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About Melissa Lampert

  • Member Since: February 4, 2015
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Melissa Lampert worked as a Staff Writer at Valley Publications from Jan. 2015 to Jan. 2016. She was a News and Features contributor to the Santa Clarita Gazette and Canyon Country Magazine. A Staff Writer at KHTS AM-1220 since Feb. 2014, Melissa was promoted to Features Director after serving as Interim News Director from April – May 2016. She has published feature stories in The Signal and College of the Canyons' Cougar News and previously worked as a freelance animal welfare writer for an online publication. To follow Melissa Lampert’s work, visit her professional Facebook page.

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Santa Clarita Drumming Icon Remo Belli Dies from Pneumonia

| News | April 28, 2016

Drumming icon Remo Belli, founder and CEO of the Santa Clarita-based drum manufacturer Remo, Inc., died Monday due to complications from pneumonia.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Remo D Belli, our beloved founder and leader,” read a statement released by Remo, Inc. on Tuesday.

Belli invented the first successful synthetic Mylar drumheads in 1957 and continued to establish other industry firsts for more than 55 years.

Beginning in the 1960s, Belli helped create the global community of drummers seen today, including the launch of the World Percussion product line in 1983.

Originally from Mishawaka, Ind., Belli became a professional drummer after moving to Los Angeles following his enlistment in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Belli and his wife, Ami, a holistic healthcare practitioner, were presented with the Silver Spur Award for Community Service by the College of the Canyons Foundation in March 2014.

Remo, Inc. has partnered with experts to develop programs using rhythm as a tool to improve the quality of life for individuals with autism, Alzheimer’s disease and PTSD.

“We mourn his passing and he will be missed by people in all walks of life,” the statement said. “His spirit lives on and we will continue to pursue his vision of making drumming available to everyone alive.”

Article from www.hometownstation.com

Heart of the Canyons Church to Merge with South Valley Church in Newhall

| News | February 3, 2016

Senior Pastor Jim Ryan of Heart of the Canyons Church in Canyon Country has announced plans to merge his congregation with that of South Valley Church in Newhall starting January 1, 2016.

The decision to merge the two congregations was made due to dwindling attendance and financial limitations at South Valley, coupled with the fact that Heart of the Canyons has been without an official building—meeting instead at La Mesa Junior High School—since its creation more than two decades ago, according to Ryan.

“They were our sponsoring church when we started 25 years ago here in Canyon Country, so the relationship goes way back,” Ryan said. “After some months of them looking at where they were and some of the limitations they had because of numerical and financial limitations, they made a decision to approach us about merging with them.”

Discussions regarding the merger began about eight weeks ago, and the decision was put to a vote by both congregations on Sunday, Dec. 13.

It was a unanimous vote in favor of the merger by Heart of the Canyons’ approximately 400 members, and an estimated 97 percent vote in favor of the merger by about 50 members of South Valley, which Ryan described as “quite remarkable.”

“(There were) only two questions for us that had to be answered,” he explained. “First of all, does this really honor God? If the decision didn’t honor God, I would have answered immediately no. … Secondly, does it help us fulfill the mission of our church? If the answer to those questions was yes, then we didn’t see any reason not to do this.”

While the reaction to the news was mostly positive from Ryan’s congregation, he noted that it was natural for members to have questions and a certain degree of hesitation, which he said his staff made every effort to address.

“There’s always questions—how’s it going to affect us? There’s always that component of apprehension because it’s new,” Ryan said. “We just worked hard to try to answer people’s questions as best we can and find out what people’s fears are, because when you start messing with faith, faith is very personal to people. When you start messing with how they do their faith, they get a little uncomfortable.”

Under the current plans, South Valley’s congregation will be “disbanded” by the end of the year and begin attending Heart of the Canyon’s services at La Mesa Junior High in Canyon Country during the initial transition period starting January 1.

“That congregation has been there for 63 years and they officially will be disbanding as a congregation and be giving the properties to Heart of the Canyons,” Ryan said. “So that’s a really emotional thing. It really takes a lot to do that. … I think they chose us over any other option they had because, in a spiritual sense, we’re sort of their child.”

The goal is to begin having services at both locations by the end of March 2016, essentially transforming into a “multi-site congregation” that meets in both Canyon Country and Newhall.

But rather than continue to offer two separate services in Canyon Country, as has been customary for the last 25 years, there will only be one service held each Sunday at each location, at least during the initial stages of the merge, Ryan said.

Over the next few months, Heart of the Canyons will essentially be doubling its staff for Sunday services and relocating its weekday offices to the Newhall campus permanently.

“It takes a lot more than a pastor to grow a church these days,” Ryan said, referring to children’s ministries, youth ministries, music and more. “All the things we have done at Canyon (Country) for the last 25 years, we have to duplicate that over there, which requires more people.”

Heart of the Canyons’ new campus in Newhall is set to be named Heart of the Canyons South Campus following the official merger, and Ryan is looking forward to expanding the scope of his church to a new part of Santa Clarita.

“It gives us the ability to have influence in two different areas of our community,” he said. “It’s not just about the people who are coming to church, it’s about the people you’re trying to reach.”

Non-Profit of the Week: Bridge to Home

| SC Living | January 29, 2016

As Santa Clarita’s only comprehensive homeless services provider, Bridge to Home helps to fill significant service gaps in the community’s safety-net, paving the way for people to transition out of homelessness.

Bridge to Home’s programs include:
-Emergency Winter Shelter in Santa Clarita
-Case Management for Housing Assistance and Homelessness Prevention
-Healthy Lives Medical and Dental Clinics
-Outreach and advocacy for homeless residents of Santa Clarita
-Feeding it Forward (was Summer Suppers) hot meals for low income, homeless, and veterans

In 2014, Bridge to Home provided these services to more than 1,000 individuals, housing more than 30 families and 100 singles.

This year, Bridge to Home will continue to grow and work towards becoming a year round, permanent shelter. The Santa Clarita Shelter will open in November for more than 110 nights.

Healthy Lives Dental clinics will see more than 150 low income, homeless, and veterans, and provide cleanings, filling, extractions, and dentures.

Healthy Lives Medical clinics will provide first aid, screenings, and referrals at the shelter and Feeding it Forward to more than 200 people.

Case Management and Housing Assistance will find apartments and rooms for more than 50 families and 100 individuals.

Outreach and Advocacy will walk the riverbed every month, reaching out to homeless people – where they are – to connect them to services that, hopefully, will break their cycle of homelessness.

Feeding it Forward, with the assistance of four local faith communities, will provide delicious hot meals, lovingly served, for 30 to 40 people every Tuesday through Friday night from May to November.

Through grants, corporate and individual financial and in-kind contributions, Bridge to Home will provide these much needed services to the people in Santa Clarita who are at risk of becoming or are experiencing homelessness.

Bridge to Home’s shelter is located at 23031 Drayton St. in Newhall. For more information, call (661) 254-4663 or visit BTOhome.com.

Pedestrian Killed in Collision in Valencia Shopping Center Parking Lot

| News | January 28, 2016

A 74-year-old pedestrian was killed Tuesday morning after being struck by a vehicle in the Granary Square shopping center in Valencia, authorities said.

The collision occurred at approximately 9:13 a.m. at the 25800 block of McBean Parkway inside the shopping center, said Sgt Brian Hudson of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

The victim, described as an elderly male, was walking in a crosswalk across the parking lot when he was struck by a vehicle driven by an 81-year-old woman traveling southbound at approximately 5 miles per hour.

“It appears the driver accidentally accelerated briefly rather than hitting the vehicle’s brakes after striking the victim,” Hudson said. “This caused the vehicle to actually run over the victim.”

The collision was reported to Sheriff’s Station officials as a man “pinned underneath the vehicle,” Hudson added.

Los Angeles County Fire Department officials arrived on scene at approximately 9:20 a.m. and transported one patient to a local trauma center at 9:26 a.m., said Humberto Agurcia, public information officer for the L.A. County Fire Department.

The victim was pronounced dead at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital at approximately 10:15 a.m., Hudson said.

No arrests have been made in connection with the fatal collision, and the identities of the victim and the driver – who Sheriff’s Station officials said was being cooperative with deputies – have not yet been released.

“It’s horrific to even see this in a shopping center … let alone a busy street,” said Joe Rini, a bystander at the scene who walks with a cane. “It scares me… I have to look a hundred times before I’m ready and willing to cross because I can’t run.”

Rini added, “God bless the guy that had passed, that’s all I can say.”

The investigation is being handled by the Sheriff’s Department Traffic office. No further information is available at this time.

Article Source: www.hometownstation.com
Photo Courtesy of www.hometownstation.com

Non-Profit of the Week: SCV Education Foundation

| SC Living | January 22, 2016

‘Bringing the Community Together to Support Excellence in Education’ 

The SCV Education Foundation is a group of educational leaders, business partners and volunteers with a goal of providing outstanding public schools for the children of the Santa Clarita Valley.

Local school districts supported by the SCV Education Foundation include Castaic Union, Newhall, Saugus Union, Sulphur Springs and William S. Hart.

“We work together with the many facets of our community to bridge the gap that has been created by lack of state and national funding of our local public schools,” organization officials said in a statement on the foundation’s website. “Every year, we grow stronger in our ability to fill the needs of our students and teachers through our programs and events that promote educational success.”

Foundation officials primarily carry out their mission in three ways: by implementing reading programs to improve literacy, providing grants to teachers and awarding scholarships to graduating Hart District seniors who are pursuing a four-year degree in education.

Based on the belief that literacy is “fundamental” for both educational and life skills success, the foundation’s volunteer-based reading programs help struggling readers improve their literacy and provide students with low access to books outside of school with a different set of books to read each week.

Every year, local teachers also receive thousands of dollars in materials for classroom, school and district-wide programs, particularly in the areas of language arts, science, technology, art and music.

More than a dozen local teachers received scholarships for the 2014/2015 school year last year, providing them with the opportunity to reach more than 6,000 SCV students, according to officials.

Community members can help support the mission of the SCV Education Foundation by participating in the 24th annual Principal for a Day event, set for Feb. 5. The fundraiser gives participants the chance to learn first-hand about the challenges and rewards of today’s public schools, and the roles principals and administrators play in education at a variety of SCV schools.

For more information about the SCV Education Foundation, or to sign up for the Principal for a Day event, go to www.scveducationfoundation.org or call
661-678-0429.

Driver in Fatal Crash Facing DUI, Manslaughter Charges

| News | January 21, 2016

The driver in a single-vehicle traffic collision that left one dead and two critically injured Saturday is facing felony charges of driving under the influence with gross negligence and vehicular manslaughter, according to arrest documents.

Michael Palazzola, 24, of Agua Dulce, was arrested about an hour after Saturday’s crash, which occurred on Stevenson Ranch Parkway, north of Pico Canyon Road, in Stevenson Ranch.

Palazzola was allegedly driving a 2011 Ford Fiesta “at an unsafe speed” at approximately 2:10 a.m. when the vehicle struck a concrete curb and continued off the roadway, according to a California Highway Patrol news release.

The vehicle then “collided with a large boulder, overturned and struck a tree, then came to rest on its wheels,” the news release stated.

There were three passengers in the vehicle at the time of the crash: Steven R. Kirk, 22, of Agua Dulce; Nicole Nogosek, 21, of Stevenson Ranch; and Chandler Richter, 21, of Saugus.

Kirk was pronounced dead at the scene. Nogosek and Richter sustained major injuries in the crash, while Palazzola sustained minor injuries.

Palazzola was arrested by CHP officers at 3:17 a.m. and released on bond shortly before 5 p.m. the same day. His bail amount was set at $200,000, according to arrest documents.

While alcohol is suspected to be a factor in the collision, its cause remains under investigation.

Palazzola was scheduled to appear at San Fernando Superior Court Wednesday. No further information regarding the appearance was available as of press time.

Photo by Rick McClure, courtesy of KHTS.

Gas Company, City Officials Address Local Concerns about Porter Ranch Leak

| News | January 21, 2016

 

Thousands affected by ongoing leak, including at least one SCV business owner

As the ongoing Porter Ranch gas leak continues to affect thousands— including at least one business owner from the Santa Clarita Valley—City Manager Ken Striplin recently addressed local concerns about the potential for a similar leak to occur at the natural gas storage facility located in Santa Clarita.

In an effort to assess the safety of the Honor Rancho facility in Santa Clarita, city officials have met with several representatives from Southern California Gas Company, which owns both Honor Rancho and the site of the ongoing leak in Porter Ranch, called Aliso Canyon.

“Although (the leak) is not here in the city, we were concerned with making sure that they were aware of the concern that we have in making sure that that doesn’t happen in Santa Clarita, and listening to the steps that they’re taking, the steps they have taken over time to ensure that (Honor Rancho) is a safe facility,” Striplin said at a Santa Clarita City Council meeting held Jan. 12.

Striplin noted that Honor Rancho is “not even close” to the size of Aliso Canyon, and that “it does not have the same problems.”

“They have looked at everything, they have inspected—they continue to inspect,” he said.

Honor Rancho is a naturally occurring underground storage reservoir that has been in operation in Santa Clarita since 1976. The facility– which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week –contains numerous wells, natural gas compressors, a dehydration system, pipelines, various buildings and ancillary equipment, according to a fact sheet provided by gas company officials.

“Like Aliso Canyon, this facility is vital to the reliable delivery of natural gas for Southern California,” said Stephanie Donovan, senior communications manager at Southern California Gas Company. “The technology to monitor and operate underground gas storage field has developed steadily through the years, and our facilities are at the forefront of safety controls and procedures.”

Donovan added that the operation of each of the gas company’s four storage facilities, including Honor Rancho in Santa Clarita, are “closed monitored for compliance” with the safety standards of the California Public Utilities Commission, the Division of Oil and Gas, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and local fire departments.

First discovered in October 2015, the ongoing Aliso Canyon gas leak has resulted in “major amounts” of methane gas being emitted into the atmosphere in Porter Ranch, according to a proclamation issued by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. earlier this month.

“They have looked at everything, they have inspected—they continue to inspect,” he said.

Honor Rancho is a naturally occurring underground storage reservoir that has been in operation in Santa Clarita since 1976. The facility– which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week –contains numerous wells, natural gas compressors, a dehydration system, pipelines, various buildings and ancillary equipment, according to a fact sheet provided by gas company officials.

“Like Aliso Canyon, this facility is vital to the reliable delivery of natural gas for Southern California,” said Stephanie Donovan, senior communications manager at Southern California Gas Company. “The technology to monitor and operate underground gas storage field has developed steadily through the years, and our facilities are at the forefront of safety controls and procedures.”

Donovan added that the operation of each of the gas company’s four storage facilities, including Honor Rancho in Santa Clarita, are “closed monitored for compliance” with the safety standards of the California Public Utilities Commission, the Division of Oil and Gas, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and local fire departments.

First discovered in October 2015, the ongoing Aliso Canyon gas leak has resulted in “major amounts” of methane gas being emitted into the atmosphere in Porter Ranch, according to a proclamation issued by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. earlier this month.

While state health officials have determined there should be no “lasting health impacts” as a result of the leak, thousands of area residents have been forced to relocate due to physiological responses like nausea and headaches, according to California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) officials.

The major impact on area residents, coupled with Southern California Gas Company officials’ unsuccessful attempts to stop the ongoing leak, led the governor to declare a State of Emergency in Los Angeles County on Jan. 6.

A portion of Brown’s proclamation is dedicated to strengthening oversight of gas storage facilities throughout the state, including at Honor Rancho in Santa Clarita. Multiple state agencies have also been ordered to submit a report assessing natural gas storage facilities in California to the governor’s office for review.

In addition to immediate health concerns of area residents, the leak has also resulted in major losses by Porter Ranch business owners, including SCV resident Larry Parsons.

Parsons, who owns the Color Me Mine locations in both Valencia and Porter Ranch, said that every business contacted by the Chatsworth Porter Ranch Chamber of Commerce reported losses as a direct result of the leak, apart from one.

“November and December (are) our busiest months historically, and we did not have that rush that we normally do,” Parsons said. “I had to discount my inventory in Porter Ranch significantly to get rid of my Christmas inventory. … Business was definitely off, so we had to make adjustments to try to get customers in the store.”

Other Porter Ranch business owners significantly impacted by the ongoing leak include a pharmacist who reported many of his customers have transferred their prescriptions out of the area, and the owner of a nail salon who said the majority of the salon’s clientele have relocated, according to Parsons.

“They’re offering relocation expenses to residents, but they’re not making anything for business owners, and we can’t relocate,” he said. “That’s our problem. Businesses can’t move. …It’s a challenge, and we’re wondering what we can do to get some relief from the gas company as well for this situation.”

Since the discovery of the leak, Parsons has submitted several claims with Southern California Gas Company and purchased an air purifier for his Porter Ranch store to help protect his staff as well as his customers, but has yet to receive any compensation or assistance from company officials.

“There’s definitely real, real losses there, so I’m going to be pursuing the gas company for those losses,” Parsons said. “We’re going to be pursuing this to the end, along with several other businesses, and hopefully the gas company will be responsive to our situation just as they have to the residents.”

Featured Photo: The Honor Rancho natural gas storage facility located in Santa Clarita.  Photo courtesy of Southern California Gas Company

New Year, New You?

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 19, 2016

New Year’s Resolutions to Lose Weight Rank No. 1, Long-term Success Rates Slim

With the new year well underway, nearly half of Americans are estimated to have made at least one New Year’s resolution that they intend to keep—at least for awhile.

Though losing weight was ranked the No. 1 resolution for 2015 in a study conducted by the University of Scranton, a mere 8 percent of people are actually successful in achieving their resolutions long-term, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute (SBRI).

A manager at L.A. Fitness in Santa Clarita said that she usually sees about a 30 percent increase in general attendance immediately after New Year’s, but that it typically returns to normal by mid-March.

At L.A. Fitness in Valencia, the amount of check-ins at the beginning of January typically doubles, while the number of new memberships at least triples, according to the gym’s weekend General Manager Wyatt, who asked that his last name not be published.
“Everybody comes in for the new year, and they want to be a new person,” Wyatt said. “Two months is pretty much how (long) that runs, where it’s peaking like that.”

So how can Santa Clarita residents be part of the lucky few who manage to make their resolutions stick?

First off, individuals should find the fitness environment that works best for them—whether that means working at home to exercise DVDs, jogging around the neighborhood, joining a gym that offers independent as well as group fitness or becoming a member at a specialized group fitness center.

“Our class formats are different,” said Torrence Pfatenhauer, the general manager at UFC Gym in Santa Clarita. “You see a lot of these group classes where you get 50 people taking a class and each person is in a little mini bubble. Ours is a very supportive group setting. People get to know each other.”

For those who do better in a one-on-one setting, gyms like L.A. Fitness, 24-Hour Fitness and Gold’s Gym offer personal training sessions to keep their clients motivated and on-track, and can sometimes provide a free session with new memberships or flexible rates.

“We help families get memberships at the best rate and a comfortable price,” Wyatt said. “We want pretty much to get everybody to exercise at the right price.”

Pfatenhauer said establishing a habit of regular exercise can help individuals stick with their New Year’s resolutions long-term, nothing that working out three times per week over the first three months is usually enough for most people to do so.

Partnering with a friend for workouts can also help people stick with their resolutions, because then they become accountable to someone other than themselves if they decide not to go to a planned workout session.

The same can also be true when it comes to personal training sessions, which require a scheduled appointment and payment for each session.

Even free mobile applications like Runkeeper—which tracks things like time, distance, average pace and calories burned for running, hiking and more using the phone’s GPS—and Fitnet—which uses the device’s camera to monitor the user’s workout as they follow along to a video—can give individuals the edge they need to keep their New Year’s resolutions going throughout the entire year.

And according to SBRI, those who explicitly make New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t, so SCV residents can boost their chances of success by determining a specific, concrete goal, writing it down and sticking it someplace they’ll see it regularly.

St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary

| Canyon Country Magazine | January 18, 2016

St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary made the Santa Clarita Valley its home in 2007 when its parent organization, the Lange Foundation, purchased a 4.5-acre horse ranch in Canyon Country. Since then, the property has been transformed into a sanctuary for countless homeless dogs, cats, horses and ponies.

“This allowed us a place of our own in which to expand our rescue work to include the forgotten desert shelters,” read a statement on the organization’s website. “In mid-2010, the first of what we hope will be many kennels was completed.”

Today, the sanctuary houses 23 indoor/outdoor dog runs, a large cat room with a fully enclosed cat play area, two isolation rooms for rescued animals recovering from illness, a state-of-the-art barn and five large pastures.

While St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary was originally intended as a dog and cat rescue, not long after acquiring their facility in Canyon Country, sanctuary staff heard of several starving horses “in grave need of care.”

“It seemed obvious as to what we had to do,” organization officials continued. “Shortly thereafter, we were caring for 14 horses. We did not realize it at the time, but we had just entered the world of horse rescue.”

Since 2008, St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary has rescued more than 40 horses and ponies, in addition to the numerous dogs and cats rescued from euthanasia at animal shelters and given a loving home and care until they can be adopted into their “forever” homes.

For those animals who are repeatedly overlooked or were so neglected or abused that they are considered beyond rehabilitation by sanctuary staff, St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary serves as their forever home. Known as the sanctuary’s “retired” dogs, cats and horses, sanctuary staff members make a commitment to each animal to ensure they are “loved and spoiled for the rest of their lives.”

“Our retired dogs live indoors in a real home with access to tons of outdoor space to play, run and experience life,” read a statement on the website. Retired resident cat Poochie “lives in the house at St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary, with access to a big, beautiful outdoor enclosure. He can climb, jump, watch the birds, talk to the dogs, all from within his secure outdoor space. When he wants to take a break from his tough guy exploits, he wanders back inside to the comforts of home.”

These retired animals, as well as the rest of the sanctuary’s rescues, require food, grooming, medical care and “everything an animal needs to be happy and healthy,” according to organization officials.

Tax-deductible donations made to St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary’s parent organization, the Lange Foundation, go directly toward the care of these animals both at the sanctuary and at the foundation’s Halfway Home Kennel in Los Angeles.

A statement on the foundation’s website reads, “With your donation, we can save a sick mother cat and her baby kittens from euthanasia, provide an injured puppy with much-needed medical attention, rescue a badly neglected horse from auction (and) restore sight to an elderly, blind, abandoned dog.”

For more information about St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary, or to donate, go to http://langefoundation.org/st-bonnies-sanctuary or call 661-251-5590.

Athlete of the Week: Chloe White

| SC Living | January 17, 2016

The youngest of five kids in an athletic family, 13-year-old Chloe White has been called one of the best tumblers in the Santa Clarita Valley by Gymcheer USA Co-Owner Matt Walker.

“For Chloe, tumbling has always been a passion of hers,” Walker said. “She began gymnastics at a very early age. Eventually, she realized that cheer has become not just her sport, but her life.”

Chloe has been cheering for five years, training under the same coach who trained her two sisters, Coach Shelly Walker (Gramatky).

“Each year, Chloe’s abilities grow,” Walker said, noting that she helped lead her team, the California Flyers Elite X, to two national championships last season.

After graduating from high school, Chloe’s goal is to attend the University of Oregon, where her sister is the head coach of the college’s Acro-Tumbling Team.

Hero of the Week: Vicky Yeretzian

| SC Living | January 15, 2016

A board member of the Friends of the Library since its inception in 2011, Vicky Yeretzian is also the used book store chair at the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library.

“She volunteers tirelessly in the FOL used book store at the Canyon Country Library,” said Robin Hoklotubbe of the Santa Clarita Public Library. “Vicky has been a valuable volunteer to the Friends of the Library and the library too.”

Yeretzian organizes the library’s annual Antique Appraisal Day and assists various FOL committees as needed while continuing to be an active member of the board.

“Her willingness to lead is inspiring,” Hoklotubbe added. “She is a dedicated and hard worker. We are very grateful to Vicky.”10

Non-Profit of the Week: Friends of Santa Clarita Public Library

| SC Living | January 15, 2016

Through a variety of advocacy, volunteer and fundraising efforts, the Friends of Santa Clarita Public Library support the needs of the library’s three branches in Valencia, Canyon Country and Newhall.

“The Friends of the Library is an all-volunteer organization and represents SCV citizens who value their public library and want to assist in making it even better than it already is,” said Robin Hoklotubbe of the Santa Clarita Public Library.

FOL volunteers operate used book stores at each of the library’s three branches, with 100 percent of the proceeds supporting additional special programming and resources for children, teens and adults.

In addition, FOL provides financial support to popular reading programs, hosts adult programs and activities, provides volunteer opportunities to the community and hosts author events.

The latest author event, held Sept. 15 of last year at the Valencia branch, featured Emmy-nominated writer April Smith.

Her newest novel, “A Star for Mrs. Blake,” tells the story of a group of American women who travel to France during the 1930s to visit the graves of their sons, all of whom were soldiers killed in World War I. Smith is also the producer of dramatic series and movies for television.

This Saturday, the Old Town Newhall Library will be host to the third annual Friends of the Library Celebration of Local Authors, which features local authors representing diverse genres like children, romance, non-fiction, westerns and more.

“The city of Santa Clarita has a wealth of talented writers, and the Friends of the Library felt that by organizing an event that celebrates and gives these authors a public platform, that would be a good way to support the community and literacy,” Hoklotubbe said.

A total of 52 authors are set to take part in this year’s free event, and will be present all day selling their books and participating in moderated panel discussions.

For more information about the Friends of Santa Clarita Public Library, go to www.santaclaritafol.com.

Is Electing a Mayor, District Voting in the City of Santa Clarita’s future?

| News | January 14, 2016

Not long after Santa Clarita City Councilmember TimBen Boydston was “passed over” for the role of mayor pro tem by his fellow council members, Assemblyman Scott Wilk discussed whether a change is needed in the way Santa Clarita’s mayor and city council members themselves are selected on “The Santa Clarita Gazette Radio Hour” on KHTS.

With numerous ongoing lawsuits regarding the California Voting Rights Act taking place throughout the state—and the resulting recent move to district voting by several local entities—a change in voting structure by the city of Santa Clarita may someday be unavoidable.

“What I’d love to see, frankly, is a valley-wide city with a mayor elected citywide, and then go to districts for the rest,” Wilk said. “We’re going to have to go to districts anyways because of the California Voting Rights Act, so it’s inevitable. If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right.”

In a later interview with the Santa Clarita Gazette, Mayor Bob Kellar said that action to reach a “satisfactory conclusion” in the city’s own lawsuit regarding the California Voting Rights Act was already taken by city officials in 2014, when the decision was made to change election dates from April to November.

“As far as I’m concerned, the city has bent over backwards to be in compliance,” he said, adding that it would be “unfortunate” if city officials were forced to move to district voting– a possibility if legislation is passed statewide requiring it.

Kellar attributed the primary reason for his opposition to district voting to the divisiveness he feels it would create among the members of the city council.

“All of the council members are sensitive to what is occurring throughout the city of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Valley. … We’re interested in the entire valley and we work cohesively,” he said. “We look at cities around us that have districting, and you know what happens? Everything is divisive. Everybody is fighting for their little corner that they’re representing, and ultimately you run into a lot more obstacles and frustration than you do when you have a unified city council working for the entire betterment of the community.”

Kellar added that, while the possibility of altering the city’s voting structure has been discussed periodically over the years, the common saying, “If it’s not broken, why fix it?” is applicable in the situation.

“As we look at the progress of this city over the years and the manner in which we have had our local government structured, it has worked exceedingly well, so I really think it would be an unfortunate occurrence to go to districting,” he said.

In contrast, Canyon Country Advisory Committee President Alan Ferdman– a candidate in the next Santa Clarita City Council election set for Nov. 2016 –believes that dividing the city into districts would actually bring the community “even closer” to their elected representatives.

He referenced the decision made by the community in the 1980s to become a city in order to have “closer” representation, noting that residents throughout the country vote only for their own state’s senator for similar reasons.

In addition, the potential for the city of Santa Clarita to expand its boundaries to the unincorporated areas of the Santa Clarita Valley is added incentive to make a move to districts, according to Ferdman.

“I think it’s in the best interest of our community that the city expand to the west side and Castaic; it would not be in our best interest to have separate dueling cities,” he said. “District voting is something that is inevitable if we intend to make the boundaries of the city include the west side of the valley and Castaic. Residents in those areas need to have confidence that they will be well-represented, and having their own district representation is one way to make that happen.”

City Councilmember TimBen Boydston agreed that it would “make sense” to move to districting in the case of the expansion of the city’s boundaries, but noted that there are both advantages and disadvantages to this shift in structure.

One advantage includes the added time and opportunity for council members to interact with their constituents because they would represent a smaller number of people, and residents could more easily run for office because it would be less expensive, according to Boydston.

However, he continued, the overall cost of government is typically driven up by a separation into districts because of a lack of perfect equality between the different areas.

To give an example, he said, the Saugus community may have a large park but no public swimming pool, while the Canyon Country community may have a public swimming pool but no park. If divided into districts, the city council members representing each community may both call for the addition of the elements their district lacks for the sake of equality rather than the betterment of the entire city.

“And so you get a lot of people that are not opposed to one thing in another district as long as they can get it in their district,” Boydston said. “So the government, I believe, then tends to be more expensive.”

While several officials noted that an analysis and approval by the California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCo) would likely be the first step to begin the process of a change in voting structure, a Los Angeles LAFCo representative clarified that his agency would only have authority over the expansion of the city’s boundaries into the unincorporated areas of the Santa Clarita Valley.

However, Boydston said the city council could put the issue of moving to districting and citywide mayoral elections to a vote at any time if they wished, and initiate the process that way.

When asked if he would be in favor of this, Boydston replied, “If I talk to the people of Santa Clarita, if they were polled and they were in favor of it, I would be in favor of it.”

If the majority of the city council agreed to divide the Santa Clarita voting community into districts and to have an elected mayor, Santa Clarita could still remain a general law city, or city officials could decide to write their own charter, thus becoming a “charter city,” according to Ferdman.

In the case that the city’s elected officials decided against these changes, but the community still called for it, residents could independently undertake what’s called a popular referendum to make it happen.

The National Conference of State Legislatures defines a popular referendum as a measure that appears on the ballot as a result of a voter petition drive, meaning the community could vote on the issue themselves if they collected enough petition signatures according to specific guidelines.

“That is a difficult process, and there usually are reasons that motivate the people to do so that I don’t see in Santa Clarita right now,” Boydston said. “And it’s generally expensive to do that … so that means you have to find funding from someplace to help you. I just don’t see where that would come from.”

Another aspect of the equation is whether a change in the city’s voting structure would garner the support of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

“I wasn’t in the room, but my understanding is there’s kind of been a détente between the city and Supervisor Antonovich, and he didn’t want to see anything happen (with districting) until after he left office,” Wilk said on “The Santa Clarita Gazette Radio Hour.” “He’s going to be leaving office at the end of next year, so I think now’s the time to start having these kind of discussions.”

Mayor Pro Tem Dante Acosta and City Councilmembers Marsha McLean and Laurene Weste were not available for comment as of press time.

Chili Cook-Off Charities Announced

| Santa Clarita Living | January 11, 2016

SCV nonprofits Single Mothers Outreach and the Santa Clarita Food Pantry have been selected to benefit from this year’s 4th Annual Charity Chili Cook-Off set for April 19, event officials announced Wednesday.

Headed by a committee of local professionals, the fourth annual event will feature 40 amateur chefs from throughout the SCV competing for the 2016 trophy for “Best Chili,” as well as a live and silent auction.

“Last year, Santa Clarita’s community members and business professionals came together to spice things up for three local SCV charities,” event officials said. “No one, especially the amateur chefs, expected such rave reviews for their crock-pot chili.”

The 4th Annual Charity Chili Cook-Off will be hosted by this year’s venue sponsor, Wolf Creek Brewery, which event officials said provides for added parking and allows for more creativity in the planning of the cook-off.

Whitening Lightning is set to return as this year’s title sponsor, and local businesses can still sign up to help sponsor the event, with sponsorship levels starting at $250 and going up to $10,000.

There is also still time for amateur chili cooks to enter their secret recipe to be served up to event attendees in April, according to event officials.

For more information about participation or sponsorship, go to www.scvcharitychilicookoff.com, or contact Nicole Stinson at 661-816-4234 or Phillis Stacy-Brooks at 818-268-1228.

Abstract Art Exhibit by Award-Winning Local Artist Coming to City Hall

| Community | January 9, 2016

A brand new abstract art exhibit by an award-winning local artist is set to be displayed at City Hall from January 15 through April 9.

Called “A Foot in the Door: Abstract Art and Meaning,” the exhibit features the mixed media works of Santa Clarita resident Idelle Okman Tyzbir, and provides viewers with the context, inspiration and message of each piece.

Two of Tyzbir’s award-winning works, entitled “From the Ashes – Rhapsody” and “Morning Light,” will be on display at the exhibit following their debut in Santa Clarita’s Art Classic last October.

A reception celebrating the exhibit is planned for Jan. 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. at City Hall, when attendees can meet the artist and enjoy light appetizers and entertainment.

Tyzbir has won several awards for her metal sculptures and watercolor paintings, including the award for first and third place out of 97 works at the La Galeria Gitana in San Fernando and an award at the Blinn House in Pasadena.

She taught art for the Newhall School District for 16 years and periodically teaches classes for children and adults at the ARTree and College of the Canyons.

85-Year-Old Artist’s Animal Paintings to be Displayed at Canyon Country Library

| Community | January 8, 2016

The animal-themed paintings of an 85-year-old, self-taught artist from Santa Clarita is set to be on display at the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library for the next several months.

Artist Betty Morgan’s new exhibit, entitled “Betty Morgan and Her Animals,” will feature what library officials described as Morgan’s “passionate” paintings of animals from Jan. 9 through May 6.

“I have enjoyed animals my whole life,” Morgan said. “Their eyes always speak to me. That is why I adore painting them.”

In addition to the exhibit, Canyon Country library officials are planning to host a craft activity inspired by Morgan’s animal paintings on March 4 to kick off the celebration of National Craft Month.

Following the activity, Free Craft Month Fridays are set to be held throughout the month of March from 2 to 3 p.m. for school-aged children and their families.

For more information about the “Betty Morgan and Her Animals” exhibit, go to www.arts.santa-clarita.com, or contact Santa Clarita Arts and Events Supervisor Jeff Barber by calling 661-250-3779 or via email at jbarber@santa-clarita.com.

Hero of the Week: Linda Pippin

| SC Living | January 8, 2016

Orange County native Linda Pippin came to the Santa Clarita Valley 12 years ago, and has been a dedicated volunteer at the SCV Senior Center since 2010.

The center’s executive director, Rachelle Dardeau, described Pippin as “instrumental” in the production of the center’s events and activities, noting that she also volunteers her time with food service and community outreach.

“Linda has a strong commitment to helping others,” Dardeau said. “Linda creates a personal relationship with senior guests and is committed to promoting quality of life for them.”

During her time volunteering at the center, Pippin has dedicated “countless hours” to the research, planning and decoration of events like monthly dances, summer camp and holiday celebrations.
In addition, she has helped create collaborations between the center and outside organizations through hat-making and collection efforts, which have benefited children with cancer through the Michael Hoefflin Foundation, cancer patients through the Delaware Head Huggers and performance and education through the Ballet Folkloric.

Dardeau added that Pippin is truly deserving of the title “Hero of the Week” because of her extraordinary volunteerism.

Non-Profit of the Week: SCV Senior Center

| SC Living | January 7, 2016

Promoting Independence, Dignity, and Quality of Life for Seniors

Established in 1976, the mission of the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center is to promote quality of life for seniors. More than 43,000 seniors access the center’s resources and services every year, which include care management, lunches, entertainment and a variety of classes.

“The SCV Senior Center is a place that promotes independence, dignity and quality of life so that adults can remain engaged in our community,” said Executive Director Rachelle Dardeau.

Seniors interested in taking classes at the center can learn about a variety of subjects. Classes include health & fitness, painting, French to Wii bowling, billiards and technology.

A hot meal prepared by a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef is served at the center Monday through Friday, while home-delivered meals are provided to homebound seniors.

The center is also home to the only licensed Adult Day Program in the Santa Clarita Valley, which specializes in providing services to seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

“The SCV Senior Center is designated as a Los Angeles County Focal Point on Aging,” Dardeau said, “meaning that it is a one-stop access to programs, services and activities for active adults and less active seniors alike.”

Approximately 350 volunteers from the SCV contributed nearly 60,000 hours of volunteer time last year alone, with opportunities available for instructors, drivers, kitchen assistants, marketing specialists, daycare assistants, chef assistants, special events assistants and social media specialists. Volunteers can also help pack lunches for the homebound elderly, or share their skills in data management or graphics.

The public can help support the SCV Senior Center by attending the 4th annual Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival at Reyes Winery on April 23. The annual festival features tastings by numerous wineries and local wine makers, gourmet food and specialty item sampling, handmade crafts from local artisans and live music, with proceeds supporting the SCV Senior Center.

For more information about the SCV Senior Center, go to www.myscvcoa.org. For more information about the 4th annual Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival or to buy tickets, go to www.reyeswinery.com/events/spv-winefestival.

Non-Profit of the Week: St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary

| SC Living | January 1, 2016

Rescuing and Re-homing Dogs, Cats, Horses, and Ponies in Need

St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary made the Santa Clarita Valley its home in 2007 when its parent organization, the Lange Foundation, purchased a 4.5 acre horse ranch in Canyon Country. Since then, the property has been transformed into a sanctuary for countless homeless dogs, cats, horses and ponies.

“This allowed us a place of our own in which to expand our rescue work to include the forgotten desert shelters,” read a statement on the organization’s website. “In mid-2010, the first of what we hope will be many kennels was completed.”

Today, the sanctuary houses 23 indoor/outdoor dog runs, a large cat room with a fully enclosed cat play area, two isolation rooms for rescued animals recovering from illness, a state-of-the-art barn and five large pastures.

While St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary was originally intended as a dog and cat rescue, not long after acquiring their facility in Canyon Country sanctuary staff heard of several starving horses “in grave need of care.”

“It seemed obvious as to what we had to do,” organization officials continued. “Shortly thereafter, we were caring for 14 horses. We did not realize it at the time, but we had just entered the world of horse rescue.”

Since 2008, St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary has rescued more than 40 horses and ponies, in addition to the numerous dogs and cats rescued from euthanasia at animal shelters and given a loving home and care until they can be adopted into their “forever” homes.

For those animals who are repeatedly overlooked or were so neglected or abused that they are considered beyond rehabilitation by sanctuary staff, St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary serves as their forever home. Known as the sanctuary’s “retired” dogs, cats and horses, sanctuary staff make a commitment to each animal to ensure they are “loved and spoiled for the rest of their lives.”

“Our retired dogs live indoors in a real home with access to tons of outdoor space to play, run and experience life,” read a statement on the website. Retired resident cat Poochie “lives in the house at St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary, with access to a big beautiful outdoor enclosure. He can climb, jump, watch the birds, talk to the dogs, all from within his secure outdoor space. When he wants to take a break from his tough guy exploits, he wanders back inside to the comforts of home.”

These retired animals, as well as the rest of the sanctuary’s rescues, require food, grooming, medical care and “everything an animal needs to be happy and healthy,” according to organization officials.

Tax-deductible donations made to St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary’s parent organization, the Lange Foundation, go directly toward the care of these animals both at the sanctuary and at the foundation’s Halfway Home Kennel in Los Angeles.

A statement on the foundation’s website reads, “With your donation, we can save a sick mother cat and her baby kittens from euthanasia, provide an injured puppy with much-needed medical attention, rescue a badly neglected horse from auction (and) restore sight to an elderly, blind, abandoned dog.”

For more information about St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary, or to donate, go to http://langefoundation.org/st-bonnies-sanctuary or call 661-251-5590.

Destroyed Vasquez Canyon Road Pavement Pulled Up, Landslide Analysis Continues

| News | December 31, 2015

Pavement that once was Vasquez Canyon Road in Santa Clarita was pulled up last week after a 400-foot section of the road was destroyed by a slow-moving landslide in November, officials said Monday.

While county officials were still unable to get in contact with the owners of the private property the road partially sits on as of Dec. 28, the pavement that was removed is “on the county’s right of way,” said Steven Frasher, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.

Despite the road’s indefinite closure, made clear by fencing and visible signs, sections of pavement lifted as high as fifteen feet in the air have attracted skateboarders in the weeks following the landslide. However, this highly dangerous situation was not the primary reason for the decision to pull up the pavement.
“The skateboarders were trespassing into what was an increasingly dangerous area, as the soil continues to move,” Frasher said. “But the deciding factor was that if the hillside should continue to slide (during storm season) it would be exponentially harder to clean up.”

Based on their observations, county officials determined that the road has continued to move since the landslide first occurred on Nov. 20, though in much smaller increments than the initial shift.

“According to watching the pavement on the road, it definitely was continuing to shift because it exhibited different profiles every couple of days,” Frasher said. “It’s continually moved since it actually started back in November, but it’s just slower than it had been in that first dramatic day.”

While it remains unknown how continued storms in Santa Clarita will affect the area, county officials are unable to begin necessary repairs or determine an estimated date for the road’s reopening.

“Until storm season is over and we see what happens with the hillside, it would be really impossible to safely get in there and try to do any road work on that,” Frasher said.

However, county officials began drilling and taking soil samples for testing on Dec. 15 to determine the cause of the landslide, which will help them try to predict how the area may continue to shift in the future.

Article Source: www.hometownstation.com

From Small Local Radio Show to International Success

| News | December 31, 2015

Messina’s “The Real Side” Tackles Controversial Topics for Nearly Seven Years

 

When Joe Messina hosted his first radio show on KHTS AM-1220 in Santa Clarita about six years ago, he was simply filling in for an absentee host. He brought together Bruce McFarland and Scott Wilk — a Democrat and a Republican — for the hour-long spot, not realizing at the time that he was launching an edgy show that would someday be heard in 42 states and 38 countries.

Today, Messina’s “The Real Side” is broadcast by about 40 different radio stations across the country — and online, around the world — filling the airwaves for up to three hours, five days a week with discussions about controversial topics like politics, prejudice, religion, illegal immigration and more.

“My vision originally was to do something on politics and social issues, but give both sides an opportunity to speak to it,” Messina said. “I would always be there to take the moderate stance, to try to pull people back to the middle.”

About a year after the show’s initial launch on KHTS AM-1220, Messina noticed he was having difficulty getting individuals from the “left” side to come on the show — whom he clarified are “not necessarily democrats” — and decided to shift his focus a little.

“I just did the issues as they came up, whether they be political, social,” he recalled. “We started off an hour a day, one day a week, and I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to fill that.”

Today, Messina’s “The Real Side” is broadcast by about 40 different radio stations across the country — and online, around the world — filling the airwaves for up to three hours, five days a week with discussions about controversial topics like politics, prejudice, religion, illegal immigration and more.

After Messina approached several other radio stations and received sponsorships to air on these stations as well, the show’s listener base, Facebook activity and phone calls from the public skyrocketed, garnering the attention of even more stations.

The one-hour show quickly increased to two, and then three hours one day a week before Messina was given a one-hour slot five days a week. Once the show was being aired across 10 different radio stations, it was picked up by USA Radio Networks, a syndicator company with a pool of about 600 partnering stations.

From there the show exploded to become what it is today: a three-hour show recorded in Messina’s own in-house studio that airs Monday through Friday across the country and online around the world.

Messina attributed part of the rapid growth of his show to the decision to tackle several different forms of media from the very beginning.

“Right away, we got a website, we did podcasting right away and we did video right away,” he said. “So you could find us in a multitude of ways.”

“The Real Side” is approaching its seventh anniversary in June 2016, and Messina recently re-signed his contract with USA Radio Networks for another year. While his show is currently on about 40 different stations, his goal for the future is to reach 100 through his willingness to tackle the controversial issues others may shy away from.

“I just did the issues as they came up, whether they be political, social,” he recalled. “We started off an hour a day, one day a week, and I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to fill that.”

“I’m pretty black and white about stuff—I don’t have many gray areas,” Messina said. “We do all the crazy stories that I know you sit there and scratch your head and go, ‘Why in God’s creation is somebody protesting this?’”

He went on to reference alleged “Black Lives Matter” supporters who reportedly planned a protest at the Mall of America during the holiday season, making it difficult for the public to shop.

“Why would you do that? You really think you’re going to get your point across on a positive level?” Messina said. “It’s just craziness—so those are the things we deal with.”TheRealSide_Logo_Web

SCV Residents Share Their New Year’s Resolutions

| News | December 31, 2015

 

For those in need of a little inspiration for their New Year’s resolutions, some Santa Clarita Valley residents shared their own resolutions with Valley Publications staff:

-“Read more books” – Liz
– “Pay for medic school” – Matt
– “Eliminate clutter so that I can focus on the people in my life” – Tyger
– “Find more time and resources to help more dog rescue organizations” – Francisco
– “Quit smoking” – Becky
– “Organize a protest” – Sarah
– “I want to be better at skiing” – Heather
– “Leave my mark on the world so that I can leave a better place for my grandson and his entire generation” – Tyger
– “My resolution is to not have a resolution” – Henry“Create a better balance between work, family time and alone time” – Randi
-“Eat more donuts” – Kimberly
-“Finally get in shape and start dating again” – Tyger
-“Watch more musicals” – Susan
-“Be the best I can be with God’s help and those of family and friends around me” – Melanie
-“Read more books, less time on Facebook” – Kathy
-“Pay off all of my debt” – Tyger
-“Spend less time on Open Forum” – Scott
-“I’m doing ‘less and more’ for my resolutions; meaning, instead of setting a resolution or goal that I’ll surely not stick to, I’m going to replace -something I’d like to do less of with something I’d like to do more of” – Selena
-“I’m going to stick to a budget next year. I’m also going to limit my Starbucks trips to once a week” – Bonnie
-“Less Facebook and smartphone” – Suverna
-“Focus on my bucket list now instead of waiting for ‘someday when I retire’” – Tyger

Oakmont Senior Community Opens Next Month

| Community | December 23, 2015

An 80-unit pet-friendly senior community has space available leading up to its January opening. Oakmont of Santa Clarita is a brand new facility on seven acres of land on Newhall Ranch Road and features independent living arrangements as well as a wing for seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Furnishings for the community are arriving daily, and Oakmont staff members are currently in the midst of completing their training, according to Mary Dembkowski of Oakmont of Santa Clarita.

“It is just like Christmas at Oakmont right now,” she said. “The community just continues to look more and more beautiful every day as we get ready for our opening in January. Our staff is just super excited.”

There is still time for seniors interested in either independent or assisted living to come by and tour the community and its model apartment homes, Dembkowski added.

“There are still openings, and we would love to show you our community,” she said.

With high ceilings, crown moldings, arched doorways and a variety of floor plans, many independent seniors are choosing to live at Oakmont simply as an alternative to the upkeep of traditional housing.

“Even if you are still independent, the beauty of Oakmont is you can have the best of both worlds,” Dembkowski said. “You can still maintain your independence while not having to worry about maintaining a home and cooking meals, and really enjoy your life with all the activities that go on.”

If the need for care does come up in the future, Oakmont residents don’t need to move again.

“Those needs can just be brought right in – it’s built right in,” Dembkowski said, noting that the community has nurses on duty 16 hours a day, seven days a week, in addition to a concierge physician.

“(The physician) comes to the community to see residents that may choose to use that service, or they can keep their own doctors and we can transport them,” she explained.

Executive Director Margie Veis has likened the luxury senior living community to that of a “cruise ship experience,” where residents can enjoy five star amenities like a salon & day spa, movie theater, fitness center, restaurant-style dining, gardens and walking paths, pet park, wellness center and more.

Dembowski added that the families of seniors living at Oakmont can enjoy the “peace of mind knowing that when they get up in the morning and go to work that mom and dad are in a safe place where they’re being taken care of.”

Courtesy of Hometownstation.com

Based on KHTS AM-1220 studio interview

Non Profit of the Week – SRD Straightening Reins

| SC Living | December 23, 2015

The mission of the Acton-based nonprofit SRD Straightening Reins is to provide specialized equine-assisted learning and interactive therapies to at-risk youth and their families, which organization officials called the building blocks to “deal with life on life’s terms.”

Behavioral, educational and community outreach services are available to youth and their families in the Los Angeles, Kern and Ventura counties, and actively address behavior and emotional problems, substance abuse, violence, child abuse and communication issues.

“SRD Straightening Reins will show at-risk youth that they have choices, and the choices they make will affect them for the rest of their lives,” read a statement on the SRD website. “As we model and support positive choices, our youth will realize the infinite possibilities available and become productive members in their communities.”

The organization’s services follow the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association model, which utilizes a solution-oriented “team approach”– consisting of the horse, equine specialist and mental health professional –from the ground rather than on horseback.

“The basis of the EAGALA Model is a belief that all clients have the best solutions for themselves when given the opportunity to discover them,” reads a statement on the EAGALA website. “Rather than instructing or directing solutions, we allow our clients to experiment, problem-solve, take risks, employ creativity and find their own solutions that work best for them.”

A testimonial published on the SRD website, shared by a 14-year-old boy, states:

“When I go to the ranch, I feel comfortable because I work with the friends I have there and their families. It feels like a safe place for everyone to be themselves. We are all there healing from something, so nobody is judging each other or making fun of you. It’s been fun learning to take care of the animals and getting to know their personalities. Going out to the ranch is one of the places that helps me remember life is worth living.”

For more information about SRD Straightening Reins, go to www.srdstraighteningreins.org or call 661-263-9371.

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