Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Wounded Warrior Project is in crisis mode after a damning investigation into its lavish spending, Wiki's Wine Dive offers a lunch special and the Bakersfield Arts District Foundation gets off a big night

 * ... VETERANS: One of the largest and most prominent non profits that serves veterans - the Wounded Warrior Project - is in crisis mode after a damning report that calls into question its spending on lavish dinners and parties.
Among the findings of a New York Times investigation: the charity flew 500 employees to Colorado Springs for an "all hands" meeting at the exclusive Broadmoor Hotel, employees routinely buy business class seats and others stay at $500 a night hotel rooms. More troubling: the charity spends 40 percent of the money is raises on overhead, as opposed to other groups like the Semper Fi fund that spends just 8 percent on salaries and overhead. The organization raised some $372 million last year, mostly small donations from people over the age of 65.

* ... BOB ELIAS: I spotted an interesting picture on social media the other day that originally appeared in the Taft Midway Driller. The fading black and white photo showed local celebrities Buck Owens, Don Meridith, Frank Gifford and Gifford's mother, Lola, at a Bob Elias Hall of Fame banquet in 1976. Thanks to Sheri Horn Bunk, director of the Taft College Foundation, for sharing.

 * ... GOOD MESSAGE: And speaking of Sheri Horn Bunk, I can always rely on her to pass on some inspirational wisdom. From her Twitter account: "A person will soon forget what you said, and people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "There was a glorious time, before social media, when you would just lose touch with people."

 * ... FOODIE BEST BET: One of the best lunch deals in town is over at Wiki's Wind Dive and Grill in the Sully's shopping center at Seven Oaks. Simply cut out the coupon that has been running in The Californian and get enjoy a "buy one, get one free" lunch. The popular watering hole also features more than ten items at under $10 each.

 * ... ARTS DISTRICT: It was nice to see a good turnout for the new Bakersfield Arts District Foundation kick off reception at Metro Galleries the other night. Among those who appeared to support this new foundation focused on the downtown arts district included former Supervisor Karen Goh, Dignity Health's Robin Mangarin, Assembly candidate Vince Fong, the Art Council of Kern's David Gordon, David Cohn and George Barrientos from Chain Cohn Stiles, Lisa Kimble Edmonston, the Tree Foundation's Melissa Iger, Bakersfield City School District board member Andres Gonzales, Bike Bakersfield's Jason Cater, the Bakersfield Chamber's Nick Ortiz and Hillary Hanes, Kati McKeown from Congressman Kevin McCarthy's office and her husband, Bakersfield High teacher Sean McKeown, Mento Buru's Matt Munoz and Miranda Whitworth from the Kern Federal Credit Union and finally D.R. Horton's Jason Martin and daughters Ellie and Lillie.

* ... GOOD FORM: Congratulations to Deborah Durkan, who recently retired as head of MARE (Mastering Abilities Riding Equines). Durkan spent more than 20 years at this important non-profit, helping it grow and expanding its programs serve a greater number in our community with special needs and disabilities. In a letter to MARE supporters and staff, Durkan thanked everyone "who has blessed my life through MARE ... and 'May the Horse be with you.'"

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