He Came to Shoot a TV Pilot, He Stayed for the Wine

Jim Smollen came to Temecula to shoot a pilot for the Food Network. He moved here to be closer to Wine Country. Now, he's lending a hand to help Corporal Juan Doninguez.

Temecula's Jim Smollen appears to have a knack for being in just the right place at the right time. 

It is, in fact, his penchant for doing so that culminated in him, and his wife, Donna, moving to Temecula in the first place.

Smollen first came to Temecula in 2003 to shoot a television pilot for The Food Network. Soon after arriving, Smollen realized that he had likely found the perfect location for him and his wife to call home.

The Smollens were avid wine lovers, and so they had traveled the world visiting many exotic vineyards. It was their intense desire to leave their home in El Segundo, California and relocate to an area near a myriad of wineries.

Preferring to stay in the United States and to avoid northern California made Temecula seem to be a perfect location for them, thus the decision to move to the area was made.

Four years ago this month, the Smollens moved to Temecula, and they could not be happier with their decision. They love the number as well as the variety of wineries in the area and are also equally enchanted with the residents of
their adopted community. Additionally, they are enamored with their peaceful neighborhood and love spending time alone in their beautiful backyard. 

The Smollen’s have been together for 40 years and have been married since
1985. Jim Smollen says, “she’s my best friend, and there is almost nowhere I’d rather be than enjoying her company in our backyard.”

Though they are at peace now, it has been a long and sometimes difficult decade for the couple. Donna Smollen’s brother, Thomas De Angelis, was one of the 18 New York City Battalion Chiefs who was killed in the September 2011 World Trade Center disaster. 

De Angelis was safely inside a trailer outside of the Twin Towers when he made the decision to enter South Tower to save the lives of as many people possible.  “He knew he would never make it out alive,” says Smollen, "but he went in anyway."

Over a decade later, the Smollens are still recovering from the pain of that loss but are doing so in a positive manner. 

Once again, Smollen was in the right place at the right time when his friend, Ned Wallace, needed someone to help spearhead fundraising efforts. Smollen quickly took the challenge, and he now is giving generously of his time to help others. 

“It’s the first time I’ve ever done anything that was not for pay, and I am really enjoying it,” he says. 

This past March, Smollen assisted with an event held in front of that benefited Corporal Juan Dominguez, a veteran that is also a triple amputee.  that will go toward building a Smart House in Temecula for the wounded vet, his daughter and his soon-to-be wife Alexis. 

Next on the agenda for Smollen is the upcoming Salute to Corporal Juan Dominguez that will take place on May 25, 2012 and is being put on by Temecula Valley Presents. All proceeds from the event will also benefit Corporal Juan Dominquez. This is one event that is not to be missed.

When Smollen is not donating his time to help his friends and others, he is traveling to Hawaii for work, spending time with his wife and enjoying the company of their biological children as well as additional children that they have made a part of their family. 

While Smollen’s friend, Ned Wallace, clearly got the ball rolling for the upcoming May 25th event with is his incredible $450,000 donation, it is evident that it also takes people like Smollen, being in the right place at the right time, to really make these events as successful as they have thus far been. 

For more information on the upcoming event please click here.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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