Finding Meaning


Healing Hands

By skip Hellewell

Way back in 1775, the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation. Pretty good outcome, don’t you think? In the darkest hours of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln called for a day of prayer. Within 10 weeks, the war had turned around with victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. We continue this tradition with a National Day of Prayer held the first Thursday of May.

Lagunans observed the day with our 12th annual prayer breakfast, organized by Laguna’s growing Interfaith Council and hosted by Mission Hospital. The breakfast has a tradition of giving out an annual “Make A Difference” award that recognizes exceptional volunteer service to our town. I was so fascinated by this year’s winners, I had to tell you about them.

Carol Carlson, program director and “Make A Difference” award winner, at Laguna’s Waymakers Youth Shelter.

Carol Carlson won for her 30 years with Waymakers Laguna Beach Youth Shelter, a rescue home for struggling teens. Remember the Beetles’ line, “Help! I need somebody”? At Waymakers, kids in crisis—there’s always a waiting list to get in—get that help, six at a time in each of four Orange County homes. For three weeks, long enough to establish new habits, they live a Brady Bunch life. There’s no “screen time,” but lots of time for making music, playing board games, and gathering around a table for shared meals. It’s a “reset,” where they learn relationship skills and get counseling to better cope with the challenges of their lives.

Thousands of teens have been helped over the years by Waymakers, with over 94 percent successfully reconnected with their families. The good that Waymakers—and Carol Carlson—have accomplished is inestimable. They’re making the world a better place—six teens at a time.

The second award winner was Pastor Don Sciortino of Laguna Beach Net-Works. Sciortino, a man with a vision, organized Net-Works, a church and service organization dedicated to lifting the homeless among us. He and wife Karen, working out of their aptly named “living room” off Broadway, help the hands that hang down by putting them to work. It’s my privilege to attend all Laguna’s churches—it’s always a blessed experience. But I am never more moved than when attending Pastor Don’s Net-Works services. Last Sunday at the Woman’s Club, I watched him lifting, loving, imploring, calling, and inviting his flock to a more blessed life. Sciortino sees his group as “a miracle community,” and it seemed that way to me. I was moved enough that when they passed the plate, I emptied my wallet. If you want a special spiritual experience, join the Net-Works team for Sunday worship—and don’t forget your wallet.

Pastor Don and Karen Sciortino with Laguna Beach Net-Works associates.

The prayer breakfast was exceptional, it’s getting bigger each year, and I came away uplifted. Who wouldn’t be lifted up by socializing and breaking bread with these fine people who serve our community? I thought myself to be in the presence of unusual goodness. Learning about the selfless service that people like Carol Carlson and Don and Karen Sciortino give to our town was the highlight of my week. It’s Pastor Don’s vision, but it seems we really are becoming a “miracle community.” There’s meaning in that.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.” Email: [email protected]


Places to worship (all on Sunday, unless noted):

Baha’i’s of Laguna Beach—contact [email protected] for events and meetings.

Calvary Chapel Seaside, 21540 Wesley Drive (Lang Park Community Center), 10:30 a.m.

Chabad Jewish Center, 30804 S. Coast Hwy, Fri. 7 p.m., Sat. 10:30 a.m., Sun. 8 a.m.

Church by the Sea, 468 Legion St., 9 & 10:45 a.m.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 682 Park Ave., 10 a.m.

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 635 High Dr., 10 a.m.

ISKCON (Hare Krishna), 285 Legion St., 5 p.m., with 6:45 feast.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, 20912 Laguna Canyon Rd., 1:00 p.m.

Laguna Beach Net-Works, 286 St. Ann’s Dr., 10 a.m.

Laguna Presbyterian, 415 Forest Ave., 8:30 & 10 a.m.

Neighborhood Congregational Church (UCC), 340 St. Ann’s Drive, 10 a.m.

United Methodist Church, 21632 Wesley, 10 a.m.

St. Catherine of Siena (Catholic), 1042 Temple Terrace, 7:30, 9, 11, 1:30 p.m. (Spanish), 5:30 p.m. There are 8 a.m. masses on other days and Saturday 5:30 p.m. vigils.

St. Francis by the Sea (American Catholic), 430 Park, 9:30 a.m.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 428 Park Ave., 8:00 & 10:30 a.m.

Unitarian Universalist, 429 Cypress St., 10:30 a.m.


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  1. I find it painfully ironic that the “Unitarian” church is where political organizations who do not practice inclusiveness choose to meet.


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