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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 8th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 44 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 44

Hobnobbing With Helen

BY HELEN ANN THOMAS


SAY CHEESE!
Mark Parsons and librarian Mary Housel enjoyed the excitement and energy at the Santa Maria Public Library's Shepard Hall in November when Parsons’s wife Wendelin van Draanen presented an hour-long program and signed her books for fans.
PHOTO BY HELEN ANN THOMAS

One of the highlights of the year 2013 was the Nov. 23 appearance of children’s book author Wendelin Van Draanen at the Santa Maria Public Library’s Shepard Hall.

Starting at 11 a.m., the personable, perky Van Draanen played to a packed house that was clearly delighted and mesmerized by her story. For close to an hour, she radiated energy and zest as she presented a funny, animated detailing of her journey from teacher/mom to best-selling author.

This dynamic lady is the author of the very popular Sammy Keyes series for children. She was on location observing the process when one of her non-Sammy Keyes books, Flipped, was made into a movie that was directed by Rob Reiner in 2010. The movie is now available on DVD.

This could-have-been-a-comedienne delighted her audience, young and old alike, with her account of how she fulfilled her dream of being a published writer and how it did not happen overnight.

Thanks, Chris Slaughter, interim executive director of the Discovery Museum, for the e-mail blast to the Friends of the Discovery Museum that let us know about this special event.

After her program, Van Draanen signed books. Oh, did she sign books! The line of buyers wanting autographs—some holding armloads—snaked around the room.


WORKING TOGETHER
(From left to right) Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin, Jim Diani, and 35th District Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian posed for a photo at the Santa Maria Police Council reception in October.
PHOTO BY HELEN ANN THOMAS

Van Draanen’s husband, Mark Parsons, was all smiles as he, along with Slaughter, stood behind the sales table. Parsons, a budding author, has a book coming out soon. Writing runs in the family!

City librarian Mary Housel loved the filled-up room and the enthusiasm of Van Draanen’s fans.

The Friends of the Library, which buys books and funds children’s” programs, received a portion of book sale proceeds.

Another interesting event this past year was the Santa Maria Police Council reception held on Oct. 9 at Santa Maria Energy’s social room. Attendees got to see a three-minute excerpt of a video being produced by the Santa Maria Police Department. The sobering video beats the heck out of any reality show. On the screen, we saw male prisoners in jail in white or orange jumpsuits and handcuffs.

The video will be shown to school kids.

Police Chief Ralph Martin told us that in order to make a dent in the gang problem, “We need to do interventions.”

The video, about which school authorities are excited, is one such intervention. It was financed with $7,500 from the police council and $7,500 from the Santa Barbara Foundation.


SUPPORTERS
(From left to rright) Karen Cordary, Santa Maria Fire Chief Dan Orr, and Nancy Stewart showed their support at the council reception.
PHOTO BY HELEN ANN THOMAS

SMPD Sergeant Dan Cohen had the idea for a video that shows school kids the very serious and life-changing (not for the good) side of belonging to a gang.

The council funds programs and equipment needs that are not covered by the police department budget. The reception was chock full of movers and shakers, including Santa Maria Energy’s CEO David Pratt and director of government affairs Bob Poole. Bob Hatch, president of the Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce, was on hand, as were City Councilman Bob Orach and Kevin Walthers, president of Allan Hancock College.

Quite a few policemen and police explorers were in the room, along with Pacifica Realty’s Jerry Schmidt, president of the police council.

County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino and pastor Rick Bloom were among the crowd. And our 35th District Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian received a plaque from the police council.

 

If you want to hobnob with Helen, you may contact her at helenthom232@yahoo.com.