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SoCalGas Co. announces annual employee award at Jeff Thorsen Memorial


In memory of Jeff Thorsen

Friends, family and coworkers of Vice President Jeff Thorsen turned out this week to honor his legacy and celebrate his life at the Gas Company Tower. Many would agree that Thorsen ‘lost his battle with cancer,” but he never gave up and fought state IV cancer for nearly five years, a testament to his amazing resiliency.  Cancer never stood a chance against him because Thorsen was a winner and never gave up. Thorsen helped so many minority-owned business enterprises in the Supplier Diversity Div. of The Gas Company. This week’s memorial was Emceed by George McQuade III, who worked with Thorsen in Supplier Diversity Division, and who was one of his best friends.

“His unrelenting advocacy achieved many multi-billion dollar accomplishments which won strategic support for the company with key decision-makers,” said Peter Wiersma, Thorsen’s close friend, a former coworker and a consultant, Oscelola Consulting.  “He mentored many people and businesses that became multi-billion dollar enterprises. He was my brother and co-conspirator in so many changes we were always pushing for in the industry. I miss him dearly and feel a giant hole in my being.”

“Jeff never took ’NO’ for answer and we became friends over the years,” said President & CEO Dennis Orriola, Southern California Gas Company. Orriola announced at the Memorial that an annual Jeff Thorsen Leadership Award will be handed out to SoCalGas Co. employees annually in his honor and his name.


President & CEO Victoria Gomez, SCMSDC speaks at Memorial at The Gas Company Tower.

“He was a wonderful person and it was always about you and never about him,” said Virgina Gomez, president & CEO, Southern California Minority Supplier Development Council. The Council has established a Jeff Thorsen Scholarship in his honor with a Platinum, Gold and Silver category for donations. For more contact Gomez at 213.689.6960 or email

Former chairwoman, Gwen Moore, of the State Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce told the crowd at The Gas Company Tower, “Jeff never gave up and was responsible for a lot of utility industry changes.” Moore provided a glass of cider for all attending and offered a toast in Jeff Thorsen’s name. A video was also provided with photos of Thorsen and coworkers.

Other speakers included past Gas Company president & CEO, Anne Shen smith, now on the PG&E Board of Directors, Northern California; and Virgina Gomez, Southern California Minority Supplier Development Council.

Special acknowledgements went to Maurice Ortega, AM. Ortega Construction; Kevin Narcomey and Peter Wiersma, Osceola Consulting; Gwen Moore, GEM Communications; Will Johnson, Visage Energy; Leonard Ortiz, Lennova; Rick Hobbs, Anissa Arguien and Yolanda Padilla, The Gas Company; Virginia Gomez, SCMSDC; Laurie Dowling, National Utilities Diversity Council and Daryl-Lynn Roberts, Visage Energy.

Former Assemblywoman Gwen Moore leads SoCalGas Co. executives and friends who worked with Jeff Thorsen toast to his Legacy.

Former Assemblywoman Gwen Moore, chair, Committee on Utilities and Commerce leads SoCalGas Co. executives and friends who worked with Jeff Thorsen to a toast to Jeff Thorsen’s Legacy.

Thorsen was born in Bellingham, WA and moved to SoCal when he was three in 1957. While completing his education, Thorsen had several jobs where he worked in social services and for Firestone Tires. He began working at The Gas Co. in 1981 as a Customer Service Representative. He later moved to the Supplier Diversity Division where he found his true love and passion for assisting diverse businesses to grow and succeed. In 1995, Thorsen met his wife, Arlina, who also worked at The Gas Company. Thorsen is survived by his wife Arline, his stepson Robert Jaquez and his wife Melissa and their two children, Anais and Christen, his brother Jon and his wife Bonnie and their son Todd.


Operation Blankets of Love (OBOL) spreads cheer and blankets of Love at painting fundraiser for animals

Eileen Smulson and her husband, Brad have been rescuing dozens of animal shelters and animal rescue organizations for several years with pet supplies and blankets of Love. Every quarter Operation Blankets of Love (OBOL) hold fundraisers to raise funds to pay for their operations. On Sunday, May 22, 2016, around three dozen supporters and friends turned out for a “Wine & Painting Party” to benefit OBOL.

OBOL PAINTING PARTY“Having a painting party today to help homeless animals and animals in shelters,” said Eileen Smulson, founder, Operation Blankets of Love. “We have dozens of people here enjoying wine, cheese, cookies and food along with lots of volunteers who coordinated the fundraising event. Everyone is drawing a dog and a cat over a landscape and they don’t have to be professional painters to do it. All of these people here love animals and they’re going to help us raise money to give comfort to homeless pets because they’re committed to helping us with our mission,” she said.

OBOL’s mission is to provide comfort to animals in shelters. The charity rescues about 1,000+ animals each month through the donations and pet supplies donated throughout Southern California. They were with some 60 shelters locally, dozens of rescue organizations and OBOL teaches young children how to show respect for animals because Smulson believes society needs to educate people about carrying for their best friends. “There’s such an overpopulation in the shelters that we really need to educate people,” she explained. “We are just so glad to have all of these wonderful animal lovers who support OBOL turn out for a good cause.

OBOL PAINTING PARTYHeading up the painting party was Channing Friedman, an art instructor and owner of The Paintery, a traveling paint party. She said, “It’s an honor to be here and I’m going to be teaching how to paint step-by-step. You don’t have to be an artist because we teaching everyone the same step-by-steps to learn how to paint. We make sure everyone feels comfortable with their painting.” Friedman also noted that many people paint for relaxation. “Time and time again, people come up to me and say, ‘I haven’t picked up a paint brush since kindergarten, and haven’t touched on since,” she said. “They even said how relaxed they were and it even brought out the inner child in them and they couldn’t believe that they walked away with the beautiful painting that they have.”

Eileen Smulson was never a “dog person”, but her husband Brad Smulson loved all pets. She discovered how much she loves animals after a trip to the shelter and spotted “Ginger”, a terrier mix among some 15 dogs. Not only did they hit it off at the start, but Ginger became the mascot of OBOL when she asked the shelter manager, “Where’s the blankets to keep these dogs warm?” When Smulson learned there was no budget she started collecting blankets. Dozens soon turned to hundreds of blankets and hundred to 100,000+.

2016-05-23 05.16.56OBOL is some grassroots, community-driven nonprofit animal welfare, and emergency relief organization founded in 2008. Its’ unique purpose is to improve the well-being and survival of homeless animals and increase chances for survival and adoption — with the ultimate aim of eliminating animal homelessness. Most importantly, by improving homeless animals’ quality of life, OBOL’s services help them become more outgoing and affectionate, leading to being adopted more often and they reduced euthanasia. OBOL provides comfort and care items to shelters, rescues, pets of the homeless, sanctuaries, and fosters to improve the well-being of stray, sick, abused, and neglected homeless animals, increasing their chances for adoption which saves lives.

Eileen Smulson was a former school teacher and a founder of a singing telegram balloon delivery business at 25 in New Jersey and a fundraiser in the non-profit world for 20 years in Los Angeles. Some of the charities she worked as an executive included: The American Cancer Society, Anti-Defamation League, the largest human rights agency in the country and Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency and disaster relief/rescue services. During her years of non-profit work, she raised millions of dollars for many non-profits causes helping people and earned numerous national awards.2016-05-23 05.53.14

“I like to think outside of the box and use my entrepreneurial attitude and passion for animal welfare issues to now helping the animals that have no voice,” she said. “It all started on a cold rainy day in January 2008 when I saw puppies shivering at an animal shelter near my home. I was disturbed to think of my first pet, ‘Ginger’, a four-month-old terrier mix that I adopted in 2003 was lying on a cold, hard cement floor. I was going to try to collect 100 blankets for the shelters and through it, all Operation Blankets of Love was born. “OBOL is like the Red Cross because every day is a disaster for homeless animals and we are on the front lines, she said. “We rescue the rescuers.”

If you would like to donate blankets, towels or pet supplies visit the OBOL website for more or call 818-402-6586 for more information how you can volunteer and or donate. There are hundreds of pet stores and locations through Southern California where blankets and supplies can be dropped off.