El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Cynthia Robertson

Though Amanda Matti seems like an ordinary wife and young mother of two girls, her life story is quite different than many other women her age. The El Cajon resident has served in the Navy and was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in 2005 as a Foreign Affair Liaison Officer and Intelligence Analyst. That was when and where she met Fahdi Matti, who worked alongside her as a translator in the field, and who would eventually become her husband.

High in the hills of Santee overlooking the intersecting freeways of I-8, 125, 67 and 52 are some elegant Mediterranean-style buildings that resemble high-end apartments. In fact, it is Lantern Crest Senior Living, a resort-style retirement community. 

Every year since 1987, the Christmas Story Tree has bejeweled the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park during December Nights on the Prado, formerly called Christmas on the Prado. 

“The tree is our church’s gift to the city,” said Paul Plunk, music director of Del Cerro Baptist Church in La Mesa. 

For three days beginning Nov. 26, a work crew from the church worked to build, green and decorate the 34-foot-high tree. 

Every city in San Diego County has its share of homeless people living on its streets, La Mesa included. At La Mesa United Methodist Church, the screening of “Tony--the Movie” a few weeks ago provided an eye-opening, heart-wrenching first-hand look at what living on the streets is like, and how much work it is just to survive.

The La Mesa Lions Club “That’s Amore” fundraiser dinner took place on October 19, 2017 at the La Mesa Community Center. To the tune of Italian songs played by accordion Howard Kantorowski, hundreds of Lions Club members, friends and guests happily ate their dinner of pasta, salads and bread, prepared and served up by Cupid’s Catering. 

Dinnertime at Waterford Terrace Retirement Community is always an elegant affair, but the grand opening celebration of the new rooftop park on the evening of October 12 was cause for celebration and a fine party atop the 6th floor. Fresh Air Jazz Trio had everyone soaking up the view while tapping their feet to light jazz. Guests enjoyed elegant hors d’oeuvres such as Caprese salad skewers and mini shrimp cocktails and finishing with cannoli and eclairs.

What started out as a small organization by Mac and Ruth Wordell in 1974, La Mesa Beautiful has laid down some deep roots. The 39th Annual Awards Luncheon at the La Mesa Community Center on October 12, 2017 recognized residents and businesses within La Mesa who have ensured that the city remains the “Jewel of the Hills.”

“La Mesa Beautiful is an important organization, small but mighty,” said La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis. 

The drumming and haunting chants of men in native song, the swirl of color, feathers and beads of Native American dance was all part of the thrill at the 28th Annual Sycuan Powwow on the Sycuan reservation near the casino. The annual powwow, which took place this year Sept. 8 - 10, is a source of pride for the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.

It’s the start of the new academic year at Grossmont College, and the Hyde Gallery’s first exhibit for the fall semester will take you in by the intricacy and detail of the art. “If You Lived Here” features pencil and ink drawings as well as etchings and will run through September 14.

The exhibit shows 25 artists, all members of West Coast Drawing. The organization highlights the importance of drawing. 

For the 15th year in a row, Sharp HospiceCare held its annual Benefit Dinner and Regatta. “Celebrating Life” was the motto for this year’s events. The Benefit Dinner on August 26 hosted 500 people at the Hotel del Coronado. The next day, 43 sailboats participated in the race in the bay, with 700 on 38 yachts from Coronado Yacht Club watching the colorful spinnakers out on the sparkling water.