Palisadian Laura Ornest to be Honored at Awards Luncheon
By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Rustic Canyon resident Laura Ornest, an award-winning broadcast journalist, will be one of two individuals being celebrated at Vista Del Mar’s Women of Excellence awards luncheon on Thursday, March 12.
“So many people in the nonprofit world do such great work, I feel humbled, honestly, to be honored,” Ornest said about the recognition.
The event will be held at the Beverly Wilshire and hosted by Emmy-winning newscaster Mark Thompson.
Ornest will be receiving the Visionary Award, an award that pays tribute to “her bold and rich contributions to Vista Del Mar and her tireless commitment to destigmatizing the conversation around mental health,” according to a press release.
Vista Del Mar is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit agency that offers services and programs to children and families.
Ornest’s familiarity with Vista Del Mar dates back years, first hearing about the organization on a philanthropic front through her late father’s friend.
She then experienced the arm of Vista Del Mar’s adoption agency firsthand when she was being evaluated as a fit mother prior to adopting her son, Harrison.
“I wanted this baby more than anything,” Ornest said to the Palisadian-Post. “It was very beautiful, they weren’t just working for me … Vista Del Mar had everyone’s best interest at heart: the baby’s, the birth mother’s and mine.”
And Ornest found a way to give back to Vista Del Mar last year after honoring her late brother Maury in a commemorative art exhibition.
Ornest shared that her brother suffered through his adult life from paranoia and distorted thinking, but at the suggestion of one of his therapists, he began painting.
After he passed away from heart disease, over 1,000 paintings were found in his Beverly Hills home, which was also his studio.
“Despite his inner turmoil and suffering, he was always able to go back to the canvas and create life-affirming pieces,” Ornest said. “So we put on an art show after he died because he never really showed his art. We invited Vista Del Mar and a few other charities.”
Ornest added that there was a huge outpouring, and through the proceeds from sales, thousands were raised.
She continues to be a supporter of Vista Del Mar’s resources and an advocate for mental health.
Ornest recently co-produced a theater show about mental illness, “Mapping of the Mind,” and revealed that she is currently working on a half-hour documentary on her late brother.
“Mental health is really an issue that’s very close to my heart and I believe that there’s much less stigma now than there was 10 years ago,” Ornest said. “But in my experience, it’s still a lonely and difficult journey for the person who’s suffering from it and the family.
“I hope that by talking about mental illness, that it could help families who are dealing with it so they don’t feel alone … to keep shining light so people know there are resources even though it’s not a simple or straight path.”
For more information, visit vistadelmar.org/WOE2020.
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