Recently, I stopped by the Atascadero Unified School District office and found some original pamphlets of the Atascadero Greyhound Athletic Foundation, which proudly stated a goal “To Build A Better Greyhound Future.”

If you are unfamiliar with the foundation, it is worth review because over nearly a quarter century, it has done just that. With an initial purpose of raising money to build an all-weather track for the Atascadero High School, the foundation began with a big focus on the Greyhound athlete. Since then, it dropped the “Athletic” part of its name to open the focus on all Greyhounds — including past, present and future.

In 2012, the foundation formed the LIGHTHOUSE committee to address devastating drug-related issues affecting our community, specifically designed to help high school students struggling with addiction.

In the past few years, LIGHTHOUSE expanded its scope and continues to grow. In 2017, it raised more than $50,000 to seed a high school mentorship program pairing seniors at AHS with sixth-graders at Atascadero Middle School. Currently, a couple dozen pairs of mentor-mentees are participating for the 2018-19 school year.

LIGHTHOUSE has grown, and is not done building “A Better Greyhound Future.” There is still lots to do for the organization “developed because … major improvements in our [high school] facilities were only going to happen through community involvement.”

You might have heard that the boys water polo team were practicing in wetsuits during the fall season because the AHS swimming pool heater had finally given up the ghost. Coincidentally, the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation pamphlet described “a long history of volunteer community pride” in Atascadero that included a 1960s effort of “extensive fundraising and mobilized corps of volunteers to build the pool at little cost to the school district.” With a price tag of multi-millions to build a proper aquatics center for the high school, it is not likely that will come at “little cost to the school district” this time around, but it will still take a community effort.

AHS coach and middle school teacher Jon Conrad, along with former water polo player and local developer Max Zappas, approached the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation in their current campaign to kickstart new pool construction. Conrad and Zappas are currently looking for support in the initial stages of research and development as they work to provide the kids a place to swim.

Conrad coaches high school water polo, as well as age-group water polo which serves kids from 5- to 18-years old. Zappas pointed out that the pool is something the community uses for a variety of purposes from exercise and sports for people of all ages.

While the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation held emotional interest in supporting the cause for a new pool, there remains a large volume of research needed to get the effort going the right direction, and Conrad and Zappas could use all the help they can get in the early stages. If you are interested in helping, please contact Conrad at 310-985-3692.

The AGF is charging forward with a head of steam in fundraising for LIGHTHOUSE, its current flagship cause. Once again taking a place among the stars with a spot in the 2019 Atascadero Dancing With Our Stars program. In 2017, the foundation hit a home run with a new event — a LIGHTHOUSE Benefit Brunch at the scenic Piedras Blancas Light Station in San Simeon. The PBLS is open to the public for tours, but they are scheduled, guided tours so any access to the historic property is a commodity.

On Sunday, January 27, the AGF will be busing 180 lucky folks on three charter buses to and from the event, serving a Stein’s Catering brunch on the bluffs of San Simeon overlooking the panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.

The event will feature a live auction, with exclusive guided visits to the top of the historic Piedras Blancas Light Station, and a wine walk along the bluffs after brunch — featuring St. Hillaire, Starr Ranch, Seven Angels’ Pear Valley, Paso Port, Guest House Grill and Eberle Winery. Along the path of the wine walk, you can stop and learn about the history of the historic landmark and if you are lucky enough, you might find a knowledgable docent to provide a guided tour.

Martin Paris and Debbie White will serenade the event, and Joebella Roasters signature LIGHTHOUSE Coffee will be available all day long, just in case the off shore winds are blowing cold.

As you explore the multiple walking paths where silent auction items await, you’ll also be treated to the majestic scenery and numerous marine animals. California sea lions and harbor seals hang out on the offshore rocks to rest. Elephant seals utilize nearby beaches. Gray whales, humpback whales, and bottlenose dolphins can often be seen on the open waters, and sea otters forage along Point Piedras Blancas and wrap themselves in kelp to rest.

The afternoon will be capped off with a preview dance from the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation Community Dancer Tom Butler (Atascadero Unified School District Superintendent, and his Choreographer Kara Frenzel.

All proceeds from this amazing event will support the Lighthouse Education Programs. The Greyhound Foundation has committed themselves to raise the funds needed for continued support of the LIGHTHOUSE Coffee Company, Mentoring and Counseling programs, Reality Tour, Wellness Center, After School program and Resource Center now located at the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce.

Tickets to the Piedras Blancas brunch are now available. Call AGF Executive Director Donn Clickard at 805-712-6356 or email donn@atascaderogreyhoundfoundation.org to RSVP and get your spot on the bus. Tickets will not be available on the day of the event.