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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
Security
Volunteer Check-in
Hospitality
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.

Additional:
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.

Silk Screening Class Inspires Young Partnership

| Santa Clarita Living, Spotlight News | March 18, 2013

By Caitlin Coen
An experience in a high school ROP program inspired two men to team up and build a local business together. While taking part in a silk screening course through the William S. Hart District Regional Occupation Program (ROP), Joseph Turk and Theodore Kredo became eager to put their dreams into action.

Both interested in streetwear trends, Turk and Kredo each attempted to start clothing lines of their own while taking the class at Canyon High School. It was not until June of 2012, after they were high school graduates, that they collaborated to create a new clothing line, “Locally Unknown.”

The up and coming brand constructs Turk’s and Kredo’s own versions of the designs created by successful clothing companies, such as The Hundreds, Undefeated and Obey. While these multi-million dollar companies use an automated silk screening technique – a stencil method of print making, which is used in factories around the world – Locally Unknown entrepreneurs produce each shirt by hand out of their garages. Not even a year in the works, and this company has already generated thousands of dollars in sales.

Utilizing their creative team, Turk and Kredo have been able to line up several bars, including local venues The Vu and Roman Holiday, to showcase their most recent pieces. Not only do these “release events” generate sales for Locally Unknown, but they have also increased revenue for the bars, which keeps dollars in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Currently the partners are working on “The Collective,” an event that includes other local clothing brands hoping to break out of Santa Clarita. Each brand will be able to showcase their work to a new audience at an event where people can come together to see what the young and ambitious individuals of SCV have to offer.

The owners of Locally Unknown continue to challenge themselves and create clothing that is attractive to the younger crowd. Locally Unknown is able to create a quality product with trendy designs and is still able to sell the product at almost half the price of larger companies. With its simple online shop and blog, anyone anywhere can purchase Locally Unknown gear and keep up-to-date with the day-to-day lifestyle at www.locallyunknown.com. To receive more information about “The Collective,” visit www.locallyunknown.com/blog.

Santa Clarita Living Magazine asked Turk & Kredo for a few more details…

Why Locally Unknown?
We started the brand last year in June. It took us several days to come up with the name. We had all the ideas written out on a napkin and we finally figured out “Locally Unknown” was best suited for the type of brand image we are trying to get across.

What do each of you two partners do?
Theodore handles the graphic designing part of Locally Unknown, and I work more on sales. Together we work on garment ordering, printing and promoting.  We play to each other’s strengths to help make Locally Unknown more successful.

Where do you live and for how long?
I (Joseph) live in Saugus, and Theodore lives in Canyon Country next to our old high school, Canyon High.Theodore has lived here his whole life. I (originally from New York but from 6th grade till now) have lived in Santa Clarita.

What schools did you go to?
We both went to Canyon High School and were friends. During high school, both of us each had our own T-shirt companies, which we worked on during Silk Screen ROP.

Where do you manufacture your garments?
We order our garments from a T-shirt manufacturer and then print, tag and bag each product by hand in our garage.

How do you market them?
Most of our marketing is done through social media, such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We also sell much of our products through word of mouth, especially through high schools.

Who is your target customer?
Our target audience is pretty wide, but right now we’re focusing more towards young adults and teenagers.

What are your future plans? Any changes?
We one day see ourselves as a successful streetwear brand, and our products would be sold in various online shops and brick and mortar retailers.  One of our biggest goals is to own our own flagship store and warehouse.

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.”

 

NEW TEEN PROGRAM AT
CANYON COUNTRY COMMUNITY CENTER

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.

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BLINDSIDED BY DRUGS

| 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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