Creativity Advocacy – Creativity and Giving

| Community | December 20, 2018

We are smack in the middle of the holiday season, in which culture imposes the act of giving on just about everyone, everywhere. Advertisers, corporations, businesses, and banks drive the gift-giving bandwagon for profit via friends, families, colleagues and neighbors. The frenzy of shopping, purchasing, crafting and wrapping is upon us, whether we want to participate or not. There’s no “opt-out” button, unless you decide on a lengthy December cruise or take up Scrooge-esque habits, unbefitting of most Santa Clarita folks just trying to get by.

All of this “giving” can actually give us stress, splitting headaches and an excuse to pour more eggnog at the end of the day. A poll taken just last year found that “braving the shops” at Christmas time raises blood pressure. This same poll also identifies the panic of what gifts to buy (16 percent) and the cost of Christmas (12 percent) as triggers that can cause stress. Everyone knows high blood pressure and stress are bad for the heart.

Can this be good for us as individuals and for culture at large?

Gift-giving traditions have been going on since the Roman era during the holiday called Saturnalia, then later adopted by the newly popular Christianity. Hanukkah, or the “Festival of Lights” with eight days of gift exchanges, gained more regard in the early 1920’s. Kwanzaa came along in the sixties to honor unity and Creativity through the practice of giving gifts.

The pressure for presents is nothing new.

I often wonder what might happen if the deluge of presents and mass consumption were non-compulsory (or at least less-compulsory). Would there be peace on earth? Would there be peace in the Best Buy parking lot and would weary UPS drivers suddenly be able to curl up for long winter’s naps like the poetic tale suggests? Would giving even be a once-per-year thing?
The word “giving” naturally implies volition on the part of the giver.  Forced giving would be considered obligatory, which may appear at first glance, counterproductive. Do we give gifts out of our independent free will, or do we fulfill what society requires? Do we clunk along and follow cultural norms with no reflection whatsoever, or do we stop and consider why we do what we do?

A Creative approach to giving will begin with self-reflection. We can check in with our mood, connecting with our internal realm. We may feel stress, but then again, we may feel a flood of happiness while watching our loved ones tear open a package and tear up at the sight of their long-awaited puppy or favorite doll. This experience of utter joy is not just an intangible feeling in our hearts, but can also be physically tracked in our brains.

Neuroscience has proven that giving to others actually produces happy hormones. It releases a rush of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin—all chemicals that make us blissful.
With this in mind, giving to others produces happiness and is actually good for our hearts, not bad. It isn’t necessarily a selfless act, and doesn’t need to tax our bodies.

To me, it seems fitting and somewhat harmonious that giving has a built-in reward for the giver—a reciprocation that relies on our mirror neurons and generates empathy. Ultimately, this activity bonds families and profits all of humanity.

Giving fulfills the mission of Creativity—to connect us as humans. So, even compulsory giving can be a powerful tool of Creativity. Perhaps utilizing this tool more than once a year is a good thing for the species. We don’t have to depend on corporate, mass-produced items, either. We can give of ourselves, with smiles and service. We just have to force ourselves to be Creative with our giving so our stress can stay down and our joy can increase.

City Partners with Zagster to Launch ‘Pace’ Bike Share Program

| Community | December 20, 2018

Do you wake up at night in a cold sweat just dreaming all of the paved trails in Santa Clarita you could be biking on, but can’t because you don’t have a bike? Well, wake up from those nightmares and smell the Pace Bike Share Program.

The City of Santa Clarita, along with its tourism partners, announced a new partnership with service provider Zagster – for the Pace Bike Share Program.

The city began assessing the public’s desire for a bike share program with a public opinion survey in February 2017, in which over 75 percent of respondents were in favor of a bike share program. The initial Pace Pilot Bike Share Program was developed as an added amenity to boost tourism activities and enhance recreation and transportation opportunities for residents. Available to residents and visitors, the program features 12 bike share stations with a total of 50 bikes located throughout the City. Each bicycle can be checked out using a smartphone app at the following locations in Santa Clarita:

Camp Plenty Trailhead
Iron Horse Trailhead
Old Town Newhall Library
Promenade Trailhead
Valencia Heritage Park
Jan Heidt Newhall Metrolink Station
McBean Regional Transit Center
Santa Clarita Metrolink Station
Hyatt Regency Valencia
Holiday Inn Express
Citrus Street/Valencia Boulevard Bus Stop
South Fork Trailhead

Users can locate a bike station through the Pace App, which is available as a free download for both iOS and Android devices. Bikes may be rented for $1 per half hour and, once a bike is checked back into a designated Pace station in Santa Clarita, the user’s account will be billed at the completion of their ride. Users can use a credit card or PayPal to activate their account. Discounts are available for students, and Santa Clarita residents can use the code “RIDESC” to get a two-dollar credit for their first ride.

Unlike bike share programs that use a dockless model, the Pace Program features both bike racks and on-board locks to ensure bikes are returned to stations properly. The initial pilot program is expected to expand, with more stations and bikes being added through sponsorship opportunities over time. Local companies interested in sponsoring the Pace Program in Santa Clarita can contact Stacy Sebeczek, Market Manager at Zagster, at (970) 305-5664 or by email at ssebeczek@zagster.com.

Early next year, the city will invite the public to an official launch event. To learn more about the Pace Bike Share Program in Santa Clarita go to RidePace.com or contact Evan Thomason, Economic Development Associate, at (661) 286-4167.

Afternoon T

| Community | December 14, 2018

Q: I’m not really feeling the “warmth of the season” this year. How do other people do it? I just want to crawl under the covers and stay home.

A: Staying home, under a big blanket, IS one way to stay warm during the holiday season, certainly. But, let’s talk about the fire in your soul, where the real heat should come from, okay? As far as how other people do it, truth be told, this time of year some folks are simply full of malarkey. No, really. They slap a smile on their face and stuff their belly full of (insert vice foods/beverages here) to keep from feeling… well, anything. Warm, hot or cold. It’s the opposite of warm. They’re actually kind of numb. November to January 1st there are an awful lot of stressful opportunities that set a person up for experiencing far more cold than cozy. Some (not-so) hot buttons? —

Family dynamics. High expectations that everything and everyone should be perfect and get along. Pssssh. Do NOT buy into the visions that your aunt or third cousin twice-removed have dancing in their heads. Make your goal peace on earth, aka grandma’s living room, and leave it at that.

Time constraints. Between shopping, parties, cooking, cleaning, etc. you can feel overwhelmed by the pressure of the clock and calendar. Make lists, prioritize (you CAN miss some parties, FYI) and ask for help. The man in the red suit does (and doesn’t feel guilty, BTW). You should, too.

Money concerns. This is a tough one. Two months out of your fiscal year you’re hit with presents, hostess gifts, additional food costs, travel expenses and plain old keeping your lights (and heat) on. There’s no magic to fixing this either. If you’re going to engage in holiday activities that empty your wallet, you have to prepare in advance by: putting money aside; making (and sticking to) budgets; and deciding who, what and where your outlay of cash will go to. You may also want to consider ways to add to your piggy bank the other 10 months of the year. Think about adding a side hustle/extra work or unloading some stuff you don’t need *cough* #giftsyougotlastyear *cough* through eBay, Poshmark or other apps and sites to sell unwanted items.

Crowds and congestion. I live in L.A. where EVERY day is oceans of bodies and vehicles, so I feel your pain. I can only offer personal experience here. When driving, I try to imagine that every single license plate is a personalized one and try to make up what it might mean. The goofier, the better. People watching is one of my favorite games in stores and I try to imagine where their items might be going once bagged at the checkout. You know, perhaps they have innovative gift ideas! Three types of digestive aids for Wacky ol’ Uncle Henry! Peace on earth, or at least the dinner table! A good laugh just might warm your holiday from the inside out.
xo – t.

WiSH Education Foundation Ends 2018 with a Banner Year of Local School Support

| Community | December 14, 2018

The WiSH Education Foundation is finishing the year having supported local public schools with over $235,000 in donations.

“We are incredibly excited to have made such a difference this year and we have so many people to thank for the support. Individual and corporate donations, outside grants and donations of goods have allowed us to impact programs across STEAM, focus on underserved populations and even add defibrillators to campuses and concussion software for our student athletes. We’ve affected programs all across the board this year,” said Executive Director Amy Daniels.

Vice Chairman of the Board, Lynne Secrest, who recently retired from Boston Scientific, added, “Our grant funders give us a solid foundation of giving, without whom we couldn’t do the work we do. It’s important we recognize them and appreciate this year’s funders, who include Boston Scientific, Edison, City National Bank, LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Jersey Mike’s, the Southern California Gas Company, Los Angeles Clippers Foundation, Albertsons Companies Foundation, Wolf Creek Brewery and American Institutes for Research.”

Along with Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and a private donor, WiSH also assisted in getting “stop the pressure bleed kits” into every classroom in the district.

In addition to dollar donations, WiSH makes headlines in the region with annual events including the AutoNation Vehicle Giveaway from January to March, Wine on the Roof in May, Burrito Bowl in August and Cocktails on the Roof in August.

“There is no better way to both raise funds and thank our supporters than through these amazing events. Every person who buys a ticket enjoys themselves and helps make a difference at the same time,” added Board Chairman Richard Cohn. “We have an incredible group of volunteers who create ideas, develop the plan and execute the event. In a region where there are a lot of fundraising events to choose from, WiSH is proud to host some of the most successful and unique events around.”

WiSH is part of the PayPal giving match through December. Donations can be given at www.paypal.com/giving and by selecting Wm S. Hart Education Foundation.

Contact Executive Director Amy Daniels at WiSH@hartdistrict.org or 661-799-9474 for donation and sponsorship information, or go to www.wishscv.org.

Is There a Podcast in Your Future?

| Community | December 13, 2018

I received an email from Cora, a long time reader and community member, asking if I could write a column about podcasts and podcasting. This is a hot topic, and one you will want to keep an eye on as we move into 2019.

A podcast is a digital file, most often audio (mp3) but it may also be video (mp4), made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer, tablet, or mobile device. Podcasts are typically available as an episodic series, where new installments may be received by subscribers automatically and at their convenience.

For example, I subscribe to a variety of podcasts on different topics. Whenever I log in to my iTunes account on my computer or open an app (application) on my smart phone the most recent installments, or episodes of the podcasts on my list will begin downloading to my library automatically.

When I started my business online in 2006, podcasting was in its infancy. Once the technology caught on and it became easier for the layperson to set up, everyone who wanted to have their own show was able to get involved.

And just as radio didn’t truly take off until the automobile manufacturers installed a radio in every new car during the 1960s, podcasting is only now becoming more common in the marketplace. Even though Chevrolet first introduced a car radio as an option in 1922, it would take another thirty years to be standard in more than half of all cars on the road. That’s when the shows began finding their audience and advertising was how revenue was generated.

General Motors announced last December they would provide podcasts through apps that are downloadable via the vehicle’s onboard connection in most of their new model cars. And just this week Pandora announced they were adding podcasts to their lineup. “Podcasts on Pandora” is now available for all users and will include hundreds of podcasts with over one hundred thousand episodes across a wide variety of genres.

What does this mean for you and me? I see podcasting as a way to get the word out on what we think is important and worth sharing. If you’re part of a non-profit you may want to create and host a podcast where you share detailed information about the people and causes you serve.

If you are a small business owner, start a podcast about the work you do. I personally know a man who runs a pest control business in Georgia who began doing this about two years. He now works directly with other owners of pest control businesses throughout North America who need help with their marketing. Talking about the business he knows so well for less than a half hour each week is paying off quite handsomely.

I started my first podcast in 2011 using my home telephone and my blog. Each week I would share information about online marketing on a show I called “Ask Connie Anything” and then I would upload it to iTunes and other podcast directories. Within a few months I had followers and subscribers who downloaded my shows and subscribed to make sure they didn’t miss a thing.

It may take a decade or longer for podcasts to overtake radio. We are all familiar and comfortable with radio from our decades of experience. There are many benefits of podcasts, including the end user’s ability to download both past and future episodes automatically. It’s also much easier to find a podcast on a specific topic than it is to locate a radio show. This is primarily because iTunes is quickly becoming one of the largest, well-defined search engines in the world.

You can start your own podcast for less than a hundred dollars, including your domain name, hosting, website setup, art for your logo, and first episode upload. If you prefer a more sophisticated microphone and recording gear add another hundred dollars. Considering this gives you a recording studio more powerful than what the radio stations across North America and beyond had available to them twenty years ago this is quite amazing.

I would love to hear about your thoughts about podcasts. If you need more information or help setting up your podcast contact me at the address below.

Connie Ragen Green lives in Saugus and has been working exclusively on the internet since 2006. Kids and Money: Teaching Financial Responsibility and Values to Children is her latest book and was released by Hunter’s Moon Publishing in July of 2018. All of Connie’s titles are available in paperback at Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, at your local bookstore by request, and also for Kindle. Find out more by visiting http://HugeProfitsTinyList.com and download an audio recording for 2018 at http://NewRulesforOnlineMarketing.com.

Questions? Email Connie at crgreencrgreen@yahoo.com and be sure to put Home Business Question in the subject line. Your question and answer will be included in a future article.

California Launches 2018 Dashboard Public Has Access to School and District Data

| Community | December 13, 2018

The California Department of Education (CDE) and the State Board of Education (SBE) have launched the second version of the California School Dashboard, a website that gives parents, students and educators access to valuable school and district data.

To find your school within the Hart School District, go to www.caschooldashboard.org and type your school name in the landing page. There is also a video on that page to help explain the Dashboard.

“The Dashboard helps schools identify strengths and weaknesses in many different areas that measure success,” said State Superintendent Ton Torlakson. “I urge educators, parents, and communities to turn this data into positive action by using it to target resources where improvement is needed and to share practices where success is demonstrated.”

The new Dashboard attempts to make complex school and student performance data easier to understand and is accessible on smart phones and tablets. District, school and student performance levels are indicated on a gauge with an arrow pointing to a range of colors, with red the lowest and blue the highest. The new Dashboard has the most current school and student data available to the state, including 2018 test scores and graduation rates.

“In the Hart School District, the goal is not to merely prepare students for the annual state assessments,” said Dave LeBarron, director of Curriculum and Assessment for the Hart School District. “The goal is to take the time and invest the resources to ensure our students get an outstanding education. The outcome of achieving our goal is that our students do well on the state assessments.”

The Dashboard is a key component of California’s five-year overhaul of the state’s school accountability system. It displays statewide data based on status (how each school or district performed) and change (how much they have improved or declined over time). The Dashboard also breaks down information by student group (low-income, English learner, foster youth, etc.) to help pinpoint and address achievement gaps.

College Recognized as a 2018 Champion of Higher Education

| Community | December 13, 2018

College of the Canyons was recognized as a 2018 Champion of Higher Education for Excellence at the Third Annual Champions of Higher Education celebration on Tuesday, Dec. 4 in Los Angeles.

The college was one of 12 California community colleges that were honored by The Campaign for College Opportunity for significantly increasing the number of students earning an Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) degree.

“We are honored to have been recognized as a 2018 Champion of Higher Education for Excellence,” said College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook. “The success of our ADT programs can be attributed to the hard work from faculty, as well as our Curriculum Committee and Academic Affairs department. As we enter a new year, we commit to continuing to find and create ways to eliminate achievement gaps and increase transfer rates for our students.”

College of the Canyons currently offers 27 ADTs, which enable students to transition to California State University campuses. Known as “a degree with a guarantee,” ADTs provide students with guaranteed admission to a CSU if they earn an associate in arts transfer (AA-T) or associate in science transfer (AS-T) degree and meet the CSU minimum eligibility requirements.

Between 2013, when the first ADTs were awarded, and 2017, the number of degrees awarded at the college has grown 703 percent.

The Campaign for College Opportunity helped to create a clearer path for students to earn an associate degree and guaranteed admission to the California State University (CSU) system when it sponsored historic transfer reform legislation in 2010.

The Campaign for College Opportunity is a non-profit bipartisan organization that works toward increasing the number of California students attending two- and four-year colleges and who complete their college education.

For more information about The Campaign for College Opportunity, visit the organization’s website.

Annual Holiday Toy Drive

| Community | December 13, 2018

The Drifters Cocktail Lounge is currently hosting its 11th annual Marazzito Kids Toy Drive in honor of the late Dennis Marazzito, Sr.

Marazzito’s wife, Rose, along with his son, Dennis, and his brother, Joe, will be carrying on this 11-year tradition and the public is invited to drop off unopened and unwrapped gifts to help those in need.

Drop-off locations include The Drifters Cocktail Lounge located at 18240 Soledad Canyon Rd., Chris’ K-9 Clippery, located at 19413 Soledad Canyon Rd., and VFW 6885 located on 16208 Sierra Hwy.

Items can be dropped off now until December 23 and a minimum value of $10 is encouraged.

For more information, contact Joe Marazzito at 661-621-1993.

Santa Clarita Transit Offers Holiday Light Tour

| Community | December 13, 2018

Take in the dazzling sights of some of Santa Clarita’s most festively decorated neighborhoods in comfort and convenience onboard a classic wooden Hometown Trolley or a Dial-A-Ride (DAR) bus through Santa Clarita Transit’s Holiday Light Tour.

The popular service returns again this year, offering trips beginning Thursday, December 20 through Saturday, December 22. Passengers can board at the McBean Regional Transit Center located at the corner of McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard. Holiday Light Tour trips depart every 30 minutes between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Tickets are first-come, first-served, and can be purchased upon boarding for $3.00 per person, or free with the donation of canned food or other essential items for the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry. Visit SantaClaritaTransit.com for a link of suggested donations. Last year residents donated over 3,000 pounds of food and goods.

For more information about Santa Clarita Transit’s Holiday Light Tour, and for tour updates, contact Santa Clarita Transit at (661) 294-1BUS (1287) or visit SantaClaritaTransit.com.

Resource Parents Needed to Foster or Foster-Adopt a Child!

| Community | December 12, 2018

Adoption is a meaningful way for individuals and couples to fulfill their dream of parenting. There are approximately 64,000 children in foster care in California. Los Angeles County’s foster care population exceeds 21,000 children with 200 foster children waiting to be connected to a family who will adopt. Children’s Bureau offers a comprehensive foster care and adoption program that brings families together for a lifetime. The agency is in need of resource families for children in foster care while reunifying with birth families or to provide legal permanency by adoption.

Children’s Bureau Resource Parents protect and nurture children, meet children’s developmental needs, support children’s relationships with their birth families and do all of this as a member of a professional team. Children’s Bureau welcomes every resource parent regardless of, race, age, religion, disability, marital status, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Qualifying families receive training, family assessment, approval and support. A current CB family advises potential resource parents “to come into it with an open mind and an open heart. Be prepared to care beyond anything you could have ever imagined.” Watch Children’s Bureau resource families share their experiences here: https://youtu.be/9HYsV-VO2Rk

Discover if you have the willingness, ability and resources to take on the challenge of helping a child in need. A monthly information meeting is being held Saturday, December 15, 2018 from 10:00 AM to Noon at Children’s Bureau, 27200 Tourney Road, Suite 175, Valencia, CA 91355. To R.S.V.P. or for more information, please call 661.208.4212 or email us at RFrecruitment@all4kids.org. An information packet or application may also be obtained by filling out a request form on the website at www.all4kids.org/program/foster-care/.

Children’s Bureau now also offers a fee-for-service Domestic /Independent Adoption Home Study Program for families seeking the adoption of an infant whose birth mother is making an adoption plan for her newborn child. In addition to adoption home studies, Children’s Bureau provides approval of Interstate Compact packets, post placement supervision visits and reports, and finalization services when the birth mother delivers her baby in another state and the family / birth mother is working with an adoption agency.

Since 1904, Children’s Bureau has been a nonprofit leader in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. More than 30,000 children and families are helped each year throughout Southern California with services that include school readiness, parenting classes, family resource centers, support groups, mental health counseling, foster care and adoption. Children’s Bureau is one of the largest investors in child abuse prevention in the country and is developing a national model to transform an entire at-risk community through its Magnolia Community Initiative.

Business Insights with Michael D. Preston

| Community | December 9, 2018

So, you own a business. You are the person in charge and your hands are in every aspect of your business – because you know you can do it best, everyone else is mostly incompetent, and nobody seems to care like you do.

These statements may all be true, but I can tell you right now that if you continue to look at your business in this way, you may carve out a living but you will never meet your potential.

We have all heard the adage: “If you want it done right then do it yourself!” But then what about, “Don’t work harder, work SMARTER!!” Doesn’t it always seem that we are working harder and harder to meet our standard of excellence – yet we seem to feel further and further from the real money we hoped to make when we opened our doors?

The problem is that for new business owners, we start out HAVING to do many, if not all, of the jobs IN our business, yet we never find the time to invest working ON our business.
You are not alone.

This is one of the biggest issues facing small and medium-sized businesses, and perhaps the biggest trap they fall in as they pursue their dreams.

If we look at it objectively, there are really only three ways to engage with our business:
As a technician doing the work of the business
As a manager making sure the work is being done to specifications and on time
As the leader, setting direction and creating the conditions for success as your business moves forward.

And make no mistake; all three of these are absolutely vital functions of the business. The problem is that well over 99 percent of our time is usually lost in some sort of technician or management role.

So what is the role of the owner? I hear a lot of different answers, but if you were to watch how most owners engage in their business, you would come away seeing that they believe that working IN the business, albeit at a high level, is their number one priority. They may say something else, but the proof is in their actions. We showcase our priorities by what we choose to do. The end result is that we work IN our business all day – in fact, usually 10, 12, 16-hour days, doing $10/hour type of work and then we wonder why we didn’t earn $100 per hour.

It just doesn’t work that way.

Let’s take a second to consider the role of owner. It isn’t just a title we get to put on our business card. The title of owner, like every other title (Sales Director, Cashier, Human Resource Manager etc.) has it’s own set of activities and responsibilities.

Most people are happy to just have the title and RARELY engage in the difficult work of an owner.
While it is important to make sure your product or service is done well and on budget – that is the job of a manager, NOT an owner. The building of the product, the time spent with customers, is the job of the technicians in your business.

The job of the owner is simple: Grow the value of the company. Easy. Clear. The most challenging work you have in front of you (the reason most people choose to hide IN the business and avoid the tough stuff).

When I work with clients, I tell them, you improve the value of your company by setting the conditions for success and making sure you have the right team in place.

They both sound easy (and they probably aren’t as difficult as you might think) but they are both unique skills and activities that are rarely engaged in by accident and need to be intentionally worked on.

So how do we set the conditions for success? While every business has it’s strengths and weaknesses, here are a couple of things to think about as you analyze your business to find the areas you can focus on to build a more valuable business and create far greater profits as a result:

Do you have a clearly defined target market? When you are asked who you want to work with, is your answer, “I can do business with anyone!” This is actually limiting your success. Get better clarity on who you are the best fit for and who you want to be working with each and every day.

Is your business well defined? If you were to leave your business without warning for six weeks, could others follow in your footsteps, or would you return to catastrophic mess that you may never fully recover from? Start by documenting the most important functions in your business into a step-by-step process that others can follow. This will not only force you to notice what you do now to be successful but even just taking the time to write it down will open you up to new ideas to improve on the process – creating better efficiencies and productivity – or said another way allowing you to put more money in your pocket every single day.

Lastly, making sure you are always working on building your team. This seems like a no brainer, but too often we don’t have much experience hiring well, and perhaps because it is the largest item on our income statement, we look here first to save a few dollars. Make no mistake; if you are a small business, you cannot afford to save money on cheap people. Bad hires are a luxury only big business can afford, but not you. Build your skills, develop a process around hiring for each position, and always, always, always be on the lookout for good people – even if you don’t need them today, know where they are so you can approach them when the time is right for you.

Also, remember to hire slowly and fire quickly. Nothing is more expensive than a bad hire or an employee that has checked out but is still on your payroll.

I know this isn’t comprehensive, we could deep dive on each of these issues for weeks and months, however, you have a couple of things to focus on in your business as you take time to sit in the owner’s chair and do the job of owner.

As you work to improve on these, your time will free up, your product and services will improve and you will begin to see your profits grow until you have built the business you set out to build when you opened the doors.

Next month we will discuss the most important business activity – goal setting for the upcoming 12 months.

Have a great holiday!

Michael D. Preston is a CA licensed Business Broker that is committed to helping business owners increase their valuation and sell their business for the most money possible. You can contact him at 310.994.7037 or email him at Michael@InflectiveGrowth.com.

Jingle Bell Jamboree at the Newhall Community Center

| Community | December 8, 2018

The City of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita City Council invite residents to celebrate the holiday season with friends, family and loved ones at the inaugural Jingle Bell Jamboree at the Newhall Community Center (22421 Market Street). Participate in an evening of arts and crafts, holiday performances, refreshments and a visit with Santa Claus himself on Friday, December 14, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Community members will embrace the festive spirit of the season as they ring in the holidays at the Newhall Community Center, with activities for all ages. Kids will be able to decorate holiday ornaments while Ballet Folklórico performs traditional Christmas dances. Guests will experience the sounds of classic Christmas songs performed on string instruments will take place while the event provides cookies and hot cocoa. All are welcome to attend this free event and reservations are not required.

To learn more about the Jingle Bell Jamboree, contact Cynthia Muir, Community Services Supervisor, at (661) 286-4006.

Poker Tournament to Benefit Canyon Football

| Community | December 7, 2018

You don’t have to leave Santa Clarita to experience playing real Las Vegas-style poker. The Canyon Club will be hosting a poker tournament to support the Canyon High Football Booster Club on Saturday, February 23.

This annual Santa Clarita Poker Tournament will feature real, professional poker dealers at each real high-quality poker table. Continuing in the genuine Vegas style, poker-playing spirit, attendees will be served drinks from two bars right at each poker table by cocktail waitresses. Pay-out and trophies will be awarded to the last 10 seated players (bigger payouts for first, second and third place—with first place winning a Gold Krugerrand, second place winning a 2.2 pound bar of pure silver, and third place winning a $500 iPad, which is fully refundable at any Apple Store for its value up to seven days after the Tournament).

The Santa Clarita Poker Tournament will be catered by Canyon Club. Player Tickets are $75, and the ticket includes a buy-in and a buffet dinner. Those interested are encouraged to purchase tickets quickly, because the event may sell out. Spectator Tickets are $55 (Spectator Ticket includes VIP area seating, as well as freedom to “wander about the Tournament” and the buffet dinner). To buy tickets now and for more information visit www.CowboyFootball.org.

City to Host Start of Final Stage of 2019 AMGEN Tour of California

| Community | December 7, 2018

The Amgen Tour of California organizers announced the 13 Host Cities selected for the 14th edition of America’s premier professional cycling stage race set for May 12-18, 2019. Throughout seven stages over seven days, the world’s elite cyclists will contest more than 750 miles of roadways, highways and coastlines from Sacramento to Pasadena.

The City of Santa Clarita will host the start for the final stage of both the men’s and women’s races on Saturday, May 18, 2019. The men and women competing in the Amgen Tour of California and the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM will race through the streets of Santa Clarita before waving goodbye as they push toward the overall finish line in Pasadena. Of the 2019 lineup of California Host Cities, the City of Santa Clarita has the distinction of having hosted the most stages in race history, and 2019 will mark its 14th hosted stage.
“We are honored for the opportunity to host another stage for the Amgen Tour of California. It is not often that we bring a world-class race event right to our residents’ backyards!” said Mayor Laurene Weste. “With an event this prestigious, it really boosts our tourism efforts by having regional, national and international eyes on Santa Clarita. This the 14th stage we’ve hosted and every time we have had a wonderful experience partnering with the Amgen Tour of California.”

The annual Amgen Tour of California carries the distinction of being the only U.S. men’s and women’s races on the UCI WorldTour calendar and have helped launch some of today’s best known and most decorated international cyclists as well as continuing to attract the most talented competitors and teams in the world.

A traditional stage for the Amgen Tour of California, the final race day for both the men and women is one that highlights the beauty of long-time race partners: Santa Clarita and Pasadena. Past overall finishes in Pasadena have consistently popular, with fans from across Southern California lining up to cheer on the fast-and-furious sprint finishes to determine the ultimate champions.

“The Amgen Tour of California continues to serve as an international postcard for the state, showcasing the beauty and diversity of California – and the 2019 host cities certainly reflect that,” said Kristin Klein, president of the Amgen Tour of California and executive vice president of AEG Sports. “We look forward to hosting another truly dynamic and engaging race, which will feature an all-star peloton, continuing the tradition of delivering one of the most exciting sporting events in the country.”

Now and Then

| Community | December 7, 2018

A timeworn retort to those who grumble about passing the half-century mark in age is: “It beats the alternative.”

In the Santa Clarita Valley, the staff at the Senior Center on Market Avenue has made it their mission for over 42 years to provide health and wellness services, comfort, companionship, and recreation to all those who have “beat the alternative.”

Like its clients, the aging Market Avenue building, (constructed in the ‘60s) has also “beat the alternative,” but has been stretched to the breaking point by our valley’s burgeoning senior citizen population.

In the last four years, the board members of the Santa Clarita Valley Committee on Aging (SCVOA), have waged a determined fundraising campaign to give our seniors a new, modern complex that will not only provide them with the expanded resources and services they need, but do it in a roomy 30,400-square-foot atmosphere.

A land donation by the Brookfield Development at Golden Valley and Newhall Ranch Roads, and commitments of $3.5 million each from the city of Santa Clarita and the County of Los Angeles gave the $11.4 million dollar project a much-needed boost.

With Capital Campaign co-chairs Peggy Rasmussen and Todd Stevens at the helm, donations from businesses, community groups, and individuals have brought the project within $1 million of its goal. Those who motor past the 2.5-acre site have watched the building take shape since its October, 2017 groundbreaking ceremonies.

The evolving superstructure has been designed to include a banquet room that will accommodate over 250 people, a luxurious fireplace-accented lounge and library, six multi-purpose rooms, an outdoor cabana with concert seating, a fitness center, and dance studio.

Executive director Kevin MacDonald is confident the project is on schedule to meet its February 2019 completion date. Having three times the space of the current Center, MacDonald recently reported that the new building will comfortably house new services like a second career center, more health and wellness programs, a tech center, education center, and a financial information center. In addition, a Sisters in Time program will be offered, which will help senior women find shared housing opportunities.

“These new centers will expand the services available to our seniors even as we continue our current programming,” said MacDonald.

The current services include an adult day program for those with Alzheimer’s, recreational activities throughout the day, weekly lunches on site, handy workers for projects in the home, transportation in the SCV, trips and tours, and home-delivered meals.

“We encourage all SCV seniors to come to our new Center for the education and the companionship, but also to enjoy the many activities we offer with what we call ‘a touch of love.’ It will be part country club, part social services,” concluded Kevin.

To meet the construction completion goal, the SCVCOA officials are offering donors the honor of having their names placed on a wall beside the current supporters. Donations can be made online at www.NewSeniorCenter.com or by mailing a check payable to SCVCOA-Building Fund (memo: Capital Campaign) to 22900 Market Street, Santa Clarita, CA 91321. A credit card donation may also be made by calling the SCV Senior Center at 661-259-9444.

Why, you may ask, if you have not yet reached that “Golden Age” benchmark, should you get on board and donate to the Senior Center Building Fund? May I respectively remind you that no matter what your age today, it is a sure bet (if you “beat the alternative”) you will one day need the services and enjoy the amenities provided at the new building.

WiSH Foundation Donates Over $50,000 to Wm. S. Hart District School Libraries

| Community | December 6, 2018

The WiSH Education Foundation has raised over $50,000 in funding for Santa Clarita public school libraries. The funding will affect all students in grades 7-12, nearly 23,000 students. Every single school in the district, including Bowman and Sequoia, will receive funding.

“District librarians came to WiSH over a year ago to alert us to the fact that they have not received state funding since 2008,” said WiSH Executive Director Amy Daniels. “We were surprised but not shocked; state funding simply does not meet need and that’s why our foundation is so important. Our goal is to get students the tools they need for success. The libraries are an integral part of that.”

Originally, the kickoff for the library fundraiser was set for September of 2017. Due to a series of disasters here and around the world, supporting dollars went elsewhere, which the Board of Directors understood. According to Richard Cohn, Chairman of the WiSH Board, “With so many people in need, we absolutely recognize that discretionary income goes to other deserving recipients. We decided as a board that the libraries were important for our young people and instead kept the funding program open for at least another year.”

Funding came from several sources, including the very generous SCV Chili Cookoff and a new Jersey Mike’s store opening. WiSH also received grants from Reading is the Way UP, City National Bank and the L.A. Clippers Foundation. While they have raised over $50,000, much more is needed to replenish the libraries. With that in mind, WiSH still has about $70,000 in outstanding grants related to the program with high hopes that they will be funded. Vice Chairman Lynne Secrest said, “When we saw the state of some of the books on our library shelves, we knew we had to make a difference – not just in replacing the most loved titles but getting updated, modern subject matter available to our students. Reading is absolutely essential to academic growth.” The libraries in the district are crowded with students from before school until after school ends.

To support the WiSH, contact Executive Director Amy Daniels at WiSH@hartdistrict.org or 661-799-9474 for donation and sponsorship information, or go to www.wishscv.org to make a donation today.

Families Join in 22nd Worldwide Candle Lighting

| Community | December 2, 2018

Santa Clarita Chapter’s 18th Annual Candle Lighting

The death of a child is devastating, and it’s important to the family that the child always be remembered. That’s why members of The Compassionate Friends (TCF) of Santa Clarita will participate in an annual worldwide event designed to honor the memories of all children, regardless of age, who have died. The Chapter is joining Sunday, December 9 with hundreds of organized memorial services around the world for The Compassionate Friends 22nd annual Worldwide Candle Lighting, an event now believed to be the largest mass candle lighting in the world.

The local candle lighting will be part of a special service held indoors beginning 6:30 p.m. located at La Mesa Jr. High School, 26623 May Way, Santa Clarita, 91351 and will feature poems, selected readings, music, a slide show and performances with featured singers. Annually tens of thousands of families, united in loss, light candles for one hour during the Worldwide Candle Lighting, held the second Sunday in December. Candles are first lit at 7 p.m., local time, just west of the International Date Line. As candles burn down in one-time zone, they are lighted in the next, creating a 24-hour wave of light as the observance continues around the world. Battery operated candles will be provided to all who attend.

The holiday season is an extremely difficult time of the year for families grieving the death of a child. This Worldwide Candle Lighting has united bereaved families around the globe as a symbolic way of showing the love we continue to carry for our children, even though they can no longer be with us physically. First started in the United States in 1997 as a small internet observance, the event has since swelled in numbers as word has spread throughout the world of remembrance. Hundreds of formal candle lighting events are held and thousands of informal candle lightings are conducted in homes as families gather in quiet remembrance of children who have died, but will never be forgotten. This candle lighting transcends all ethnic, cultural, religious, and political boundaries as tens of thousands of families share in this worldwide memorial event.

Here, throughout the United States, members of nearly 700 Chapters observe this day in differing ways, some alone, some with friends and family, and many in organized candle lighting ceremonies like the service planned by our chapter, The Compassionate Friends of Santa Clarita. We invite everyone, whether or not they have suffered the personal loss of a child, to join in this moving tribute.

With the theme “…that their light may always shine,” the Worldwide Candle Lighting has grown larger every year with formal services last year in all 50 United States and Washington D.C., as well as at least 19 countries around the world. TCF’s national website, www.compassionatefriends.org, is expected to receive and post information on more than the 550 services on its website. It will also have open for posts a Remembrance Book on December 9 which, in a 24-hour-period will receive thousands of tributes from family members and other caring individuals.

To contact The Compassionate Friends of Santa Clarita, call Diane Briones at 661-252-4654 or Alice Renolds at 661-252-4374. For more information about the national organization and locations of its Chapters nationwide, call 877-969-0010 or visit TCF’s national website, www.compassionatefriends.org and the Santa Clarita Valley Chapter website www.compassionatefriends-scv.org. The Compassionate Friends has a presence in at least 30 countries and is the world’s largest self-help bereavement organization.

Reyes Winery Wins Medals

| Community | December 1, 2018

Reyes Winery was recently honored by the San Francisco International Wine Competition, winning two additional “double gold” medals.

The largest and most influential international wine competition in America, the San Francisco International Wine Competition has been setting the standard for professional wine judging since its debut in 1980. Now in its 38th year, the SFIWC maintains the highest level of integrity with a blind-tasting system performed by a highly experienced panel of internationally acclaimed wine experts. A SFIWC medal has been established as a reliable indication of wine excellence, and wines recognized as medal-worthy by their judges are universally understood to be among the very best.

Reyes has received this recognition for their 2011, 2012, and now the 2013 Syrah and the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon wines. This is the third year in a row for the Estate Syrah wine. Our 2013 Estate Syrah was aged in French Oak for 23 months and brings blackberry, plum, pepper and fall herbs to your senses. Its silky finish lingers with soft tannins and a touch of smoky oak. It has also won a silver medal in the 2017 Los Angeles International Wine Competition. It pairs with lamb burgers or a mixed berry trifle.

Our 2013 estate Cabernet Sauvignon is robust, aromatic and complex. It exhibits black cherry and blackcurrant fruit with a touch of black pepper on the palate. It is a full-bodied wine with distinctive ripe black cherry and blackcurrant tastes for your palate. We aged this vintage for 23 months in French oak barrels. Only 48 cases were produced. Enjoy this delicious wine with prime rib topped with horseradish or a chocolate soufflé for dessert.

Reyes Winery received the following honors:

Double Gold

DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL, 94 points, Reyes Winery 2013 Syrah, Estate grown & bottled, Sierra Pelona Valley, USA,

DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL, 95 points, Reyes Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate grown & bottled, Sierra Pelona Valley, USA,


SILVER MEDAL, Reyes Winery 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate grown & bottled, Sierra Pelona Valley, USA

SILVER MEDAL, Reyes Winery 2014 Dessert Wine, White Delight, Estate grown & bottled, Sierra Pelona Valley, USA


BRONZE MEDAL, Reyes Winery 2015 Syrah, Estate grown & bottled, Sierra Pelona Valley, USA

BRONZE MEDAL, Reyes Winery 2015 Merlot, Estate grown & bottled, Sierra Pelona Valley, USA

City Residents Encouraged to Apply for Several Santa Clarita Local Appointment Vacancies

| Community | November 30, 2018

The City of Santa Clarita encourages interested residents to apply for several positions serving on the Arts Commission; the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission; the Planning Commission; the Open Space Preservation District Financial Accountability and Audit Panel (FAAP); and the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (District) Board of Trustees as the City of Santa Clarita representative.

Three positions on each commission/panel will expire on December 31, 2018. Selected candidates for the Commissions and Panel will each serve four-year terms, which expire on December 31, 2022. The District representative will serve a four-year term beginning January 2019. All interested parties must submit an application by 5 p.m. on Thursday, December 20, to the City Clerk’s Office.

All three commissions, as well as the FAAP, are comprised of five members each. The Arts Commission advises the City Council and city staff on arts matters, including public art, arts programs and art events throughout the community. The Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission advises the City Council and city staff on parks and public recreation matters, while the Planning Commission advises the City Council on major development projects, property acquisition, specific plans, zoning and other planning matters. The FAAP ensures that the City’s land acquisition priorities are followed, reviews fund accounts, ensures Preservation District funds are spent properly and ensures that proposed expenditures are consistent with requirements. The District Board member duties and responsibilities include setting policy, establishing the budget, approving expenditures and retaining legal counsel.

Applicants must be 18 years or older and maintain their principal residence in the City of Santa Clarita during their term of office. Evening availability is also required for all positions, and the District Board member must also travel by personal vehicle to a meeting location outside Santa Clarita.

All applicants must submit three letters of recommendation with their application. Applications should be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office at Santa Clarita City Hall, located at 23920 Valencia Boulevard, Suite 120.

To obtain an application or for more information about the Commission, Panel and District representative vacancies, contact the City Clerk’s Office at (661) 255-4391 or visit Santa-Clarita.com.

Afternoon T

| Community | November 30, 2018

By T. Katz

Q: This has been a tough year financially and gift-giving has visions of debt, not sugar plums, dancing in my head. My list of friends, co-workers and neighbors is long. Any suggestions on what to give that won’t break my piggy bank, destroy my kitchen (attempting homemade gifts) or make me look cheap?

A: This time of year can leave Jingle Bills ringing in your ears, right? The crass commercialism of the season can suck all of the joy out of what should be a time of good will to all men. There are tried and true things you can do to keep you out of the malls, catalogues and on-line shopping – but you don’t sound like the at-home fudge and cookie or batik cloth dying assembly line is your cup of tea. I get it. I still sport scars from the years I thought making candles and candies at home were good ideas. They weren’t. Double-boilers are still the tools of my most horrific nightmares. Learn from my mistakes, Grasshopper.

Sometimes, the best gift you can give is something people wouldn’t buy for themselves, especially items of convenience to make their lives easier. The trick to making the gift meaningful, will be the card or note you attach to it. For example:

A canvas laundry bag with a map of the world (under $10) with an expression of “You mean the world to me!” or “May your journeys gather memories for your soul and the dust of destinations unknown!” Now, you are a thoughtful and practical friend. We could all use more of those, I think.
The waterproof inflatable LED solar lantern ($15) is an incredible item to have in an emergency kit or car. It can be found in the camping section, stores completely flat and – like the loved one you gift it to – it is “an incredible source of light” and maybe, love. It’s a lifesaver.

Permanent Glass Paint Markers (under $10) let people write their own messages on glass or ceramic, they need only ‘bake’ the item to make it permanent. Suggest they have their kids or grandkids autograph a plate or mug with their name and a message they’ll enjoy for years to come. Or, maybe they can do as I did and put “Keys, Wallet, Watch, Phone, Glasses… Kisses” on a tray near the front door for often forgotten items. Not that anyone on my list is *cough* forgetful.

The book Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House ($15) by Cheryl Mendelson is a great gift for ANY age, because everyone should know how to make a bed with hospital corners and the best ways to combat food pathogens! Plus, THIS book is like the funny aunt who fills in your life education gaps without being all Judge-y McJudgerton about you finally learning how to fold a fitted sheet. Give it with a card that says something like “Let’s get together more often at your place, even if we order take-out to eat in!”
xo – t.

Two-Day Fine Craft Show Returns to Old Orchard Park

| Community | November 29, 2018

Don’t miss the arts and crafts event of the year, just in time for the holiday season. Join the City of Santa Clarita’s 27th annual two-day Fine Craft Show held on Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Fine Craft Show will be outdoors and located at Old Orchard Park, situated at 25023 Avenue Rotella.

This public event is free and features more than 70 artists’ booths with high-quality, original and Made-in-USA crafts for any budget. One-of-a-kind, handmade gifts items include jewelry, paintings, pottery, ceramics, wearables, home décor and woodwork. Holiday shoppers can select unique and beautiful gifts, while enjoying gourmet food trucks and live music in a festive outdoor park setting.

Rain or shine, the event will be held. For more information on the Fine Craft Show, visit SantaClaritaArts.com or contact the Arts and Events Office at (661) 250-3777.

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