People Power

Inspiring Stories from San Diego's Eastern Region

CRISIS HOUSE URGENTLY FUNDRAISING TO PURCHASE NEW BUILDING; COPLEY FOUNDATION WILL MATCH DONATIONS

By Kendra Sitton

 

September 19, 2020 (El Cajon) - The Crisis House is urgently fundraising in its biggest campaign ever so that it can purchase a new building before the City of El Cajon ends Crisis House’s lease and forces it to move out by December 31, 2020. 


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

JAMUL’S CHANDELIER LOUNGE CUISINE SUPPORTS FIRST RESPONDERS AND THOSE DISPLACED BY VALLEY FIRE

By Henri Migala

 

September 15, 2020 (Jamul) - One of Jamul’s newest restaurants, Chandelier Lounge Cuisine, has not only become a local favorite, but is on the front lines in supporting our first responders and those displaced by the Valley Fire.


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MISS LAKESIDE WINNERS CROWNED AFTER VIRTUAL PAGEANT

Source: Miss Lakeside Pageant

All photos by Rob Riingen Photography

Photo: 2020 Queens left to right: Priscilla Guidi, Trinity Stewart, and Brylee Cox. 

September 13, 2020 (Lakeside) - On March 12, 2020, due to nationwide shutdowns Jill Fleming, the Miss Lakeside Scholarship Pageant Executive Director since 1997, was faced with postponing or cancelling the Miss Lakeside Pageant for the 1st time ever, two days before the actual event was scheduled to take place due to sudden COVID-19 shutdowns. After months of preparation, the program books were printed, new sashes and crowns ready to be placed, families, friends, and community members were excited to see our Lakeside girls take the stage, and our contestants were ready for their time to shine...the 58th Annual Miss Lakeside Scholarship Pageant was 48 hours from taking the stage! After 5 months of waiting, hoping, and praying to be able to reschedule the "normal" pageant.. Director Fleming came to the conclusion that it was time to move forward.


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FLOWERS FROM GUN OWNERS PAC POSTPONED DINNER DONATED TO EAST COUNTY FIRST RESPONDERS

East County News Service

Aug. 31, 2020 (Santee) – The San Diego County Gun Owners PAC (SDCGO), a political action committee promoting Second Amendment rights in San Diego County, was ready with 90 fresh-flower arrangements, including 65 centerpieces and 25 wrapped bouquets, for its Second Amendment Celebration Dinner, an annual fundraiser benefiting Second Amendment advocacy.


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'GREAT PLATES’ TO CONTINUE, EXPAND MEAL DELIVERY TO HELP MORE ADULTS WITH HEALTH CONDITIONS

Source: County of San Diego

August 25, 2020 (San Diego) - More than 2,000 older adults in the “Great Plates Delivered” program will continue to receive three free and healthy meals a day. Launched in mid-May, the program is a collaboration between the County and 31 local restaurants. Now the County is expanding the service, originally for seniors with health conditions, to include all adults with a disability or health condition that puts them at higher risk from COVID-19.


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LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS IN ALPINE WORKS TO SAVE ANIMALS AT SUSPENDED ZOO FEATURED ON TIGER KING TV SHOW

By Miriam Raftery

August 19, 2020 (Alpine) – Bobbi Brink, owner of the Lions, Tigers and Bears animal sanctuary in Alpine, has offered to aid in the rescue and relocation of all animals at G.W. Zoo. The U.S. Department of Agriuclture has suspended the exhibitor license for the facility also known as the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park featured on the Netflix docu-series “Tiger King.”

The owner, Jeff Lowe, “just announced that he has actually relinquished his license and will no longer be exhibiting animals,” Brink says. Lowe will be banned from exhibiting big cats, bears, primates or other USDA-regulated species at any other property as well as at G.W. Zoo.

The USDA suspended the license after inspectors in June found injured and sickly animals with dangerous and dismal living conditions including:


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SWIPE RIGHT TO HELP CLEAR THE SHELTERS

 

By Yvette Urea Moe, County of San Diego Communications Office

Video by Autumn Endara

August 15, 2020 (San Diego) - Are you looking for unconditional love, companionship and fun? We may have the next big love of your life waiting for you at one of our animal shelters. The County Department of Animal Services is participating in this year’s monthlong Clear the Shelters adoption event being done online to prevent potential spread of coronavirus.


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GROSSMONT HEALTHCARE DISTRICT SUPPORTING ALS ASSOCIATION’S ALS FIESTA, A VIRTUAL FUNDRAISER, AUG. 12

East County News Service

August 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD) has been named a supporter of the ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter’s 2020 ALS Fiesta, the chapter’s annual major fundraiser. This year’s ALS Fiesta, the fifth annual, will be held as a virtual online event from 7 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 12. Participation in this year’s ALS Fiesta is free and open to the public. Proceed will benefit the chapter’s services provided to local families living with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease.


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A GRANDDAUGHTER’S LOVE FOR HER “PAPA” INSPIRED ZOE’S BAKERY

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photos courtesy of Tina Bernard, L. Zoe Bernard) 

July 30, 2020 (La Mesa) -- A granddaughter’s love for her grandfather is so strong she decided to open a pop-up venture, Zoe’s Bakery, to raise money for  Parkinson’s Disease on behalf of her grandfather, La Mesa resident Joseph "Papa" Contogenis.

That granddaughter is nine-year-old La Mesa resident Zoe Bernard.

The pop-up bakery is a canopy with tables and baked goods.  The “bakery” is on 3900 Agua Dulce Boulevard between Toledo and Alta La Mesa, and is held from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. most Saturdays, or as long as supplies last.  


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FEEDING THE HUNGRY AMID A PANDEMIC

By Helen Horvath

 

July 27, 2020 (San Diego) -- In an interview with Jim Floros, president and CEO of the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, ECM discusses the push to end hunger in San Diego during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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CAMPO FAMILY SUFFERS DEADLY CRASH: FUNDRAISER STARTED TO HELP SURVIVORS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via GoFundMe

July 21, 2020 (Campo) – Brad and Crystal Sparks’ family from Campo suffered a devastating rollover accident in New Mexico on July 12 while traveling home after a visit to friends in Texas. Two of their children were killed and five other family members had injuries. Brad works for Symons Fire Protection in Poway.

A GoFundMe Page has thus far raised over $187,000 to help Brad and Crystal Sparks, their surviving children and an unborn baby.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

HOW WILL THE YMCA SURVIVE THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC?

 

 

By Dr. Helen Horvath 

 

July 19, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- In this ongoing series about impacts of COVID-19 to our families and vital community nonprofit services, ECM explores  the pandemic’s effects on operations at the YMCA of East County and San Diego County through an exclusive interview with Courtney Pendleton, Association Director of Public Relations and Communications, San Diego YMCA. 

 

The YMCA of San Diego County has served our region for 138 years with a dedication to strengthening our communities through physical activities that feed the mind, body, and spirit of our communities. The Y, as most people affectionately call the YMCA, has become one of the most diverse organizations serving our areaThrough the years, for many, the 18 YMCAs in San Diego County have become places of diversity and inclusion to meet up, exercise, socialize, and meet new and old friends while potentially learning new skills.  

But shutdowns of facilities, programs and fundraising events have posed daunting challenges for the YMCA to work out.  


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FUND ESTABLISHED BY REALTORS WILL HELP SERVICE MEMBERS IMPACTED BY USS BONHOMME RICHARD FIRE: SAILORS SUFFERED INJURIES, DISPLACEMENT, AND LOSS OF BELONGINGS

East County News Service
 
Photo via U.S. Navy, by MC3 Christina Ross
 
July 18, 2020 (San Diego) --  The Ambassadors Foundation of the Greater San Diego Association of REALTORS® (SDAR) is collecting funds to assist service members impacted by the recent fire onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard docked at Naval Base San Diego. In addition to the service members who received minor injuries, many others have been displaced and lost personal items as a result of the fire.
 
The Ambassadors Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established by SDAR to benefit communities in need, including providing housing tools and resources for military and veterans. Carla Farley, President of the Ambassadors Foundation Board and 2020 SDAR President, announced the initiative to purchase gift cards and related items for service members affected by the disastrous fire.

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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

2-1-1 SAN DIEGO OFFERS HELP WITH FOOD, HOUSING, UTILITY BILLS AND MORE DURING PANDEMIC

ECM interviews Meg Storer, Vice President, community and government relations at 2-1-1 San Diego, on programs and services available

By Helen Horvath

 

July 11, 2020 (San Diego) -- The answer to resolving many COVID-19 roadblocks faced by our community members can be found at 2-1-1 San Diego through its Community Information Exchange (CIE) ecosystem.


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DONORS HELP SUSTAIN NOAH HOMES, NONPROFIT HARD-HIT BY COVID-19 SHUTDOWN AND STATE BUDGET CUTS

By Helen Horvath

 

Part 3 in our series on impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on local nonprofit organizations

 

July 11, 2020 (Spring Valley) – In an exclusive interview, Noah Homes’ Chief Executive Officer Molly Nocon (photo, left) discussed how the pandemic has affected the nonprofit’s services to developmentally disabled people in San Diego’s East County.

 

The facility has faced challenges more daunting than most nonprofits. Steep cuts in state funding and a ban on fundraising events due to COVID-19 have impacted revenues. Yet Noah Homes, which provides on-site housing and services, has new costs and responsibilities to protect the health of vulnerable residents while finding creative solutions to help them cope with isolation amid the pandemic.

 

Noah Homes’ mission and funding

 

Tucked away on a quiet 11-acre campus off Campo Road between Spring Valley and Jamul, this unique and very important non-profit  provides on-site housing and services for individuals with developmental disabilities.  Noah Homes has been part of East County and San Diego for 36 years. 


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

RESTAURANT IN A DAY: COMMUNITY PITCHES IN TO HELP POPULAR RAMONA EATERY MOVE OUTSIDE

By Miriam Raftery
 
Update: Photo, left: Marinade on Main's parking lot has been transformed into an outdoor dining patio, thanks to the generosity of community members.
 
July 8, 2020 (Ramona) – When San Diego County Health officials ordered indoor restaurants closed effective yesterday, Vineyard Grant James owner Susanne Sapier leaped int action to help Marinade on Main, a farm-to-table fresh restaurant in Ramona, remain viable.  So she sent out an email to community members asking for help to create a “restaurant in a day” – in the parking lot.
 
The email asked community members to donate pop-up tents, umbrellas/shade coverings, tables, chairs, café lights, misters, ground covering, wall coverings such as lattices or antique doors, plants, large pots to hold plants or trees, and old furnishings to serve as a hostess station and stand for dishes.

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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

ACCESSING PROGRAMS AND SERVICES AMID A PANDEMIC: BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS OF EAST COUNTY ADAPT TO CHALLENGES

By Helen Horvath

 

July 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- In this continuing series of interviews about the impact of COVID-19 upon nonprofit organizations serving the East County communities, East County Magazine interviews Forrest Higgins III, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of East County. The mission of the Boys and Girls Clubs of East County is “to enable all young people, especially those that need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

 

COVID-19 has stripped away many nonprofit’s abilities to generate revenue and sustain programs and services without creating modifications to how the non-profit operates.  This includes the Boys and Girls Club of East County (BGCEC) a local 501(c)(3) non-profit.

 


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

NAACP SAN DIEGO: FIGHTING FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE IN A COVID-19 ENVIRONMENT

Part II in a two-part interview with Dr. Leonard Thompson III. 

Click here to view Part I

 

By Helen Horvath

 

July 5, 2020 (San Diego) -- In these tumultuous times, impacted by both COVID-19 restrictions and renewed demands for social justice, our nation is at a crossroad to resolve long standing inequities. In San Diego County we have experienced protests stemming from perceptions of inequality. Despite the ban on gatherings and risk of the coronavirus, protesters have taken to the streets, at times without facial protection or social distancing, fighting what some perceive as the greater threat of injustice.  


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FIRST ROUND OF RELIEF FUNDS DISTRIBUTED TO 27 LA MESA BUSINESSES DAMAGED DURING CIVIL UNREST

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Don Buxton, owner of Play It Again Sports, accepts La Mesa Disaster Recovery Fund relief check. His store suffered looting, fire and smoke damage.

July 1, 2020 (La Mesa) – Relief checks of $5,000 each from the La Mesa Disaster Recovery Fund were distributed to 27 business owners on Tuesday, in the first of two rounds of funding.  


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A PASTOR BRINGS SPIRITUAL SUPPORT TO THOSE IN NEED DURING RIOTS

 

By Briana Gomez

 

Photo by Jake Rose: Pastor Ferguson in La Mesa, as police guard street while firefighters battle flames at the Randall Lamb Building

 

June 23, 2020 (La Mesa) -- After being sighted praying amid the La Mesa riots the night of May 30th, Pastor Travis Ferguson has found himself in unexpected limelight as a symbol of hope for La Mesa.


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SDG&E ANNOUNCES “ENERGY FOR OTHERS” MULTI-YEAR GIVING CAMPAIGN

Increased Contributions will Support San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund, Civic Engagement and Social Justice

East County News Service

June 18, 2020 (San Diego) -- San Diego Gas & Electric has announced “Energy for Others,” a new multi-year giving campaign to support communities in need, civic engagement and social justice.

In March, SDG&E shareholders seeded The San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund with its first $1 million contribution. With an additional $1 million contribution in 2020 and a $1 million commitment for 2021, SDG&E’s support of the fund now totals $3 million. The donations will help economic recovery, address food insecurity, assist with utility bills and more. SDG&E is also committing $500,000 to civic engagement and social justice causes, including an immediate $50,000 contribution to RISE San Diego, whose mission includes elevating and advancing urban leadership through dialogue-based civic engagement.  All contributions are funded by SDG&E shareholders.

“All of us at SDG&E care deeply about our communities and we’re honored to do our part in helping address the economic and social issues we face,” said Scott Drury, president of San Diego Gas & Electric.  “The senseless killing of George Floyd and other recent events serve as a sobering reminder that our country has more work to do before everyone is treated equally and with the same level of respect. RISE San Diego shares our values and commitment to respect, dignity and inclusiveness of all people, making them a strong partner to help advance progress.” 


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

FERN PLATT HALL LIVES A LIFE OF GOOD DEEDS

By Mimi Pollack, San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Jeff and Fern (Platt) Hall with their dog Chico

June 16, 2020 (La Mesa) - Growing up in the last century, it was not always easy being outside of the box.  In most cultures and countries, one followed a certain path:  go to school, work an eight-hour job, get married, have kids, etc. For those of us who didn’t follow all or part of the path, we were mostly accepted, but with questions. For that reason, I have always admired humans–especially women--who lived their lives by their own rules and beliefs.  A good example of someone who has lived both a life of adventure and service is Fern Platt Hall. She is a good example of a kind, but no nonsense, adventurous spirit.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

LA MESA DISASTER RECOVERY FUND REGISTRATION PROCESS NOW OPEN FOR AFFECTED BUSINESSES

East County News Service

A convenient online registration process is now available for La Mesa businesses damaged during civil unrest overnight on Saturday, May 30, and Sunday, May 31 to receive money from the La Mesa Disaster Recovery Fund.

The East County Economic Development Council (ECEDC) is supporting the effort initiated through the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and La Mesa Chamber of Commerce. It will receive and manage the applications on its website.

“We had one single objective at this stage of this process: making registration and documentation as easy and quick as possible,” said Jo-Marie Diamond, President and CEO of the East County Economic Development Council.  

Businesses can register through an online form on the East County Economic Development Council website. Applicants able to complete their registration by Friday, June 26 and have it verified will be part of the Phase I distribution.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

EL CAJON CHURCH FEEDS THE POLICE

East County News Service

June 14, 2020 (El Cajon) – Members of Foothills Christian Church in El Cajon responded by recently providing a free lunch and dinner as an expression of appreciation to the El Cajon Police Department.


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DIGNITY AND POWER NOW LAUNCHES EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND TO HELP CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES WITH SUPPLIES DURING PANDEMIC

East County News Service

Dignity & Power Now

June 13, 2020 (San Diego) -- Dignity & Power Now, has announced the establishment of its Emergency Fund to aid in connecting community members to essential supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rapid response fund will be implemented in three phases to respond to the ongoing concerns of community members who are experiencing loss, hardship, and health concerns as a result of the coronavirus.

First Phase: The first phase provides essential needs such as diapers, baby wipes, and formula to families with children. This phase includes size collection and drop-offs to residential addresses.


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LA MESA BUSINESSES FILE DAMAGE CLAIMS AFTER RIOT; ATTORNEY HAS TIPS ON LOSS CLAIMS DUE TO RIOTING OR PANDEMIC

GoFundMe Site raises over $200,000 to help local businesses

By Mike Allen

Photos by Henri Magala

June 12, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Steve Clay first got wind that his family’s package mail business, The Postal Annex, was being looted from an app he has on his phone.


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CALIFORNIA COAST CREDIT UNION DONATES $5,000 TO LA MESA BUSINESS RECOVERY EFFORTS

Source:  Cal Coast Credit Union

June 10, 2020 (La Mesa) -- California Coast Credit Union is donating $5,000 to the La Mesa Business Disaster Recovery Fund, helping drive total donations to the cause to more than $140,000. 

 


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RAMONA COMMUNITY FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES 2020 GRANTS AVAILABLE

East County News Service

June 8, 2020 (Ramona, CA) – Ramona Community Foundation (RCF), an affiliate of The San Diego Foundation, announced its annual call for grant applications. In its 9th year of grantmaking, RCF invites nonprofit organizations and agencies to submit proposals that demonstrate the power to build a more vibrant Ramona community.

The goal of the grant cycle is to support programs that make Ramona a great place to live, work and play. Desirable projects will inspire community pride and revitalization, and increase the quality of life of the broader community.


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REBUILD LA MESA: GO FUND ME ACCOUNT RAISES MORE THAN $160,000

 

Update June 18, 2020:  The fund has now raised over $196,000 and has begun distributing funds, but donations are still needed.

By Miriam Raftery

June 6, 2020 (La Mesa) – After riots devastated downtown La Mesa on May 30th, El Cajon Deputy Mayor Phil Ortiz teamed up with the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce Foundation and others to establish the La Mesa Business Disaster Recovery Fund.  The fund raised $50,000 in its first 13 hours last Sunday and has now surpassed $168,000 from more than 2,000 donors.

You can make a 100% tax deductible donation on GoFundMe by clicking here. 

The site states, “Our small businesses are devastated and many were already on the brink due to COVID19. La Mesa Village has been the heart of small business in the city and is a beautiful place for dining, events and memories.”


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SAVING LA MESA: RESIDENTS RALLIED TO PROTECT AND RESTORE CITY

By Miriam Raftery and Kendra Sitton

A Rebuild La Mesa fund has been set up by Phil Ortiz and the East County Chamber of Commerce to  help businesses damaged or destroyed by the riots. You can donate here.

May 31, 2020 (La Mesa) -- With the acrid stench of burning rubble and tear gas still pungent in the air after a night of rioting, looting and destruction, a different kind of mob descended on La Mesa  today. Some 500 to 600 volunteers came armed with brooms, power tools and paint brushes to clean up debris and broken glass, paint over graffiti and board up storefront windows to help protect local businesses if looters return tonight.

Stories of heroism also emerged – business owners, neighbors and strangers who came during the night to drive out looters with baseball bats and makeshift clubs, douse spot fires with fire extinguishers, and help save La Mesa’s historic downtown village.


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