Community & Clubs: Celebrating 30 years of sisterhood

December 03, 2013|By Jim de Boom

The Newport Beach Sister City Assn. will celebrate in 2014 the 30th anniversary of the relationship with Okazaki, Japan, according to Connie Skibba, Sister City board member.

"The twinning cities have enjoyed a warm and mutually supportive friendship, and have had the privilege of experiencing each other's cultures and communities through travel and exchange programs," she adds.

Two members of the Rotary Club of Newport-Balboa were instrumental in founding the Sister City program with Okazaki. A year or two before Newport Beach established the program, Rotarians Robert "Moe" Hamill and Wendell Fish established a Rotary Youth Exchange program between the two cities, involving ninth-grade students on the weeklong exchange.


Two years later, then-Mayor Evelyn Hart asked if Rotary would be interested in helping start the Newport Beach Sister City program. Moe and Wendell said yes, and the rest is 30 years of history between the two cities.

The mayor of Okazaki has extended an invitation to the mayor and residents of Newport Beach to visit Okazaki in April. In addition to further cementing the friendship between the two locales, this visit will serve as an opportunity to experience new and old traditions that have developed the richness of Japanese history.

Some of the other highlights will include visiting Tokyo and the old city of Kyoto. The approximate dates of this trip are April 2 through 10, and reservations will be limited. Those interested in being a part of the Sister City delegation should contact Liddy Paulsen, president of NBSCA, at or Skibba at


Santa's helpers

The Harbor Mesa Lions are serving the community once again by wrapping gifts for children at the Westside Boys & Girls Club on Dec. 14, according to club member Carol Van Holt. This annual event is the highlight of the year for the children, who get to pick out toys and gifts for their families, she adds.

Toys are donated by several organizations such as Toys for Tots. The children earn points by completing homework assignments and use the points to "purchase" the presents for their families and themselves. The Lions wrap the gifts for them to take home and put under the tree. Irvine's University High School Leo Club, sponsored by Harbor Mesa Lions, will also be wrapping at this event.

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