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Malibu Chamber of Commerce CEO Barbara Bruderlin (left) and Dec. 4 Holiday Sunset Mixer host Mehrdad Sahafi welcome attendees. Barbara Burke/22nd Century Media
Barbara Burke, Freelance Reporter
6:27 am PST December 13, 2018

The Malibu Chamber of Commerce’s central focus is, of course, business networking. 

In the wake of the Woolsey Fire, the need to unwind and connect remains ever important, and a Dec. 4 Chamber wildfire fundraiser and gathering at Villa Cal Care, a luxury rental property built by Malibuite Mehrdad Sahafi, served to fill that void. 

“Members of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce wanted to gather, release, share, feel good and be happy again,” attendee Jennifer Meltzer said, as she joined in the conviviality at the Chamber’s Holiday Sunset Mixer.  

As she welcomed the crowd, Chamber CEO Barbara Bruderlin expressed the sentiments felt by many attendees.

“We all love all of you and our heartfelt condolences share in the losses some of you endured,” she said. “Please reach out to us whenever you have any need and someone in the Chamber community can provide help.”

Reconnecting with one another can help people victimized by natural disasters begin to return to a semblance of normalcy, start to heal and
rebuild.

Some attendees wanted to share their stories about how the fire wreaked havoc in their lives. 

“It is important to share stories about our fire experiences,” Roy Jimenez said. “We all went through those as a community and I hope for the holidays, we can all be safe.”

Some attendees sustained extreme losses. 

“I lost all of my manuscripts, my performance tuxedos, and my jewelry,” said Lucho Moreno, “Lucho,” a Latin Jazz musician from Malibu, who performed at the event. “This fire is a vivid reminder that nothing really belongs to us and we owe everything to the
creator.”

Lucho played familiar Christmas songs and gave the evening a merry vibe.

Of course, there also was the business side of the event.

Sahafi, an architect and owner of Malibu Design Associates, Malibu General Contractors and Malibu Land Company, told attendees that he has developed estates such as Villa CalCare in Malibu for 30 years.

“Mehrdad has not only been a member of the Chamber for 20 years, he also throws the entire Chamber a personally hand-cooked feast twice a year in his gorgeous handmade mansions,” Bruderlin said. “Sampling the delights that he served tonight, I remarked, ‘I think these are the best olives I’ve ever tasted,’ and Mehrdad casually replied, ‘Oh, I grew them myself.’ Now, that’s a member to love.”

On a beautiful Malibu evening, attendees ate great food and bid on a wreath to raise money for fire victims. Some attendees were introspective as they gazed at the gorgeous wreath, its red berries gleaming as the sun set over Malibu. Collectively, they seemed to note the wreath’s significance as a time-honored symbol depicting the circle and cycle of life — a symbol very telling for Malibuites now; fires and feasts cycle through Malibuites’ lives, but they do not define them.

“It’s wonderful to see life support life living on,” attendee Cansu Bulgu said.