By RICK COHEN, Avila Beach Foundation

Greetings, fellow Avilones.  Bellowing smoke and chugging into 2021, we go, but still with many unanswered questions ahead.  When will life return to normal?  Will the promise of a vaccine to fight Covid-19 be the miracle we have been waiting for?  Will a peaceful transition of power at the governmental level result in greater harmony among Americans now so very much divided by geography, economics, and personal beliefs?  Only time will tell as we anxiously await to regain our footing here in Avila Beach, a community that has, for the most part, been a harbor of calm among otherwise choppy seas.

Avila will not truly become whole again until some of its most cherished assets reopen their doors for good.  The local community organizations, hospitality industry, and recreational venues have suffered greatly, remaining just out of our reach.  The places we go and people with whom we congregate these days feels so odd, lacking the human touch and easily seen smiles we were accustomed to before the pandemic.  How good it will feel when we can once again hug, high-five, or peck on the cheeks of our friends and relatives.  It will feel so nice to sit shoulder to shoulder at tables while we dine indoors or outdoors.  It will be so refreshing to once again see kids and adults frolicking about without wearing masks and having to socially distance.  I can hardly wait to meet again without “zooming in.”

Remember when Avilones would gather at the Avila Community Center, visit the Central Coast Aquarium or tour the Pt. San Luis Lighthouse? 

Remember seeing the Avila Free Trolley shuttling people around during the busy summer season?  Remember strolling along the Promenade during Farmers’ Market season, enjoying the aromas wafting from the food vendors and the rhythmic sounds of live music?  Maybe, just maybe, these activities and others will return sometime in 2021.  Even when the current health crisis has passed, it will be quite a challenge for our Avila-based organizations to ramp up again.  It won’t happen overnight and will require a high degree of community support, the type that is being fostered by Debbie Collins, president, and acting executive director of the Central Coast Aquarium. 

Debbie stepped up last spring to provide volunteer leadership as the Aquarium staff were laid off and doors locked due to the required shutdown.  She has since been scouring the community, seeking donations to build up financial resources that will enable the Aquarium to resume operations when the time comes. 

Debbie also launched a Go Fund Me Campaign as part of her strategy.  So, if you want to donate through that platform, simply “google” GoFundMe Central Coast Aquarium, and you will find links to the website.

Speaking of volunteer leadership, it is my honor and pleasure to introduce the “Foundation’s” Board of Trustees for 2021.  It is this band of dedicated individuals that accept responsibilities of agency governance, assures our portfolio is properly managed, maintains adherence to our mission, and ensures that our grant funds are well invested in the community.  

This year’s Board Officers are: President Mike Ginn, who has been with us since 2011; Vice President Cyndy Lakowske, who has been with us since 2017; Treasurer Richard Zacky, who joined the board in 2014; and Secretary Ellen Pitrowski, who joined the board in 2017.  

Trustees at Large include: Bev Aho, class of 2016; Lucinda Borchard, class of 2011; Joe Caradonna, class of 2019; Patrick Corrigan, class of 2019; Saul Goldberg, class of 2016; Percy Jones, class of 2012; Barbara Nicholson, class of 2018; Paul Prather, class of 2016.  

Let me not forget to bid a fond farewell to departing Trustee Brooke Salvini, who was elected to the board in 2016 but had to recently resign upon moving her business from Avila Beach, thus rendering her ineligible to continue.  Many thanks, Brooke, for your years of service. You will be missed.

The last order of business is a reminder to partake of the upcoming Bob Jones Trail Walking Quiz.  It occurs in two parts, with each quiz consisting of five questions to which answers can be found at selected interpretive signs along the trail. One journey starts at the Ontario Road entrance, and the other at the entrance from Avila Beach Drive and 1st Street.  All who answer the questions correctly will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to the Avila Beach restaurant of your choice.  Grab your smartphone, put on your walking shoes, enlist family, or friends to join you, and have some fun.  Visit the Avila Beach Community Foundation website, become a subscriber, and learn how to participate at 

That’s it for now, fellow Avilones.  May the year 2021 be good to you, and may it harken the beginning of better times, greater understanding, peaceful coexistence, and harmony. See you at the beach!