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Thursday, Dec 7, 2023



Nice Guys Pays Tribute to Robert Horsman for Community Work

By Mike Allen

Senior Staff Writer

You could say Robert Horsman has been a nice guy his entire life, but this year the San Diego banker was named Nice Guy of the Year by Nice Guys, a locally based nonprofit group.

Horsman will be recognized for his contributions to the organization this week at a luncheon, and later at a dinner in the fall, which serve as its two major fund raising events.

“His achievements as a banker are matched only by his generosity and caring for others in our community,” said Ted Rossin, Nice Guys president.

Besides his job as CEO and president of San Diego National Bank, Horsman sits on some seven boards of nonprofit organizations, including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Metro YMCA, the UCSD Foundation and the San Diego Opera.

Horsman is also co-chairman of the San Diego Children’s Initiative and with the capital fund-raising campaign of STAR/PAL, a nonprofit group serving more than 22,000 young people ages 5 to 18 in the region.

Nice Guys has been around since 1979, providing funds to both individuals and other nonprofits that need “a hand-up, not a hand-out,” according to the group’s publicity. Unlike some other high profile nonprofits, all the money collected by Nice Guys goes to those who need it because the organization has no staff to pay from its budget.

Past Nice Guy of the Year recipients were Billy Casper, Father Joe Carroll, Malin Burnham, Sheriff Bill Kolender, Frankie Laine, Ernie Hahn Sr., Gayle Wilson, Ron Blair, Mac Hudson and Joe Bauer, Gene Luth, Ron Fowler, John Lynch, Bob Breitbard and John Moores.

Reading Project Unites Separated Parents, Kids


Staff Writer

Gene Emmert likes to read to his kids.

But the U.S. Navy commander and San Diego dad of two , Connor, 8, and Morgan, 4 , can’t always be home. For example, he recently was stationed far from home aboard the USS Duluth.

A local program , Uniting through Reading , came to his rescue though.

Parents on long deployments for the Navy can record readings on videotape for their children.

The video is then mailed to the family.

Kids can reciprocate by sending the far-away parent a movie of themselves , and a book.

“I can’t speak highly enough about this program,” said Emmert’s wife, Paula. “It helps us keep connected, helps the kids become better readers and even gives mom and dad the chance to stay acquainted.”

Uniting through Reading started in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War to help families cope with the separation that military life sometimes demands.

Last year, Uniting through Reading went nationwide. The annual cost of providing the program runs about $300,000.

Locally, about 11,000 San Diego County residents participate.

“This program helps improve morale for all family members and reduces fears in children about their parents’ absence,” said Betty Mohlenbrock, president of the San Diego-based Family Literacy Foundation, which hosts the program.

It wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of private sponsors.

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. is one of the local sponsors.

“San Diego is home to more than a quarter-million residents with military ties and we’re proud to support this important program, which helps military families stay connected,” said Steven Davis, senior vice president of customer service and external relations for SDG & E; and Southern California Gas Co.

Through the years, 40,000 Navy personnel have participated in the Uniting through Reading program, Mohlenbrock said.

The first 11 years of the program relied entirely on private sponsors. The Navy kicks in some money now, too, Mohlenbrock said.

Businesses that want to contribute to the program should call (858) 481-7323.

Museum Tours Expose Photography Enthusiasts to New Vistas, Near and Far


Staff Writer

When traveling, photographs are a focus for most people.

That feeling would be tripled if not quadrupled in a new set of tours , one to Italy, the other to Hollywood , being organized by the Museum of Photographic Arts.

A trip in late May took a group of 24 people to Wiltshire, England. They visited the William Henry Fox Talbot Museum, named for the man who set the foundations of modern photography, printing photos on paper from negatives.

The tour of the museum, including Talbot’s photo-developing equipment, was given by the museum’s curator, and included a talk from Talbot’s great-grandson.

The goals for each trip follow MoPA’s mission of growing awareness for the art of photography, said Amy Conrad, the Balboa Park museum’s public relations director.

The museum makes about $200 from each person joining the trip, so it doesn’t raise a lot of money for the museum, Conrad said.

The arrangements are booked though various travel agents, she said. Between 22 and 26 people attend, and the trip doesn’t go forward unless at least 20 people sign up.

The trips take about two years to plan, because it takes time to set up tour details and elements, most of which are not available to the general public, Conrad said.

A previous trip to Japan, for instance, included staying in a museum equipped with guest rooms. A recent tour to Paris involved a private home with unusual views of the city.

The Italy trip will include visiting a mansion which the owner is planning to turn into a photographic museum.

Although it’s not likely to be open to the public for a couple of years, he will show the visitors his current collection and discuss his plans for the museum with them, Conrad said.

The Italy tour, led by MoPA’s director, Arthur Ollman, is April 24 to May 7 and takes visitors to photographic collections and galleries in Milan, Venice, Bologna, Florence and Sienna.

Prices are still being finalized, but at press time, the trip costs $3,800 per person for two-person groups, and $4,800 for people traveling single.

The price includes accommodations and a daily breakfast and lunch or dinner. It doesn’t include roundtrip airfare to Milan, but tickets are being offered for $1,070.

The trip to Hollywood takes place Nov. 1-3 and costs $598 per person for two-person groups and $718 for singles. The price includes hotel costs, breakfast and dinner, films and studio tours and transportation, including the drive from San Diego.

Scott Marks, MoPA’s film curator, will lead the tour, including visits to film shoots for upcoming movies “The Long Goodbye” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

The group will also take a private tour of Warner Bros. Studios, watch films in famous movie theaters such as The Chinese, The Cineramadome, The Egyptian and The Rialto, and eat in some of the Hollywood’s famous restaurants.

Skills Program Gives Foster Youth a Helpful Glimpse of the Business World


Staff Writer

At any job, it’s best to learn the ropes as early as possible. One San Diego program teaches foster kids as young as 12 important job skills.

Created and sponsored in 1999 by three foster services agencies, Walden Family Services, Casey Family Programs, and San Diego Youth and Community Services, the Employment Skills Development Program is designed to teach foster teens how to succeed in any job once they reach adulthood. The program annually costs about $100,000; most of the cost is covered by in-kind donations and the agency volunteering staff time. The students meet at Walden, Casey or a library for general instruction about job skills and then move on to different local companies.

“The program gets kids started on a path as early as possible for an independent future. Many are emancipated at 18, so it’s critical for our kids to learn these skills and get through it so they can get to work at 18,” said Mindy Watrous, executive director of Walden Family Services.

There are four components of the program, including an introduction to different work environments through work site tours and a seminar that provides education and training on employment areas. Another key component is the Pre-Employment Traineeship, which provides an 80-hour employment training that focuses on resume writing, interviewing skills, appropriate dress, behavior on the work site and general work readiness information.

Through PET, participants are placed at work sites in the community, and a program job coach visits the training site to discuss behaviors and reinforce concepts. Youths can earn a subsidized stipend of $5 per day.

The final step is independent paid employment, where the youths find a job they want. The program assists them with a refresher course on interviewing skills and career planning.

The program’s participant rate has risen every year, with 24 the first year, 38 the second and 45 the third. With every year comes a higher budget from the agencies.

Any business can sponsor a teen to train or provide an internship. For information about providing a supervised training site, contact Beth Barnes at (619) 584-5777, Ext. 225.


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