management of one of his clients. He retired from his paid job in mid-2019 and quickly jumped into non-paying volunteerism, whose organizations benefited from his time, wisdom, and talents. Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” And Greg is certainly one of those people.
His family has been active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in LCF and Greg has held numerous leadership positions, most recently serving for the past 7 years as Bishop to a congregation in Glendale.
But probably first and foremost, Greg has been primarily associated with his civic involvement with appointments to numerous City Council sub-committees and commissions -including overseeing the building of sound walls, installing sewers, implementing the Downtown Village Specific Plan, and joint use projects with our school district. He also led a project which added lights to existing fields, helped with the creation of the Skate Park and was instrumental in the acquisition and design of the new Mayor’s Discovery Park. Eventually, Greg was elected to our City Council from 2003-2011 and 2017-2020. He served as Mayor from 2006-2007. Some of the milestone accomplishments under his tenure as Mayor included: the unanimously approved Town Center project, the groundbreaking of Olberz Park, which was gifted and dedicated to the city, and the opening of the trail crossing over the 210 freeway at Indiana Ave, which completed the long dreamed–for trail loop around the city. He has consistently championed the revitalization and restoration of the city’s entire trail system.
Greg has also served as a member of the Arroyo Verdugo Steering Committee, was on the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, and served on the Pasadena City College Bond Oversight Committee as Vice-chair twice for 3 year terms.
Greg is a consistent campaigner who knows that JPL is located in our city, not Pasadena! He accomplished placing a sturdy wooden sign at the corner of their entrance at Oak Grove and Foothill. It announces correctly “Welcome to the City of La Cañada Flintridge, Home of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.”
With an enthusiastic pulse on the community, Greg currently lends his leadership skills by serving on the Board of Directors for the following organizations: Kiwanis Club of La Canada, Lanterman Historical Museum Foundation, LCF Trails Council, LCF Sister Cities Association –one of our honorees tonight- LCF Coordinating Council and LCF Tournament of Roses Association as VP. Past affiliations include board member of the LCF Educational Foundation and holding various positions in the LCHS Music Parents Association. In 2020 he was selected as “La Cañadan of the Year” for his outstanding volunteer service and leadership in our community. He certainly is deserving of this Award. It is long overdue. I’m so pleased to present the Les Tupper INDIVIDUAL Community Service Award to Greg Brown.
CHRIS ERSKINE-FOCUS SERVICE AWARD
Chris Erskine, a Chicago native & devoted Cubs fan, has been a longtime resident of La Cañada Flintridge and probably patterns most of his newspaper and blog columns about his life here in our town and the Foothill area. He and his late wife raised 4 children who went through the La Cañada public schools. Erskine states he draws comfort in the small-town treasures of friendship and tradition. He said “There’s something about the sameness of it that is reassuring. In a world that changes every minute, I think the traditions are really great.”
Chris spent three decades working at the LA Times. He wrote for the Sports, Travel, and Saturday sections and edited the paper’s Features staff. Then he pivoted to writing a weekly column on humor, suburban life, and parenting called “Man of the House.” He has appeared in 600 newspapers worldwide. He wrote compellingly about the deaths of his wife and son, which changed his life, but also gave us laughs about White Fang-his half-husky, half-wolf pet.
His recent retirement from the Los Angeles Times signaled the start of a new chapter of Erskine’s writing as he took his talents to his newly-formed blog. It’s here that his bi-weekly (Wednesday & Saturday) posts and monthly newsletters continue to chronicle the foibles, mischief, and antics of his day-to-day life. From what some might call a sorry attempt at partial retirement to the lessons he learns as he single-handedly raises his teenage son, dreams of one-day dating again, to his shameless campaigning to be a grandfather, it’s now covered in the new blog. Chris says his columns focus on the parts of life that others can relate to. Just recently he is back in print as a columnist for our Outlook Valley Sun and we are so thrilled.
Chris has authored three books, Man of the House in 2006, Daditude in 2017, and Lavender in Your Lemonade during Covid lockdown in 2020. He has founded the Happy Hour Hiking Club. Easy walks are preferred and they like exploring new neighborhoods or familiar ones. There really aren’t a lot of rules. The “club” doesn’t even have a Board of Directors. After the “hike,” they explore the bars that define those neighborhoods. There’s no cost for the hike, drinks are on you. It’s a hodge-podge group that should be reasonably fit.
Chris also founded the Gin & Tonic Society of Greater Los Angeles, which is dedicated to the iconic summer drink (his favorite) in the iconic summer location of Southern California. There are no dues to be a member of this society, but participation at each event is limited. Also for sale, on his website, are tee-shirts just right for dad and mom bods, Gin glasses that fit in everyone’s hand, and even gear for the Happy Hour Hiking Club.
In 2019 Chris shared the “joys and absurdities of modern fatherhood” of his book Daditude at La Cañada’s own One City, One Book community-wide read-in, and also served as Grand Marshal of our town’s annual Fiesta Days Parade. He has emceed many events for local organizations’ fundraisers, including being the speaker at our Les Tupper awards ceremony last year. Chris is also a big supporter of his church – La Cañada Pres.
Chris Erskine is almost synonymous with our city with his focus on home and family here. We feel he is a worthy candidate for our Les Tupper FOCUS Community Service Award. Come on up Chris!
LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE SISTER CITIES ASSOCIATION-ORGANIZATION SERVICE AWARD
The La Cañada Flintridge Sister Cities Association provides our community with an opportunity to make friends around the world and have fun while doing it. LCF Sister Cities is made up of volunteers from all walks of life: teachers, students, business people, artists, elected officials, health care professionals, retirees, and everyone in between.
The Association was founded in 2016, by President Vicki Schwartz, a former Sister City exchange student herself. Its mission is to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation: one individual, one community at a time.
In 2017, La Cañada Flintridge Mayor Michael Davitt signed a Sister Cities Partnership Agreement with Villanueva de la Cañada, a charming suburb of Madrid, which is home to the European Space Astronomy Centre and partners with our own JPL. Later that same year JPL project manager and LCHS parent Art Chmielewski founded the International Space Academy, a program designed to include high school students from La Cañada Flintridge and Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain. These entrepreneurial student teams form companies, then jointly plan and develop space rockets and launchers. The students are tutored in business and presentation skills and learn entrepreneurial strategies. International summer exchange experiences are offered to selected graduates of the Space Academy. The International Space Academy won Sister Cities International’s 2020 Award for Innovation in Education.
The Sister Cities Youth Group is open to students in grades 7-12 who live in or attend school in La Cañada Flintridge and have an interest in learning about other cultures and diplomacy. Students are invited to join this international awareness organization, which provides opportunities to develop international leadership skills and to acquire a unique appreciation of other cultures.
“The Sister Cities Friendship Path,” is a joint project which has been designed between The City of La Cañada Flintridge, Descanso Gardens, The Trails Council, The County of Los Angeles, and LCF Sister Cities, and construction will soon begin adjacent to Descanso Gardens. Mayor Luis Partida from Spain and myself as Mayor will dedicate the Friendship Path on Saturday, May 28, during the 2022 Fiesta Days weekend.
Later that evening, LCF Sister Cities will host Mayor Partida and the Spanish Delegation at the Sister Cities 2022 Annual Meeting with a “Mi Casa es su Casa” Fiesta at the historic Lanterman House. Tickets will be available in late April at lcfsistercities.org Mayor Partida is also the Grand Marshal of the Fiesta Days Parade. In June, several community members will join me in Spain, where Villanueva de la Cañada plans to dedicate a street to La Cañada Flintridge.
In many ways, the two communities are weaving a beautiful tapestry, sharing what they love about their own communities and intertwining their mutual love of learning about another culture. It is a multi-faceted and multi-generational shared experience. This tapestry of friendship will be enriched in 2022 in unique ways, many of which are far beyond what they originally imagined. As Mayor, I’m very proud to present the Les Tupper ORGANIZATION Community Service Award to La Cañada Flintridge Sister Cities Association.
BRADLEY BURNS-STUDENT SERVICE AWARD
Through the years La Cañada has been blessed with exemplary citizens making our community one of the most desired in the state. We have movers, shakers, executives of every level, scientists, and athletes. Most importantly, we have a pool of youth, ready to pick up the mantel to make our community even greater. And this year, two wonderful students were selected to receive the Les Tupper STUDENT Community Service Award.
The first awardee is Bradley Burns. Bradley is following in the footsteps of his dad, attending LCE (where his mother has taught for 20 years), then 7/8 Middle School, and now a junior at LCHS. However, he is forging his own path and has contributed to our community unselfishly and with great enthusiasm. In school, he is a starter on the Varsity Soccer Team, captain of the JV Volleyball team, and a founding member of the Spartan Kindness Club. He is in his 3rd year at the school’s drama program and has performed in various plays open to the community. At the LC Junior Theater program at Lanterman Auditorium when Bradley was in middle school performing, he also helped the directors with the much younger kids’ plays, monitoring children as young as 5, backstage.
Bradley is a Patrol Leader and Instructor in the Boy Scouts where he has earned Life Scout in Troop 507. Having completed all his merit badges for Eagle Scout, he was finally granted permission after Covid to work on his Eagle Scout project – building a new toy box for sand toys at the play yard at LCE.
Some of Bradley’s other contributions to our community are: repainting the lower walls at FIS sports fields, creating a new garden & planter at Crest View Elementary School, sanding & painting existing benches at LCE, and building 2 new ones, and building new planters in Hahamonga Park.
He volunteered in AYSO to help the VIP Soccer Program for special needs children and has placed flags at Los Angeles National Cemetery on Memorial Day. And if all that isn’t enough, Bradley has raised money for Operation Christmas Tree – purchasing the tree & decorations and delivering it to the local fire station.
I am proud to present the Les Tupper STUDENT Community Service Award to Bradley Burns.
MATTHEW KRUSE-STUDENT SERVICE AWARD
Our second student awardee is Matthew Kruse. This outstanding young man is involved at St. Francis High School, as well as in the city of La Cañada Flintridge. At St. Francis, Matthew, a junior, is involved as a member of the LIFE (religious/campus ministry team) which helps coordinate student liturgies, leads retreats, and helps with the spiritual mission of the school. He is also a Link Leader where he helps freshman students acclimate to life in high school.
Matthew is involved in various clubs and organizations including his participation in the Mountain Bike team, a member of the Key Club, and being president and founder of the 3D Printing Club. He also participated in the La Cañada Sister Cities Space Academy program. A fun volunteer job for him is being the Knight mascot on Friday evening football games increasing school spirit for the students.
Outside of school, Matthew volunteers in the city through St. Bede and their Skidettes program. In this role, he has donated countless hours nearly every weekend making and delivering thousands of sandwiches for the homeless on Skid Row.
Like Bradley, Matthew is also an Eagle Scout for Troop 507 in La Cañada where he has contributed his time on various scout projects. He recently completed his Eagle Scout project where he did improvements in our city.
Matthew, you may have heard this quote from St. Francis of Assisi: “For it is in giving that we receive.” You seem to have learned this principle well and it will carry you far in life. Congratulations on this achievement and I am privileged to present the Les Tupper STUDENT Community Service Award to Matthew Kruse.