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CALL IN A FEW UNPAID LOANS AND ... VOILA!

Byline: DENNIS McCARTHY

Odds and ends from around the Valley:

Nothing like a couple of hundred angry senior citizens descending on City Hall to make the powers that be see the error of their ways.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column about the 9-year-old Handiworker Program, which had helped thousands of low-income seniors make repairs to their homes and now was being threatened by a lack of funding.

Only a handful of the 15 City Council members - most of them from the San Fernando Valley - had promised to fund the program in their districts.

Well, that all changed last week after Lillian Kohn and her Grey Panthers from the Valley, along with other seniors from throughout the city, showed up at the council's Housing Committee meeting.

``Let's just say it was the democratic process at work,'' Lillian said Thursday, smiling.

Whatever, it was, it worked. The Handiworker Program is once again being funded citywide, minus the 5 percent cut that all city programs are facing.

Last year, 1,675 people benefited, including 1,024 widows living on an average of $10,000 a year, and 400 disabled people.

To keep the Handiworker Program going, Mayor James Hahn basically put the arm on people and businesses who owed the city money, said Sarah Dusseault, deputy mayor of housing.

``We went back through our loans trying to find anyone who owed us money soon or in the near future, and we went after it,'' she said. ``Mayor Hahn feels strongly about helping low-income seniors stay in their own homes.''

The $1.7 million raised, added to $2 million being taken from the general city budget, will keep the program operating.

``We got the call Wednesday afternoon that we were being funded again this year, minus 5 percent, which we can live with,'' said Ron Carreira, who runs the Handiworker Program for the East Valley, which last year helped 316 low-income seniors.

Carreira said he was also asked by city officials to call off the Grey Panthers.

``I guess they didn't want to see all us seniors sitting out there in the audience waiting for our turn to make the democratic process work,'' Kohn said.

How's this for a great quote? ``The only time you lose is when you quit.''

It's on a plaque that was unveiled Thursday in the plaza of the city's Constituent Service Center, which is under construction in the Van Nuys Civic Center.

The plaza was officially named the Ernani Bernardi Plaza in honor of the longtime Los Angeles City Council member who never quit when he took on a fight for his constituents in his 32 years in office.

``This is the culmination of a long, beautiful life,'' said Bernardi, 92, who was on hand for the dedication.

``I'm so grateful to all the members of the City Council for doing this for me,'' he said.

They didn't do it for you, Ernani. You earned it.

And finally, American Legion Post 826 of Woodland Hills will host its annual Four Chaplains brunch at 11 a.m. Sunday at the post hall, 5320 Fallbrook Ave., Woodland Hills.

It honors the heroic sacrifice of four Army chaplains who gave their life jackets to four young soldiers as their troopship, the U.S. Dorchester, was sinking in the North Atlantic during World War II.

Every February, the four chaplains who went down with the ship are honored in veterans halls all over America. Tickets are $8 at the door.

l=8Dennis McCarthy, (818) 713-3749

dennis.mccarthy(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 6, 2004
Words:591
Previous Article:LAUSD TOLD TO MANAGE ITS FUNDS BETTER SHORTCOMINGS IN OPERATIONS SPELLED OUT IN ANNUAL REPORT.
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