Spirits were bright at the Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. luncheon despite dull, gray skies outside.
The 19th annual luncheon was held Monday at Tivoli Terrace. There were few empty seats, despite the inclement weather, and the atmosphere was festive — so festive Executive Director Nadia Babayi had trouble getting folks' attention for the program.
"An important part of the holiday season for me is expressing gratitude," Babayi said when the crowd settled down.
Babayi expressed gratitude for the relationship the seniors have with their partners, starting with the city and including AgeWell Services, Sally's Fund and the Council on Aging.
"The strong support of our partners make it possible for us to do what we love, which is assuring the wellness of the seniors at the Susi Q [Senior] Center," Babayi said.
Take note: Nearly one-third of Laguna Beach residents quality for senior discounts.
Laguna Beach Seniors was founded in 1975. And for a good part of their history, the group lobbied for, harried the City Council for and raised funds for the construction of a safe and welcoming place to spend time on a variety of activities. It is called the Susi Q in honor of the nom de plume of the late Elizabeth Quilter, the mother of Chris, Matthew, Patrick and Charlie Quilter, who donated $700,000 to help build the place.
Chris Quilter is president of the seniors' board of directors. He also provides lots of laughs. Just ask anyone who gets a bang out of the parodies he writes for "Lagunatics."
But he doesn't joke when he talks about his board.
"We have the best board in town," he said. "Sorry, everybody else — we got 'em."
He introduced the board at the lunch: Vice President Bob Arovas, Secretary Tina Haines, Treasurer Jim McBride, and members at large Ann Quilter, Pam Horowitz, Louise Buckley, Dorene Butler and Tom Ellerbie, soon to be elevated to second vice president.
Quilter also introduced the newest board member, longtime Soroptimist member Linda Butterwick, who will chair the annual Legacy Ball in the spring at the Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Coast.
"Our board serves as the vision-keepers who support our organization by advising, fundraising and monitoring its financial health," Bababyi said.
Warren Haines, December volunteer of the month, spoke about membership and volunteering at the Susi Q.
"We need you," he said. "We need you now."
Dues are priced right and the perks are great, he said.
"Membership is free, and when your children don't know what to do with you, the Susi Q is here," he said.
The board is always looking for volunteers with special skills in finance, fundraising, events, marketing, program development, communications and computer technology.
Interested? There is an application form on the Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. website. Better yet, visit the Susi Q and see what you are missing.
Volunteers at the Susi Q include ambassadors like Warren Haines, who staff the front desk. They answer the phones, provide information and are the first people most visitors see when they enter the Susi Q.