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MAESTRO’S BATON GRAND PRIZE DRAWING OFFERS CONDUCTING OPPORTUNITY FOR ONE LUCKY MUSIC-LOVER

San Luis Obispo, CA – Maestro Michael Nowak, the Music Director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony since 1984, doesn’t relinquish his baton very often. But on New Year’s Eve, one very lucky music-lover will have the chance to take that coveted baton in hand and conduct the orchestra in the grand finale of the Symphony’s first-ever New Year’s Eve concert on Friday, December 31st at the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo.  Raffle tickets are on sale now for this unique drawing that will take place on December 15th.  The winner will be notified with a personal phone call from Maestro Michael Nowak. In addition to having the opportunity to lead the orchestra in Auld Lang Syne at this gala New Year’s Eve gathering, the lucky winner will also receive a private conducting lesson with Maestro Nowak and will rehearse with the orchestra before the concert.  At 9 pm on December 31st, as the “Ball” drops in New York and the Symphony celebrates the dawn of 2011 on East Coast time, the winner of the Maestro’s Baton Grand Prize Drawing will take the stage at the Performing Arts Center to lead the orchestra and the audience in this classic celebratory tune.

According to Music Director Michael Nowak:  “As we were planning our 50th Anniversary celebration, the idea of a New Year’s Eve Pops concert came immediately to mind.  It would be just the perfect little something extra to make the 50th even more special.  Offering up the chance to conduct onstage at the Performing Arts Center, while also raising funds for music education, only sweetened the idea.”

Raffle tickets are $100 per person and a maximum of only 100 tickets will be sold. All proceeds benefit San Luis Obispo Symphony artistic and music education programs. To purchase tickets, please stop by the Symphony office at 75 Higuera Street, Suite #160 in San Luis Obispo or call (805) 543-3533.  Patrons who stop by this Friday, December 3rd will also have the opportunity to purchase a case of Symphony Syrah at a 20% discount at a special one-day-sale!

For more information about Symphony Syrah, the Maestro’s Baton Auction and tickets for the New Year’s Eve Concert, please visit the SLO Symphony website at www.slosymphony.com or call (805) 543-3533.

November 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Art Inspires! Supports Art, Opera, Orchestra, and Symphony

The Community Foundation announces this year’s recipients of the Art Inspires! Endowment Fund Grants

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA ― Five local arts organizations received a total of $18,386 from the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation’s (SLOCCF) Arts Inspires! Endowment Fund. Created expressly to support the arts in our community, this fund was originally established by the Community Foundation with a gift from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation to ensure that community arts programs will continue to inspire local residents creatively, spiritually, and communally.

This year’s recipients and projects are:

  • ARTS Obispo to update their database and acquire time-tracking software as part of a strategic work plan and development for operational sustainability.
  • Morro Bay Art Association for the project, Art Reach, to purchase equipment for promotional presentations and improve the Art Center Morro Bay classroom and children’s display wall.
  • Opera San Luis Obispo to implement a marketing and communications campaign in an effort to raise brand awareness, create a new identity and retain brand loyalty.
  • San Luis Chamber Orchestra to improve visibility of the organization through design and development of brochures and targeted purchase of radio spots.
  • SLO Symphony to build capacity for Strings in the Schools through new software and a clinic with instructor training by Dr. Robert Gillespie.

The SLOCCF has more than 200 funds and long-term endowments that support a wide range of causes and community-based organizations. To donate to a fund, create a new one, or get more information about SLOCCF, please call 543-2323 or log on to www.sloccf.org.

November 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2010 General Grants Program Applications Open to SLO County Non-profits

The San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation is now accepting applications

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – The San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation’s 2010 General Grants program is now open and applications are due December 3, 2010 at 5:00pm.  The goal of the General Grants program is to distribute funds to a variety of non-profit organizations throughout San Luis Obispo County and the Community Foundation seeks to address diverse community interests through this unique program. Funding areas from the grants include programs that provide significant benefits to the community within and across funding areas of arts and culture, education, health, human services and community enhancement.

The General Grants program is funded by the Foundation’s Community Needs and various Field of Interest funds. The general grants program is made possible through the generous support of the Roberta D. Petrie Memorial Endowment; Amy Arsenio Endowment; Alva, Ernest, and William Righetti Fund for Seniors and People with Disabilities; SLO Environmental Fund; Alfred & Diane Fritz Endowment, Helen & Ronald Dunin Memorial Endowment, Preventive Health Care Endowment and the Community Endowment.

The 2010 general grants program application can be downloaded online by visiting sloccf.org and clicking on the Grants Program link on the right side of the home page, under Featured Grants.

For more information about grants and programs, contact SLOCCF Director of Grants and Programs Janice Fong Wolf at (805) 543-2323 or jwolf@sloccf.org.

November 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tax Software Helps Maximize Tax Impact of Charitable Donations

CharityDeductions.com shares the top 3 ways charitable donations make a big difference


SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA –As the December 31 deadline approaches to make donations eligible for a 2010 tax deduction, CharityDeductions.com offers a fast, efficient way to make the most of charitable donations and reduce tax bills. The website helps you find accurate fair market values for items donated to charity and helps you organize your information to complete the required IRS form for donations above $500.  By taking the time to itemize donations, many people reduce their tax bill by more than $200 using this software.  The website offers a free trial making it a good resource even if you only donate a few items each year and want to see how easy it is to reduce your tax bill.

CharityDeductions.com suggests the top three ways charitable donations can make a big difference and how their tax software can help maximize tax impact:

1. “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Donate unwanted items to charity and help the less fortunate get what they cannot afford to buy. Some charitable organizations like Goodwill Industries resell the donated items to fund their mission to help people find work.

2. “Out with the old and in with the new.” Clean out overflowing closets of clothes and toys and garages of electronics and furniture that are no longer used.  Keep in mind December 31st is the last day to make donations for a 2010 tax deduction.

3. “Help us help you.” Take full advantage of the tax deduction you’re entitled to. Claim real values and complete Form 8283 once the donation value exceeds $500 to maximize your tax impact. Guessing at the values or stopping at the $500 deduction when you donated much more may leave hundreds of dollars on the table when it comes to reducing your tax bill. CharityDeductions.com provides fast and easy fair market valuations for thousands of items with a free trial membership.

Featured on ABC’s Good Morning America show and in the Wall Street Journal Sunday last year, CharityDeductions.com was the first web-based valuation software for charitable donations. It provides thousands of fair market values, as well as tracking and organizing charitable money and mileage contributions.  CharityDeductions.com uses eBay’s completed auction data to help estimate the value of items donated to charity.

CharityDeductions.com, LLC is located in San Luis Obispo, CA.  For more information please call (805) 512-9990 or email support@charitydeductions.com.

November 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Countywide Tourism Website Launches

WineCoastCountry.com offers interactive planning for visitors to SLO County


San Luis Obispo, CA—The San Luis Obispo County Business Improvement District (CBID) announces the launch of the area’s most comprehensive tourism website. With more than 450 hotels, motels, bed & breakfasts and vacation rentals represented, plus an abundance of restaurants and recreational choices, visitors to the area can plan their own unique and detailed itinerary, based on their specific tastes and preferences, as well as discover scores of more great reasons for coming here. And locals can plan their own “staycations” as well, taking advantage of the vast amount of information available on lodging and activities.

“We have such a diverse and beautiful county,” said CBID Board Chair Mike Hanchett, owner of San Simeon’s Best Western Cavalier Inn. “This website showcases that diversity and beauty, while making it easy—and fun—for anyone to plan a vacation here.”

WineCoastCountry.com features five popular activities from the county front and center on the home page, which rotate on a regular basis. Detailed information is provided on all the regions of the county, as well as a complete listing of all the accommodations available in the county’s distinct unincorporated areas, including Avila Beach, unincorporated Arroyo Grande, Cambria, Cayucos, Los Osos, unincorporated Morro Bay, Nipomo, Oceano, unincorporated San Luis Obispo and San Simeon.

Using the site’s fast, fun, and easy itinerary-builder, travel planners can choose places to stay, things to do, even where to eat – adding and saving as they go, then printing their final selections. The itinerary can be interfaced with interactive Google maps for a downloadable map to bring on the trip or sent to a smart phone or other mobile device.

“The CBID has collaborated closely with other tourism groups and agencies to amass a rich and complete set of listings,” Hanchett continued. “We will be building out to more than 2200 pages of tourism content about visiting any region in the county, with particular emphasis on the unincorporated areas.”

For more information, call Cheryl Cuming at (805) 547-CBID (547-2243) or log onto WineCoastCountry.com

November 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Local Boy Returns with Life-Saving Service Dog

Service dog acts as one more line of defense against life-threatening allergies

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA—A five-year-old boy named Cooper Giron who suffers from severe food allergies and his parents recently returned from a visit to Colorado to retrieve and receive two weeks of training with Chip, their new Australian L abradoodle who is a specially trained service dog.  Last December, the Giron family received an unexpected donation from a joint effort between Jack’s Helping Hand and Kevin Hill’s 6th grade class at Bishop’s Peak Elementary School who contributed $139 toward the $5,000 total to cover the traveling expenses of the trip. The family patiently waited ten months for the specially selected dog to be ready.

Cooper has life-threatening allergies to tree nuts and peanuts that are so acute that even the slightest contact can produce anaphylactic shock and subsequent death. Christina and John Giron, Cooper’s parents are extremely cautious of the allergen threats. “At this point, one of us must be with Cooper at all times to keep him safe, he’s our number one priority,” says Mrs. Giron. To add one more line of defense, Cooper’s physician prescribed an allergy-detection dog that would prevent his exposure to allergens that his parents may not be able to detect. A nonprofit company in Colorado called Angel Service Dogs, Inc., raises and trains Allergy Alert dogs and receives several thousand applications per year. “We feel very blessed to have been accepted.” “Along with the extensive training that we received with Chip we also learned invaluable information on anaphylactic shock and life-threatening allergies,” said Giron. “The people at Angel Service Dogs are extremely

The Giron family with Bridget and Paul Ready of Jack's Helping Hand

knowledgeable about Cooper’s condition.”

Australian Labradoodles like Chip are known for their attractiveness; most people have the instant urge to pet them, but petting isn’t allowed for most service dogs. Chip works for praises. He is heavily praised and rewarded with a tennis ball after he hunts an area for an allergen odor then alerts the Girons. “Chip seems happier when he’s working and finding odors, he really enjoys his training,” says Giron. “We have to train him 3 times a week on 7 nut odors.”

The Girons are very grateful to the many who helped them raise the money to purchase a service dog, adding that their trip to Colorado wouldn’t have been possible without the generous donation from Jack’s Helping Hand and the 6th grade students of Bishop’s Peak elementary school.

Founded in 2004, Jack’s Helping Hand, Inc. is a local non-profit organization that assists children with illnesses and disabilities, providing special treatments, services, equipment and transportation not provided by other sources, or that exceed family financial capabilities. For more information, please call (805) 547-1914 or visit www.jackshelpinghand.org.

November 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

See – and Hear and Watch – Historic San Luis Obispo Like Never Before

History Center of SLO County announces brand new, multi-media walking tour

San Luis Obispo, CA—Beginning November 18, the first of three unique, 90-minute walking tours of historic San Luis Obispo will be ready for use by locals and visitors alike. This creative exercise in multimedia combines audio narrative with visual archival photos while you walk, giving users a richly detailed and multi-layered look at the city’s history. Simply log on to HistoryCenterSLO.org or HeritageShared.org to download the tour, titled Historic Downtown San Luis Obispo. Walkers can then use any of several hand-held devices, such as iPads, iPods, or most “smart phones” to direct their walking tour, or they can view the tour online only. The funding for the podcasts tours was provided by the City of San Luis Obispo’s Promotional Coordinating Committee (PCC).

“This is such a wonderful way to bring history alive for everyone,” said Kimberly Timbs, executive director of the History Center. “They’ll inform and entertain visitors, remind longtime residents and local history buffs of the heritage they cherish, and they’ll engage the younger generation in understanding the value and relevance of history in their modern lives.”

View then-and-now photos of such familiar downtown buildings as the Wineman Hotel, the JP Andrews Building, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, and the Creamery. Stand where the first fire station was built, where bullfights were once held, and where the city’s daily newspaper was started. Hear first-hand accounts of the old courthouse being demolished, one of the many public hangings conducted by the Vigilance Committee, and the devastation caused by the 1926 Union Oil Tank Farm fire.

“What we’ve done is to match the fascinating stories from our past with archival photos, so that walkers can view our historic buildings in a brand new light,” said Timbs. “We are really proud of this collaborative effort among History Center and Heritage Shared staff, videographer Todd Peterson of Red Canary, and Verdin Marketing. And we are especially grateful to the City of San Luis Obispo for seeing the value of showcasing our city’s history in this interactive way.” PCC Chair Marco Rizzo adds, “Living and visiting in San Luis Obispo, a city so rich in history and lore, it is imperative we share this knowledge in a way for everyone to enjoy.”

Two more tours are in the planning stages—one for the Railroad District of the city, and one that takes walkers through the little known “underground” landmarks of the Prohibition Era. For more information about how to use this leading-edge, multi-media walking tour of historic Downtown SLO, call (805) 543-0638 or log onto http://www.HistoryCenterSLO.org.

November 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Celebrate the Magic

November 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Miller’s Equestrian Center: Teaching Life Lessons

November 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment