SKILLZ Keeps Summer School Cool, Engaging

Photo courtesy Flintridge Center Students at SKILLZ Summer School earn credit recovery and learn life lessons through the collaborative program organized by the nonprofit organizations Flintridge Center, Stars (formerly known as Lake Avenue Community Foundation) and Day One.
Photo courtesy Flintridge Center
Students at SKILLZ Summer School earn credit recovery and learn life
lessons through the collaborative program organized by the nonprofit organizations Flintridge Center, Stars (formerly known as Lake Avenue Community Foundation) and Day One.

Though summer school often implies relentless hours of absorbing an entire academic year of information in just a few weeks, a collaboration of Pasadena nonprofits has devised an effective mix of credit recovery, fun and life lessons to keep local kids focused and coming back for more. Continue reading “SKILLZ Keeps Summer School Cool, Engaging”

Campers With Challenges Get Skills to Handle Them

Photo by Sahale Greenwood / OUTLOOK Juliana Frias, head of the creative art department, and camper Mili happily make slime.
Photo by Sahale Greenwood / OUTLOOK
Juliana Frias, head of the creative art department, and camper Mili happily make slime.

For children deemed on the autism spectrum, with learning disabilities, developmental and behavioral difficulties or other vexing challenges, traditional summer camps may often not be an option.
But Professional Child Development Associates’ summer camp provides a fun and supportive environment for these children by ensuring that they have professional supervision and surroundings in which they can start building relationships and personal coping habits for some of the hurdles they face. PCDA, a nonprofit organization based in Pasadena, is a comprehensive group of child development specialists providing year-round services for children and families. Continue reading “Campers With Challenges Get Skills to Handle Them”

Cancer Society Honoree Can Tell Tale of Survival

Liz Rusnak Arizmendi (right), who has battled Stage 4 ovarian cancer, will be honored at the American Cancer Society’s San Gabriel Valley Hope Gala on Aug. 25. She is pictured with event chair Sindee Riboli.
Liz Rusnak Arizmendi (right), who has battled Stage 4 ovarian cancer, will be honored at the American Cancer Society’s San Gabriel Valley Hope Gala on Aug. 25. She is pictured with event chair Sindee Riboli.

Liz Rusnak Arizmendi is a force that not even cancer could overpower.
During her battle against Stage 4 ovarian cancer, Rusnak Arizmendi recalled, trying to trudge 100 feet to the dunes outside her family’s beach house in Ventura County “took everything out of me … to the point where I would have to collapse and sit there crying because I could barely walk.” Now, just 18 months later, she has recovered energetically, regularly jogging five miles along those dunes and working full time again as vice president of public relations at the family business, Rusnak Auto Group.
“I love having a smile on my face. I don’t know how to frown, I really don’t,” Rusnak Arizmendi said. Her positive attitude was a key factor in her vigorous fight against cancer and is now spurring her return to a healthy, cancer-free life. Continue reading “Cancer Society Honoree Can Tell Tale of Survival”

Friends In Deed Seeks Donations to Help the Hungry

As long as vulnerable people in the Pasadena area need food and groceries, Friends In Deed plans to be there with its food pantry to lend a hand.
Supplies for the pantry tend to become scarcer during summer months — many large donations are school-based, and produce doesn’t last as long in the hot weather — so the need for donations rises. Continue reading “Friends In Deed Seeks Donations to Help the Hungry”

The ‘Neighbor’ Everyone Felt Good Around

Dear Parents,
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” a documentary about the beloved children’s TV personality Fred Rogers, contains some of the most solid parenting advice ever given. Every parent would benefit from seeing it, now in theaters.
Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister, felt children deserved more from TV than the cartoons that modeled disrespectful and crass behavior. He was drawn to educational TV as a tool to model trust and respect for young children. Continue reading “The ‘Neighbor’ Everyone Felt Good Around”

Lake Avenue Community Foundation Becomes ‘Stars’

Pasadena’s Lake Avenue Community Foundation has changed its name to “Stars” to avoid confusion with Lake Avenue Church and because people often assumed from the former name that the organization is a grant-giving foundation, according to the organization’s executive director, Nancy Stiles. Stars’ new web address is gostars.org. Continue reading “Lake Avenue Community Foundation Becomes ‘Stars’”

Teens Give Young Patients Rooms for Recovery

Photo courtesy Once Upon a Room A young patient shows off his superhero skills beside Thomas Gonzalez, a Pasadena resident who serves as Junior Room Crew treasurer, during one of the group’s recent room-decorating events.
Photo courtesy Once Upon a Room
A young patient shows off his superhero skills beside Thomas Gonzalez, a Pasadena resident who serves as Junior Room Crew treasurer, during one of the group’s recent room-decorating events.

Jenny Hull gathered 30 energized teens around her in the lobby of UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital: “The most important thing today is that we have to be super, super quiet, OK? And really wash your hands as you go in and out.”
And with that, the teens in Junior Room Crew — many of them students at area schools, including St. Francis, Westridge, Mayfield Senior and Flintridge Sacred Heart — went to work transforming 24 hospital rooms from impersonal, cold spaces into personalized, colorful rooms incorporating the interests and tastes of the patients inhabiting them. Continue reading “Teens Give Young Patients Rooms for Recovery”

HOPE Cafe Thrives on Serving Food With a Mission

Photo courtesy Tony Lancaster HOPE Cafe and Catering owner Tony Lancaster and his wife, Ann, donate 10% of their sales back to local nonprofits such as Door of Hope that work to help families experiencing homelessness.
Photo courtesy Tony Lancaster
HOPE Cafe and Catering owner Tony Lancaster and his wife, Ann, donate 10% of their sales back to local nonprofits such as Door of Hope that work to help families experiencing homelessness.

Some stories tell themselves, and that of HOPE Cafe and Catering owner Tony Lancaster might just be one of those, including chapters that could be titled Rehab, Rebirth and Redemption. Continue reading “HOPE Cafe Thrives on Serving Food With a Mission”

STEAM:CODERS Helps Put Kids on Track in Tech

OUTLOOK photo Camper Genesis Montgomery gets help from instructor Michael Dragomir.
OUTLOOK photo
Camper Genesis Montgomery gets help from instructor Michael Dragomir.

At a Norma Coombs Elementary School day camp recently, little hands and fingers flew over Chromebooks, with color puzzle pieces being dragged into place as the campers built a fictional, interactive story through the introductory Scratch coding program.
“You just have to play with it,” Michael Dragomir, a STEAM:CODERS summer camp teacher, told a 3rd-grader, who needed little encouragement as she did just that. She readjusted her headphones and dragged a different piece to see how that might change things up in her virtual-reality fiction, which happened to be a story about two girlfriends chatting in the park. Continue reading “STEAM:CODERS Helps Put Kids on Track in Tech”