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Community Rallies to Support Cathay Palisades as Closing Date Nears

Cathay Palisades storefront in June 2021
Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

Cathay Palisades is slated to close its Antioch Street doors after 30 years in Pacific Palisades on Sunday, June 26—and community members are not ready to say goodbye.

Cathay Palisades, owned by David Leung, has been a go-to for residents since it opened in January 1989. Topa Property Management were reported to have approached the restaurant in October 2021, giving them two months’ notice to vacate the property, citing the restaurant was “not a tenant mix,” according to David’s wife and restaurant back office manager Audrey Leung.

The Leungs said they were caught off guard and requested more time via email. They were granted a six-month extension, with a move out date of June 30.

Since the news was announced, community members have made strides to both help keep Cathay Palisades in town and raise support for those employed by the restaurant as it prepared to close.

Palisadian Rafaella Kistler created a petition titled “Keep Cathay Open,” which has garnered more than 160 signatures in support of keeping the restaurant in the Palisades.

“I’ve been going [to Cathay Palisades] since I was a little girl, and I basically grew up knowing these amazing people who work there and loving the food,” Kistler said to the Palisadian-Post. “When I heard they were closing down, I couldn’t believe it. They were such a big part of the community … It will be so lonely without them.”

B. Lee launched a GoFundMe to help support David and his employees. With $11,510 raised of its $32,000 goal at press time, Lee shared hopes the funds “can help David pay utility, vendor and incoming bills, and to provide a month’s worth of lost wages, tips and revenue.”

Lee wrote that many residents will miss the food, comfort and relationships that have been formed with Leung.

“When we see their smiling faces and chat with them over family meals, we may not realize they’ve arrived to serve us after long commutes and with families of their own at home,” Lee wrote. “They can use the help of our community, which has enjoyed many years of good food, convenience and service. The goodwill that David and his employees have accumulated over 32 years is greatly valued and appreciated, but unfortunately it cannot help pay their bills or support their families while they look for work.”

Audrey said the support has been a “tremendous help.”

“Just 30-some years and … absolutely nothing, it’s like he has been wiped off the map,” Audrey said to the Palisadian-Post. “[For] David, because he’s the one who goes there day in and day out, for him it’s a very big source of comfort … all the support and all this … overwhelming love. He felt so good, it’s like a big solace for him. Big, big, big source of comfort, I cannot tell you how much it means to him. He did leave an impression in the community and he [is leaving] on a very high note.”

When news first broke that the restaurant would be closing, the Leungs, as well as members of the community, put out a call to secure an alternate location Cathay could work out of, even considering switching to just take out and delivery.

Following the closure, Audrey said the Leungs do not plan to open another restaurant in the future.

Audrey shared community members are welcome to drop by and say their goodbyes on June 26.

“You don’t have to buy anything,” Audrey added, “just come in and say hi, that will be very nice.”

Updates about Cathay Palisades will be posted on its website cathaypalisades.com and Instagram at @cathaypalisades. To reach the Leungs, contact cathaypalisades@gmail.com. To donate, visit gofund.me/c7d7fff1.

Madhappy Pops Up at Palisades Village

A look inside the store
Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

Palisades Village has welcomed its latest retailer to the development: Madhappy, which opened the doors of its summer pop-up shop on Saturday, June 18.

Founded in 2017 by four friends—Mason Spector, Joshua Sitt, and brothers Peiman and Noah Raf—Madhappy has set out to build a lifestyle apparel brand “centered around mental health that hopes to create conversation [and] drive the advancement of mental health in a 360-degree way,” the team shared with the Palisadian-Post.

“Mental health is the great equalizer,” Spector said. “It is the through line that connects everything in our lives, it is what connects us all to each other. It is the most powerful thing that exists in our world, and the more attention we pay to it, the more fulfilled our lives can be.”

Spector explained that growing up, his anxiety and depression manifested themselves into challenges with addiction as he grew older.

“As we were first growing Madhappy, I hit a point that forced me to face those issues head-on, leading me down a path of sobriety and a healthier relationship with myself,” he continued. “I am fortunate enough where I can incorporate these lessons into my professional life too, where Madhappy’s ethos aligns with a lot of my own personal struggles.”

After choosing the name Madhappy, the founders said they set out to build something deeper than solely apparel. In the past five years, they have created and dedicated resources toward mental health awareness, including The Madhappy Podcast—which has hosted a series of conversations on mental health with guests like Emma Chamberlain, Dixie D’Amelio and more—a free, mental health resource blog called The Local Optimist and most recently, The Madhappy Foundation.

The Madhappy Foundation launched this year as a nonprofit organization, supporting organizations like The Loveland and Born This Way foundations.

Now, Madhappy has launched its Summer ’22 Collection, billed as its “largest summer collection to date.” At its seasonal shop—located at 15277 Sunset boulevard in the space previously occupied by WILLIAM B + friends—Palisadians can find new silhouettes, like Madhappy’s fleece zip-up hoodie and crewneck, dresses, knit sets, swimwear, and more.

In addition to the collection, the team also created an exclusive capsule that is only available at its Palisades Village pop-up.

Madhappy currently has two other shops in Los Angeles, including The Grove and Melrose Avenue.

“Our collection was very inspired by a California summer near the ocean, and the Pacific Palisades embodies that really perfectly,” the team said to the Post. “As we were designing the collection, we immediately knew we wanted to have a presence here this summer.

“This is our first location in the Palisades, so we always look forward to welcoming a new audience into Madhappy. We set out for all of our physical spaces to be the embodiment of the brand, so we love meeting people and inviting them into our Local Optimist Group.”

Madhappy at Palisades Village is a seasonal shop with no official closing date scheduled as the Post went to print.

CDC Vaccine Recommendation Expands to Children Under 5

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Saturday, June 19, that children as young as 6 months old can now be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Parents and caregivers can now get their children 6 months through 5 years of age vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines to better protect them from COVID-19,” according to the CDC. “This expands eligibility for vaccination to nearly 20 million additional children, and means that all Americans ages 6 months and older are now eligible for vaccination.”

Both vaccines received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday, June 18.

Moderna will be a two-dose series, four weeks apart, and Pfizer-BioNtech will be a three-dose series. Both will be a lesser dosage than the vaccine adults receive.

“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can. I encourage parents and caregivers with questions to talk to their doctor, nurse or local pharmacist to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations and the importance of protecting their children by getting them vaccinated.”

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials said the vaccine would become available at more than 900 sites starting this week—including 400 mobile sites, 200 pharmacies, 180 healthcare provider facilities and seven Public Health Points of Dispensing.

“The development and approval of the vaccines for children under age 5 have gone through a rigorous evaluation and approval process, as with all other routine childhood vaccines,” Director of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “As we make plans to gather with family and to enjoy the summer and upcoming holidays, now is the time to make sure that all our children are fully vaccinated. Vaccinated children and adults add an essential layer of protection for the entire community, especially with the proliferation of new, highly infectious variants.”

As of Saturday, June 12, over 19 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered across LA County. To date, 91.4% of Pacific Palisades and 91.5% of Palisades Highlands residents have gotten at least one shot, according to data from Public Health.

As the Palisadian-Post went to print Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 had reached 3,071,314 across the county when factoring in Long Beach and Pasadena, with 32,263 deaths.

Pacific Palisades had reached 4,092 confirmed cases and 18 deaths Tuesday, with an additional 776 in Palisades Highlands and two deaths.

Officials Provide George Wolfberg Park at Potrero Canyon Updates at Recent Meeting

Progress at Potrero Canyon
Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

Updates regarding the forthcoming George Wolfberg Park at Potrero Canyon were recently shared at the city of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks Facility Repair and Maintenance Commission Task Force virtual meeting on June 16.

“The landscaping phase of the park is approximately 50% through construction,” Kristen Ly, project manager for the park’s landscaping phase, explained. “The Palisades Recreation Center parking lot was open to the public at the end of May, and irrigation and landscaping efforts continue.”

Ly explained that approximately 10,000 plants have been placed in the canyon so far, and excavation and installation of shoring for a pump station along Pacific Coast Highway began this month and is ongoing.

When complete, the 46-acre passive park—which has been decades in the making and developed by the city—will feature picnic areas and provide a pathway from Palisades Recreation Center down to Pacific Coast Highway. There will be riparian landscaping, scenic ocean views, further access to nearby hiking trails, as well as fences and gates to ensure adherence to park hours.

Board of Recreation and Park Commissioner Joe Halper, a resident of Pacific Palisades, had requested an update on the status of communication between the California Coastal Commission and city of LA, which started with a letter in April of this year.

“Since April, the city has had multiple meetings with the Coastal Commission staff, and have provided all necessary documentation and information requested,” Ly said. “This includes a general progress report for the Potrero Canyon Park project, as well as a permit amendment application for the pathway leading down from Friends Street.

“Additionally, city staff has been working closely with the Coastal Commission and representatives from Caltrans to continue discussions regarding property rights for the lateral trail from the entrance of the park by PCH to the Temescal Canyon Road intersection.”

Ly explained that a gate on Friends Street was previously permitted but that the Coastal Commission has requested the Bureau of Engineering include an amendment to the Coastal Development Permit to address the inclusion of a pathway, which would, according to Norman Mundy, an environmental supervisor with the Bureau of Engineering, connect that path with the main trail within the park.

That application, Mundy explained, has been submitted, and the Coastal Commission has requested additional details about an irrigation system that will be installed in the park. Halper asked if there was anything that could be done to expedite the process, in the interest of saving time and funding, and Mundy assured the task force that the Coastal Commission has been working “constructively” to get the issues resolved as soon as possible.

The meeting then opened for public comment, with four residents speaking on the matter.

Jeff Spitz, a 30-plus-year resident of the area, explained that while he fully supports the park development and thinks it will be a “wonderful thing for the community and the city at large,” he shared that, along with at least 40 fellow residents, “strongly oppose the Friends Street entrance.”

“At the time, in 2008, the report issued by the [Potrero Canyon Community Task Force] said there would not be west rim access—which is what Friends Street is—absent public support,” Spitz shared. “And while I know there are certain individuals who support this … there is very strong opposition in the local community.”

Two people spoke in support of the Friends Street entrance: David Card and Anya Wolfberg McCann, citing the entrance as necessary for public safety, as it provides a point of emergency access, as well as to avoid finding parking at Palisades Recreation Center.

“There are thousands of people that live on that west mesa that would otherwise have to drive to the park at the Rec Center at the north end in order to try to find parking that is woefully inadequate and congested,” Card explained, “not only for the east rim residents there, but also for the park itself and the business district that are all tied together right there at the northern entrance of the park.”

Additional public comments may be sent to Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners via email: rap.commissioners@lacity.org.

Design Review Board Votes to Support Updated Coldwell Banker Signage

One of the Coldwell Banker signs slated to be replaced
Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

For the first time in almost 25 years, Coldwell Banker’s Sunset Boulevard office will have updated signage.

The Pacific Palisades Design Review Board voted unanimously during its June 8 meeting to support the replacement of two wall signs, one facing Sunset Boulevard and the other facing Carey Street.

The two wall signs are slated to be replaced with like-size signs in the same locations, according to Mitch Chemers, who attended the meeting to represent the applicant. They are being updated to reflect Coldwell Banker’s current branding.

Chemers described the updated illuminated text as more modest, as the branded text is wider, so it has to be shorter to fit into the same space, resulting in smaller visual signage.

Additional changes to the building will be the removal of an awning, as well as placement of vinyls on the window, which currently do not include store hours but have a placeholder space for the future if that changes.

“Because the signs are very simple and they’re consistent with what was previously approved,” Chemers said, “we’re hoping that there isn’t anything that conflicts with the building or the architecture, and we hope that it continues to be a modest, appropriate, well-designed, simple sign for this building.”

Chemers shared details about the signs, which he described as standard sign-making materials—designed for long-term durability with high-performance paint. The letters will stand off 1.5 inches. The white lettering will be opaque against a blue background, Coldwell Banker’s corporate color.

Design Review Board Chair Donna Vaccarino raised the question of when the original signs were approved and permitted, which Chemers explained date back to 1998.

A rendering of the future sign
Photo courtesy of VGS

“I’m wondering if Coldwell Banker … have they considered doing an upgrade to this building?” Vaccarino asked. “The shingles are falling off, and they’re discolored. I thought maybe with the signage, there would be an upgrade to the building itself.”

Chemers explained that Coldwell Banker doesn’t own the building, but leases the space, so upgrades would be through the building owner.

Vaccarino then suggested Coldwell Banker consider placing the sign that faces Carey Street in a more “pedestrian friendly” space instead of where it currently is, which she said—though it is technically permissible because it is attached to a second story, not a roof—resembles “billboard advertising.”

“When it was time to update the signage, [Coldwell Banker] took a very careful look at this building, and of course, they did take the nature of the specific plan into consideration and they did decide that this is the most appropriate,” Chemers explained later in the meeting. “One test of that is, while it is important for signs to serve the goals of the area and be pedestrian oriented, from their point of view, you don’t want to be solely pedestrian oriented at the complete loss of adequate visibility to driving traffic, so there’s got to be some kind of balance.”

Additional members of the board also expressed interest in using this time to update the space in general, with Vaccarino referring to it as a “lost opportunity to not be able to upgrade the building,” but finding no issue with the proposed sign—either in design or location—the board voted unanimously to approve the updated signage and window vinyl.

“If the signage fits within the parameters of signage based on that surface,” DRB Vice Chair Paul Darrall said, “I have no problem. I think Coldwell Banker, that’s their standard sign.”

Waterwise and Gorgeous in 90272

Photo courtesy of Lesly Hall Photography

The Palisadian-Post has partnered with locally founded environmental organization Resilient Palisades to deliver a weekly “green tip” to our readers. This week’s tip was written by guest writer Cassy Aoyagi of FormLA Landscaping.


As Pacific Palisades shapes how it will meet updated state water conservation mandates, we can provide some hope: Drought doesn’t have to be a downer! Angelenos can actually make our landscapes more lush, leafy and lovely while improving our resilience.

In contrast to the synthetic lawns and gravelspace “planted” during the last drought, gardens of native plants feel like a luxury, not a sacrifice. While requiring just 20% of the water consumed by a thirsty lawn, native foliage delivers year-round greenery, blooms and fragrance, which in turn attract butterflies and bring birdsong. Strategically placed and spaced, native foliage cools enough to reduce energy bills, boosts property values, lessens maintenance work and is fire-defensive. Magic!

The coastal chaparral plant palette, ideal for Pacific Palisades, brings distinctive beauty. Coast live oak tree canopy deeply shades expansive territory. California mountain lilac sweetly scents the air. Boisterous coastal buckwheats bloom through the heat of summer, seldom experiencing a butterfly-free moment.

Coast dudleya succulents grow in rocky soils and bloom through summer, while seaside daisies brighten our rainy season. For those not ready for a lawn-free life, feathery yarrow lawns transform into bloom-filled meadows should someone “forget” to mow.

There are additional tools to aid drought resilience. Hydrozoned, low-flow, subsurface drip irrigation on weather-based controllers minimizes water waste. Stormwater stored in rain barrels can support container and vegetable gardens. Bioswales feed foliage and groundwater when it rains. Adding organic mulch keeps all that hydration in the soil as long as possible.

Great local resources can help you learn more. Enjoy a hyper-local palette in person at the Santa Monica Conservancy’s Preservation Resource Center. It’s wrapped by coastal natives. Santa Monica’s Garden demonstration garden study documents the predictable water, time and garden-waste savings. The International Garden Center in El Segundo and Merrihews in Santa Monica carry some native plants, while the Theodore Payne Foundation Nursery in Sunland offers an expansive array.

Ready to dig in? The best time to plant native foliage is in the fall, as the rainy season boosts adaptation to a new home. Summer is a great time to prepare by removing your lawn, installing drip irrigation, and covering the space in organic mulch to improve the soil and prevent weed growth.

Palisadians are lucky! Cooler temperatures and greater precipitation in the air mean we can plant year-round with success.

To learn more about drought-tolerant plants or Palisades-perfect landscaping designs, visit formlainc.com or contact them by email.

Your Two Cents’ Worth

Bocce Concern

The home owner who placed loud speakers against their fence directly adjacent Veterans Garden raises serious questions of their intent when playing very LOUD and most often horrible music during bocce league play. What good, neighborly excuse could one possibly have in audibly disrupting the amazingly good time many Palisadians have playing bocce with loud, obnoxious music? What do you wish to accomplish? An instructional bocce demo was rudely interrupted as well. Simply shameful!


Movies in the Park

How can we find out additional information on Movies in the Park being canceled? Do they need help, sponsors? How can we help?

(Editor’s note: An email to MITP founder David Williams requesting additional information about the canceled season was unanswered as the Post went to print. Look for updates in future editions of the paper.)


Signs

To the friendly folk in the Mini Cooper who drove up Hartzell and stole my Caruso sign off my lawn (and my neighbors Caruso signs as well), thank you for the great footage our cameras caught of you. Our signs didn’t do anything to hurt you, yet you took it upon yourselves to walk onto our property, remove the sign and run back into your car. Real mature.


Pali High

I loved seeing the happy faces of graduating students at Pali High! After two years of virtual ceremonies, it is nice to see people back in person.


Summer

Happy start of summer! It’s the best season of the year!

Neighborhood News

Will Rogers State Historic Park  |  Hiker Rescue

Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a call for a hiker rescue on Monday, June 20, at approximately 2:30 p.m. in the Santa Monica Mountains, according to LAFD Spokesperson Brian Humphrey.

“LAFD ground and air response to four related persons (one adult and three young adult males) hikers [who were] exhausted but apparently uninjured, stating they are unable to continue from a pair of separate locations on a remote section of the Backbone Trail south of the bridge,” Humphrey reported.

Local weather temperature was reported to be 97.2 degrees, with a clear sky and 21% humidity.

“LAFD ground crews will assist two in hiking to the trailhead, while a hovering LAFD helicopter will hoist the more remote and unable to walk pair to be reunited at a safe, shaded location near the Will Rogers Polo Field where they can all recover,” Humphrey concluded.    

—SARAH SHMERLING


Beach Cleanup  |  Sunset Point

Los Angeles-based etco Homes, the developer of One Coast in the Castellammare neighborhood, will host a beach cleanup at Sunset Point on June 26 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Through a partnership with Surfrider Foundation that began last year, etco Homes has collected a total of 1,323 pounds of trash to date, according to a statement.

“The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network,” the statement continued.

For more information or to sign up for the June 26 cleanup, contact onecoast@etcohomes.com.

—LILY TINOCO


Author Talk  |  Palisades Branch Library

Palisades Branch Library invites community members to join via Zoom to hear author Rebecca Rukeyser discuss her debut novel, “The Seaplane on Final Approach,” on Tuesday, June 28, starting at 11 a.m.

“Tourists arrive all summer, by boat or seaplane, at the Lavender Island Wilderness Lodge in the Kodiak Archipelago, expecting adventure,” according to a synopsis about the book, which has been named one of TIME magazine’s 27 “New Books You Need to Read this Summer.” “But the spontaneity of their authentic Alaskan wilderness experience is actually meticulously scripted … By midsummer, the mood of the lodge spirals into chaos, and the inhabitants realize just how isolated Lavender Island really is.”

The author talk is geared toward teens and adults, according to the Los Angeles Public Library website. To RSVP and receive a link to the Zoom, email palsds@lapl.org.    

—SARAH SHMERLING


Centennial Publication  |  Pacific Palisades

The Pacific Palisades Historical Society’s 60-page centennial publication, which features nearly 40 articles and 98 photographs and illustrations, is now available.

“Pacific Palisades: A Centennial Retrospective, 1922-2022” is designed to celebrate “the town’s rich and wide-ranging history,” according to an email from the historical society.

While the publication was mailed to every resident that resides in the Palisades for free, additional copies are available for purchase for $20 at pacificpalisadeshistory.org or by visiting Ridgway’s Collections Antiques and Books at 15326 Antioch Street. All net proceeds will benefit PPHS and its endeavor to digitize its archives for public access.

A commemorative blanket, which features key sites like Getty Villa, Thelma Todd Cafe and The Business Block, is also available at the website.

—SARAH SHMERLING

The Doctor Is In

By Damon Raskin, M.D.  |  Special to the Palisadian-Post

Q:I’ve noticed that my seasonal allergies are worse than ever this year! Do allergies become more severe over time? Or can this actually be a result of climate change, like people are claiming?


The oceans are getting warmer, the polar ice caps are melting—and more people are sneezing! Climate change is real, and it is having a real effect on allergies and asthma.

I am seeing this first hand in my office, as I used to start seeing patients complaining of seasonal allergies around mid-March, but now I am seeing more and more patients in the middle of February or even earlier. They are having itchier eyes, more severe nasal congestion, and increased episodes of coughing and wheezing. Why is this happening?

A new study published in the journal Nature Communications has revealed that climate change has made allergy season longer and pollen counts higher, and this will continue to worsen in the coming years. Warmer weather allows plants to start blooming earlier and continue to bloom later in the season. In addition, carbon dioxide in the air from burning coal, gasoline and natural gas helps plants produce more pollen.

The study showed that if carbon emissions are not curbed, pollen season could start 10 to 40 days earlier and last five to 20 days longer, with pollen counts tripling in some places. The study goes on to predict that rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could increase pollen production by 200% by 2100.

About 30% of the world and 40% of American children have pollen allergies, which can lead to lost workdays, school absences and higher medical costs. This will be even worse for the 25 million Americans who suffer from asthma, many which stem from allergies. The belief is that people will probably feel worse and need more medication as time goes on, and more people will likely become allergic to pollen as well.

Periods of high pollen have also been linked to susceptibility to respiratory viruses, and the inflammation in the nasal passages from allergies can also lead to recurrent sinus infections. Because the symptoms can often overlap, it can often be confusing if you are having allergy symptoms or coming down with a cold virus or even COVID-19.

It can be very helpful to get skin or blood testing to see if you do have allergies, and then make a plan with your medical provider on how to deal with the allergies if they are found. There are numerous over-the-counter products, as well as prescriptions and shots, that can help allergy sufferers. But if you do not get tested, you can’t pinpoint the best solution.

To answer your other question, some allergies kids can grow out of as they get older. However, some allergies can get worse over time, especially to foods, latex and bee stings. What might be a mild reaction to a first exposure can be near fatal after re-exposure, so it is important to speak to your doctor about options such as carrying an epinephrine pen to self-inject in case of a severe allergic reaction.

While wearing masks have been helpful over the last two years in preventing colds and viruses, they have also been making a dent in some patients exposed to pollen, ragweed and tree allergies. But as we are all taking the masks off and enjoying the summer weather outside, we are getting hit with more exposure. That means we all need to try to do our part with reducing fossil fuels so we can use less Kleenex and rely a little less on our asthma inhalers.


Have a question you want to see answered by Dr. Raskin? Send it to mypost@palipost.com for consideration.

A Hand to Hold

Jamie Lee Curtis
Photos by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Jamie Lee Curtis Raises Nearly $1 Million to Support Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Through My Hand In Yours

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

What started as a phrase meant to comfort has turned into an extensive online marketplace, My Hand In Yours—raising nearly $1 million in less than two years to support Children’s Hospital Los Angeles under the direction of longtime Palisadian Jamie Lee Curtis.

“For a very long time, I have been someone who feels a lot,” the actress, producer and author explained to the Palisadian-Post. “I have deep feelings and really compassionate feelings for the difficulties of life.”

Curtis shared that when she learned that someone in her life had something going on, whether that be they lost a grandparent, faced a tough job situation or even were celebrating a joyful occasion, she found herself writing at the bottom of every card: “My hand in yours, Jamie.”

“Which was my way of saying, I’m not there in person,” she explained, “but I want you to imagine what it would feel like if I was holding your hand in this moment. Mostly, by the way, in moments of crisis.”

For years, Curtis shared, she has collected the work of Anne Ricketts; the sculptor designed a piece with miniature feet, which Curtis has given people to remind them to “be where their feet are”—a way, she explained, to get them out of their head.

When Curtis called Ricketts with the idea to design a sculpture of holding hands to sell for charity, she said yes and offered to donate all of her time and effort, and sell them to Curtis at what she paid for the foundries.

“I thought I would sell them on Instagram and donate the money to Children’s Hospital,” Curtis explained. “I thought it would be a little business—a little side hustle, as the kids say.”

While in production, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Friends of Curtis’, Hans and Patti Röckenwagner, who own Röckenwagner Bakery in Culver City, turned their business into an online marketplace where one could buy things from the restaurant when restrictions on dining were placed across the city.

“They just turned their business in a day into a delivery food emporium, and they had a website up very quickly,” Curtis shared, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, who did your website?’”

The Röckenwagners put Curtis in touch with the person who designed their website, Oliver Marler. When Curtis pitched the idea of creating a website to sell the 100 hand sculptures she had ordered, Marler suggested this would be a bigger endeavor than she originally thought.

My Hand In Yours offers an array of items, including lavender hand sanitizer, towels and mugs.

“He said, ‘Wow, well you’ll sell those in a day,’ and I said, ‘Wait what? Come on, Oliver. I thought I would give them out at Christmas as Christmas gifts,’” Curtis recalled. “He said, ‘No, no, no, Jamie, this is what I do, I make websites. You’re Jamie, you’ll sell them in a day.’ He said you need more items and lower price point items because the sculpture was going to be $150 and, of course, I understood that for many people, that was an exorbitant amount of money.”

Curtis said that following Marler’s feedback, she quickly began hustling and reaching out to other artists, including fellow Palisadian Cathy Waterman, a jewelry maker who designed a hand necklace that is now sold on the site.

Since its inception, Curtis has partnered with people all over the world to expand the offerings of My Hand In Yours, from teenagers to companies based in Venice and England.

“What happens is … I pay for everything,” Curtis explained.  “Everyone is very kind and they sell it to me at a discounted rate, which is wholesaling. Then I retail it on my website and I donate 100% of the sale of every item to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. I take no administration fees, I take nothing, I don’t recoup any costs, so that when I say #EveryCentIsSent, I mean it.”

As My Hand In Yours reaches its second birthday, Curtis said the website now has around 40 items for sale.

“From what I’m being told from my friends at Children’s Hospital, we are nearing $1 million in sales,” she shared. “It’s incredible, beyond any possibility of an idea.”

Curtis’ relationship with Children’s Hospital originally began years ago in Pittsburgh while she was working on projects in the area. Later, when back in Los Angeles, she devoted her attention here.

My Paw In Yours
Photo courtesy of My Hand In Yours

“They’re just my people,” she shared. “It’s just the perfect blend of my own personal advocacy, my born and raised Los Angelina pride in our beautiful city, and the history of that institution. It feels like the perfect place for me to pour all of my time and effort.”

When it comes to selecting the artists she works with, Curtis said the relationships develop in different ways: some people have approached her, while she has approached others.

While receiving the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Film Festival, a friend of Curtis’ arranged for a set of hand towels with embroidered hands to be placed in her hotel room as a congratulations.

“And within a day of getting home, I called the company in Italy because they’re these beautiful crepe linen hand towels that were gorgeous in a powder room,” Curtis shared, “and I asked if they would partner with me, and they did.”

One person who approached Curtis was Terry Castle, a high school friend that she had run into at a reunion when she learned that Castle’s son, Will, had died at the age of 18.

“Of course I was obviously very moved when I saw her and we obviously had a moment together,” Curtis explained. “And then when I started my company, out of the blue, I heard from Terry. She said, ‘Jamie, I’ve started a candle company in my son’s name that we are donating all of the proceeds to pediatric cancer, and I very much would like to design one for your company.’”

All of the candles have the name “Will” in them, like “Will Laugh.” The candle designed for My Hand In Yours was named “Will Comfort,” made in the site’s signature lavender scent.

“That’s how it’s grown, it’s just been a lot of hustle, a lot of serendipity, some beautiful divine intervention and generosity of people who want to participate in something where the center of the whole thing is just giving to an institution that will care for a child, regardless of their ability to pay, which is what Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is,” Curtis shared. “It’s an institution I’ve been supporting for a very, very long time.”

My Hand In Yours also features a subset program dubbed “My Paw In Yours,” where items purchased, including a dog bowl produced by MiiR, are earmarked to support the therapeutic animal program at Children’s Hospital.

“We have found that, just like distractive play, children need … less intervention, when they have an animal around,” Curtis explained. “They just naturally calm children, and they ease them and their anxiety. They really are amazing.”

Another recent addition to My Hand In Yours is from Curtis’ hairstylist Sean James, who provided a lavender hand sanitizer, donating the product as well as the packaging, making it pure profit for Children’s Hospital.

Curtis shared that she hopes the items, like the original, hand-holding sculpture, comfort someone—she wants something that will make life a little easier for someone.

“The goal is simply to raise money in a simple, beautiful way for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles by creating a store where any occasion—Father’s Day, graduation, Mother’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, housewarming, certainly in memoriam for someone who has been lost,” Curtis concluded, “you can offer a gesture from My Hand In Yours, knowing that you just purchased something that will fund giving back to the children that institution serves.”

For more information, visit myhandinyours.com