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Presentation of the check, pictured from left are Heather Wusterbarth (Hermosa Friends Foundation boardmember), Karen Nowicki (Hermosa Friends Foundation co-founder and treasurer), Robert Smith (CASA volunteer and presenter), and Ryan Nowicki (Hermosa Friends Foundation co-founder and president).

Twelve nonprofits took to the stage in Hermosa Beach on March 28, 2019 hoping to win $10,000 from the Hermosa Friends Foundation. Each organization had just four minutes to plead their case in the “Non-Profit Quick Pitch” contest.

CASA of Los Angeles, an organization that matches adults to foster children, took home the prize.

CASA, also known as Court Appointed Special Advocates, helps children under the protection of the L. A. Children's Court.

Hermosa Beach's Robert Smith made the pitch for CASA. His goal was to make the pitch as simply as possible and in a way that was relatable. But being the second to last, Smith said it was a “nerve-racking experience.”

“Each of them (presenters) made points that really grabbed me because they were so sincere,” Smith said. “I thought, 'Man, I would like to support that organization, each one of them.'”

Other nonprofits that participated included Free Arts, Sunscreen Film Festival West, Leadership Hermosa Beach, Hermosa Beach Sister City Association, South Bay Boardriders Club, Pants Off Racing, Arts Group of Hermosa Beach, Loved Ones Victims Services, Grades of Green Hermosa Beach, Surf City Theatre Company and the 4Ever Foundation.

Smith, who has been involved with CASA for 16 years, said there are 82 foster children the organization supports in the beach cities alone. They also have volunteers that live all over the South Bay.

“Foster kids are everywhere,” he said. “The kids that we get come from varied economic backgrounds and different communities... abuse and neglect happens everywhere.”

In May, 2016 Ryan Nowicki, who was named 2017 Man of the Year in Hermosa Beach, and his wife Karen Nowicki, the Hermosa Beach city treasurer, co-founded the philanthropic organization Hermosa Friends Foundation to “encourage philanthropy and support charitable causes.”

Through membership dues, the nonprofit, which meets quarterly, raises funds to donate to a deserving charity in town.

HFF has an 11-member board and 44 members. There is a $150 tax-deductible contribution to join.

“Robert's passion for being a CASA volunteer and mentor really shined through in his presentation, and he clearly quantified how the extra funding from the Hermosa Friends Foundation could directly help an additional five foster kids in the South Bay,” said Nowicki.

Smith said the $10,000 “directly translates into getting more kids a volunteer to work with them.”

“Our volunteers move in and get the kids the services they need and let them know somebody is caring for them and supporting them, generally to make them feel safe and secure no matter where they are in the foster care system,” said Smith.

Nowicki said he would like to make “Non-Profit Quick Pitch” an annual event “but it all depends on funding.”

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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