Manhattan Beach resident Larry Johnson said he took one look at a black-and-white photo of young African girls balancing huge containers of water on their heads while walking to and from watering holes so many times a day they couldn’t go to school – and he decided to do something about it.
“I have a granddaughter about the same age as those girls, and I couldn’t image her walking with these containers and not going to school,” said Johnson, 64.
He learned that the photos, shot by Gil Garcetti, former Los Angeles County district attorney-turned-photographer and father of L.A.’s current mayor, Eric Garcetti, were taken in Niger, a sub-Saharan nation that the United Nations ranked as the least developed country in the world last year.
So in the spring, Johnson, a management consultant with Studio City’s Stanton Associates, took on an ambitious fundraising campaign through the Manhattan Beach Rotary Club, Rotary International and other Rotary groups to raise $500,000. If that mark is hit, it will be matched by World Vision Inc., a Federal Way, Wash., nonprofit provider of clean water in undeveloped communities. World Vision will use the $1 million to drill deep wells and create a water system for the 25,000 people in Torodi, Niger.
Johnson said he has raised $360,000 by reaching out to Rotary groups and individuals. He has until July to raise the rest of the money, but his personal goal is March.
“While I can’t write huge checks, I can raise money and I can talk,” Johnson said. “It’s about being able to effectively tell a story and having an amazing team in Rotary that also cares.”
Ruffing It Royally
If Tamara Kurtzman had her way, she would trade her home in Beverly Grove for a medieval castle in Scotland.
“Years ago, I was visiting Edinburgh and at my hotel, they give you the morning paper,” Kurtzman, 34, said. “What’s interesting is that it’s not uncommon to have a castle listed for sale there.”
One castle, she noticed, was listed for about $2 million.
“Even if you could find that land in California, it’s going to cost $50 million or some absurd amount of money,” she said.
Despite the “bargain,” Kurtzman said the price was still a bit over her budget.
So for now, the Beverly Hills attorney has decided to pursue her dream on a smaller scale: She built a castle-shaped doghouse for her 2-year-old miniature pinscher, Sir Monte de Blanc.
“He has this sort of elitist, pompous, ridiculous name so I figured he needed an equally elitist and pompous doghouse,” she said.
The doghouse, which took several months to complete, has stained-glass windows, hand-carved foam bricks and a lamp inside that automatically turns on at night.
“It took him a while to even get into it; he was very confused about what this thing was,” she said. “It took a little coaxing, a few treats and a little pillow. But once it was made a little homier, he got inside.”
Staff reporters Carol Lawrence and Cale Ottens contributed to this
column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.