| Articles, Santa Clarita Living | July 31, 2013

By Martha Michael

While various reconstructive procedures seem almost commonplace these days, there are times when people find themselves facing (pun intended) oral surgery. It is often a teenager whose orthodontist discovers a problem with alignment or symptoms of TMJ who sends him/her to consult a maxillofacial surgeon for orthognathic treatment.

One such professional, Robert Mower DDS, has become the go-to guy for locals needing corrective jaw surgery.

“People that need it really need it,” says Dr. Mower. “We avoid surgery if at all possible. We are always looking for a way around it. We use temporary anchoring devices to achieve the same results. Orthodontists will try to influence the patient’s growth…surgery is a last resort.”

A graduate of Loma Linda Dental School, Dr. Mower trained in a program where they performed 200-300 such surgeries per year.

Julia Before

Santa Clarita teens Julia Sloan and Clarissa Michael, (this writer’s daughter), both had reconstructive jaw surgery performed by Dr. Mower at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills.

“Julia loves her results,” says Julia’s mother, Mary Sloan. “Most surprising is that people didn’t recognize her after the surgery…even one of her teachers.”

Clarissa Michael planned her surgery for summer, when she wouldn’t miss school. “It makes it convenient that I don’t have to go to class, because it is hard to talk with my mouth rubber banded shut,” she says. “But the recovery time was much shorter than I expected.”

It may seem like a growing number of teenagers

Julia After

are getting this surgery. “I doubt that it is more common than it used to be,” explains Dr. Mower. “There is an emphasis in general on health…and whole person care, and your teeth play a big part in overall health. There is also an emphasis on straightening teeth…which allows you to chew properly and eat a good diet.”

Issues with jaw alignment are possibly more commonly diagnosed than they used to be. More teens are getting orthodontia, so they are detecting the need for alterations.

Though Dr. Mower’s most common procedure is wisdom tooth removal

Julia After

performed in his office, this summer the Valencia-based oral surgeon will perform approximately eight reconstructive surgeries.

“These are rewarding,” says Dr. Mower. “Most patients see big changes and are quite pleased.”

Julia Sloan and her parents are prime examples. “We loved Dr. Mower,” says Mary Sloan. “He took a lot of time with us and had great bedside manner.”

While he has privileges at approximately five hospitals, Dr. Mower works primarily at Ventura Community Hospital and Providence Holy Cross in Mission Hills. “We try to make it as pleasant an experience as possible,” says Dr. Mower. “And we try to give them more value for the dollar.”

Dr. Mower’s practice is increasing its support and sponsorship of community programs, through fundraisers, for instance, as a way of giving back to his patients. “We are hoping to double our support of schools this year, high schools, mostly,” he says.

As for routine procedures, Dr. Mower and colleagues who assist him in surgery, such as Dr. Nathan Turley, follow similar procedures and share clinical philosophies. Says Dr. Mower: “We are always trying to make it better, with a quicker recovery and a better outcome for our patients.”

Dr. Robert W. Mower’s office is located at 26357 McBean Pkwy in Valencia; (661) 255-1515.

Old Town Newhall Association

| Articles, Santa Clarita Living | July 11, 2013

The Old Town Newhall Association is a public charity, 501(c)3, which exists to promote the downtown Newhall area. In existence since 2001, the group has as its common goal the revitalizing of Old Town Newhall.

The OTNA has a manager and a board of directors who are responsible for the overall operations and scheduling of events.

Their Accomplishments Include:

Bringing people downtown with events such as: Parades, Senses on Main, Arts Festivals, Annual Car Shows & Cinco De Mayo
Organizing community clean-up days prior to major downtown events
Hosting annual fundraisers/community events with hay-rides, country music, saloon, stagecoach rides and games
Publishing newsletters that provide up-to-date information on events and happenings
Opening the doors of communication for the downtown area
Creating a unified voice among merchants, property owners and residents
Hosting important community forums           (some bilingual)

Two events are hosted by the City and supported by OTNA: the third Thursday of each month Senses on Main is a local destination event and every Thursday they host a Farmer’s Market on Main. With the lack of redevelopment funding, things are changing through alternate funding sources.

Looking ahead, at Christmas the Metrolink Toy Train stops at the Newhall station. Metrolink will host the event, & the OTNA coordinates events at the station.

Annually there is the Classic Car Show, initially planned as a fundraiser, with an auction and entry fees for the cars – it is also a very well attended event!

OTNA meets monthly and members and general public are welcome. More information can be found at www.otna.org.

Old Town Newhall Association’s Classic Car Show draws crowd
Thousands of guests and car enthusiasts made their way down Main Street in Old Town Newhall on Sunday, taking in the 4th Annual Classic Car Show presented by the Old Town Newhall Association, which works to promote the district’s newly revitalized downtown area.

Live Entertainment

Live music and a raffle complemented the event, but the main attraction was the wide array of vehicles from several decades that lined the road.

“As of, like, two days ago, we think we had 80 cars – well, we ended up with, like, 160,” said Ed Bernstein, a board member for the Old Town Newhall Association and the head of the promotion committee for the event.  “So…in the last 24 hours, another…80 cars showed up.”

Bernstein deemed the event “extremely successful,” estimating that it had seen about double the turnout of the previous year. Guests and participants alike expressed their enjoyment, with many comparing it favorably to other classic car shows throughout the state.

“I’m impressed.  It’s a very nice show,” stated the owner a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, who said he was visiting from Lancaster. He noted that it was his first time at the event.

Another participant, the owner of a modified 1931 Ford Model A Roadster, took a rather light-hearted view:

A few of the cars

“It’s all of us old guys just reliving our youth, is what it turns out to be,” he joked. Still, he said, he enjoyed the event and hoped that he would able to return next year.

Main Street in Old Town Newhall is a part of a newly developed area in the district that boasts a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and more. For more information on Old Town Newhall, visit mynewmainstreet.com or www.oldtownnewhall.com. For more information on the Old Town Newhall Association, visit otna.org.

What’s Cooking? Chicken Alfredo Wraps

| Articles, SC Women | July 10, 2013

This one is good! And simple!

9 Lasagne Noodles
2 1/2 Cups of Alfredo Sauce
2 Cups Shredded Chicken
Garlic Salt
3 Cups of Mozarella Cheese

Spray an 8X8 pan with non stick spray and pour 1/2 cup alfredo sauce, or just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.

Boil 8-10 cups of water in a large pan, cook lasagne noodles until al dente.
Drain and rinse the noodles with cold water to prevent them from sticking to each other. Then, lay out each noodle individually and blot dry with paper towel.

Spread about 2 Tbs alfredo sauce over each noodle. Sprinkle oregano and garlic salt on top of sauce, spread chicken evenly out over each noodle, add approx 3 tbs cheese on top of chicken. Roll up gently.

Place the roll ups in the pan, one by one, seam side down so that they don’t come undone. Pour the remaining sauce over the top and cover with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Step 3, Ready for baking

Step 2, rolled

Step 1

Green Coffee Bean Extract Is It the “Magic Bean” of Weight Loss?

| Articles, SC Women | July 10, 2013

No doubt about it – Green Coffee Bean Extract is making a big buzz in the weight loss industry. And there’s a good reason why – consumers are getting great results!

Before coffee beans are roasted, they are still green and they have more chlorogenic acid, a natural compound that has the ability to reduce the amount of carbohydrates absorbed. It does this by naturally reducing the level of a gastrointestinal hormone known as GIP (glucose dependent insulin tropic polypeptide). A decrease in the level of GIP shifts the site of glucose absorption away from the small intestine, resulting in a lower net level of glucose entering the bloodstream.  In addition, chlorogenic acid has the ability to reduce the amount of glucose that can be created from metabolism carbohydrates and proteins. When the body is unable to derive energy from these sources, it is forced to draw upon stored sources of energy (such as body fat) to help meet energy needs.

The benefit of this was seen in a 22-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study where overweight adults were given a Green Coffee Bean extract every day. The results were significant reductions in body weight (over 17 lbs) and percent body fat (4%). Furthermore, the body mass index for six subjects shifted from preobesity to the normal weight range.

Likewise, in another randomized, placebo-controlled study,  50 overweight men and women were given Green Coffee Bean extract or a placebo daily. Changes in weight, body mass index (BMI), and Muscle Mass/Fat Mass ratio were recorded at TO and T60. After 60 days of treatment, the results were that those taking Green Coffee Bean extract experienced a weight loss of about 11 pounds, and body mass index also decreased significantly. Moreover, Muscle Mass/Fat Mass ratio improved significantly with Green Coffee Bean extract. The significant decrease of weight, body mass index and fat mass showed that Green Coffee Bean extract is able to complement the effect of a low caloric diet in people who are overweight.

The results from a clinical study  in 12 healthy volunteers with different coffee products containing glucose (a sugar) showed that instant coffee enriched with chlorogenic acid, the active compound in Green Coffee Bean extract, reduced the absorption of glucose by 6.9 percent. No such effects were seen with normal or decaffeinated instant coffee. In another comparative, randomized, double-blind, 12-week study of 30 overweight people, coffee enriched with chlorogenic acid resulted in an average weight loss of almost 12 pounds. Researchers concluded that chlorogenic acid-enriched coffee has a significant effect on the absorption and utilization of glucose from the diet, and when used for an extended time may result in a reduction in body weight and body fat. A combination product featuring raspberry ketone resulted in increased calorie-burning over a 4-hour period.

By Gene Bruno for Earth Wise Nutrition Centers (Granary Square since 1987) at 25908 Mc Bean Parkway. 661-255-2928 or visit BuyEarthWise.com or VivaVitamins.com.

L.A. SummerFest at Rivendale A New Festival of Theatre & Music Under the Stars

| Articles, Santa Clarita Living | July 9, 2013

Shakespeare in the Park is part of L.A. SummerFest at Rivendale, located at the entrance of Towsley Canyon  Park in Newhall. It is a rare opportunity for Santa Clarita residents and friends to bring a blanket and a picnic dinner and enjoy outdoor theatre. Wine is available for purchase.

This summer, director Stephen Whelan will bring guests a FREE performance of Henry IV on July 13-14, 20-21 and August 3-4. Gates open at 6:00 p.m. and the curtain rises at 7:00 p.m.

Two other FREE performances are slated for this summer: On Friday, July 19 beginning at 7:30 p.m. visitors will enjoy a smooth jazz concert called  “Spare Time.” And on Friday, July 26 the Santa Clarita Valley Concert Band will entertain with music celebrating Billy Shakespeare to Billy Joel. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and is also FREE.

For more information and the complete schedule of performances for the festival, visit www.LASummerFest.org.

HAIR Comes to Town

As part of the LA SummerFest held at Rivendale, which is home to the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival, the musical “HAIR” will draw crowds on July 27-28 and August 1-2. This performance of the popular musical, created by theTribe Productions, is the troupe’s first visit to the Towsley Canyon venue.

“We’ve never produced in Towsley at Rivendale before, but we’ve adored David Stears’ work with the Shakespeare Fest, and couldn’t say no to being a part of this new, expanded incarnation,” said Tribal Director Christopher Chase. “We’re excited to do it in an outside venue, as many productions before us (including the 2007 NYC revival) have done, and are honored to be a part of the first ever LA SummerFest.”

The successful production group theTRIBE was founded by Christopher Chase and Tiffany Oliver in 2009, and “HAIR” is the show that they have toured with most. They completed nine other productions previously, including “The Fantasticks,” “Working,” and “Godspell,” then did “HAIR” in Hollywood for a month last summer, and took it (and the cast/crew) on the road to San Francisco this year.

“HAIR is a show that (aside from having amazing music) speaks to the joy and humanity in everyone,” said Chase. “It’s a two-hour celebration of honesty, love, and learning to live in the moment. What’s more beautiful than that…especially when it included groovy costumes and dancing?”

You can get tickets to “HAIR” at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/400268

What’s Trending

| Articles, SC Women | July 9, 2013

In Retail
Don’t forget, our ability to accessorize is “what separates us from the animals” (says character “Clairee” in Steel Magnolias).

Feel self-conscious about wearing white, even after Memorial Day? Even shoe designers like Salvatore Ferragamo are giving a nod to white shoes this season. Shoppers are finding a lot of choices in handbags and heels in different shades of white for summer. Shoe styles are also trending toward less feminine, more unisex looks this year…but it’s not moving very quickly.

The most feminine flair is seen in fancy flats. – Lots are flowery, like smoking slippers, found in plenty of shades. The most exciting prints are seen in the sneaker designs, many of those in florals as well. Look no further than (shoe designer) Ruthie Davis’ Facebook to catch the vision – Baby Blue Ivy Carter (Babybeyonce) has custom-made, designer bling-covered tennies.

Talk about feminine – today’s belts are hugging the waist, which is a woman’s design, almost a reflection of the cinching that Victorian women would do with their corsets.

Glasses are high-tech looking, with blackout lenses and metal detail. But also, tortoise patterns are back – still all the rage, but now found in colors, like blues and burgundies.

For fashionistas, the fun of a change in seasons is that a whole new wardrobe gets to see the light of day.

In Resale

What if that wardrobe is revisiting the light of day? What’s trending in the resale market?

Well, for one thing, the resale market itself is trending. Consignment clothing stores are cropping up…some companies simply hold sales once or twice a year. Locally, there is Dress on a Dime and Kids’ Consignment Sale. Just Between Us carries top-of-the-line labels at a fraction of the cost, while there’s a new resale store near the Westfield Town Center Mall called Runway Fashion Exchange. Launched by a young couple, this store has pretty trendy merchandise on its racks.

Then there is, of course, the longtime popularity of thrift stores for favorite hipster pieces.

Whatever the resale venture, it enables the shopper to not just get more for his/her money…picking over the racks means a creative opportunity to piece mismatches together (which is trending) and do some layering of tops, leggings, shorts and other contemporary looks. That means you can create your own look. And not break the bank.

Wax By Heather Nelson

| Articles, Santa Clarita Living | July 9, 2013

by Martha Michael

Heather’s Wax Studio

Though she’s a lifelong Santa Clarita resident, Heather Nelson likes her independence. As a professional with her own business at Sola Salon, she is able to construct her own schedule and develop her own client list.

“I love the independence of controlling my own business, creating my own culture and interacting with people,” says Nelson. “All the studios at Sola Salon are independently owned and operated. Everyone is their own boss and our schedules are all different.”

The entrepreneur has managed to communicate the understandable link between hair removal through waxing and the larger bounds of makeup artistry. She expands on her (already glowing) reviews on Yelp.com by adding photos exploring the art of colorful, cutting-edge eyebrows, for instance. “My signature services are my seven-minute Brazilian wax and my eyebrow wax and tint,” says Nelson. “A typical business day has anywhere from 20 to 30 clients for various wax services.”

It’s that commitment to beauty that bridges Nelson’s work with the others at Sola Salon. “I’ve always had a passion for all things beauty and making people feel special, so it’s no surprise that this was the career path I chose,” she explains. “I graduated high school early–at 16–through independent study, and immediately checked into esthetician school, where I received my certificate of completion before getting my license. I was fortunate enough to start working right away and I’ve been working ever since! I’m so grateful to be young and successful in my industry. I’ve had the pleasure of working with and for some truly amazing people.”


Nelson is still in her first year at Sola Salon, but she has lived in Santa Clarita her entire life. Her work, at times, is something of a mission. “I love this town!” she proclaims. “I love being a part of the process that helps people feel better about themselves. As women, the better we feel, the better we look.”

As usual, Nelson is committed to ideas that may not be the most widely accepted – but they’re her own. “I love shifting the perspective people have about body waxing being scary and painful,” she explains. “Hair removal doesn’t have to be a negative ordeal with a skilled esthetician who genuinely cares about her clients.”

That’s just another example of the independent mind of Heather Nelson.

Wax by Heather Nelson is located in Sola Salon, at
26615 Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus. Contact her at
(661) 644-4346.

Small Business Start-Ups: Choosing Successful Products and Services

| Articles, SC Women | July 9, 2013

By Tobias Anne Skelly

Successful products and services are those that specific consumers consider valuable and are willing to pay more than it costs for a company to provide.

Here are three basic rules aspiring entrepreneurs need to know:

1st: Specific products and services are what matter most to potential customers.
When consumer choice is involved, the true motivation for purchasing anything is based on individual self-interest. Individuals buy products and services that they believe will benefit them. The greater the benefit, the more likely the purchase, even when the price is high. This is also true for gift purchases and charitable donations, because contributing to the wellbeing of others makes individuals feel good. Many start-ups fail within the first three years because they offer mediocre products and services or ones that don’t live up to customer expectations.

2nd: Today’s successful products and services are not necessarily tomorrow’s.
Change is a constant. Companies must continue to perfect their core products and services, weed out those that are no longer valuable, and create or locate those that are valuable to their current customer base. In the corporate world, this process is known as research and development. In the small business world, this process is known as the reason most companies fail before they reach their tenth year! Be aware of changes with competitors, technology, government regulations, and especially with consumers. Consumer tastes, habits, and perceptions naturally change over time. The reasons may seem varied, but it always comes down to individual self-interest. They want what is most beneficial for them at that time.

3rd: Profit is essential for a for-profit company.
Failure to produce or sustain a profit will bankrupt any company. Profit margins are based on charging the right price for products and services. The right price is determined by current and future costs. It’s an objective and mathematical process, not subjective or based on wishful thinking. The right price (or fair value) is a win/win. Customers win because they get products and services they value at prices they feel are fair. Companies win because they make the profits needed to sustain their business.

Tobias Anne Skelly is a Business and Marketing Consultant for small business owners and start-ups. She is the Owner of gITnoticed® Marketing and an Educator in Marketing and Communications. To learn more, visit www.gitnoticed.com or send email to toby@gitnoticed.com.

New Book on Canyon Country

| Articles, SC Women, Spotlight News | July 8, 2013

Our own little borough of SCV, Canyon Country, is featured in a new book, the latest in Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series. Written by Santa Clarita Women Magazine editor, Martha Michael, the book is filled with historical photos from favorite Canyon Country restaurants, residences and school buildings. Read about its role as a crossroads, from the earliest days of the Tataviam people to the latest developments in the community’s growth and expansion.

Michael’s book, “Canyon Country,” may be purchased at The Living Room Emporium, 27261 Camp Plenty Road in Canyon Country. Or you may call (661) 505-5244.

Miss Santa Clarita Valley Scholarship Pageants

| Articles, SC Women | July 8, 2013

One of many non-profits supported by Jennifer Gerard, featured on this month’s cover of Santa Clarita Women Magazine, the Miss SCV Pageants Program creates opportunities for local females like no other entity. Its obvious strong point is in providing a venue for girls, young ladies and women to showcase their thoughts and talents in a scholarship contest on stage, where the community can enjoy it as well.

“It is my privilege to have worked with some of the finest young women of this community. They are important people, full of ideas, hope, leadership and compassion for others,” says Miss SCV Scholarship Program Director Mardi Rivetti, on the organization’s website.

The Miss SCV Pageants website offers clarity about the nature of this multi-tiered contest, which is neither connected to the Miss America nor the Miss USA/Universe circuit. The site says: “This program allows young women to meet other people in her community and introduces her to the spirit of volunteer service. The speech gives her an opportunity to share with others the nature of the sponsor’s business as she develops confidence in front of an audience. The fitness wear inspires her to be physically fit and the walk down the runway in her formal gown displays her confidence, poise and beauty. The personal interview with the judges allows her to speak about her achievements and aspirations. The famous pop question allows the judges to witness maturity, intelligence and sincerity.”

In addition to Jennifer Gerard of Whitening Lightning, the sponsor list covers almost every arena of business imaginable. Sponsors include dentists, financial groups, attorneys, business owners, hair stylists, wellness companies, restaurants – the list is very sizable. Almost as long is the list of non-profits that benefit from the time and attention given to them by pageant winners as they “pay it forward” with community service. The organizations served by the SCV Pageant winners include the SCV Domestic Violence Center, Special Olympics, SCV Food Pantry, the Chamber of Commerce and many, many more. For more information about the SCV Scholarship Pageant Program, visit www.missscvpageants.com.

Santa Clarita Farmers’ Market at College of the Canyons Celebrates 20 Years!

| Articles, Santa Clarita Living | July 8, 2013

At the Farmers Market

The Santa Clarita Farmers’ Market celebrates 20 years of sizzling fun and fresh local produce during its 20th Birthday Celebration themed Sizzlin in Santa Clarita for 20 Years on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at the College of the Canyons, Valencia Boulevard, Parking Lot 8.

The community is invited to participate in the day’s events, which will be held during regular Farmers’ Market hours, 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon.  Event highlights include musical entertainment provided by the Steve Hill Band, which is a five-time BMI award winner led by an extraordinary musician and songwriter.

Sampling of the fresh food you’ll find!

Other highlights include a Chef Demonstration by Amelia Saltsman, award-winning author and farmers’ market advocate.  Attendees can join Saltsman under the oak trees where she will demonstrate exciting new and refreshing recipes for the season. They include Chilled Tomato Soup; Melon, Cucumber, and Mint Salad; Hot & Sweet Grilled Carrots; and Seared White Nectarines with Bay Leaves and Burnt Honey. Following the demonstration, Saltsman will sign copies of her book, “The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook,” named one of Cooking Light’s Top 100 Cookbooks of the last 25 years.

Kids can have fun in the children’s area, which will include face painting, coloring projects and nutritional information.

Community partners will also participate in the celebration, including the Santa Clarita Public Library and College of the Canyons, who will have information available on performing arts programs and events.

Fresh Vegetables

About the Santa Clarita Farmers’ Market
The Santa Clarita Farmers’ Market is a non-profit farmers’ cooperative that was originally recruited by the City of Santa Clarita’s Parks & Recreation Department to bring a market to the city. The original site was slated for City Hall, but because of land use issues, the market was relocated to College of the Canyons. The Santa Clarita Market was opened in July of 1993 and started with just 20 vendors. Shortly after, the January 1994 earthquake struck and devastated the area and the market slowly regained its popularity, growing to over 40 vendors today.  “This market has truly been successful over the last two decades in bringing farmers together to offer fresh farm products and a wide selection of local produce to its loyal customers,” said Karen Schott, operations manager.  Shoppers can find a myriad of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, fresh flowers and more, in addition to enjoying specialty food items from nine vendors, offering a wide range of tasty selections, including fresh baked items and handmade tamales.  The market is open year round, rain or shine from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon and is now accepting SNAP/EBT Script Cards at the site.

For more information on the Ventura County Certified Farmers’ Market Association:
Visit:   www.vccfarmersmarket.com
Like:   www.facebook.com/vccfm
Call:  805-529-6266

Jen Gerard

| Articles, SC Women | July 8, 2013

By Martha Michael

Jen with her boyfriend Solomon

Sometimes a person has an idea that just takes off with lightning speed. That’s how it was for Jennifer Gerard of Valencia.

“Whitening Lightning started in 2010 as a mobile teeth whitening service,” Gerard explained. “In late 2010, we launched our product line and quickly began distributing in more than 100 countries. I started the business with $3,000 and in just about 12 months, we had already sold $1.2 million.”

What Gerard perfected was a whitening “pen” that can be used at home. The “Whitening Lightning Super Booster Teeth Whitening Pen” is the company’s flagship product offering a more convenient system for professional tooth whitening.

“Our whitening pens and professional home kit allow users to whiten their teeth and get the results they want when they want,” claims the company website. “No hassle, no messy trays, and no sensitivity! Now available in over 100 countries, Whitening Lightning has garnered more attention than ever imagined and shows no sign of slowing down.”

Jen and Daniel Goddard of Young and the Restless

This relatively new product is popular with the Hollywood celebrity crowd. “We provide our whitening for both “Dancing With the Stars” and “The Academy of Country Music Awards,” said Gerard. “We are going into our third year participating in Emmy and Oscar events. We are working on several television projects with our celebrity spokespeople. This is very exciting!”

For 20 years, Gerard was a sales and finance manager for local car dealerships, but found it increasingly difficult to deal with the negativity she felt in her chosen career. A friend suggested a teeth whitening business, so she gave it a try.

“I am convinced that this business is all God’s doing,” said Gerard, an active member of Sylmar Christian Fellowship Church. “In my spare time, I coach other entrepreneurs, kind of as a ministry. I help develop ideas and keep them on track.”

Gerard is vocal about her devotion to her faith. “I love helping people at my church, both through the church and on an individual basis,” she said. “I love to see devoted Christians rewarded for their diligence and faith in God. For instance, I recently purchased vehicles for two families from our congregation.”

Jen (right) with friend and fellow entrepreneur Jacki Curcio

Gerard is also actively supporting several local non-profit organizations. Her love of animals connected her with Mardi Rivetti’s “Rescues on the Runway.” Also through Rivetti, Whitening Lightning became a title sponsor of the Miss SCV Pageants.

This summer, the business is a title sponsor for the Old Town Newhall Car Show, and Comics for the Cause, a fundraiser for SCV Youth Project. “We also donated a celebrity Emmy experience for Taste of the Town,” said Gerard.

In addition to the aforementioned non-profits, Gerard is passionate about working with and helping the Domestic Violence Center and Circle of Hope. “Basically, any group supporting SCV – I am on board to help,” she said. “I love this community and, after living here for 34 years, would not live anywhere else. I feel so blessed by the enormous success of my business today and in the future, and it is my privilege to give back to SCV.”

Gerard is a single woman, with “an amazing” boyfriend named Solomon. They live in Westridge with a black lab, a South African Boerboel and three snakes.

Gerard summed up some of the perks of living in the SCV: “I love the clean family environment and convenience of having everything we need right here in the valley without the traffic.”

The Many Roles of Brooke Moore

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine | June 14, 2013

Brooke Moore

The last time we interviewed Canyon Country teen Brooke Moore, she was portraying the lead character in “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Repertory Theatre in Newhall. As she comes around the bend, entering her last year of high school, Canyon Country Magazine caught up with the honors student recently to see if she’s on stage, on track or on the soccer field…or all of the above.

CCM: Which of your activities is your favorite? (Track? Theatre? Soccer?)
BM: I am so passionate about all of them. I grew up with both soccer and theatre, so I have deep ties to both of them, and a lot of memories of them both. As for track, although I started only three years ago, I have grown to love it so much — the people, the thrill – it’s awesome. Despite…being torn for many years, I have recently decided that theatre is now my favorite. I found that I am happiest up on stage, and even just in rehearsal, developing a character and becoming someone else intrigues me very much – theatre is my true passion.

CCM: Why didn’t you go to L.A. County High School for the Arts?
BM: I didn’t go to LACSHA for many reasons, the main one being the commute, but when I was writing my pros and cons list between LACSHA and Canyon High School before my freshman year, I found that Canyon would fit me best…not only did it offer theatre, but also soccer, track, chorus, and I love all of them – not to mention Canyon has wonderful Honors and AP courses. At LACSHA, it would have been just theatre, and that wasn’t going to fly with me. Plus, I have so many friends here in Santa Clarita; I couldn’t bear to leave them.

CCM: What are you involved in outside of school?
BM: I have been playing soccer for about 10 years, so I play on a club soccer team named LAPFC, and I play varsity soccer at Canyon as well. I run varsity track at Canyon.  My time in the 100-meter dash put me on Canyon’s “All Time Top Ten List” (12.68 seconds – woohoo!) I also am involved in ESCAPE and have been since I was six years old. I love the organization and everyone involved; they are like a second family to me, and so talented at what they do.

CCM: Where else have you done shows?
BM: I did one show outside ESCAPE. It was “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Repertory East Playhouse. That show was such an amazing experience for me. Everyone involved was so talented and wonderful, and I had the honor of working with the wonderful director, Jarod Scott, (who) really opened up the acting world to me. He taught me so many valuable things and I owe a lot to him.

CCM: What’s your plan for after high school?
BM: I plan to go to college, but I have no idea where. I am going to start my search very soon, but you can bet that I’ll be minoring in theatre. My major is still undecided, although I know that I want to pursue a career involving children. I love children so much – there is something about their innocence and willingness to learn that I find so endearing. I’d love to be a teacher, to be the one who answers all of their questions and teaches them about the world. That’d be ideal.

Brooke as Belle

Brooke Moore will next perform the role of “Belle” along with over 300 other talented youth in ESCAPE’s “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” at The Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center. Brooke’s three performances are Friday, June 21 at 7:00 p.m., Saturday, June 22 at 2:00 p.m. and the closing night show on Sunday, June 23 at 7:00 p.m.  Call 661-299-5264 for tickets.


Photography by Crystal Moore  (www.CrystalMoorePhotography.net)
Costume by Cathie Polk of “Sew What Designers”       Makeup by Javier Mena

Brooke as Belle

Keep a Watchful Eye on Teens This Summer

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine | June 10, 2013

by Cary Quahsen, CAS

“Summer time and the living is easy” and “there ain’t no cure for the summer time blues” are musical words that typify the summer season of our lives, especially for teenagers. They either find their lives jam-packed with summer activities like summer school, football practice, band camp, a summer job, or they find themselves bored and endlessly complaining there’s nothing to do.

As far as I am concerned, summer time is the toughest time of the year for our teens. While both parents and teens alike believe that summer time is less stressful, I know the absence of a structured school day often allows kids, particularly teenagers to wander down the wrong path.

Summer is not a time for easing up on parent expectations and teen accountability. If we are managing our teen’s lives with consistency, be it spring, summer, winter or fall, we will hold our teens accountable for household chores and responsibilities, curfews, family and moral values, and we will still be there to watch our teens with that watchful parenting eye and pay attention to whom our teens are hanging out with.

Unfortunately, the very nature of summer leaves most teens these days without supervision. Keep in mind I said without supervision, I didn’t say without friends. Ah, the friends – even if you tell your teen they are not allowed to have company in the house while you’re at work, they still find themselves in the company of their friends. Impossible you say? Consider this. In this day and age, most teens have cell phones or have friends who have cell phones. The telecommunications world has given our teens the opportunity to talk to their friends, 24 hours a day, and to text message them as well. If you think your teen is home alone, think again. In many instances, the Internet has become our teen’s best friend. Instant messaging, chat rooms, and Facebook has increased the teen-to-teen communication process, and it has also exposed our teens to unwanted negative influences as well. Many teens fill their time with nonstop video game playing. I am not talking about an hour per day, but in many instances, it is the entire day, especially during the summer months.-

I recognize you can’t quit your job or take a three month vacation. However, your consistency in setting boundaries and rules will ensure the safety of your teen.

Know where your teen is at all times. Keep in touch with your teen and have a check-in time every day. Make sure you meet their friends.Set and enforce a regular curfew. If that curfew is broken then set the appropriate consequence for offending the curfew rule. Teens adhere to rules when they know what the consequences are for breaking the rules.

The rules of parenting are consistency and frequency. Don’t assume because you told your teen once, that they will comply with the rules. They need daily reminders about family rules and regulations, especially curfew rules. Imparting rules can be done with love and objectivity without sounding like a Marine drill sergeant.

Discipline is not necessarily the consequence for broken rules, but the message that is delivered beforehand as well. It’s important during the summer to schedule activities so your kids aren’t bored. You may not be able to take a family vacation, but may be able to design a one-day trip or weekend that departs from of the ordinary routine. Have the entire family help plan the event.

Summer camps, attending summer school, volunteering, taking your teen to work with you to see what your daily routine is like, are great ways to keep your teen active and out of trouble as well.

While there may be no cure for the summer time blues, there are ways for teens to have an enjoyable summer while we set boundaries to ensure their safety. Now go out and enjoy the rest of your summer.

Cary Quashen is a high-risk teen counselor and certified addiction specialist. He is the founder and president of Action Parent & Teen Support Group Programs, Action Family Counseling, and the Action Zone Teen Center in the Santa Clarita Valley. Quashen may be reached by calling (661) 297-8691.

Canyon Country Merchants Association

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine | April 12, 2013

By Andrew Thompson

Diane Southwell has been involved with Canyon Country for more than half a century.

“In the early 1960s…the Mint Canyon Chamber of Commerce telephone rang in [our] home,” she says. “That tells you how small of a community we were; we didn’t have…an answering service, or anything.”

In those early days, Southwell says, Canyon Country was a special place. It was an area full of future promise – it formed the foundation of what would eventually become Santa Clarita – and yet, it also managed to stay true to its pioneer roots.

“We had frontier days,” Southwell says, recalling the time when many Canyon Country residents owned horses and the community featured themed events. “It was wonderful family entertainment…now we don’t have room for things like that, but we still have the same family…feelings, here.”

Canyon Country may have maintained its family feel, but the fact is that the landscape of the Valley has drastically changed. Canyon Country has joined with several other communities to become the single, incorporated City of Santa Clarita. The focus of developers has largely shifted to the west side, with newer residences and vast commercial centers having sprung up in areas like Valencia. The Canyon Country Chamber of Commerce has merged to become part of the broader Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce and, ultimately, some residents have been forced to face a hard truth: many of their fellow Santa Clarita residents believe that, while other parts of the Valley are now flourishing, Canyon Country had been left in their dust.

“We kind of got lazy about it, I guess,” Southwell admits, referring to the growth of Canyon Country, relative to that on the Valley’s west side.

But many still feel like the current perception of Canyon Country (lovingly referred to as the “stepchild” of the Valley by some who live there) is somewhat unfair.Southwell contends, Canyon Country has much to offer.

“Canyon Country is a wonderful place,” says Southwell, “and we need to be doing more about promoting all our businesses and all our events, and our activities, and creating more activities.”

Canyon Country Merchants Association: L-R Kim Kurowski, Diane Southwell, Alan Ferdman, RJ Kelly, George Thomas, Doug Sutton, Patty Kelly

A little more than a year ago, Canyon Country residents and business owners George Thomas and R.J. Kelly were thinking much the same.

Thomas, the owner of a restaurant called Route 66 Classic Grill that regularly holds bike nights, classic car shows, and other community events, had decided to investigate what needed to be done to put more of an emphasis on events in Canyon Country. When he spoke with a City official, the advice he received was clear: Thomas would need to get people organized if he wanted a better chance of winning the City’s ear.

Meanwhile, R.J. Kelly of Int’l Tax Network – Thomas’s friend and occasional business associate – was also becoming aware of the importance of organizing to promote the interests of some of his fellow merchants.

“We felt that…there wasn’t a lot of communication between the City, the Chamber, and other organizations regarding Canyon Country, and Canyon Country is one of the largest suburbs of the city,” Kelly says. “And…we kind of felt like we were getting slighted over on this side of town, and we wanted more involvement.”

One day, while discussing their shared interest in helping the Canyon Country business climate and community as a whole, the two men decided that it was time for something to be done.

“[We] sat down one day and put our heads together and said, ‘Yeah, we – we need to move on this,’” Kelly recalls. “We agreed that we just need to band together as business owners, or managers, and…try to get some support from the City and organize amongst ourselves to improve the business climate in Canyon Country.”

They decided to act. The result was the formation of the group that would come to be known as the Canyon Country Merchants Association.

“We just kind of put out the word, and ended up with about 10 merchants that all got together,” Kelly says.

One of the merchants they first approached with their idea was Doug Sutton, a 15-year resident who owns Valley Publications, another Canyon Country business.

“I think, for me, it rang a bell,” Sutton says, recounting the surprise he experienced when he first moved to the area and discovered both the negative perception of Canyon Country and the lack of travel to the area by many other Santa Clarita residents.

Sutton says he has friends from Valencia who claim they can’t even remember the last time they traveled to the eastern part of the Valley. “They think it’s been two or three years since they’ve been to Canyon Country,” he says.

Members and guests at a recent CCMA meeting

That’s a trend, some members of the Merchants Association believe, which must be changed. “We wanna get some folks to come over here…” Sutton says. “And we can show – ‘Hey,’ you know, ‘we’re a nice community, we’re a family community, we’ve got lots of good businesses – come check us out once in a while.”

Since coming on board with the Association, Sutton has gone on to become its Chairman. As a board member of the Chamber of Commerce, Sutton also serves as one of the representatives of the Chamber, under whose umbrella the Canyon Country Merchants Association operates.

But the Merchants Association’s meetings include several other prominent Canyon Country figures as well. Alan Ferdman, another longtime resident who also serves as the chair of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee and has recently announced that he will be running for the City Council, is one of the meetings’ regulars.

“It really is true…the Valley is really not two sides of the Valley, it’s really one Valley,” Ferdman says. “It’s a really good thing to see if we can get synergy across the Valley in…making everything work,” he adds. “And that’s another goal of the Merchants Association.”

A recent meeting of CCMA

Kimberly Kurowski, a Saugus resident, has found a benefit to working with the Association to forward a cause of her own. “I believe in getting everybody to shop local,” she explains, “and Canyon Country is part of our ‘local,’ so I want to do what I can to help.”

Lupe Hafner of Doctors Express, Santa Clarita – a medical clinic also located on Soledad that opened only eight months ago – has attended just three meetings, but says she certainly likes what she’s seen so far. “I think you need to go to these meetings so that you can get to meet people and see – you know, how you can work together, and help each other,” Hafner says, noting that she has made a variety of helpful connections by doing so herself.

There are other regular Association attendees – including that original Mint Canyon Chamber of Commerce associate and 54-year resident Diane Southwell. But, perhaps just as noteworthy as the merchants and other members, have been some of the Merchant Association’s recent guests. Organizing has, in fact, gotten the City’s ear. Recently, representatives of the government of Santa Clarita have attended Merchants Association meetings regularly to coordinate with the committee, and have expressed their desire to work with the Association in the creation, execution, and publicizing of Canyon Country events.

Other attendees have included representatives of institutions such as College of the Canyons, as well as the Sheriff’s and Fire Departments. Ed Bernstein, a director with the Old Town Newhall Association and the owner of the membership discount card 25Score, has also attended and expressed his interest in working with the Association to promote local merchants. And one of the most important regulars is another representative of the very organization under which the Association currently works: Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Terri Crain.

“Terri Crain has really been a valuable asset,” Sutton says. “She doesn’t live in this part of town, but she recognized the need for what we’re trying to accomplish, and she bought into it, and she’s really been a big help.”

(Taste of Canyon Country, one of the important upcoming events Association members are organizing, is actually one of the official events of the Chamber of Commerce.)

Yet, for all the commitment of City officials, organization presidents, and more, most of the Association agrees that an absolutely essential key to the future of the Association will be the growth of the membership itself.

“All are welcome,” Sutton says. “We would love to have anybody – even if you’re not a business.”

Sutton points to Southwell as someone who is not a merchant, but still is committed to helping the Association work toward its goals. And one needs not even be from Canyon Country to attend.

“Anyone…even outside of Canyon Country who is interested in helping us promote Canyon Country is welcome to be on the committee,” Kurowski states.

“We welcome the merchants to give us a phone call,” Kelly says, “…to come and spend an hour with us, and bring some problems to solve, and bring some questions to ask, and possibly bring some solutions.”

The Canyon Country Merchants Association meets at 10:00 a.m. on the second Thursday of every month at the Sulphur Springs School District Office, located at 27000 Weyerhauser Way, off Via Princessa. For more information, contact Doug Sutton at doug@scfree.net or the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce at 661-702-6977 or info@scvchamber.com.

A Culinary World of Wonder

| Articles, Santa Clarita Living | March 20, 2013

by Michelle Sandoval

There’s something cooking in Santa Clarita and it’s not your average fare. Culinary Wonders Cooking School is a new business in our valley offering hands-on cooking classes to those of us who are chefs at heart, and (like myself) those who have problems boiling water.

Located on Cinema Drive, Culinary Wonders boasts a large range of classes in a warm and non-intimidating environment. Each aspiring chef will have his/her own workstation, supplies, cooking tools and tasty recipes. The instruction is in small groups and led by experienced chefs, so you don’t have to worry about setting the place on fire…unless Bananas Foster is on the menu, of course.

Do you want to introduce your little ones to the joy of cooking? Culinary Wonders will be hosting a Spring Break Kid’s Cooking Camp on March 26, 27, 28 and April 2, 3, 4.  Children ages 7 to 10 will learn how to prepare anything from pasta to breakfast to pizza, and they’ll have a whole lot of fun doing it!  It is only $30 per class and if you sign up for three or more you will receive $10 off.  This would be a great way to teach your children some basic cooking skills without having to deal with a messy kitchen at home. It is also a great alternative to your basic camps.

Culinary Wonders offers a number of great classes for adults. Pastry, pasta, sushi, tapas, you name it! They also host team building events, wine and cocktail pairings, and have special holiday cooking menus. Easter is right around the corner — why not let Culinary Wonders teach you a few new tricks for a brunch your family won’t soon forget.

Owners Judy Gilbert and Herve Guillard met 10 years ago as instructors at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena and became fast friends. “Our goal with Culinary Wonders was to pass on our passion for cooking to people who just wanted to have some fun,” states Judy,  “when people come to Culinary Wonders it is like having a party in our home. Only we have a giant kitchen family room for everyone to enjoy.”

You often hear the phrase “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”  Well, I don’t know about the rest of you ladies out there, but it’s also the way to mine. There’s nothing like a great plate of food to make everything all right. Luckily, the Santa Clarita Valley now has a business to help us out with that. Bon appetit!

Culinary Wonders is located at 23460 Cinema Drive in Valencia. See what’s cooking at www.culinarywonders.net or give them a call at 661-254-1234.

In & Out of the Closet

| Articles, Santa Clarita Living | March 19, 2013

by Martha Michael

Single Mothers Outreach is at it again, and the organization’s latest venture means that no two shopping days will be the same. “The Closet on Main” has just opened, to the delight of vintage and one-of-a-kind clothing lovers. Spearheaded by Margo Miller, owner for many years of the iconic boutique, Margo’s, the new shop will benefit from her expert knowledge and wisdom.

Located at 24335 Main Street, the site of the former Blow Dry Bar, The Closet on Main is a unique and exclusive shop with new artisan handbags and accessories, as well as jewelry from local artists and designers, a men’s line and select women’s fashion from FRESH, and a selection of high end vintage clothing. Customers will experience a classy, yet friendly and welcoming environment where they will find one-of-a-kind items. Vintage clothing is rotated frequently so that no two days display the same inventory. The Closet on Main provides a welcome alternative to corporate retail shopping for discriminating shoppers. Along the lines of Buffalo Exchange, The Closet on Main is expected to appeal to the hip and sophisticated demographic that Downtown Newhall is seeking to attract.

The majority of goods carried in the boutique are new. In addition, the vintage articles and most of the jewelry and accessories are exclusive to The Closet on Main.

Revenue from the new store will help fund Single Mothers Outreach programs and services. The business will also provide un/underemployed single parents an opportunity to learn retail management.

Hours of Operation
The Closet on Main is open Monday – Saturday from 11:00 – 4:00, closed Sundays. It is open until 7:00 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month for Senses on Main, a monthly event involving the downtown Newhall businesses.

About Single Mothers Outreach
Founded in 1998, Single Mothers Outreach is a grassroots organization that scaffolds families facing sudden housing instability, income loss, emotional trauma, and social deterioration as the result of divorce or widowhood. With a mission to “empower single parents and their children by providing hope, support, and resources so families can become self-sustaining,” Single Mothers Outreach (SMO) directly helps women find jobs, get educated, secure housing, stabilize their children’s emotional states, manage their finances and help one another. SMO is an independent organization that has helped over 2,200 single parent households to get back on their feet without falling into the system.

Youth Sports Fan Website Allteamz.com

| Articles, Santa Clarita Living | March 18, 2013

For parents of young athletes, finding the ideal local sports league for their child to join can be an adventure. With no formal system in place, many parents depend on word of mouth and community billboards to learn about leagues and teams in their area. Allteamz is a new website designed to streamline the process of finding local youth sports teams.

By consolidating all of this news and information in a single place and making it freely searchable by anyone, Allteamz hopes to become the de facto method for discovering local youth sports opportunities.

When children and their parents navigate to Allteamz, the results page automatically detects their location and shows local results. They can be refined by selecting one or several options. Users can sort by age group, sport, gender, travel range, game and even not opractice frequency. Competition level is divided between “recreational” and “club.” Club sports typically are private organizations catering to older age groups, and club teams often travel to events. Results can also be sorted by distance and cost, two important factors for many parents. The Allteamz website is especially useful for families who are new to an area and lack the social network to learn about local sports teams. This can lessen the downtime for a young athlete eager to get back in the game.
“As parents of youth athletes, we were frustrated with the lack of information to make good decisions while finding the right teams and leagues for our own kids,” said Scott Goodspeed of Allteamz. “Relying on word of mouth is simply too inefficient. Meanwhile, community sports leagues often lack the money or expertise to mount an advertising campaign. Allteamz is an effective, user-friendly and free solution to this age-old problem.”

Local sports organizations have the opportunity to create profiles on the Allteamz website. Team and league managers begin by entering an email address and creating a user ID and password. From there, profiles can be filled with as much pertinent information as the user deems necessary, including cost, age groups, contact information, team philosophy and coach biographies. Leagues and teams can also create “listings,” which are announcements of upcoming important events. Open tryouts are just one example of a reason to post a new listing.

Allteamz encourages league and team managers to keep profiles up to date. After a certain period of inactivity, dormant profiles will be automatically removed. This ensures that all information presented to users is as fresh and relevant as possible.

Use of the Allteamz website is completely safe and free. As part of the site’s privacy policy, Allteamz promises to never sell, trade or otherwise transfer user information to a third party.

About Allteamz

Allteamz was founded on the principle that the world of youth sports is huge and getting huger. There are more than 35 million children playing youth sports today. Unfortunately, the technology to support that growth is lagging far behind. Allteamz was designed to connect children and their parents with local sports teams and leagues, as well as giving those leagues a chance to increase their visibility.

For information, visit www.allteamz.com  scott@allteamz.com.

International Road Race

| Articles, Santa Clarita Living | March 18, 2013

by Martha Michael

The Amgen Tour bicycling race literally brings the world to our door. As a host city once again this year, Santa Clarita will be an overnight home to participants from around the globe…so if traveling is in your blood, but not your budget, maybe it’s a good time for some volunteering!

This year’s event will be headlined by eight of the world’s top ranking Pro Teams, along with UCI Pro Continental and Continental squads, collectively representing nine countries. Included among the American teams are the top two U.S. Pro Teams: BCM Racing Team of Santa Rosa, California, whose roster included current world road champion Philippe Gilbert of Belgium; and eight-time participant team Garmin-Sharp of Denver, which will be defending its record-setting three Overall Team Standings wins.

Returning for their sixth year of California competition are Belgium’s top team, Omega Pharma- Quick-Step Cycling Team, who has confirmed Tom Boonen, who last year became the first rider to win all four “cobbled classics” in Europe; and Italy’s top professional team Cannondale Pro Cycling. Other top World Tour Teams selected include perennial powerhouse RADIOSHAP LEOPARD TREK of Luxembourg, whose roster includes 2011 Amgen Tour of California champion Chris Horner of Bend, Oregon, Australia’s top team ORICA- GreenEDGE, Denmark’s top professional club Team Saxo- Tinkoff, and Vancansoleil- DCM Pro Cycling Team from the Netherlands.
The 2013 Amgen Tour of California roster includes the following 16 professional cycling teams:
UCI Pro Teams:
•    BCM Racing Team, USA
•    Cannondale Pro Cycling, Italy
•    Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling         Team, Belgium
•    ORICA GreenEDGE, Australia
•    RADIOSHACK LEOPARD TREK,             Luxembourg
•    Team Garmin-Sharp, USA
•    Team Saxo- Tinkoff, Denmark
•    Vacansoleil- DCM Pro Cycling Team,         The Netherlands
UCI Professional Continental Teams:
•    Champion System Pro Cycling Team,         China
•    Team NetAPP- Endura, Germany
•    UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team,             USA
UCI Continental Teams:
•    5-hour ENERGY presented by Kenda         Racing Team, USA
•    BISSELL Pro Cycling, USA
•    Bontrager Cycling Team, USA
•    Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly         Benefit Strategies, USA
•    Team Jamis – Hagens Berman, USA

The City of Santa Clarita will host both a Start and Finish Stage on Tuesday, May 14 and Wednesday, May 15, 2013. Volunteer opportunities are posted online at  Santa-Clarita.com/TourOfCA. Volunteers looking for an opportunity to participate in the eighth annual, high-profile race can apply online for positions including course marshal, security, media relations and medical control.

International cycling teams will race through 750 miles of scenic landscape from southern to northern California over eight consecutive days from May 12-19, 2013, visiting 12 host cities with communities along the route getting the chance to see firsthand a lineup of some of the top cyclists in the world.

“Volunteering is truly a wonderful opportunity for community members to get involved in the race and help show the world what an incredible community we have here in Santa Clarita,” said Mayor Bob Kellar. “The support of our volunteers is vital to making the race a success as it passes through Santa Clarita, and without their help the Tour would not be able to accommodate all the fans and athletes who take part in the race.”

More than 4,000 volunteers in communities throughout the state participated in last year’s seventh annual race, making it seamless and successful from start to finish and establishing it as the largest sporting event in the state of California. With Santa Clarita being a stage host for two consecutive days, approximately 200 volunteers are anticipated to be needed for the 2013 running of the race.

For the 2013 race, the majority of volunteers are needed to serve as course marshals, providing support for the 75 professional course marshals that travel with the tour and support the local law enforcement authorities in each city. Course marshal volunteers have an opportunity to be on the race route, close to the cyclists, with responsibility for monitoring pedestrian traffic, barricades and street closures.

Volunteer positions for the 2013 Amgen Tour of California include:
Course Marshals
Media Support
Volunteer Check-in
Volunteers must be over the age of 18 or accompanied by an adult. The online sign-up form offers volunteers the opportunity to rank their top-three job preferences, and every attempt is made to match volunteers to their areas of interest. Volunteers will be notified within a few weeks of signing up online and an orientation will be held in the following weeks.

If interested parties would like to volunteer outside the City of Santa Clarita, they can sign-up on the Amgen Tour of California’s official website set for one of the other stages. For further information regarding volunteering in Santa Clarita, contact Susana Coronel, Volunteer Programs Supervisor for the City of Santa Clarita at (661) 250-3726 or by email at scoronel@santa-clarita.com.

About Amgen
Amgen discovers, develops, manufactures and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science’s promise by bringing safe and effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious illnesses. With a broad and deep pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people’s lives.

To learn more about Amgen’s pioneering science and vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com. To learn more about Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer initiative, visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com.

About AEG (Tour Sponsor)
AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Company, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, The Home Depot Center, Sprint Center, The O2, NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE and NOKIA Theatre Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, a Major League Lacrosse team, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers, the ING Bay to Breakers foot race and the Amgen Tour of California cycling road race; AEG LIVE, the organization’s live-entertainment division, is a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com.

To view pictures of Starts and Finishes from previous years, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/cityofsantaclarita.

To speak to a race official, please contact Eileen Tanner at (213) 438-8888 or by email at etanner@golinharris.com.

For more information on the Amgen Tour of California, visit the official site at www.AmgenTourofCalifornia.com.

Kim Goldman and the SCV Youth Project

| Articles, SC Women | March 11, 2013

Kim Goldman

Kim Goldman is widely known as a local expert when it comes to support for youth and teens. Santa Clarita Women caught up with her recently, to find out more about SCV Youth Project.

SCW: What is something others may not know about SCV Youth Project?
KG: We have been in business for 12 years…and we are the brainchild behind the Sweet Charity Cake Auction, which everyone loves to attend! But, more importantly, we got started because the City of Santa Clarita determined that there was a shortage of services specifically designed to help our teens – pretty family-centric!!

SCW: How many students do you work with in the William S. Hart School District?
KG: On a direct service basis (one-on-one or support groups) – so far, close to 600 kids with more than 800 hours provided…and more than 1,000 kids so far with our outreach. The first semester is always slower than the second, so we expect to have a higher number, come May, 2013.

SCW: Do you work with adolescents who do not attend public school?
KG: We work with all teens in the Hart District and are starting to work with charter Schools as well (SCVi and Albert Einstein).

SCW: How many years has SCV Youth Project been established in the SCV?
KG: We opened in 2000 – so we are in our 13th year. NUTS!

SCW: How many years have you been with the organization?
KG: I started in 2005 – which is equally NUTS!

SCW: What changes are in the works?
KG: Right now, our goal is to maintain and sustain our current programs – we are working hard to stay on top of the current requests, with a limited budget. With all the cuts to the school budgets, everyone is working on a tighter shoe string – we lost funding from the Hart District – but we DID NOT lessen our services and, in fact, are seeing the same (if not more) students than when we were funded. My goal is to start working with the elementary students – we have a long way to go before I can be fully staffed on those campuses, but that is what I would love my legacy to be.

SCW: What occurs at a typical group?
KG: It depends on the group – typically staff starts with a check-in (determine if there are any crises to handle or if anyone has anything they would like to start with). Then they go from there – we have a curriculum and worksheets to use, if we get stuck – but mostly the groups are determined by the participants themselves. The group members help lead and process the issues that their peers are dealing with (with the guidance of my staff, of course). We deal with everything – divorce, anger, bullying, drugs/alcohol, abuse, depression, suicide, grief, trauma, general relationship issues, family issues, body image, confidence …grades, motivation…you name it. EVERYTHING COMES UP!

SCW: What kind of training/education do group leaders have?
KG: Our staff are first and/or second year interns from the Cal State Northridge masters of social work program. We are overseen by a LCSW (licensed clinical social worker), who helps to ensure that we are servicing our clients in the most appropriate and effective manner. We train our staff by role playing, debriefing, outside trainers, etc.

SCW: Is there a growing need for help with teens? If so, why?
KG: Kids are always in need – the degree with which they need support varies. All kids are at risk, if we turn our backs on them. They are all susceptible to falling through the cracks. Each youth deals with situations differently – there is no formula, no right or wrong – so we need to treat each teen uniquely, offering a safe, non-judgmental environment, allowing them to share their concerns, ask their questions, and be validated for their feelings.

SCW: What should the average SCV parent know or become aware of as their kids grow older?
KG: Stay connected – be involved, BE THEIR PARENT. This is not the time to be their friend. You can be open, honest, candid with your teen, while establishing healthy boundaries. Kids are dealing with so many outside influences, while they are also dealing with puberty, school and, not to mention, an under developed brain – so we can’t expect them to know how to deal with everything and to have it all “worked out.” Ask questions – listen to answers — don’t be afraid to seek outside support if you need it. There are lots of things that kids think about, that feel uncomfortable for a parent to address (sex, drugs, birth control, clothing style, etc.). Learn how to be an active listener, as opposed to shutting your child down for having a curiosity about something.

SCW: What do you think about the child-rearing atmosphere in the SCV?
KG: Hmm, I think we are a fairly family-focused community and I love that…part of the reason I moved here. But, that being said, we ALL have the ability to bury our heads in the sand when it gets tough…just because we live in a beautiful community, it doesn’t make us immune to dealing with peer pressure, bullying, violence, drugs, pregnancy, depression, suicide, etc. Our kids are working hard to make mom/dad proud and to be the best they can be…to achieve the highest grades, scores, points on the field, etc. But, they also need time to be kids, to explore, to create, to have fun…to fall in love, have a broken heart, etc. That is ALL part of the process…and it’s beautiful.

SCW: Why did you move here?
KG: At the time, I moved here because I could afford a new house without going broke. I was working out of the SCV at the time, and that was very stressful! Being a single parent here is hard sometimes, but I feel very connected and committed to the community where I live…I love the attention to youth, and the opportunities for family stuff…I feel safe and feel like I have built a nice life for my son and myself.

Canyon Country Community Center

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine | February 15, 2013

Ribbon Cutting at the new Canyon Country Community Center

The dawn of the new year brought with it a new arrival in Canyon Country. The City of Santa Clarita held a grand opening for the Canyon Country Community Center on January 12, with a ceremony attended by more than 100 residents of the area.

The front of the new Community Center

Located at 18792 Flying Tiger Drive, what sets the Canyon Country Community Center apart from other recreational venues, such as the Santa Clarita Sports Complex, is that it provides not only recreational activities for its members, but educational and community service offerings as well. The center’s mission statement is “to enrich the community by connecting with residents and providing quality, structured programs and activities.” This stands in contrast to other existing centers, where many of the activities are unstructured.

The facility is open Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and is closed on Sundays and holidays. The center is just beginning many new programs, including: Healthy Santa Clarita and Leisure Enrichment Activities. Residents must register for all programs prior to attendance, which can be done online at www.santa-clarita.com/cccc.

Activity Wall

Participation is open to all residents of Santa Clarita, not just Canyon Country. The center also offers specialty programs and events. Birthday party rentals are available two Sundays a month for children ages 5-12. Other special events include Family Night, Popcorn and a Movie, Kid’s Night Out, sports programming, workshops, specialty camps, and an interactive sports wall.

The center will also host programs available to seniors, intergenerational activities and events for parents with young children and babies. There is also a host of after school programs for students in kindergarten through the sixth grade. Mayor Bob Kellar said, “The center was designed to provide core programming, activities and be a resource to Canyon Country residents.”

Many residents think this resource is long overdue for Canyon Country, which has seen an increasing gang problem in recent years. Said one local parent with two small children, “Hopefully the center can encourage children in a positive way and keep them off the streets and away from gang pressures.” Another resident said, “Perhaps the center can serve as a model for other cities in Los Angeles County who have also seen an increase in gang related activity.”

Some locals added that they see this as a new and improved version of the Newhall Community Center, which is the only other community center in the Santa Clarita Valley. The Newhall Community Center, located at 22421 Market Street in Newhall, is a 17,000-square-foot community center, which offers many programs similar to that of CCCC. The facility has a gym room, a dance floor, social conference room and many other amenities. The Newhall Community Center is open for one hour longer each day than CCCC, operating Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It is believed that the Newhall Community Center, which was located too far away to be useful for Canyon Country residents, actually served as a model for the new CCCC. In fact, the New CCCC, the Newhall Community Center and the Santa Clarita Sports Complex all share a universal membership. When you apply for membership at the New CCCC, your membership card can be used at the other two venues as well. Membership is free unless you lose your card, which costs five dollars to replace. All members under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian sign the registration application. Also, all members must abide by the rules and regulations that are posted at all three centers. Members who violate the rules are subject to immediate dismissal from use of the resources and will have their memberships revoked.

The coordinator for the new CCCC said the Santa Clarita City Council voted unanimously on July 12 of last year to approve the lease for the new CCCC, which will cost the city’s general fund $103,800 annually. She also stated that 2,000 to 3,000 residents visit the Newhall Community Center each month and hopes for a similar turn out at the new CCCC. Housed in a 3,900-square-foot commercial building, it will allow residents to access the center by car, on foot, by bike or by bus. As part of the lease, the CCCC would be eligible to use 27 percent of parking spaces in the business complex. Canyon Country Advisory Committee Chairman, Alan Ferdman stated, “We look forward to this being a great success. I’m hoping this will be a model we can duplicate around the city.”



The City of Santa Clarita invites youth to participate in a new, interactive junior high teen program called “Friday Night Lights.” This is one of the first of many programs to be launched from the new Canyon Country Community Center, located at 18792 Flying Tiger Drive.

Friday Night Lights will be hosted at various parks and facilities on the first Friday of the month, providing junior high age teens with a variety of free recreational opportunities, including: games on the new interactive “Sportswall” game board, web-cam world tours, funny photo booths with props and costumes, prizes, music and more.

“The City is constantly looking at ways to increase and improve the quality and quantity of community services for our residents,” said Mayor Bob Kellar.  “The new Friday Night Lights program was created to provide junior high teens with resources and a meeting place to interact with friends in a fun and safe environment.”

To participate in the Friday Night Lights program, teens must pre-register, complete a waiver form and bring a valid school identification card.  Space is limited, so reserve your spot today by calling (661) 286-4006.

For more information about programs available at the Canyon Country Community Center, please call (661) 250-3708 or visit Santa-Clarita.com.

Vista Canyon

| Articles, Canyon Country Magazine | February 15, 2013

I. The Man

“Yeah, I’m a big fan of Lincoln,” admits James S. Backer, and the evidence seems to support his claim.  A sketch of the 16th President greets guests in his office. A quote from the man welcomes visitors to the website of his company. If you ask him, both Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field “really captured the essence” of their characters in the recent film – and with his history degree from Stanford, he should probably know.

But it’s not through his knowledge of history that Backer is making his mark. Instead, James Backer – Jim, as he’s called by those who know him – is being recognized for the way that he’s shaping his own community today.  After all, Backer is one of those rare individuals who can honestly say he’s helped build a city – from the ground up.

Backer is the founder and president of JSB Development, a real estate development company headquartered in Valencia. Among his impressive contributions to Santa Clarita is his involvement in the development of Valencia Town Center, Valencia Commerce Center, Centre Pointe Business Park, River Court, and Tourney Place – to name a few.

Backer has been shaping the Santa Clarita community for more than 28 years, but this city hasn’t always been his home.  Though a native Californian by birth, Backer spent much of his early life in the Midwest; Omaha, Nebraska, was his childhood home.

“I had a lot of interest in art when I was growing up,” Backer says, reflecting on how his childhood experiences may have led him toward his current career. His drawing skill has come in handy, he says, considering the importance of design in his field. “We essentially try to buy dirt and create something that people want to buy or lease from it,” he jokes.

Backer has always enjoyed working with people, he says. From an early age, he tended toward positions that involved leadership or problem solving, including heading his high school newspaper and interning at the Senate while in college. But it wasn’t until late in his Stanford career that a fateful meeting with a university trustee, who happened to be the chief executive officer of the Newhall Land and Farming Company, placed Backer on the path toward a career in real estate development.

“We got to talking, and about a month later I was flying down here (to Southern California) after I graduated,” Backer says. When his parents asked him what he expected out of his journey, Backer prophesied correctly. “I think he’s gonna offer me a job,” he told them, “and I think I’m gonna take it.”

That job landed him in Santa Clarita in 1984, and he’s been a part of the community in one way or another ever since. During the course of his tenure at Newhall Land, Backer learned as much as he could about his industry as he helped the company gradually shape Valencia. There were other stops for Backer along the way, including extensive travels both domestically and abroad, an MBA program at UCLA, a two-year stay with another L.A.-based company, and a job overseeing a large project in Sacramento – but it all led up to one thing: the founding of his own company in 2000.

For the last 13 years, JSB Development has played a major part in bringing project after project to fruition, gradually forming the modern landscape of the Santa Clarita Valley.  But Backer’s building of the community includes more than simply putting together brick and mortar. Backer has also been actively involved with a number of non-profits, including the SCV Education Foundation and the Foundation for Children’s Dental Health.

Whatever work he does in his career or for his community, Backer admits his Christian faith and love of family are what truly drive him. And, although his career and nonprofit work would seem to make him a busy man, Backer is especially devoted to spending time with his three kids.

“I get the pleasure of, you know, going on campouts with my son and coaching my son in baseball, and…trying to make sure (my daughter) gets to ride a horse once in a while,” Backer says with a laugh.  “That’s the…the treat of life.”

And in Backer’s eyes, Santa Clarita is a rather unique place to raise a family. “I think people (in Santa Clarita) have a lot of focus on their kids, and…I think family is important out here,” he says.  “It’s a pretty small community,” he adds, even going so far as to say that in some ways, the city has an almost-Midwestern feel.

But Santa Clarita, Backer is sure to point out, is also special for its California history. “This area has really participated in just about every California boom there’s been…gold, oil, railroads, the movies, freeways…” Backer says. “So, it’s got a very rich history, I think.”

And that’s where, for both Backer and the city, the past meets the present. The past meets the present because Backer always considers the history of the places in which his company builds.

“Real estate has nothing if not history,” Backer says, commenting on the appropriateness of his original degree. “Nothing. Real estate is all history.”

It’s a point that is especially relevant, considering Backer’s plans to begin construction at one of the most historic locations in the Santa Clarita Valley.

II. The Plan – Canyon Country

In 1860, Thomas Mitchell became the first permanent white settler in Santa Clarita when he decided to call a ranch in Soledad Canyon his home. Today, standing by what’s known as the Vista Canyon site – a vast expanse of dust and ragged bushes, rabbits and the occasional roadrunner darting by – you can almost imagine Thomas and his wife, Martha, forging their way on the same unforgiving desert land. That is, if you can ignore the sound of the cars whizzing by on Highway 14 behind you.

You can also imagine, if you try hard enough, how the land will look as the massively ambitious Vista Canyon community; a development complete with homes, stores, hotels, a town center, a corporate campus, four miles of trails, a 10-acre park, a new Metrolink station, and a community garden – all of which are included in the JSB Development design.

It’s a plan that JSB Development has been working on for quite some time, but seeing that it becomes a reality has not always been simple. The process of acquiring the land took many years, Backer says – and even when the entire property had finally been purchased in 2006, the company’s plans for it were not yet fully cemented. In fact, Backer admits, his company’s original intentions for the land were not nearly as grand.

“Our initial plan for Vista Canyon was…just homes,” Backer says. “Homes and maybe a little park and some trails, and that was it.”

But when they presented their plans to the local residents, recalls Backer, he and his colleagues realized that Canyon Country residents were ready for something more.

“They said, ‘You know, what we really don’t have over here is, we just don’t have a center and we don’t have a place to eat and we’d like some more restaurants and we’d like a few shops closer to us,’” Backer explains. “They just said, ‘Hey, it’d just be nice if you kind of looked, you know, a little more broadly.’”

They did, and over time, the current Vista Canyon plan was born. But Backer says that the involvement of the community in the design of the development didn’t end there.

“There are probably – I don’t know – half a dozen to a dozen things that I can directly point to you in this plan that came directly from a meeting with the communities,” Backer says.  “And we had almost 80 community meetings, in one form or another…(and) all of them involved Vista Canyon and what it was going to be and what it could become.”

One of the important suggestions of the community, explains Backer, had to do with the development’s overall look and feel. “They kept saying, in Canyon Country, ‘We want this to reflect our community,’” Backer recalls. And that meant something clear: a more rural design that honored the area’s pioneer history, rather than the Mediterranean style used in other developments, such as Valencia Town Center.

Other community suggestions led to the development of a road pattern that both directs commuter through traffic away from the rural Sand Canyon Road and leaves the adjacent Santa Clara River open to view. In fact, traffic and transportation considerations were one of the major issues JSB Development faced. That’s partly why the company, at the request of the City, agreed to take advantage of the development’s proximity to the Metrolink tracks by relocating the Via Princessa station to the development.

“A lot of what, you know, downtown L.A. and parts of L.A. are trying to do, they’re trying to create these – these centers around Metrolink stations,” Backer says. “Well, we get to create it from the ground up.”

But to paint the project as all about urban planning would be to ignore the obvious history of the site – something Backer would never do. That’s why he emphasizes the importance of measures such as keeping the graveyard overlooking the land, in which its early tenants rest, intact.  Backer also hopes the community will make use of the planned River Education Center.

“(The Center is) kind of another way to, again, draw upon the history of the area and feature that,” Backer explains, “but give the community something that they can use forever, which is a meeting center, a meeting area.”

It’s just one of the many aspects of the plan that the company is hoping will both honor the past and be of additional use to the development’s future population. The project could be “shovel ready” as soon as this spring, Backer says, when it wraps up the few administrative and other tasks that remain uncompleted. And with the economic climate looking the way it does today, Backer believes that the time is right – that local residents are ready for Vista Canyon to arrive.

But the decision about when construction will begin may not be in the company’s hands at all.

III. The Potential Delay

“We were approved in May of 2011 by the City; we were sued in June of 2011,” Backer says.

The lawsuit he’s referring to was brought forth, in part, by both S.C.O.P.E., the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, and Friends of the Santa Clara River.  Backer says that Lynne Plambeck, a self-described community activist who currently sits on the Newhall County Water District Board, was behind both organizations’ decisions to sue.

According to Backer, the lawsuit was enabled by CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, which he says he believes is in need of reform.  CEQA, Backer claims, has enabled S.C.O.P.E. to sue and delay many of what he believed were desirable Santa Clarita projects, allowing the organization to become what he calls “a de facto impediment to economic growth and quality development in Santa Clarita.”  This, he says, has “an unfortunate and costly outcome for the community with no clear or apparent offsetting benefits.”

Among the complaints against the Vista Canyon plan are allegations that the development of the site would adversely affect the Santa Clara River.  The Vista Canyon development would, for example, reduce the width of the floodplain – a claim that Backer admits is true, but says he believes is overblown, arguing that the floodplain would still be 800 feet across, almost twice the average width of the river throughout the eastern part of the Santa Clarita Valley. Meanwhile, Backer contends that JSB Development has taken a variety of measures to ensure it handles Vista Canyon’s land and resources responsibly, including the planned development of the project’s own water reclamation plant. This would be the first project-associated water reclamation plant in the city, which would essentially make the development water-neutral, Backer claims. But one of the complaints against the development actually alleges that the plant itself could produce adverse effects, such as adding chloride to the Santa Clara River, contributing to a problem for which the city has already been fined.

Backer also notes that the company has taken steps to address a multitude of other environmental concerns, including adjusting plans to accommodate local animal populations, as well as implementing measures to mitigate the impacts of traffic and energy consumption. “We have done everything within our power to minimize the footprint and the impact on the community by this development,” Backer stresses. “At the same time, we can’t apologize for the fact that there will be homes there, there will be businesses, they will use electricity, cars will drive there, they won’t all be electric…there are tradeoffs.  It’s not a perfect world.”

Among those tradeoffs, Backer suggests, are a variety of other benefits for the area – including a decrease in commutes, an increase in available jobs (with an emphasis on corporate and professional jobs for the east side), and an overall boost to the local economy – all of which, he says, have the potential to actually improve the environment or the quality of life in the community as a whole.

But not everyone agrees.  The suit, Backer says, revolves largely around a wide variety of issues regarding the thoroughness of the city’s EIR, alleging that it didn’t do enough to analyze the impacts of the development in the first place. If the court rules against Vista Canyon, the city would likely have to complete additional studies and consider adjustments – although Backer says the company would likely appeal.

“If they win, yeah – we’re not gonna go away. We’re gonna keep at it,” Backer says. But that would likely result in delays in the progress that could otherwise be made at the Vista Canyon site. The initial decision is expected some time in the middle of the year.

IV. Waiting

Typically, Backer says, he tries not to let things like the lawsuit upset him – he’s the kind of person who keeps things in perspective, not fretting over that which he is unable to control.  “What I can do is spend my time on things that I think are important,” he notes.

But in the case of Vista Canyon, Backer’s frustration is difficult to hide. “Vista Canyon is an amazing project that was created with tremendous community input, with tremendous thought from my team, my consultants, my designers, and with tremendous commitment from us to make it the best project that we could,” Backer says.  “And…to just go sue it, is to me, to just – you know – just throw it down the drain, and not to respect…what’s gone through.”

Ultimately, it will be up to the courts to decide whether or not the claims of Backer’s opponents are valid, and whether the company needs to take additional measures to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

But, in Backer’s view, the stakes could hardly be higher. “I think a community is either living or dying – one of the two,” he says.  “There’s no static.  It either grows, it improves, or it dies…people leave, people move away, people don’t wanna invest there, they don’t wanna be there.  So…I’m puttin’ my choice with the living crowd.”

Later, Backer simply adds, “(We’ll) do the best we can. That’s all we can do.”

For more information on Backer, JSB Development, or the company’s plans for Vista Canyon, visit www.jsbdev.com or www.vistacanyon.com.

A Nation Mourns

| Articles, Santa Clarita Living | January 21, 2013

By Jonanthony Etrio

On December 14, a 20-year-old lone gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The gunman shot his way through a locked glass door to gain entrance to the school. Once inside, his violent rampage began, as he began randomly shooting innocent children and teachers for no apparent reason. This rampage would leave 20 children, all of whom were in first grade, dead. In addition, six teachers, many placing their lives in jeopardy by shielding the children, were also pronounced dead. Although we have heard stories like this before, many individuals now say “enough is enough.”

At the local and county level in many areas, safety plans of
some kind are being implemented, and Santa Clarita is no
different. Officer Steve Whitmore from the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department confirmed the existence of such a program for all schools in the Santa Clarita area. Patrol officers, when they leave for their daily shift patrols, must incorporate into their rounds a stop at every school in their jurisdictional areas. They must meet with an administrator and log into a report the name of the administrator they met with, all discussions about the safety plan, critical incident plan and any other concerns school staff may have. This is done daily, Whitmore said.

Secondly, local law enforcement has developed the Reserve Deputy Cadres. These are sheriffs who are each assigned to a school, where they too must make daily visits and log the administrators’ names, and any concerns they may have.

Thirdly, according to Whitmore, all of these officers are supervised under the jurisdiction of the L.A. County Emergency Bureau. This ensures compliance by sheriffs and, more importantly, a quick response system to react to emergencies. Future fatalities would certainly be greatly reduced or eliminated completely. Of course, such school plans as allowing only one visitor into the building at a time during class sessions and aquiring identification from all individuals entering the school are also helpful. But the discussion continues regarding gun control and the criminal records of perpetrators.

As far as the effect that mental health issues have contributed, privacy laws prevent access to medical records, which makes it difficult to prevent such tragedies.

Many Valencia and Canyon Country residents interviewed stated they were in favor of the plans implemented by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. However, others stated that these implementations are a start, but the only way to guarantee full school safety is to have an armed police officer on site for the entire academic school day. When people enter courthouses, they go through metal detectors and there are armed officers at the entrance all day. Though it would require an extra financial commitment to have an armed police officer at every school, many people think it is worth it. They feel we are guarding our most precious resources and our future generations.

This incident is the second largest mass murder that had occurred in a school, since the 2007 Virginia Tech incident. Any loss of life is simply horrific, no matter what the age of the individual. But what makes this especially horrific is the ages of the children, most of them just six. At the national level, President Obama stated, after hearing the news, “This is the worst day of my presidency,” at a televised press conference shortly after the killings. He also stated that, upon starting his second term in office, he would make gun control a central issue. But there is much debate when it comes to this issue.
Mr. Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, said in a brief telephone interview that the NRA “is absolutely horrified by these events,” and he was disgusted to hear of such a horrible tragedy. He stated that, although the NRA believes in the second amendment rights to bear firearms, they in no way support violence. But, rather, the absence of violence. This is explained in the NRA’s National School Shield Emergency Response Program. Part of the plan calls for Congress to appropriate funds, so as to have armed, uniformed police officers in every school in the United States. Also, the NRA would be willing to fund school programs that included any training programs for armed security in schools, as well as video and monitoring equipment, necessary at all school entrances. LaPierre also posed the question, “What if Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday the 14th, and had been confronted by an armed, trained security guard?”

In conclusion, there have been many school shootings in recent years, leading to several proposed plans, which have never come to fruition after the hype of the event settled down. However, the victims in the Newtown tragedy were so young, they never got the chance to experience what lay ahead of them in life. Residents reacting to the ages of the children involved in the shootings continue to write their congressmen and congresswomen hoping to assure that this tragedy is never forgotten. They are lobbying for federal monies to support these programs, because this is not a Connecticut problem, a Virginia problem or a Colorado problem; it is a national problem.



| Articles, Santa Clarita Living, Spotlight News | January 18, 2013

Helpful Tools and Information

Sometimes it happens so quickly, you’re caught off guard. Sometimes you have that gut feeling that things aren’t quite right. Sometimes you are completely blindsided by your child’s drug addiction. Of course, looking back, many parents will say they could see the signs, but in the moment rarely does a parent realize what is happening until they are in the thick of it.
Maybe it hasn’t happened to you or your family – but if you’ve lived in Santa Clarita any length of time, you know of someone affected by drug abuse. You may be a parent of young children – but keep reading – you’ll find helpful tools here as you endeavor to raise children smart enough to avoid the snare of drugs.
It can be said that drug addiction is similar to any other human physical weakness – which could explain why one young person can experiment with drugs and NOT become addicted and another becomes addicted quickly. It is the same with alcohol – not everyone who drinks becomes an alcoholic. Whatever the cause – addiction is real and deadly serious.
What can parents do? We recently asked Cary Quashen of Action that question and he responded:
Parents and family members are often in denial about their son’s and daughter’s drug use. There is the misconception that parents and family members need for those they love to hit rock bottom before the one they love can get help. This unfortunate attitude and misconception of the situation can lead to a loved one’s death. Successful interventions are possible at all stages of addiction, be it a teen, young adult or adult. Following through with our children and loved ones is of the utmost importance. Most people stop their negative behaviors when the consequences outweigh the fun, or the payoff, for their behavior.
Parents can join support groups like the Action Parent & Teen Support Group that meets every Tuesday evening at Canyon High, or they can attend Al-Anon meetings.

Addiction is not an experiment or a phase your child is going through. Addiction is a disease, just as cancer, diabetes, and countless other diseases affect our society. It is a disease that does not discriminate. The teen brain is underdeveloped and teens become addicted to drugs and alcohol at a much higher rate than adults.

Again, parental attitudes that “drug and alcohol use is recreational or experimental and goes along with the teen years” is killing our kids. You would be amazed at how many parents don’t set boundaries with and for their kids. Know at all times who your kids are with. Talk to your kids, teach them verbiage that allows them gracefully to say “NO” when drugs and alcohol are offered to them. Listen and talk with your kids. Pay attention to what’s in their rooms, in their cars, and what kinds of clothing they wear. Many kids and teens who are drug users wear clothing that glorify drug use.

A parent needs to “trust his/her gut.” If you think something is going on and your kid is in trouble, they most likely are. Parental attitudes of “I did it as a kid and turned out fine” are unacceptable.

Our experience in talking with parents echoes that last point – trust your gut. If you think something is going on – IT IS! You may call it mom-sense, but parents really do have an uncanny ability to sense when things are not quite right. With toddlers and young children it works great, because they readily give up the truth. But teenagers, especially addicted teenagers, do not!

Quashen also talked about the importance of parents knowing their child’s “personal contract,” which refers to that agreement we all have with ourselves of the lines we will not cross. It’s personal in that it’s not necessarily stated, but a belief within us. As parents, if we talk about these things with our kids and begin to know what their personal limits are and why – and if we’ve had some input into their belief system to understand it, that can go a long way to seeing the warning signs. Get in tune with your child early and stay in tune!

Another point for parents to ponder, according to Quashen, is the influences in the teen’s life. Most teens value their peer relationships and go further to protect them than they do family relationships. He noted that, years ago, a teen would say their family was the most important thing to them – today most will say it’s their friends. This is in large part due to the access we have through social media (facebook, twitter, texts) to connect with friends quickly and constantly. Contact with family is much more limited and requires effort. Parents would do well to maintain the family meal, family activities and make efforts to plan to do things as a family.

The Action Family Zone is a free safe and sober hangout, for like-minded teens that are committed to creating positive changes in their lives. Only serving at-risk teens bothers me greatly, because I feel, as a community service agency, there is more we can do for teens – not just at-risk teens, but all teens here in Santa Clarita.
Studies show that teen centers decrease juvenile crime; decrease the likelihood that teens will become victims of violent crime; decrease teen participation in risky behaviors such as drug, alcohol, and tobacco use; assist teens in developing new skills and interests; improve teen grades and academic achievements; encourage teens to take a more active role in planning their futures; and increase their self-confidence and social skills.

Once addiction has been faced, there are other relational aspects for parents to be aware of. Quashen responded:

Addiction is a family disease. Families must participate in the treatment process with their loved one. That’s what multifamily therapy groups are for. Because parents often feel their teen’s addiction issues are their fault, they feel guilty. Guilt keeps us helpless, hopeless, and stuck and keeps us from moving into positive behaviors. Parents enable their loved ones in so many different ways.
In talking with parents, we discovered enabling comes in even helpful behaviors. Several parents said they finally learned that even providing a safe place to live enabled the child if it did not include behavior requirements such as being drug free, following curfew and respect of property. Many parents felt after several bouts of rehabilitation, the loved one was better off in a different environment, away from the home. ­­­­
If you are facing a difficult situation with a loved one and believe drugs or alcohol are a serious problem, but the person does not necessarily agree, Action will assist you with an intervention. Just call their 800-number.
Here are some key terms:
Detox – The first step in overcoming a substance addiction, the period of time when the body is trying to overcome its addiction is called detoxification (detox). Opiate drugs, such as heroin, methadone and prescription medications, including Hydrocodone, Oxycontin, Xanax, Vicodin and Lortab, require medical detox supervision. There are, however, other illegal drugs such as marijuana, crystal methamphetamine, and cocaine that do not require medical detox. Since there is psychological dependence associated with these drugs, it would be wise to complete a period of stabilization.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment – An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is for people who are in various stages of recovering from drug addiction or alcoholism.  Those in IOP still can work, go to school and manage their lives on a day-to-day basis. They differ from residential inpatient rehab programs and partial hospitalization programs in that treatment is generally part-time. This is far more comprehensive than traditional outpatient programs, as it usually consists of numerous weekly therapy sessions at a drug rehab or outpatient facility with experienced addiction counselors. Most intensive outpatient programs provide three targeted sessions with a therapist per week for 30, 60, or 90 days. Because every person uses for a different reason, developing and implementing a program that is client-driven is critical to achieving success. An intensive outpatient program should never be confused with the two other primary methods of treating drug addiction and alcoholism: residential inpatient programs and partial hospitalization programs.
Residential Treatment – Residential treatment programs are 30-day minimum programs in which patients voluntarily enter a safe, secure facility where intensive drug and alcohol treatment programs are the cornerstone of the patient’s daily activities. Often, patients who have attempted outpatient treatment programs but have ultimately relapsed, achieve success in a residential program. Patients who require detoxification services due to concerns about withdrawal also benefit from residential programs. After detox, patients undergo an intensive, daily drug or alcohol treatment regimen to learn about the disease of addiction in a supportive, immersive environment. Residential programs are safe, structured environments in which patients are removed from stressful circumstances that promote or fuel the urge to use. Most residential centers encourage family participation, plus patients benefit from having a “therapeutic community” – a community of patients who support one another through treatment by encouraging others to stay on task. In addition to the other differentiators of long-term residential care, it is this camaraderie gained through empathy and shared experience that often helps patients overcome addiction while completing drug or alcohol treatment.
Action Family Counseling Drug and Alcohol Treatment Programs provide residential treatment services to both adolescents and adults. Treatment services provided include diagnostic assessments, individual and family treatment plan, individual counseling, group therapy, family counseling, multi-family group therapy, recovery planning groups, treatment advocacy, drug testing, discharge planning and outside referral resources and transition to a sober living environment if so desired.
Sober Living – After attending a treatment facility, a person in addiction recovery is generally recommended to attend a sober living/transitional living facility. Sober living offers continued accountability, support from professionals, support from peers also in recovery, a safe place to live, group support and so much more.  Without an environment to remind a person of his or her addiction, a relapse is highly possible. Action Family Counseling’s Sober Living Program provides a safe, clean, and structured environment to residents so that they safely experience the transition from higher levels of care back into the community and day-to-day life. A Facility Manager and resident staff members ensure that the sober living environment offers structure and strong peer support. Clients work, attend treatment, or attend school during the day and engage in recovery activities in the evenings.
Residents in a sober living environment or transitional living center will have different requirements for the residents, but many will have these typical requirements:

No drugs, alcohol, violence, or overnight guests
Active participation in a 12-Step Program
Random drug & alcohol tests
Involvement in either work, school, or an outpatient program
General acceptance by peer group at the sober living facility
A progression of treatment might look like this: detox, intensive outpatient, continuing care 12-Step meetings and relapse prevention groups. Or detox, intensive outpatient, residential treatment, sober living, 12-Step meetings, relapse prevention groups.

Action Family Counseling’s Sober Living community in Bakersfield features 11 condominiums on a private cul-de-sac. It houses 66 residents in its own private community. In Santa Clarita there is a 6-bed sober living facility.

Many insurance companies provide drug rehabilitation coverage. In most cases, there is a limit to what they may provide, and each insurance company is different. Some insurance companies may only offer outpatient services and some may offer intensive outpatient services and residential treatment services. Most insurance companies do not cover sober living/transitional living center expenses. When an individual is in treatment the insurance company monitors the patient’s progress and program compliance. If a patient is uncooperative and is not doing everything he or she can do to move towards sobriety, the insurance company may discontinue coverage.

RESOURCES: Action’s 800 number should be able to help at any time, 800-367-8336, or the 800 number on your insurance card. Often there is a separate number listed for mental or behavioral health. If there is an immediate threat to your loved one’s health, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital can help. In the Emergency Room you can request the behavioral health department. Through the ER you can ask for a psychological evaluation 24 hours a day.

Drug testing at home is okay – but best in the morning and supervised. Drug addicts know tricks to fake them! Use a multi-panel one that tests for drugs you don’t even know they may be taking. Often if you’re concerned about marijuana use and testing only for that, they will switch to something else to avoid a positive test result.

About Action
Action Family Counseling is a drug and alcohol treatment program that serves adolescents and adults. The organization, which was incorporated in May of 1997, offers detox services, intensive outpatient and residential treatment programs in the Los Angeles, Ventura and Kern Counties.
Action’s intensive outpatient programs are in Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, Pasadena, Studio City, the Antelope Valley, Ventura, and Bakersfield. Their residential treatment programs are in Santa Clarita, Bakersfield, Piru and Santa Paula. Action’s adult sober living programs are located in Bakersfield and Santa Clarita.
Cary Quashen has dedicated the past 30 years of his life to reaching troubled teens and dysfunctional families. His objective is to pass his personal recovery experiences with drugs and alcohol to the youth of today and to provide evaluation, assessments and interventions to parents, school districts and the juvenile justice system. As a Certified Addiction Specialist and interventionist and a high-risk teen counselor, he has become a nationally recognized expert working with adolescents.
Quashen is currently the executive director of the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Behavioral Health Unit. Additionally, Quashen has consulted with numerous health care programs, including Loma Linda Hospital, Anacapa Hospital, Van Nuys Hospital, Ingleside Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital.
Former President George Bush, Governor Pete Wilson, former Senator Alan Cranston, former Mayor Tom Bradley, and city council members and countless school districts have acknowledged the ACTION program.
Quashen has made guest appearances as a family and crisis intervention specialist on talk shows such as Good Morning America, The Doctors, The Montel Williams Show, Judge Judy, The Ricki Lake Show, and many others.
Currently, Quashen is the host of the KHTS AM 1220, “Families In ACTION” radio show, as well as a contributing author to the Steps For Recovery Newspaper and a columnist for the Signal Newspaper.
Action Family Counseling – www.actionfamilycounseling.org
Action Family Zone – www.actionfamily.org

Other Resources
Also available are resources through The Salvation Army, (http://www.salvationarmyusa.org) local counseling, and referrals through A Light of Hope (www.alightofhopescv.org) as well as Al-Anon, AA and NA meetings.

A Light of Hope Support Center, Inc.
A Light of Hope (ALOH) is a support group system for local families in crisis. They provide support for Santa Clarita Valley youth and young adults 14-26 years of age struggling with substance abuse and/or self-destructive actions or behaviors. They emphasize a 12-Step approach to family recovery, as well as the development and maintenance of an Alternative Peer Group (APG), providing a safe, sober, yet fun and welcoming experience for young people and their families as an alternative to the dysfunctional and destructive environments they may be involved in.

The families that come to ALOH have many different needs. Many find themselves hopeless and lost in dealing with the issues that they face as a family, and are looking for new approaches and solutions. At A Light of Hope they find a safe and caring environment with understanding and support to begin the recovery process for their family. They are welcomed with love and a non-condemning atmosphere of acceptance as staff provide them with education, tools and support for a healthy recovery in the family.

Salvation Army
Residents in a Salvation Army drug rehab, which runs for anywhere from 3 months to 9 months in duration, are provided with food, clothing and accommodation, and given access to treatment, bible study, education and work training programs.

Because the Salvation Army is an evangelical Christian organization, faith-based methods of recovery are emphasized. The 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous or narcotics anonymous are customarily employed, and recovering addicts will participate in daily 12-step style or other group recovery meetings. Additionally, bible and scripture study with an emphasis on readings related to spiritual healing and recovery are emphasized. Christian counseling with church leaders and Sunday worship are also encouraged.
Recovering addicts participating in the programs are additionally offered the opportunity for general education courses (high school equivalency diplomas or even higher education courses, for example) or other work related training.

Work as therapy is emphasized in a Salvation Army drug rehab, and recovering addicts are required to help offset the costs of their stay by working in the Salvation Army stores, driving Salvation Army trucks, or otherwise working within the organization. The Salvation Army philosophy of recovery calls for work therapy as a way to rebuild needed employment skills and personal responsibility, as well as a way to transition safely back into the world of employment and temptation having already learned how to work within a structured and temptation free environment.

The only real requirement for admission into a Salvation Army drug rehab program is that you be sober at the time of entry, that you be willing to participate in a faith-based recovery program, and also be willing to pay your way through the rehab by working in the Salvation Army stores and peripheral programs.

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