DOWNEY - More than 20 of Rancho's talented artists and crafters will be displaying and selling items such as greeting cards, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, flower arrangements, handmade scarves, placemats, purses, crochet items, plants and much more at the inaugural "Arts and Crafts of Rancho" Winter Boutique.The boutique will be held Wednesday Nov. 30 and Thursday, Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Support Services Annex 1150 on the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center campus. Santa is scheduled to make a guest appearance along with holiday carolers to bring an extra measure of holiday cheer. "Our artists and crafters have been looking forward to this for months," said Rancho Director of Volunteer Services Debbie Tomlinson. "They have been as busy as Santa's elves creating special items for this show. It will be a great way to get a head start on your holiday shopping." Homemade baked goods and hot cider will also be available for purchase to support Rancho's Brain Injury Day Rehab Center. Here, in there own words, are the stories of some of the Rancho crafters and artists: FERNANDO STURLA: "I was born with congenital absence of my upper extremities, which means I was was born without arms. I arrived in the United States in 1968 and became a patient at Rancho Los Amigos. My wife Ligia and I met in 1984 and were married one year later. "I paint ceramic and plaster Christmas ornaments and other ceramic pieces, such as the one pictured above, by using a mouthstick. I also design business cards, flyers and invoices on my computer. "I would like to thank my clinical experts at Rancho for all of the care they have provided to me throughout the years, and for inviting Ligia and I to be part of this program. It feels fantastic to be in the company of such a special group of artists and crafters who have all become my friends." LYDIA CHAVEZ: "I was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, where I was stricken with polio before my first birthday. I came to the United States in 1973 at age 25 in hopes of finding better medical care. Soon I was at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center and my life began to improve. "Polio has placed many obstacles before me. Dealing with post-polio syndrome and complications such as asthma sometimes makes me feel like I am at my limit. But every time I think I can take no more, something magical happens. Now when I work on my ceramics, I forget about the pain from polio. Each piece I create is like "my little children." I thank my ceramics teacher for keeping me motivated. "I am forever grateful to Rancho Los Amigos, not only for providing me with the best healthcare, but for nurturing me as an artist and allowing me to participate in its art and crafts programs." BEATRIZ IBARRA: "One morning, more than ten years ago, I awoke and could not move. I was paralyzed! I was referred to Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center and remained an inpatient for five months. "After extensive rehabilitation and therapy, I was able to go home and resume a useful life. Rancho has provided me with excellent treatment. Today I am seen as an outpatient there. "I have found joy and meaning in the art of sewing, which keeps me active, happy and young at heart. I specialize in custom towels, placemats, kitchen appliance covers, hot pads, pillows and clothing. "I find enjoyment in creating new and different ideas for each of my projects. Every day, as I bring a little beauty to others through my sewing art, I thank Rancho for assisting me in finding something wonderful to do with my life. And I love knowing that others take pleasure in my art each day." KELVIN WILKERSON: "I was born and raised in Los Angeles and have been involved with the Arts since 1980. My interest in painting began as a small child when my mother gave me a paint-by-number set. I had a natural aptitude to blend colors and later learned how to compose themes with dynamic subject matters. "I was making an excellent living as an artist, but I suffered a debilitating stroke in October 2001, which threatened my ability to paint. "During my rehabilitation at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, my treatment team encouraged me to begin painting again. With Rancho's support, I am again creating the landscapes, seascapes, portraits and other creations that define me as an artist. "Although my stroke challenged my creative future, Rancho helped me learn how to make the most of my remaining ability. I continue to get stronger each day. My spirit soars each time I begin to paint. I thank my friends at Rancho for believing in me and helping me believe in myself. ANN RUTH: "I was injured in a gymnastics accident at age 5 (with the same injury as Christopher Reeve). I spent nine months at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. With these new life challenges, I was faced with learning how to live and breathe again. "Due to the love and support from my family and a dear friend, I learned to breathe without a respirator. I also spent my time finding new outlets for fun and enjoyment. I discovered the talents I possessed and learned how to paint with a mouthstick, creating a variety of oil paintings, which developed into my own line of greeting cards. "I graduated from USC and earned my MBA at Pepperdine. I worked for IBM, owned a restaurant, and am currently working for a computer forensics firm. I was the youngest recipient of the Governor's Trophy, and today I serve on many nonprofit and governmental boards and statewide committees. "My hobbies include attending social events, traveling to exotic places, having fun in the sun, attending sporting events with my favorite teams (the Lakers, Dodgers, and the Kings), skydiving, hang-gliding and dune buggy riding. "Rancho was well known for its "Rancho Crafters" in the 1930s and 1940s, who made toy covered wagons that were exceedingly beautiful," Debbie said. "It's wonderful that seven decades later we are celebrating the Rancho tradition of crafting with our first-ever Winter Boutique. Happy Holidays to everyone from all your friends at Rancho!"
********** Published: November 24, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 32