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Mother Buckles Down in Campaign for Buckling Up

April 06, 1986|Herbert J. Vida

Connie Major, 37, of Santa Ana got the message about seat belts from her son, Sage, 7, who asked why he had to buckle up in the car and she didn't. Now she's trying to send that message to everyone.

And although Major likes to use the word "aggressive," she became downright pushy, getting people to donate money, billboard space, bus stop bench space, videotaping and, most of all, volunteer help to pass the word to buckle up.

In the last year, she has convinced the California Highway Patrol, the Santa Ana Police Department, the Automobile Club, the state Department of Traffic and Safety and other safety conscious organizations to pitch in.

And that includes all the principals and teachers in the Santa Ana School District, who are helping pass the word to their students, an action promoted by her through the Santa Ana PTA Council.

"She just doesn't take no for an answer," said Kim Salcedo, co-president of the PTA Council.

That's hardly her image from high school days when Major said she was too shy to even run for elective office. "I was named Miss Photogenic once and that really gave me a boost," said Major, a Cal State Long Beach graduate and a nonstop worker who discovered that finding the right person is the key to raising funds.

"After I found that person, I got a $5,000 grant," she said. "It was easy. I just told him how worthy the project was."

In addition to work with Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, PTA council, Heritage Board, Little League and attending Santa Ana City Council meetings, Major earns money baby-sitting while caring for her three children. Besides Sage, she has a son, Kale, 3, and a daughter, Poppy, 5.

"I love the involvement," she said. "I would rather be on the telephone or at a meeting than standing in front of my sink washing dishes. When I need help I ask my children and husband (Pete Major) to pitch in."

Another reason she chose the buckle up campagn, she said, was "It's something no one can be against."

One of the Spanish language teachers at Corona del Mar High School has a license plate with pez on it, the Spanish word for fish. And wouldn't you know Kenneth A. Fish, 45, is also the surfing coach there.

The price and gourmet food are hard to beat, considering you get a complete meal for $2. It's all cooked up by master chef Christopher Coote, formerly of London, who prepares such delicacies as lamb shanks boulanagere , supreme de volaille paprika saute of chicken, fricassee de veal Marengo and sliced ham on champagne sauce.

What's the catch? It's served to the public in a hospital dining room from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Fridays. The only requirement? You have to be about 60 or older.

"We do understand it's hard for seniors to get a resonably priced good meal," said John Alcantar, director of food at Healthcare Medical Center in Tustin, where the meals are served to about 100 diners each Friday. "We're losing money on this but it's our way of showing concern for the community."

He said Healthcare may be the only hospital in Orange County actively seeking dining room customers.

"You certainly don't see many people walking into a hospital to eat dinner," said Margo Sanchez, Healthcare marketing director. Besides it being a community project, she added, "We're trying to change the opinion people have of hospital food."

When her son, Steven, came home from school after the shuttle tragedy, Patti Kay Tripoli suggested that he describe his unhappy feelings in a poem and that she would help. It's called "The Shuttle":

I sat in my school and on the intercom appeared

A voice torn and shattered,

A voice full of fear: 'The shuttle and the seven astronauts are gone.' A chill went down my spine and I knew something was wrong,

I picked up my backpack

And as I came home to mom, her eyes filled with tears.

The news of the shuttle became very clear.

I guess they accomplished what they set out to do.

They brought the world closer and filled our hearts too. Now, as they rest comfortably in heaven,

We'll never forget those courageous seven.

This poem from my heart and the heart of all children

Is all we have to give to the astronauts' families

And our country, in which we live. Steven, who is 7, is in a first-second grade class for gifted students at Taft Elementary School and also attends Orange Coast College for a Saturday computer programming class.

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