We at the city, at the end of National Volunteer Week would like to celebrate three honorable citizens who have spent a lifetime and more, improving and inspiring the lives of Avalon’s youth. Whether it is through the multiple hours spent volunteering, creating programs, mentoring, or through philanthropic endeavors, this family and these two individuals, The Dr. Frank C. Blair Family, Earl Schrader, and Sean Brannock have positively affected and changed the lives of our youth on the Island. Through the words of our Mayor Anni Marshall “They are all an inspiration on how we ourselves can change the lives of our youth and our community simply through Volunteering”.
All our Youth in Avalon know who the Blair Family is. They are the watch givers at graduations. The watch is a symbol to be a constant reminder to who receives it “to never forget where you came from, that time is to be cherished and are YOU getting the most out of it.” No one got more out of life than the Patriarch of the Family, Dr. Frank C. Blair Jr. Dr. Blair was born and raised in Long Beach, but had a love for Catalina. Dr. Blair and his Wife Ruth would spend countless summers in their Catalina home here with their lovely children Frank the third, Nancy, Peter and Robert. You knew it was summer because you would hear Dr. Blair playing “Avalon” on his Saxophone.
His love for music led him to donate and develop music programs across Long Beach Unified, which included Avalon. As a dentist he had an emergency dental practice in Avalon. He would provide free screenings for the local school children. Provided Assistants finically to the local Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the Avalon Youth Baseball Program. Many of these philanthropic endeavors you would never know about. Dr. Blair would never brag about because he was simply a doer. He believed in supporting youth and their programs through financial assistance, praise, mentorship and encouragement for pursuit of higher Education. He felt one of his greatest accomplishments was working closely with the Santa Catalina Island Company, LBUSD and philanthropist Cliff Tucker to build the Little Red School House at Two Harbors so the children who lived there had an equal opportunity at an education without traveling the treacherous roads into Avalon. As Avalon High School was growing and needed more classrooms, he help to provide the Bungalows, when LBUSD would not. Besides the watches the Family gave $100 per graduate so they felt valued as they graduated.
Dr. Blair and his family also gave within the community. They help to rebuild Wrigley Stage to give Avalon a Central Place to gather as a community and a stage for culture. They have blessed us as the original donators to bring the USC Band to our fourth of July Parade. As a soldier himself Dr. Blair did not forget the ones who fought so we can have these freedoms, and built “Veteran’s Memorial” Park.
As Dr. Frank C. Blair has passed in 2011 his family has picked up the mantle in continuing his Legacy of Philanthropy. So now it is the watch says its their time to be recognized and all of Avalon’s Youth and Community would like to Thank You for always remembering us.
Earl Schrader and the Football story starts with a failure. In 1992 Earl tried to start a Men’s Flag Football League. No one showed up. But kids seemed interested so Earl and Bob Kennedy put a Kids flag football league together. It was a huge success. He campaigned across the town and to individuals to gather support and finances to start a tackle football team and along with Principal Matt Saldana they were able to become a High School team. They started with 11 man only to realize there wasn’t enough kids to compete at that level and jumped into the world of 8 man football. There he has become the winningest coach in Avalon. Year after Year winning the league, 6 time coach of the year in CIF, competing in playoffs and eventually being part of a coaching staff to win a CIF Championship.
But Earl’s biggest wins came off the field. The 100s of young men’s lives he changed and touched. Such as Richard Rinehart, who never would have gone on to college if it wasn’t for the encouragement and belief that Earl had in him. Earl created a bonding experience for the players that will live a lifetime through, what he dubbed “Pie Night.” Each Thursday night during every season the team went to Hermit’s Gulch Campground and brought food. After dinner they sat around the campfire and took inventory of where they were as a team. Players with guidance from the coaches shared personal things about themselves. They had only one team rule, it was to “do the right thing”. During some of these Pie Nights they would give functional lessons like how to balance a check book, how to talk to people so you get what you need and much more. These Pie Nights help to create the Family atmosphere for the team.
Through Pie Nights Earl understood he was at times the only Male role model in some of these boys life and he took that serious, to the point Chelsea his own daughter said she had 100s of brothers. He knew for these boys to be successful in their personal relationships he had to teach them to treat girls like women, and they had to become men. So he created the “Avalon Football Dining and Etiquette Night” Where in the team discussed and then used proper dating and dining etiquette. This is where the young men had to learn to tie a tie and ask the parents for permission to take the daughters out, they had to pull the chairs out for the young ladies, had to know the difference between a salad fork and a dinner fork and so on and so on. The young ladies loved this night more than prom.
Earl has also given 1000s of dollars towards countless scholarships to students. Including those, who never played for him. He was a strong supporter of every sport in school, because he was a supporter of young athletes working hard to better. He loves that. Earl, so many boys have become men, and they will always have a family because of you. We thank you for that.
Sean Brannock or as many people know him, as Mr. Sean, was raised and still lives in Avalon. He lives here because he loves Avalon, but more importantly and thankfully for Avalon he cares about our kids. Mr. Sean has given a voice to 100s of kids who may not have had the confidence to express their voice, and gave confidence to 100s of others to step outside themselves to explore more of who they are. Sean is simply the Arts Personified.
To understand how Mr. Sean works. He was a director of a week long preforming arts camp. Where 90 kids from all over the country, came to either perfect an art skill or to learn something new. By the end of the week these 90 kids performed a 2 hr play, acted by, music played by, set designed built by, and danced by the kids. Many of them, learning just that week those specific skills. When Mr. Sean was asked how did that just happen. He said “one thing about kids, if you set the standard low they will reach it, if you set the standard high they will reach it, so always set the standard high”.
Mr. Sean has had an incredible resume of just doing, from the time he was 24 to now where he just recently turned 50. President of the Exchange club 5 yrs; focusing on Child Abuse, student of the month program, and local, regional, state talent contests. Teacher and Interim Director of Catalina Kid Ventures where he was dubbed “Mr. Sean”; opened the Toddler Component and facilitated the renovation of the current building. Served 19 years with the City Recreation Department, as a Camp Counselor and moved into the directorship, resurrected Cub/Boy scouts, oversaw all programs as well as all festivals and events. President of the Catalina Island Performing, President of Catalina Youth Arts Exchange, resurrected the Avalon High School Theater Department with Mary Lou Eroen for 22 years, Created Avalon High Actors Competitive troupe, on Career day taught students how to prepare for and conduct themselves in interviews.
But what Mr. Sean is most known for is Kids at Play. A theatre group for young children from 7 yrs to 8th grade. A place for youth to develop lifelong skills; self esteem, confidence, individuality, self worth, and creativity. The program started 24 years ago with 11 students and now has had over 1000 come through the program. Mr. Sean has done so much for the children in this community not just what he teaches but how he lives. He has overcome many challenges-including misperception and prejudice and has never allowed his disability to define him. He was and still-capable. He personifies strength, integrity and honesty. His friendships develop into greater support system for projects for the youth. His love of this Community and the youth has created 1000s of successful and empowered adults. We thank you Mr. Sean.
Like the Watch given at graduation all three honorees have given their time and Avalon has now recognized them for how they fulfilled it. We thank them all.