Since the onset of COVID-19 and the pandemic-induced recession, many Pasadena nonprofits have kicked into emergency mode in anticipation of accelerated needs among the clients they typically serve. Some organizations — like Stars, which focuses on services for youth, and Door of Hope, a homelessness prevention agency — have thought outside the box to create partnerships in the time of crisis. “We are stronger together right now. I think many nonprofits in the Pasadena area are looking to further their impact during COVID and really increasing their collaborations,” said Stars Executive Director Nancy Stiles. “There are all kinds of intersections when it comes to the nonprofit world.” When Door of Hope Executive Director Megan Katerjian became aware of predictions of an eviction crisis throughout Los Angeles County, she and her team began to reach out to alumni of their well-established program who might be facing reduced income due to the furloughs imposed in many industries.
Like many other districts in the area, the Pasadena Unified School District began the academic year with remote learning on Monday, in keeping with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s guidelines preventing schools in counties on the state’s COVID-19 watch list from delivering in-person instruction. Closures in March due to the coronavirus forced many schools to pivot into uncharted territory with distance learning, but the PUSD believes it’s ready and is optimistic about the road ahead. “We’re excited to see our students reconnect, learn and advance in the new school year,” Superintendent Brian McDonald said in a letter to the community this week. “Although we are beginning with extraordinary circumstances, the entire PUSD team is committed to providing a quality education for all of our students. We’re eager to engage students in meaningful learning so that every student has opportunities to fulfill their potential.” However, he recognized that there may be a few challenges and asked parents and students to be patient as the district works through them.
As baseball fans recently began a strange yet historic period of watching sporting events amid the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing crossed the mind of Los Angeles Dodgers team historian Mark Langill. “I think the greatest thing I can say right now about this pandemic baseball is I was wondering how many days it would take until somebody complained if the team went into a slump,” said Langill, who besides working with the organization since 1994 has written three books on topics related to it. It took only four games, but the South Pasadena native could not help but love the reaction from fans. “You look at the rest of the news, it looks like ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ every night, but thanks to baseball we have an escape,” he said. “We can put on that tunnel vision and think, ‘What’s up with the offense?’”
The Towne Singers, a non-audition choir based in Pasadena, are in need of male voices but welcome all to join their family of musicians. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the choir is looking for ways to remain connected and continue to participate in things it loves to do. The Towne Singers have moved forward during quarantine with virtual rehearsals and have created a virtual recording of one of the selections planned for their 2020 Spring Concert. Anyone interested in joining the choral organization is encouraged to leave a message at (818) 275-4117 with the caller’s name, phone number and email address, to receive an invitation to a rehearsal conducted via Zoom. Virtual rehearsals began this week. Rehearsals are held Mondays from 7-9 p.m. via Zoom; the winter performance is yet to be scheduled due to current COVID-19 guidelines/restrictions. Membership dues are $125 for the fall season. Dues cover music costs and operation expenses. The Towne Singers are supported in part by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through county Arts Commission.
Those who knew Sue Smiser were blessed to know a gracious and kind woman. She was talented in every way – beautiful and funny, a devoted mother, brilliant businesswoman and manager, and family matriarch who was incredibly generous and supportive. Sue came from humble beginnings. Born in Malone, TX on Oct. 16, 1922, she was one of nine siblings raised on the family farm. Eventually, her secretarial skills led her to a position at the Army base in Harlingen, TX where she met and married her husband, Samuel L. Smiser. After Sam’s military commitment, they resettled in Bakersfield, CA where they established their trucking business and raised their family. In 1970, as the business expanded, they relocated to the Pasadena area. One of the many groups they connected with and came to support was the San Gabriel Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Sam had attained the rank of Eagle during his time as a scout and Sue was the proud grandmother of three Eagle Scouts. Sam and Sue became major contributors to the construction of the council’s new scout center named the Smiser Scout Center in their honor. Sue continued to be a donor and board member for the council after she relocated to Coronado, CA.
An award-winning documentary “Standing on My Sisters’ Shoulders” will be shown for free Thursday, Aug. 27, at 2 p.m. online via Zoom, presented by the Pasadena Senior Center as part of its Cultural Thursdays series. It chronicles the vital role played by women in the Mississippi Civil Rights movement from the point of view of the women who lived it and changed history in the face of a hostile and violent segregated society. In Civil Rights history, national leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, John Lewis and Julian Bond rose to prominence and captured the public’s attention. But in Mississippi, the success and power behind the movement was a grass roots base of ordinary black women whose acts of defiance and courage were able to make great headway in that state. Yet most people have never heard of Victoria Gray Adams, Unita Blackwell, Mae Bertha Carter, Annie Devine, Fannie Lou Hamer, and so many other women who saw an opportunity to emerge as activists in Mississippi’s Civil Rights movement. Members as well as nonmembers of the Pasadena Senior Center are invited to participate. Residence in Pasadena is not required.
The Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services food bank has recently reopened for business after initially being closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak due to safety concerns for staff members and families. However, with so many families in the community struggling and dealing with food insecurity, the food bank reopened as quickly and as safely as possible in partnership with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. As part of the new procedures to ensure everyone’s safety, curbside food pickup is by appointment only. Families who would like to be eligible for the food bank should call (323) 257-9600, ext. 7201. This unprecedented public health crisis has made families’ daily struggles to meet their basic needs more challenging than ever. In addition to providing food boxes, families often rely on the agency for other necessities, including diapers, wipes, formula, hygiene products, clothing and more. Baby2Baby donated more than 3,000 diapers and pull-ups; 11,000 wipes; and hundreds of containers of formula, shampoo, soap, laundry detergent and other necessities for the families. A grant from the California Family Resource Association also helped Hathaway-Sycamores provide essential items to more than 1,000 families, including food, household items, clothing, activity supplies, diapers, baby wipes, personal protective equipment and more. The local event venue NOOR recently donated nutritious, immune-boosting soups as part of its Community Soup To-Go program to the young adults in Hathaway-Sycamores Transition Age Youth program. Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services primarily serves a population of low-income children, young adults and families, including many who are in foster care or are experiencing homelessness. As the current health crisis continues, in addition to providing mental health services, Hathaway-Sycamores is also providing resources and comforts that the children, young adults and families they serve might need outside of normal services. This additional support is made possible by very generous community partners, including the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank; Baby2Baby; the California Family Resource Association; the National Charity League Inc., Glendale Chapter; and other supporters who are helping Hathaway-Sycamores to provide a much-needed safety net to this vulnerable population. Additionally, many of the children, families, and young adults served by Hathaway-Sycamores lacked the vital technology needed to stay safely connected during the COVID-19 outbreak. Thanks in part to a generous donation from the National Charity League Inc., Glendale Chapter, the agency was able to purchase tablets for clients. The tablets are being used for schoolwork, virtual school, socializing and connecting with Hathaway-Sycamores staff during telehealth sessions. Hathaway-Sycamores is deeply grateful to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, NOOR, the National Charity League, Baby2Baby and the California Family Resource Association and all of their donors for their generosity and commitment to providing basic necessities for children and families impacted by COVID-19.
Roy Wiegand knew that, when he made his 24-hour run recently, he’d turn some heads. And that was partially by design. “It intrigues people, like why would anybody go run a hundred miles by themselves,” he said before his run. “This is why, because of the Navajo Water Project … It gets the conversation started.” Wiegand, a Burbank resident and ultramarathon runner, made the solo trek from Ventura to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena Aug. 8 and 9, stopping only for brief periods. Besides loving the challenge of the run, he also did it to raise money for the Navajo Water Project, which provides running water to families living on the tribe’s reservation, which includes parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. More than 30% of Navajo families don’t have a tap or toilet at home, according to DigDeep, a nonprofit that launched the Navajo Water Project. Many families have to haul water from a public source away from their homes.
Members of the Pasadena Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity showed their gratitude to the men and women of the Pasadena Public Health Department by providing lunch recently to the entire staff. “Two of our members, Darryl Qualls and Gerald Freeny, brought to our attention that health-care professionals are becoming targets of threats during this COVID-19 pandemic for doing their jobs by advising the community on best practices in staying safe,” said Christopher Nolan, president of Pasadena Alumni Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. “One of the community outreach activities [that our fraternity’s] Pasadena Alumni Chapter participates in is public health awareness. We felt it necessary to show our appreciation for all of the hard work and tough decisions the health-care professionals of the Pasadena Public Health Department face by bringing them a warm meal. It was just one way of saying ‘Thank you’ for the important work they do for our community.”
Huntington Hospital has been saluted by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for its commitment to quality stroke care. The Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence. Huntington earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period. The measures include evaluation of the proper use of medications and other stroke treatments aligned with the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients. “Huntington Hospital is dedicated to improving the quality of care for our stroke patients by implementing the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke initiative,” said Dr. Arbi Ohanian, medical director of Huntington’s Comprehensive Stroke Program. “Our dedicated team delivers advanced stroke treatments quickly and safely to our patients — even through these incredibly challenging times.”