Around Town: Newport Beach Garden Tour raises more than $40K for Sherman Library & Gardens

The Sherman Library & Gardens held a summer garden party, named “The Soiree of Summer,” on Aug. 29 as part of the 24th annual Newport Beach Garden Tour, raising more than $40,000 for the nonprofit.

Attendance was capped at 200 people with only 50 people allowed into the gardens each hour. A silent auction and raffle featured prizes donated by area businesses.

Organization members, volunteers and community members helped Sherman Library & Gardens have the organization’s most successful garden tour.

“I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of our members, volunteers and the community who continue to support Sherman Library & Gardens, especially during this challenging time,” said Scott LaFleur, executive director of the facility.

Proceeds from the Newport Beach Garden Tour and the summer garden party will support children’s education programs.

Mesa Water District launches video contest for students

Mesa Water District,, is calling on high school and college students in its service area — including most of Costa Mesa, parts of Newport Beach and unincorporated Orange County — to create video entries for the district’s “2020 Mesa Water Matters Video Contest.”

Now through Oct. 31, students are encouraged to create a fun and informative 60-second video highlighting the theme “Mesa Water Matters.” Topics could address areas such as water education in local schools, participation in community events, conservation programs such as drought-tolerant gardens or Mesa Water’s role as provider of safe and healthy drinking water.

Videos must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Oct. 31, with the video and entry application uploaded as two separate files via Dropbox at Videos should not exceed 250 MB.

Entries will be evaluated for their accuracy and effectiveness, creativity and originality, production quality and entertainment value.

The first-place prize is $500, followed by $300 for second place and $200 for third place. Winners will be notified on or before Nov. 6 and will be recognized on Mesa Water’s website and social media channels.

Students must live in Mesa Water District’s service area (for a map, visit For official contest rules and entry requirements, visit

Decorative Arts Society grants $25K to support Blind Children’s Learning Center

The Santa Ana-based nonprofit Blind Children’s Learning Center, which helps prepare children with visual impairments and disabilities for a life of independence, recently received a $25,000 grant from the Decorative Arts Society to support its Global Infant Development program.

The program provides critical home-based early intervention services for newly diagnosed and medically fragile infants and toddlers up to 3 years of age. The goal is to maximize the development of visually impaired babies and toddlers, while minimizing developmental delays.

DARTS, which aims to improve the lives of women and children in Orange County, recognizes the importance of these early services and how life-changing such resources can be for new moms and parents.

BCLC recently expanded its Global Infant Development program, due to a growing demand for services. The grant will help serve 125 infants and toddlers in Orange County during the 2020-21 school year along with 150 parents of visually impaired children.

“We at BCLC are extremely grateful for the generosity of the Decorative Arts Society,” said Angie Rowe, the nonprofit’s president and chief executive, in a statement. “We believe our programs and services align with the mission of DARTS … and feel beyond thankful for this partnership.”

Infant and toddler support includes Individual Family Service Plans, weekly home visits, optometry referrals, deaf-blind intervention, counseling and other services. To learn more, visit

The nonprofit Project Independence of Costa Mesa has transformed its 11th annual Walk for Independence into a virtual fundraising event and is inviting participants to walk from Sunday through Sept. 12 and enjoy a live online celebration on the final day.

Accessible at, the event will feature short inspirational videos, interactive workout sessions, special guests, easy ways to give online, a virtual auction and more.

Walkers can share their own progress made throughout the week with photos and/or videos that will be posted and played during the event.

Prizes will be awarded for most steps walked, most money raised, most days walked, best shout-out to Project Independence and best costume. Winners will be announced during the online event.

For the past 40 years, Project Independence has provided a lifeline to Orange County adults with developmental disabilities, who are now at even greatest risk because of the pandemic. The essential workers who comprise the Project Independence staff continue to serve clients despite challenges brought on by COVID-19.

Eighty-seven cents of every dollar raised by Project Independence goes directly to support vital programs for people with developmental disabilities. For more information, visit

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