Central Coast Kind Issue 6: The Freedom of Kindness

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WORKS WITH HONOR Honor Flight Network


LOCAL VETERANS Steve Lavagnino Stands Up So Vets Can STAND DOWN Sandy Blair Operation WEB PTSD - Symptoms, Treatment and More!


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Dennis Eamon Young

Judythe A. Guarnera

Lili A. Sinclaire

Ruth Starr

Dennis has worked in all areas of photography, specializing in travel and adventure photojournalism as well as product and portraiture photography. His unique ability to synthesize passion and technical expertise is evident in his varied portfolio of images. Dennis’ photos have appeared in major publications and newspapers, such as GQ, SLO City News, Cosmopolitan. His travel landscapes have appeared in several galleries, including SLO Museum of Art. Some local clients are SLO Symphony, Opera SLO, Children’s Resource Network, SLO Night Writers, Clever Ducks, Endeavour Institute and many other private clients and businesses. 

Judythe is the author of TwentyNine Sneezes, A Journey of Healing, and editor of The Best of SLO Nightwriters in Tolosa Press. She has been published in many online and local publications, and in ten anthologies, three of which she edited. Judythe, Mentor Mediator for Creative Mediation, promotes connection, communication, and kindness as a mediator and in her writing. She has volunteered for almost 50 years in order to give back to her community. Judythe enjoys editing, doing writing presentations, and speaking to local book clubs. She can be reached at: follow.yourheart@sbcglobal.net or on Face Book. 

Lili is a local author with three books published: The Fork in the Path: Nine Mindful Choices to Well-Being and The Fork Trail Guide: The Three Questions to Change Your Story & Change Your life are books about creating change. Her novel, The Bridge, is a Young Adult story set in a rural town on the California Coast in the 1960’s. Lili has studied conflict resolution and communication for twenty years. She’s worked as a crisis phone counselor for The Parent Connection and for Stand Strong, formally The Woman’s Shelter. All her books, both fiction and nonfiction, are about relationships. Her goal in writing is to create a space of curiosity, allowing people to experience meaningful and fulfilling lives. Find her at LiliaSinclaire.com. 

Ruth has authored several books, worked in insurance and real estate, served as a bail agent—even bailing folks from jail or gone bounty hunting—owned a music store and a resort retail business, and sold all manner of stuff, from art to golf clubs. She’s a talented musician and can often be found behind the piano, guitar, banjo, mandolin, or uke. 



CONTACT US Central Coast Kind Magazine 805.862.9595 PO Box 6555, Santa Maria, CA 93456 www.centralcoastkind.com




Where might I find copies of Kind in San Luis Obispo? Thanks, this is a terrific concept with interesting articles! — Sammie Bankston

Kim Iribarren, Publisher, President Ralph Iribarren, Co-Publisher Macy Haffey, Creative Director Vicky Duncan, Managing Editor

Dear Kim, thank you for putting together a magazine that focuses on the good we can do in the world. I am so impressed. I would also be honored to meet you.


— Bonnie TeVelde

Dennis Young, Executive Producer

WRITERS: Darryl Armstrong LTJG Joseph Brocato Carolyn Chilton Casas Joal Derse Dauer Judythe Guarnera Megan Maloney CS Perryess Natasha Powell Lili Sinclaire Ruth Starr Holly Teixeira

Hi, I just finished reading issue 5: “A Time to Reflect”. I moved from LA to the AG almost 2 years ago and happened upon your magazine at the beauty parlor. I read it cover to cover this morning and think it’s great. I’ve already shared Anne R Allen’s blog with a writer friend of mine and am about to search for some volunteer opportunities. I was moved by the stories! Keep up the good work. — Jenny Durling

Dennis Eamon Young PHOTOGRAPHERS: Loretta Borges Justin Gardner | justinwandering.com Dennis Eamon Young See articles for additional photo credits

ON THE COVER Cover Story: "Jay Conner Works with Honor" Page 44


The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

Your wonderful magazine! How do I obtain copies of this uplifting publication? Your publication puts out the “vibes’ the world needs. — Eleanor Shumway

How do we arrange to have your magazine delivered to Arroyo Grande? — Laura Means



To all who pick up, read, share and/or enjoy Central Coast Kind Magazine, thank you! I would like to especially thank those who take time and send precious comments. To stop - take a minute to look up my address, phone number, email or alienable link, and send a comment- I thank you! You cannot know how it sprinkles love on my day. This issue has so surpassed my expectations and is close to my heart, as my father, uncle, brother and so many relatives served and maybe still serving our Country today. Preparing for this issue, I got chills, tears, laughter and so much more. I met extremely gifted, talented individuals. Some made me feel as if I hadn’t done a thing with my life, as they had done so very much! I have been inspired and can literally say motivated to push forward and even to do more than I do now, if that is possible? As many who know me, will testify, organization has never been my strong suit! I do my best, and I am aware that I am a mess! Thank you for your patience with me too! For me, this issue is filled with questions and answers! I asked myself questions like, Path? What is my path? What path do I choose to take in life? Do I choose love or anger? Forgiveness or Unforgiveness? Do I give of myself, volunteer? Am I thankful for all the wonderful things I have experienced in life? Do I realize where my freedom came from? Do I ever recognize the sacrifices people made so I can do, speak, act, drive, dance drink, go to work without worry? This issue made me realize things that I took for granted, others do not! Putting this issue together I changed the section titles, the cover photos, the challenges and in some cases the entire direction of the initial plan for issue #6. It was an award-winning experience for me! I learned a lot about how valuable time management really is! I learned a lot about how much you can get done in a lifetime, and I questioned myself about my own “mark” I’m leaving when I depart this place called earth? I don’t want to say, “I came, I took, I left”! …I want to say, I came, I laughed, I learned, I loved, I lost, I shared, I created, I danced, I cried, I invested myself but mostly “I made a difference” and then finally I left!! What do you want to say? How do you want to be remembered? What stories will be told about you?

Thank you again to all who read, write and or call in! Note: Copies are distributed all over the Central Coast but usually go rather quickly (and that’s the great news) I am currently putting together a list of distribution points that will keep cases in stock in each area and will have this info in the next issue. Meanwhile watch us on Facebook for latest issues and updates. XXXOOO,

Kim Iribarren Founder

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11 A PATH TO FOLLOW 12 Another Leg of a Running Legacy // 14 Miss Joanna Segovia // 17 Hard Drivin' Angel

23 ENJOY 24 His Umbrella of Hope Keeps Growing // 26 Brendan P. Kelso // 32 Community Counseling Center 37 17 Strong // 38 Chris Strasser

43 SALUTE TO OUR LOCAL VETERANS 44 Jay Conner Works with Honor // 47 Honor Flight Photos // 50 An Interview with Sean Cassidy 52 Red, White & Blue // 55 CCK Recommended: Miller Chiropractic 57 They Lost Their Innocence, & Saved the World // 58 "I'll Walk the Line" // 61 Sandy Blair 62 Veterans Wounded by PTSD // 66 CCK Recommended: Bill Gault // 68 Standing Up for Vets Stand Down

73 COMMIT TO YOUR KINDNESS 74 Lili Sinclaire // 78 Poetry // 82 Roxanne Schuyler // 83 Wordmonger 85 CCK Recommended: Heavenly Chia // 86 Writers Event Photos // 88 Saving Sadie



Spread the Love

CHALLENGE Take the KIND Challenge:

Look for the challenges as you read through the magazine!


The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

a path to follow

12 Another Leg of a Running Legacy 14 Miss Joanna Segovia 17 Hard Drivin' Angel



Another L eg of a

RUNNING LEGACY How Cal Poly student, Jacob David, became another leg in the running history of the Heart & Soles Valentine’s Day themed program of races for charity.



Dennis Eamon Young

ailing from Tacoma, WA. Jacob seemed fated for a career in some branch of engineering from the start, as many of his friends and family members work for Boeing. When looking at possible colleges to attend, his first priority was finding the right school for his pursuit of a Mechanical Engineering degree and also one with a good sports program.


In conversation about the college search with his football coach one day, the coach heartily suggested he look into Cal Poly. His family had some prior knowledge of the Central Coast and quickly took to the idea, so they visited the campus and as they say, “The rest is history!” Always on the lookout for ways to improve himself, Jacob joined the Cal Poly Engineering Club right away, which was, of course, a natural fit for him. The club sponsored a Save Baja program to build off road vehicles from the ground up. He found this satisfying, but still wanted more. Having joined the Cal Poly Triathlon

The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

Team, he soon began coaching them as well, utilizing skills from his track experience in Tacoma. The team statement, “The Cal Poly Triathlon is passionate about protecting the environment that we’re lucky to train in every day. We know that as athletes, we have the power to reduce our footprints and positively inf luence our communities. Learn more about what Heart & Soles is doing to put on a sustainable race!”, provides a strong statement about one of their signature programs. The Heart & Soles race began in the 1990’s as Chains of Love, but was changed to Heart & Soles between 2009 and 2014. The race was suspended in 2016, due to scheduling problems, as it had been held on campus, then returned in February of 2017, being held at Laguna Lake, in San Luis Obispo. The money raised by the race is donated to United Way of San Luis Obispo and also as fundraising to keep the team going. All the students involved volunteer their time and energy, learning how important every member of the

team is to the final result. Jacob joined the Heart & Soles team in 2017 for the February 2018 race day, exhibiting team spirit, experience and a desire to give back to the community, which brought him to the attention of the teams when they got together to vote on a new team of officers. This is done each year and so for the February 2019 race, they chose Jacob as their team Captain. The race is open to all Cal Poly students as well as the public. His parents had been coming down to help when they could and stepped up to do whatever they could in this endeavor as well. Due to unexpected rainstorms in the days leading up to the day of the race, Jacob and his team were out on the course in the wee hours beforehand shoveling mud, diverting pools of standing water and doing whatever they could to clean the course for the racers. This, after spending the previous Friday night working on the course in a heav y downpour. Beside poring over the race folder, which is passed from

team to team, he even called the previous team captain to consult on race issues, leaving no stone unturned to get it all just right. The day of the race dawned with ominous cloud cover threatening the team. I watched Jacob run from post to post heartening his staff and keeping spirits at a high level, as I photographed details of the event. As contestants warmed up for the start of the races, the sun began to break through the clouds, exhibiting not only good timing, but also a silver lining. There were 5k singles and couples, 10k singles and couples, kids 10 and under and dogs all running around the Laguna Lake Park that was now a backdrop of greens

and golds touched by the early sun. The runners wore a kaleidoscope of multi-colored costumes in keeping with the Valentine’s Day themed costume contest. Jacob and his staff manned the water stations set up around the course and they waited by the finish line to record the racers times as each ended their runs under the arch of pink balloons and shared the refreshments and games that awaited them. Jacob had found himself included as an important part of a legacy that actually dates back to the original six members who started the Cal Poly Triathlon Team in 1988. Their team has now become the largest club sport on the campus, growing to 172 members

and become the seventh ranked collegiate triathlon team nationally. They are expected to be in the top five in the nation this year. To quote their website, “Everything the team has built over the last 28 years has been to allow students of Cal Poly to experience triathlons in a friendly, affordable team environment. The team’s dynamic is centered around inclusion, allowing everyone from first time triathletes to nationally ranked individuals to enjoy being a part of our team.” Jacob was excited to report back to me that Heart & Soles will be donating $950.00 to the United Way of SLO Youth Board as their way of giving back to the community. 



Sr. Director of Marketing & Communications for Dignity Health’s Central Coast hospitals and health centers



A True Gift of Humankindness...



t Marian Regional Medical Center, we are truly blessed with angels among us who touch lives every day with kindness and compassion. Some of those angles’ act of kindness delivered this week was driven by true selfless benevolent thoughtfulness to our colleagues. Out of sheer kind-heartedness, Joanna Segovia from Marian’s Telemetry Unit organized a gift giving effort recently and delivered beautifully filled, carefully crafted baskets to 19 individuals throughout 11 departments at Marian who had suffered a hardship, tragedy or loss this year. “We may not be able to change their tragedies or loss, but hopefully this brings them a little joy and peace,” says Segovia. She doesn’t want any recognition for this effort. “I truly did this because it seemed like the right thing to do for all of them. That’s the beauty of giving, not needed recognition,” said Joanna. But something as touching as this, should be recognized. Each basket is spectacular in that each one personalized to each individual who received one and they included lotions, socks, blankets, inspirationally themed signed and mugs, handmade inspirational books, gift cards, candles, jewelry, journals, handmade ornament and much more. “It’s just horrible what our co-workers have gone through this year and this by no means makes it any better. I just wanted them to know that we are here, we care, and that in due time life will be better and their circumstances will be more manageable.” This is the first time Joanna has ever done something like this and began thinking of doing it months ago. But she was not alone in this effort, in fact more than 30 employees, a few vendors and a two family members of employees donated a variety of items and offered financial contributions for the contents of the baskets. “This truly was an act of love from all who helped me, I loved making the little inspiration books, and individualizing the baskets for each individual. This for me was a blessing to give to each individual. I can’t emphasize how much I truly loved doing this for them all,” Segovia added.

The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019


Not only did Segovia organize the gift baskets but she regularly organizes appreciation events for her colleagues and physicians who care for Marian patients. During the holidays she also organizes the efforts for a giving tree for children and last Christmas she organized gifts to provide for a colleague who was hospitalized, so that colleague wouldn’t worry that her children would go without gifts at Christmastime. Last October Joanna along with other special caregivers who go above and beyond were honored at the annual Dignity Health Acts of Humankindness award ceremony in Las Vegas where she proudly had a photo snapped by her Acts of Humankindness “star” on the red carpet walk of fame. 


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The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019


Kindness is not an act, it’s a way of living!



usie Martin is one of those people that light up a room with her bouncy walk and effervescent smile. She doesn’t have a care in the world, you might think. The forces that have shaped and re-shaped her may not be front and center in her appearance, but they exert the pressures that keep her always moving forward, giving her all to the world around her. She never stops or even pauses if there is a need. Her kindness is inimitable and instantaneous. It resides in her eyes, her body, her speech and all her actions. It is what she personifies. 

Dennis Eamon Young centralcoastkind.com


(Hard Drivin' Angel: continued)

drowned in Avila, leaving her mother grieving terribly and impacting the whole family. Soon after, when her father had a heart attack at thirty-two, the doctor told him he had to stop fishing. He got a job with a tug boat company and moved the family to Redondo Beach to be a tug boat Captain, later being employed by Global Marine as a captain of oil exploration ships.


usie, born in Avila, the sixth of eight children, is the essence of the middle child in a family of four girls and four boys. She discovered her own personal footing early on, taking her mother’s habit of a love for glitzy clothes and accessories, prompting the family nickname of ‘Sparkle Plenty’, from the old Dick Tracy comic strip character of the same name. Even on a crowded dance floor, she stands out and attracts attention. Her smile is so infectious that it spreads to all those in her proximity. Her days are neither light nor glitzy and yet this is where she shines so brilliantly. She is a nurse who travels extensively, constantly on the road covering an area starting from Grover Beach that encompasses Fresno, Bakersfield and south to Thousand Oaks. A fourteen-hour day is no anomaly for this road warrior of care and kindness for her home-bound patients, whether easing the pain of an incurable condition, or being there to save a life. They were fisher folk, her family, part of a special community to which long


The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

hard hours with no distractions other than the needs of the boat and the prize of a good catch were the norm. Early on she learned skills such as making fishing lines and pulling a catch of fish into the boat, which most people would have no knowledge of. Rock and roll for them was the rocking and rolling of the deep sea, challenging the attention and fortitude of one and all, for days on end. Susie works now for a company that has just been taken over by CIGNA, her nursing skills dealing with immunology, neurology and pulmonary conditions, seeing her far-flung patients on a rotating schedule, or in some cases training them to self-medicate. In that case she will not see them again, but stays concerned with how they fare. She is trained in Pulmonar y Arterial Hy pertension (PAH) and volunteers her time with a PAH support group at various locations. She will sometimes spend three months with each patient, to train them for vital self-medication. A younger brother wandered off and

When Susie was about nine her father moved the family back to Grover Beach, returning to his love of fishing and once more taking his place in the f ishing community. She still recalls times when her father would come home with a group of fishermen far from home and without friend or family except for others of the f ishing community. Her folks would make room for the men and they would become part of the family for a time. It is this common goodness which may seem to be uncommon kindness to most folks, which Susie was steeped in throughout all her formative years. She has family and even an immigrant family living with her now. In high school she had a friend she would study with and his older brother, who was attending Cal Poly, would tutor them. They both worked on her father’s boat and when she turned eighteen she married the older brother, Kenneth, whom her father introduced to one and all as Kenny. Susie worked as a maid and her husband, Kenneth, having left Cal Poly, went to work as a guard. Those were rough days, unfulfilling and not getting them anywhere. Kenneth got a job with the Department of Highways, now Cal Trans. Susie went to college for computer science. This led to the young couple deciding to take on a boat of their own. Too expensive a proposition to buy at that point, they leased a boat, which they still had to sink plenty of money and hard work into. Her dad didn’t think

the boat was up to snuff, but it was a start. This brought Susie full circle, mending nets, pulling fish and cooking on a rolling sea. She even had to learn some new skills she had never been a part of, such as navigating. On their first try they managed to accomplish going in circles in the harbor! Luckily and with much effort, they did improve, novices that they were. The fishing life was both hard and arduous, following in her father’s sea-steps, on the seven-day journey to Astoria, Oregon, near the delta of the Columbia river, then out to the Gulf of Alaska deepwater fishing, but only for twenty-eight days, due to the incapacities of the boat. Later trips of forty days were accomplished with a better boat. “There were many magical times,” Susie tells me, “when all the boats would drift in the current, keeping a mile or so apart, so as not to get tangled in each others lines. You could scan the horizon and think you were looking at San Francisco f loating all around you, with lights twinkling on the dark waters and stars twinkling above. The boats radios had to stay open to listen for Coast Guard alerts, but during the long nights there would be music playing and songs being sung back and forth. That was such a wondrous part of the f ishing community at sea.” “There were other times though,” she continues, “such as the time we were all caught in a bad storm and couldn’t see the other boats. We had battened down everything we could and the sea rolled us from one side to the other as it washed over us time after time. We still had diesel fuel in the above deck tanks and it sloshed against the sea’s incessant rhythm. The trolling poles were out to the sides and we lay exhausted, in our damp bunks, in the cabin, until a crashing rhythmic shudder alerted us to danger. Kenneth ran out of the cabin and yelled 

(Hard Drivin' Angel: continued)

stalemate was broken when Kenneth’s best friend saw what was happening and bought the net from Kenneth for $12,000, thus freeing up the money for Susie to attend nursing school. She still refers to this friend as ‘her angel’, for that and other times when he has been there for her. Kindness works in more than one direction. Susie graduated from nursing school in 1988 and went back to work at the birthing center, now as a registered R.N., until it closed in 1993, being able to help new mothers in every phase of the process. She went to work at Sierra Vista Hospital as well, feeling that, “In order to do the best work at a low-risk facility, she needed to know how to work in a high-risk facility.”

for me to come help, as one of the trolling poles had broken. I pulled on my oversized waders and my nightgown and ran outside to help.” She was breathing hard, remembering that frightful night. “We tried to pull the lines up to secure the boom to the mast, but could not. He pulled on the lower line and I pulled on the upper one as the trolling pole came smashed into the mast. It held for a moment, but then as the pole fell again it pulled the line and me up in the air. Kenneth saw what was happening, ran over and wrapped his arms around my legs to pull me down, but only succeeded in pulling my waders off. I was stuck f luttering in the wind in my nightgown. After an eternity, I got back to the deck and we lashed that trolling pole to the mast, not knowing if we would make it through the night.” After they had graduated to a larger and more sea worthy boat, Susie had gone back to shore duty, now having a threeyear old and a new baby. Kenneth took on a neighbor as a deck hand and things were on the upswing until he suffered a back injury, making life much more difficult again. Susie became a labor coach for a friend and came to the notice of the doctor who ran a birthing center in Santa Maria. The doctor admired her natural empathic sensibility so he hired and trained her. She felt as if she had found that which she was meant to do in life, although Kenneth wanted her to go back to work on the boat. Feeling stif led to some degree with the limits she worked under, she decided she needed to go to nursing school. Her husband declared that they just couldn’t afford such an outlay, but then spent $10,000 on a new f ishing net. The


The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

During this new chapter in her life, tragedy cruelly struck. Kenneth and his deckhand were fishing off Point Sal, known locally as California’s Cape Horn, for its’ treacherous conditions. His net having been caught up in rocks on the ocean floor, as the ocean pounded the boat, he went below to get assistance. One of the cables snapped and torqued the boat over, smashing it into the tumultuous sea. Another ship, heading in, saw the accident and called the Coast Guard. When they arrived and rescued the deckhand, there was no trace of Kenneth, until their divers found him, but he did not survive. Years later she re-married, enjoying a wonderful life with a good man, also named Kenneth! They built a thriving and award-winning limousine service together, where she became a beloved hostess, as well as a driver. Finally, the promise of a better life had come to fruition. Unfortunately, tragedy struck yet again, as her husband sickened, there was an auto accident and once again Susie was left alone. Susie is a prime example of the survivor, picking up the pieces and moving on. She continues to do for others, even training other nurses at French, Fresno Community and Cottage Hospitals, concerning PAH. Her bubbly personality holds no trace of sadness or woe. We stop, on the way to the Avila Pier to meet her son, Danny, who now captains her father’s boat, continuing the family fishing tradition. Ignoring the pelting rain, she shows me the fisherman’s monument with her first husband and her brother’s names inscribed. “I used to bake cupcakes.” she brightens even more, “I would put them in little Tupperware containers and f loat them over to the other boats to see the smiles they would bring.” This is an angel, spreading love and kindness in her wake, making the world better, one day at a time, always willing to take life on with a winning smile and sense of gratitude. 


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24 His Umbrella of Hope Keeps Growing 26 Brendan P. Kelso 32 Community Counseling Center 37 17 Strong 38 Chris Strasser




Ira Alpert, Board Chair and Former CEO of Wilshire Health and Community Services, took a family tradition and ran with it. He still loves being involved in helping people in need. Patient Comes First”, which he learned from his father, while his Uncle Max instilled in him the importance of community involvement. His Hamilton High School summers were spent working in the family’s hospital, as was most of his college career. Exhibiting the understanding that this would be his life’s work, his focus and dedication were recognized and encouraged from the beginning.


Dennis Eamon Young

Moving into college life at U.S.C. (A Trojan for life) he majored in business and graduated with honors. He then moved on to the Master program in Hospital Administration at the U.C.L.A School of Public Health, again graduating with honors. Another important lesson learned early on was that no hospital or medical service can be sustained without the necessary capital to keep the lights on and pay staff.



hen you hear about all his accomplishments, the chances he has taken and the opportunities he has created for others, you may be looking for Ira Alpert to be wearing a spandex outfit complete with mask and cape. He is nobody’s wallflower, but neither is he the hard charging team captain you may expect, given his track record. The man is innately relentless in looking at how to create new avenues for programs that benefit the people around him and help guide them in reaching out to others in a kind and supportive manner. Ira grew up with the guiding hand of a physician father and an uncle who became a hospital administrator, both of whom ignited that spark of wanting to help people in need. He still operates by the simple mantra “The

The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

In 1963 Ira married the love of his life, Marsha. He had first met her in the last semester at Hamilton High School and taken her to his Graduation Night. Their shared empathy for those in need is a strong bond and they have always both been active in community organizations, serving on various Boards, including the Woods Humane Society, the Feline Network and Congregation Beth David. From 1966 to 1968 Ira served as a commissioned officer with the United States Public Health Service stationed at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He, along with three physicians and one other hospital administrator travelled the country, working with existing and potential grantees in the Regional Medical Program involved with heart disease, cancer and stroke. He also served several years in the Public Health Service Reserves.

Always interested in meeting and working with different types of people, Ira attended a hearing for a newly proposed hospital in the Los Angeles area. After discovering that some of the witnesses were paid actors (falsely) claiming to be with the Los Angeles Free Clinic, Ira decided to investigate. He looked up and met the real management group from the clinic, and liked them so much that he served with them as an Officer and Board Member for the next twenty-four years. Ira accepted the position of Associate Administrator at Midway Hospital in July of 1968, becoming the Chief Executive Officer in 1977, and continued in that position until 1981, when the hospital was sold, but then felt it was time for a change. That was when the original Wilshire Foundation came into existence, under the same company which had owned Midway Hospital. While Wilshire has access to top professionals in all fields, physical and occupational therapists are the most difficult to recruit. In keeping with Wilshire’s guiding spirit and business practice that the patient must come first, many services continue to be provided free of charge. He had by this time become an expert on the fine art of licensing health facilities and agencies, which was valuable in his work with Wilshire. After the sale of the hospital, the Wilshire Board chose to fund chairs in medicine at USC and UCLA. Ira later became a Trustee of the UCLA Foundation where he served for many years. Wilshire also made charitable donations to many Health and Human Services organizations in different locations in California. These locations included San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County, as well as other counties then served by Wilshire. Today, Wilshire uses most of its resources to support its existing and new programs under development. The move to San Luis Obispo came about in 1998 and proved to be a perfect fit for Ira, Wilshire and the community. Marsha volunteered all around town to determine where her skills would best be applied, while Ira re-organized Wilshire. Wilshire Hospice is the largest of the Wilshire programs, followed by Home Health and Community Services. Hospice has the most success receiving community support. This important program is about living, providing a variety of supportive services focusing on kindness and quality of life, for as long as possible. I started to ask Ira another question, but he interrupted me to explain why he has a habit of interrupting people at times. I had thought it was simply that he is always thinking of many things at the same time. He’s a very talkative and intelligent

person to be around, inclusive and well-meaning by nature. “That goes back to when I was in graduate school,” Ira said. “A classmate and I were about twenty years younger than everyone else. The only way we could ask a question, or make a comment was to speak up and interrupt. “I just never really lost the habit.” I found this a good example of Ira’s sense of humor. Ira became aware of programs in the community that were complimentary to Wilshire’s existing programs but were struggling due to lack of funding. Wilshire stepped in and soon became an umbrella for one after another of these programs. They became integrated into the Wilshire family of services. Carol Schmidt was the first such example. Funds for her Senior Peer Counseling program had all but dried up, when she met Tricia Ritchie, who brought her to Ira, where Carol’s program flourished under the Wilshire umbrella. The program provides supervised, trained volunteers 55 and over for confidential, free, in-home peer counseling and emotional support for seniors. Carol and her good friend, Judy Guarnera, are now part of the Creative Mediation team. Tricia has since taken the reins of President and CEO of Wilshire with Ira’s blessings and backing. Other programs, such as Caring Callers, Good Neighbor Program, Transportation Support and Creative Mediation are all a part of Wilshire’s growing umbrella. He has always been striving for kindness, excellence and inclusivity, so I doubt that Wilshire’s umbrella will cease to expand in the foreseeable future. 

WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE? To contact Wilshire Health and Community Services and learn more, you have several choices, Ira suggests that you start with the website.




285 South Street, Suite J San Luis Obispo, CA 93401




The Pied Piper of Shakespeare Drama for Kids Creates Good Citizens Kids love to die on Stage—the more dramatically, the better.


Judythe Guarnera

These words might not be a direct quote, but it was the one of the first statements Brendan Kelso made after the interview began. It is broadly accepted that the study of the arts enriches the mind. The question is: How do you get kids to go on stage, understand, and perform Shakespeare?


Although an engineer by education and training, Brendan began writing kids’ versions of adult plays, when he became enchanted with the idea of Shakespeare for kids. After fifteen years of engaging kids in playacting, he points out how creativity, entrepreneurial abilities, and surprisingly—empathy—are developed when kids engage with the Bard. Brendan’s stories about the kids he’s worked with were so compelling, I had to keep pulling myself back to gather some personal information about him. In that pursuit, here’s a question I love to ask:

What is the first thing you remember from your childhood? “Sneaking out to the front room and hiding behind the couch while my parents were watching The Blob; I was so scared after, but it was the moment I remember,

The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

because it was the first time I realized the world wasn’t what I thought it to be.” Now I get to play analyst for a moment. This will not be the only time, Brendan refers to def ining moments where his horizons were broadened by a single event. It seems to me that this awareness is what he endeavors to raise in kids, and Shakespeare became the vehicle. When I asked him about his greatest treasure, Brendan immediately answered: “My family because they are always kind and loving and there for me; and I can always get a hug when I need one.”

He has always liked to perform but had to overcome his fear of being in front of people, while his son, “his greatest inspiration,” is always willing to put himself out there. Whether he’s playing a mean guitar piece or anything else, he goes all the way. “Putting oneself out there is a way to learn about life and self.”

Where is the best place you’ve ever lived and why? Back in 2000, Brendan received a six-month notice that the company he worked for was closing. His wife suggested they save money, so they might go on the road for six months. He admits the idea terrified him, but his wife, the brave one, encouraged him. Their trailer became his ‘best place’. They packed up with their two dogs and a cat and drove out of California, where he’d lived all his life, and his worldview changed. The diversity he encountered widened his perspective.

ing scenery, supports the others who are all dedicated to telling the story that is the play. What he isn’t teaching is perfection. He says none of the over 200 plays he’s directed for the kids, was perfect. But they had fun, learned a lot, and made their audiences laugh. To make a point, Brendan asked how many times I’d read my favorite book. I guessed about ten times. He pointed out that on the night of the performance, the kids have gone through the play anywhere from fifty to one hundred times. “But they don’t learn the script verbatim and they don’t always follow the script.”

(Now didn’t I tell you Brendan takes advantage of defining moments?) When they returned, they lived in Morro Bay Trailer Park, until they finally bought a house in Atascadero where they live now. When they decided they wanted to home-school their son, Brendan began writing the Shakespeare plays for kids. Now, although he probably only makes about thirty per cent of what he did as an engineer, his books and programs have found their niche. Part of that progress has happened now that he’s instructing teachers on how to incorporate his books of plays into their curriculum. Brendan also works with parents who homeschool their kids. What better way to open the door to study Rome, than to begin to learn about it through the play, Julius Caesar? Since he encourages the kids to be creative and innovative, which means they change lines, costumes, and their actions right in the middle of a scene, I questioned whether an audience would still be able to recognize they were watching Hamlet or Julius Caesar. “Ah,” he replied, “the original story is key—that has to be told. The kids learn the story and its message, but they are given the freedom of changing the strategy of how they get to the ending.”

Why is drama so important in the schools? When I Asked Brendan, his answers were so enthusiastic, I couldn’t type fast enough to keep up with him, so I’ll try to summarize. Brendan uses a team approach when they begin work on a play. Each child, whether acting, managing props, or design-

Wait a minute. If they don’t follow the script...? Brendan estimates the result is probably about 80-90% accurate to the original story. Since the designated task for the kids is to tell the story behind the play, changes they make are constrained by the goal of keeping the story recognizable.

What was one of the funniest scenes you remember from a play? The children dress-up in costumes he brings. They are also invited to bring their own or props to use. A small girl chose what he called ‘pumpkin pants’—pants that balloon out. As she walked onto the stage, her pants fell down, and her fellow actors cracked up. Worried that her feelings had been hurt, he was tickled when she rushed back stage, begging that the falling pants be added to the scene—because, as she said, “It made everyone laugh.” And isn’t that what it’s all about? 



(Brendan P. Kelso: continued)

many questions we get to dive into about emotions and feelings, and how a person should act.” As the kids work through all this and then work together to create their own version of a story, they do it as part of a team. They learn the power of combining the different abilities and strengths of others to produce a better product— great preparation for future jobs and endeavors. When a king kills characters in a play, the kids can learn what drove him to do that—what he was trying to accomplish or prevent. They learn to understand the king’s perspective. They might not agree with him, but they can feel empathy for him for having to make such a choice.

Elicit creativity through performing a heroic story, such as Beowulf.

Another remembered chuckle related to the prop for the ring from Two Gentlemen of Verona. There’s something called ‘ring pop candy,’ which made a perfect prop. The ring had a habit of popping off the actor’s f inger into the audience—eliciting laughs and then usually breaking. The kids would scramble to glue it back together to use in the next rehearsal. Talk about Improv! “One of the first things kids learn is that their job is to educate the audience. They learn the importance of an open stance on stage—body open and receptive—and to use props appropriately to tell the story. “They come away with memories of the story, itself, what their fellow actors said and did, and the meaning of the subject matter, all in depth.” Quoting Confucius, Brendan states, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

Words of Wisdom from Brendan As he pointed out, possibly the only way one can truly feel empathy for others is to walk in their shoes. Many of us never get the opportunity to do that. But, kids, acting in a play can walk in the shoes of the character they are playing. As in method acting, they become the character. “The play offers them the chance to ask questions such as: ‘Why is everyone so mad at Caesar?’ Many times, we sit and dissect what drives a character? What’s their backstory? What occurred when they were younger to possibly affect them now?” “What better way to teach empathy than to understand why a character/person might do what they did? There are so


The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

In this story, the king’s splendid hall has been ravaged for twelve years by nightly visits from Grendel, an evil monster. Not to be outdone by the creator of the play, the kids added a twist and the monster left the stage to eat members of the audience. Again, Improv 101. Brendan explained that play-acting exposes kids to the diversity of the characters, and an appreciation for their differences. When boys play the part of a girl or vice a versa, they must get in the head of someone completely different than themselves. Since for centuries, plays have tended to be male-centric, the lead roles are often male. Since many more girls are attracted to acting than boys, Brendan’s young actresses often play male roles; except when they suggest turning a male role into a female role. Brendan says, that for some reason girls find it easier to play male roles than the boys do to play female roles. He is pleased to be adding female-centric plays such as Pride and Prejudice and Little Women to his repertoire.

Do you teach kids any other life lessons through your plays? For all humans and certainly for these young kids (Brendan works with kids from third to ninth grade), “sooner or later they are going to have to sell something to someone. And that is what a play is all about. They must sell their story to their audience, make them be a part of it, believe the story. They start from the concept of an idea—to make a play. They brainstorm, practice. and end up with a better product.” When kids come to drama camp, Brendan asks each one to identify one skill they want to learn. They might want to learn to juggle, master an accent, have the courage to stand

in front of an audience. Identifying a personal goal helps them direct themselves. Teachers like to use Brendan’s Shakespeare plays to improve their students’ comprehension. Though a teacher might believe the kids should read a story a second time before they really comprehend it, they chant, “We already read it!” But when they are doing a play, they do it over and over again and comprehension improves each time.

Brendan, what do you do for fun? Before he could answer, I laughed. It sounded to me that everything he did was fun. His answer verified my supposition: He enjoys hanging out with his family and pursuing his business of writing plays and gathering kids to perform them.

Okay, so, what is the Shakespeare Insult Generator? Well, it’s just what every kid wants when he or she really needs to insult someone. Teachers like to use it in their classrooms, too, as part of teaching Shakespeare. Imagine a group of fifth-graders studying Shakespeare, who are invited to participate in an Insult-a-thon. A round consists of two students who use the Insult Generator, with three columns, each with about 50 words. From a sample of the chart below, a student might choose ‘churlish’ from column one,’ ‘toad-spotted’ from column two, and ‘giglet’ from column three. Artless Batfowling Barnacle Churlish Boil-brained Giglet Lumpish Knotty pated Moldwarp Villainous Toad-spotted Wagtail Then the student is instructed to “Put some bitterness in the way you say it, with a scowl and some evil eyes. And if you have a sword, wave it menacingly at your opponent, too.” So, you get: “A churlish, toad-spotted giglet,” with feeling and props thrown in for effect. Whoever is deemed the most insulting, goes on to compete with another student until a winner is declared.

Kind magazine focuses on kindness. How do you see kindness expressing itself here on the Central Coast? “I don’t know—the weather, the smell and feel of the ocean allow you to relax, create an energy/vortex—allows people to be softer.”

Call to Action If we want to make our community a better place, reading about what others are doing is only a beginning. After hearing about Brendan Kelso and his Shakespeare for Kids books, can you think of anything you might do with children to guide them in contributing to kindness here on the Central Coast. Check with local Boys and Girls Club, CALM, the YMCA, Big Brothers/Big Sisters to see how you might contribute financially or by sharing a skill you have.

Then we drifted back to teaching kids empathy, which surely generates kindness.

What would you like to be remembered for? “That I made a difference in somebody’s life.” Brendan expanded his answer regarding his own children. “I want them to remember I was always there for them.”

If they made a movie of your life, what would it be called?

WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE? https://playingwithplays.com

The Bard Takes Over the World. 




Plan a family night with board games, sing some karaoke or just have some heart to heart conversations.



Community Counseling Center


’ve done interviews in the past, and I’ve never interjected myself or ideas in those interviews. I’ve focused on the organization and individuals within it. This time I feel compelled to give a personal perspective. I went to Family Services back in 1978 when I had a fussy baby, and a wonderful retired counselor gave me great ideas on how to keep my little, buddle of joy engaged. I went to them again nearly 18 years later when that bundle had grown into an independent teenager with his own ideas. We needed an unbiased person to help us communicate better. Family Services Center is now called the Community Counseling Center (CCC), and they recently celebrated their fiftieth year of service and with that the completion of a Golden Anniversary Capital Campaign, which enabled them to moved into a new home at 676 Pismo Street in San Luis Obispo.


Lili Sinclaire

The Greek playwright Sophocles said, “If we always helped one another, no one would need luck.” So many suffer with mental health issues or are down on their luck – it’s good to know the CCC is here to help!


The mission of CCC is to build and support emotionally strong individuals, families, and communities through confidence, affordable, and transformative counseling, education, and advocacy. Their vision is a community where all members have access to qualified counseling, therapists are nurtured across their professional development and society is united in the effort to promote positive mental health. Reverend John Fuller, of St. Stephen’s church, was one of the founders of CCC. In 1968, the church not only helped the organization get started, but they also provided the office space for free until 1973. The Ministerial Association leadership saw a need in the community for counselling but they didn’t feel qualified to address the complex issues that were coming their way. They realized what was needed were clinical therapists who could help others, especially men who had served our county in Vietnam and were coming home emotionally distraught, with few places to turn for help. Arlen Chandler and June Gersten were among the first Marriage Family Therapist’s in the area to say they would step in and help.

The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

From early on CCC has provided: psychotherapy, mental health counseling, and marriage family therapy. Besides therapist CCC has provided clinical social workers and psychologists. CCC created Hotline in 1970 and operated the Warm line (a parenting advice line) from 1978 to 1996 when the Parent Connection took over. Areas in the community that CCC has participated in are child abuse prevention education, AIDS counseling, inmate counseling at the county jail, literacy classes, and various workshops and support groups. One of the main things that CCC has provided is affordable psychotherapy on a sliding scale. So if someone doesn’t have insurance they can still get help; the services are charged according to an individual’s income. Therapy consists of 10-15 sessions with the goal of assisting individuals and families in becoming aware of their choices and the ability they have to make changes. The focus can be on the family, couples, or individual counseling for relationship issues, parenting problems, life transition situations, sexual identity issues, depression, stress, and grief. They also have therapist who do Play Therapy with children. The staff consists of qualified, state-licensed, therapist or graduate level supervised interns and trainees. This includes people with masters and doctoral degrees. Between 60-70 active therapist volunteer. With the board members and cabinet members CCC has over 100 people who help make the organization run. Along with the SLO office, CCC also has an office in Grover Beach. Besides the sliding scale program CCC also has a K-12 on-campus counseling program in partnership with local school districts such as Lucia Mar, Atascadero, Templeton, and San Luis Coastal (contracts vary yearto-year). The focus is on individuals and groups giving socio-emotional support and prevention. “We want to support the educational goals of the school,” said James Statler the Executive Director of CCC. He also said, “Educational attentiveness and having social skills to interact with peers are big determinants if

you’re in the river of learning.” Families at the schools can also be referred to CCC. Another part of the program for the past four years has been the CenCal/MediCal insurance through a partnership with The Holman Group, a private managed care agency contracted by CenCal to implement the Affordable Care Act. With CenCal primary insurance a person can get help with no out of pocket costs. The CenCal/Medi-Cal benefit is available to individuals (no couples or families) with “mild to moderate” issues and can be utilized for longer term treatment based upon medical necessity. A part of the program that benefits people on both sides of the table regarding mental health is the training and professional development aspect that CCC offers to pre-licensed therapists pursuing licensure work. They begin in the sliding scale core program and evolve into the K-12 program and eventually to the CenCal/Medi-Cal credentialing. They attend weekly sessions with clinical supervision or a licensed therapist to process their cases. Since its beginning CCC has served 50,000 clients in the past 50 years. In 2018, 2000 people were helped including veterans, young adults, children in the school programs, LGBTQ , and the homeless. The recent move to their new home was possible due to a gift from Loron Cox, a Vietnam Veteran, who gave $505,000 to help fund the new building. To get CCC into its new location $2 million dollars was raised by the Community Counseling Center’s Board of Directors who provided the leadership and oversight. Members include: Irene Iwan, Board President; Tina Bailey, Vice President; Gil Stork, Marcie Lindvall, Sari Dworkin, Keith Humphrey, Mary Harris, Zaf Ifqbal, and Brett VanSteenwyk. The new location gives them 50% more room for growth. The agency also constructed a volunteer-based fundraising group called the “Campaign Cabinet” to implement the Golden Anniversary Capital strategy. Those members include Alyson Buttery, Chair; Barbara George, Jim Brabeck, John Dunn, Elie A xelroth, Janice Fong Wolf, Nick Thille, Paul Malykont, Gerald Clare, and Don Maruska. The new location also has room at the back of the property to expand. A possible Phase II project would raise money through a lead gift to get things going. This area would be used to create a community 

(Community Counseling Center: continued)

training center and could also be a place to have group therapy for things such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, mindfulness, and woman and men’s groups. A group will be starting in the late spring for post-treatment support and coping skills – in SLO. Irene Iwan President of the board has been with CCC for six years. She’s a retired principal and has a background in counseling. Irene had an interest in mental health and wanted to contribute the community. “I was a principal of an elementary school for many years, and teachers could identify early on if a student didn’t get the help they needed they were going to have problems later on.” Irene feels CCC’s role in helping clients is not so much about the therapist having an answer; rather it’s more about helping the client work through things by finding their own answers. Marcie Lindvall is on the board and is going on two years volunteering. She had a friend on the board and liked what CCC was doing in the community. She feels there are not enough mental health services for those who need them, and it’s good to be part of the solution. Elizabeth Clark started at CCC in 2016 as a prelicensed associate. She’s worked in all three of the CCC programs. She comes from Pacifica Graduate School and has worked the past 2 years as a volunteer on the sliding scale program. Elizabeth says the first time she walked in the doors of CCC she had a sense of home and support and that’s why she choose to work there. She also likes the variety in her work. Some of the work she does is with kids, parents, people with eating disorders, ADHD, and PTSD which gives her lots of experiences and different challenges which she really likes. Elizabeth also enjoys the different challenges and is grateful for the supervisors. She says she’s an intuitive and feeling oriented person and was always drawn to psychology. Elizabeth wants people to know this is a great resource, especially for people who might be new to the area or for those who are struggling financially. “I really get a lot of joy out of working with clients and seeing their growth, and I’m still learning all the time.”


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It’s obvious to me that the relationship between the therapist and the client creates a space where both individuals get to connect and contribute. This brings healing when needed and growth for all involved. Mr. Rogers said, “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” The Community Counseling Center is certainly spreading kindness and success with its open doors in San Luis Obispo County. Tina Bailey, the vice president wants to put together a volunteer group to help with events she’s calling it the Volunteer Elite Core. People who could work events or work in the office. To get more information, or if you want to make a donation you can go to the website: cccslo.org, call 805-543-7969, or email director@ cccslo.com. 

Can I take you on a journey for a moment? A 9-year-old boy had an opportunity to choose his baseball number to wear for his club baseball team. He came to his parents and said I want a number that will mean something to me throughout my whole sports career. His dad happily looked up bible numbers and their meanings; he came a crossed number 17, which mean Victory. Without hesitation, he said that’s my number! That nine-year-old boy grew up and as a senior in high school was diagnosed with a rare type cancer called Ewings sarcoma. He would say “I got a rare type of cancer because I’m a rare type of guy.” Not long after his diagnoses a cousin came up with the slogan “17 Strong”.

After a lot of stewing about the news he prayed about it and came up with his own solution. He talked to his mom about starting a nonprofit group to send young adults that are battling life threating diseases on a “Victory Trips”.

seventeenstrong.org centralcoastkind.com

Holly Teixeira

This is the day 17 Strong was born. This was no longer a slogan but and mission and our purpose in life. Ryan Teixeira is the proud founder of 17 Strong. He is now the platform of the organization and we as family, friends and the community are his voice to keep is vision and legacy alive. The journey is not over yet… 


After many month of long treatments and hospital visits, a social worker in the hospital asked if he thought of a what he wanted to do on his “Make A Wish” trip. Full of excitement, him and his best friend planned and researched, in detail, what they were going to do. That same social worker came back in his hospital room, a week later and said I’m sorry, you don’t qualify because you were diagnosed at 18 years old. To qualify you have to be diagnose before your 18th birthday.


The James Way Dancing Lady


hoa! Did I just see a lady dancing down James Way? I looked in the rearview mirror to correct an image I thought couldn’t be true. Runners, joggers, walkers, and mothers pushing their babes in strollers were all familiar. But a dancer? Adults don’t dance on the streets, unless…

Judythe Guarnera

I drove to the entrance to the parkway to walk—very sedately compared to her. But, that day I sensed a little extra spring in my step.


The next time I saw her, something inside me stirred. She looked so happy. It was then I noticed her earphones and her body twisting gracefully. She seemed oblivious to those driving by.

Don, who’d recently lost his wife, admitted he saw her regularly, and each time she raised his spirits.


Some weeks later, when Don, a friend who lives in the neighborhood was riding with me, we passed her, eyes closed, head bobbing with the music I imagined coming from her earphones.

The third time I passed her, my car involuntarily f lipped a U in the middle of the street and I pulled up at the curb, just ahead of her. I needed to know more. She opened her eyes and grinned at me. As we chatted, she related that people wave, honk their horns, and sometimes stop to talk.

The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

“Would you allow me to interview your for Kind Magazine?” She made

way to her support group. She said the joy Chris exuded kept her spirits up during her difficult transition.

The day of the interview, Chris Strasser opened her front door before I was out of my car. She escorted me through the living room and into the kitchen, both of which spoke of a person who treasures special objects and displays them to their best advantage.

When I asked her to relate her first childhood memory, she told me

my day when she said ‘yes.’

Seated at her table, I wasted no time. Why do you dance on the street?

An eternal health buff, Chris explains: although she’s walked for twentyfive years, over time boredom set in during the hour walk. When she realized how many times she consulted her watch, she knew she needed an alternative to get her exercise. Since she’d always loved music, why not dance instead of walking? And she’s been doing that on James Way for ten years. A conservative transplant from New England, Chris admits when she began dancing/walking, she’d felt nervous. After retirement when she began walking on James Way, she was tickled at the positive reactions. Do people interact with you?

A mom and dad stopped to tell her how much their daughter looked forward to seeing Chris dancing on the way to church. They were two of her first fans. People of all ages toot their horns, wave, and stop to chat. Chris was especially touched when a woman stopped to tell her about her son who was recovering from brain cancer, and who experienced a lift every time he saw her. Then there was the woman who had escaped an abusive relationship and was on her

about the five years she lived with her grandparents. “Being with them turned me into a social being who was on the go all day.” She visited neighbors, entertained children, and hung out with aunts and uncles all day, until, exhausted, she just about crawled up to bed. Chris said she was like the energizer bunny, a free spirit. It appears this might have been preparation for her Dancing Lady days, when she shares her joy with those who pass by.

What is your greatest treasure?

Although I expected Chris to point out something already on display in her home, she confessed her greatest treasures are in her garage—her Christmas decorations. It takes her three days to decorate her whole house once she taps into her stash. Not surprisingly Christmas is her favorite holiday. Each year she adds five or six pieces to her collection. Her centerpiece is a fifty-year old artificial tree she purchased for five dollars. A music lover, she has decorations that play 50-60 different tunes. She also strategically places a doll she’s had for years.

Who in your life has been your greatest inspiration?

Never much of a sports fan, Chris got hooked when she watched football player Tom Brady play for the New England Patriots. “He’s awesome to watch and his dedication and determination inspire me.” Sidebar: Tom Brady might be her hero,

but Chris is one of our community’s own heroes, and mine, also as she elicits joy in others dancing/walking down James Way. Why do you like living here on the Central Coast?

Chris enjoys the consistency of our weather. At seventy-three she loves not having to wear heavy clothing when she goes out. When she confessed her age to someone who stopped one day, the woman said she was going right home to tell her mother to get up off the couch and walk. Although she says her heart will always be in New Hampshire where she grew up, the friendly, relaxed attitudes here make it possible for this conservative New Englander to dance down the street. She does admit she checks to make sure she doesn’t have an audience, when she’s about to ‘go crazy’ with music which really stirs her. You mentioned your motto. Could you tell us about that?

“Don’t put anything in your body that doesn’t belong there.” Chris believes good genes—her 89-year-old mother has six living siblings—and a good attitude make for a long life. Early on she determined she would dance her senior years away instead of siting in a rocking chair. 



(The James Way Dancing Lady | Chris Strasser: continued)

Tell me about the rest of your family.

Chris has four sisters, two daughters, and three grandkids. She says her family jokes that she’s crazy, what with with her decorations and dancing/walking, but her daughter expressed pleasure when she heard Chris would be featured in a magazine. I mustn’t forget Misty and Heidi, her two cats. Heidi, true to her name remained upstairs in hiding. Misty, who doesn’t usually cotton to strangers, kept an eye on us through most of the interview. So, how did you meet your husband?

Eighteen-year-old Chris and her future husband, Fred, met in Massachusetts when they were both in the Air Force. They stayed in touch over the years and have been married now for twenty-four years. Although he walks, too, they don’t do it together, because their pace and goals are different. He does enjoy hearing about her encounters, though, when they meet up at home. What’s your favorite meal?

My fingers hovering over my keyboard stopped in mid-air, when Chris answered: “A boiled dinner. She had to explain that it’s a one pot dish consisting of boiled ham, cabbage, carrots and potatoes. What do you do for fun?

Chris admits that fun for her means accomplishing things and when she does something, she likes to do it well. Not surprisingly, she and her husband


The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

don’t just bowl, they compete in tournaments. She not only plays bingo, she loves to win. She doesn’t stop with winning—she has also volunteered at St. Joseph’s and St. Paul’s Churches, and the Elks in Oceano, where bingo games serve as fundraisers. She enjoys being spontaneous and, as her husband says, she can talk to a wall. Chris prefers to talk to people and often engages those she meets in conversation. What was your favorite job?

When she was in her twenties, Chris enjoyed her job in a nursing home. Although it was hard work, she loved the opportunity to give back to older people for a life welllived, by listening to their stories, chatting with them, making them comfortable, and cheering them with her up-beat personality. Is it easier to be friendly here on the Central Coast than other places you’ve lived?

Chris worries that too often people here are so busy maintaining life in an expensive locale, that they don’t think they have time to be neighborly. She has a theory that native Californians are the easiest to engage, perhaps because they’ve done all the touristy things and can just settle back and enjoy the beautiful place where they live. Since she’s retired, she considers it her mission to be friendly and kind and points out how often such behavior is reciprocated.

In a sentence or two, how would you describe yourself?

Chris says she’s a happy-go-lucky person with a good heart, who always sees the glass as half-full. She would like to be remembered as a kind person, and one who can be counted on to finish what she started. How has dancing/walking made you a better person?

Chris admits that when she worked, she worked hard. She recalls running down the hallways doing the job of two people. (This might be a little of her Energizer Bunny persona.) “I was judgmental, with strong convictions.” She figured if she could do as much as she did, everyone should. Life has taught her that everyone operates at their own pace. Today she values accomplishing things but doesn’t expect others to do as she does. If you issued a Call to Action to other Central Coasters, what would it be?

“Feel the joy of doing things for others. It’s contagious.” When Chris and her daughter travel and stop at a toll booth, they’ll pay for the car behind them or the person behind them in line at Starbucks. She suggests others search out any way to show kindness, even if it’s just holding the door for someone. Chris, given her appreciation for older people, would like to deliver Meals on Wheels one day and pursue other volunteer opportunities.

What will you do? 

PREVENTS CHILD ABUSE + HEALS CHILDREN & FAMILIES CALM’s vision is a world where child abuse no longer exists. Until then, our prevention & treatment services help children in our community live healthier and happier lives. CALM – Santa Maria 210 E. Enos Dr., Suite A Santa Maria, CA 93454 Ph: 805.614.9160 Fax: 805.614.9363

CALM – Lompoc 604 E. Ocean Ave., Suite G Lompoc, CA 93436 Ph: 805.741.7460 Fax: 805.736.6495

CALM – Santa Barbara 1236 Chapala St. Santa Barbara, CA 93101 Ph: 805.965.2376 Fax: 805.963.6707

For more information, please visit us at www.calm4kids.org


Be a voice for the community! Share a story about kindness with KIND magazine.

salute to our local veterans

44 Jay Conner Works with Honor 47 Honor Flight Photos 50 An Interview with Sean Cassidy 52 Red, White & Blue 55 CCK Recommended: Miller Chiropractic 57 They Lost Their Innocence, & Saved the World 58 "I'll Walk the Line" 61 Sandy Blair 62 Veterans Wounded by PTSD 66 CCK Recommended: Bill Gault 68 Standing Up for Vets Stand Down





Dennis Eamon Young

Jay Conner helms the Honor Flight Central Coast California program. He and his team are part of a nationwide network that fly WWII, Korean and other veterans to Washington, D.C. to see their memorials as a tribute to their service and sacrifices.

Looking ahead to a sit-down interview with the man behind the enormous resume, I expected a giant with eight arms and possibly two heads to have accomplished so much. What I did find was a pretty big and affable

talker, direct and open to the world, who is willing to talk to everyone he can to get his message out. He credits his wife of twenty eight years, Vicki, with supplying a constant f low of love and support that keeps him going. As a young boy, Jay was blessed with a close and loving family. His Dad, apparently a true role model for Jay and his siblings, as well as many others in their close community, died in a plane crash when Jay was twelve. His mom broke down and became easily overwhelmed, so he stepped up to take care of her and his siblings. He credits many men of his community to stepping up to the father figure role in one way or another, but his soul was re-forged by this tragedy. That became his program in life, immediately stepping forward to face challenges by seeing them as opportunities to move the ball forward for a more positive outcome. Serving on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations over the course of many years, he dips into a deep well of past experiences and solutions, generously sharing them all to overcome roadblocks. One such organization is Honor Flight Central Coast California (HFCCC), of which he is one of six founding members, starting in 2013 and is part of a national program consisting of 131 hubs, only 7 of which are in California.




man with a trail of helping footprints up and down the Central Coast and beyond, Jay is a Co-Founder of the 25th Annual COPS ‘N KIDS Field Day; Emeritus Board Member-San Luis Obispo Sheriff ’s Advisory Foundation; recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for starters. He’s the kind of self-starter who motivates people just by being in the same room. He is constantly re-evaluating ideas, programs and approaches on many fronts at the same time, which allows him to make connections that others may not see, nor get to work on.

The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

The Honor Flight CCC program has, from May 2014 through the end of 2018, taken 13 f lights of 277 veterans on their Tour of Honor to Washington, D.C. There will be an average of 22 Veterans, 22 Guardians, a Flight Leader and a medical person on each f light. Their photographer, Loretta Borges also does extra duty as Guardian and Assistant Flight Leader. All Honor Flight Hubs are Non-Profit 501 C3 tax exempt.

fully covered by HFCCC. The f lights are three day all inclusive. Each veteran is given two HFCCC T-shirts, a jacket and carry-on bag. An average Honor Flight of 22 Veterans costs $33,000 for the Veterans and also $33,000 for the Guardians. Jay tells me they rely on donations, fundraisers and are currently working towards grants. Some local wineries hold BBQ’s that support these efforts.

This is a program of kindness and love, straight from the hearts of all involved, as a call to action to honor those who have given so much and give them their own “Tour of Honor”. Those who volunteer for HFCCC are inspired to give the veterans a special Thank You from their nation and a Welcome Home with honor and dignity. The volunteers also pay all their own expenses, which amounts to an average of $1,500; the same as the program cost for each veteran which is

As a hub of the National Honor Flight program HFCCC is steeped in a history of bringing honor and closure to veterans that began with Earl Morse and Jeff Miller in 2005 heading a f leet of small plane private pilot volunteers. Initially six small planes f lew 12 veterans to Washington. At the end of the 2017 f lying season, the national net work has escorted over 200,000 veterans to their memorials, free of any costs to the veterans.

In 1965 Jay had been a passenger in an accident, sustaining such injuries that he was not expected to live. While he recovered, he felt that he was meant to live on and mentally committed to reach beyond himself and help others in whatever way he could. He has never sat on the sidelines and waited for an obvious need to come his way. He is always actively searching for the next unmet need, giving blood and doing whatever he sees that could be done. Most folks would feel they had more than fulfilled their earthly duties with a resume about a quarter as full as Jay, but he’s like that energizer bunny on TV that just keeps going. The difference is that this guy is the real thing. It is always more edifying to meet the actual person that you are going to write about. A person’s resume or bio can only take you so far to understanding the subject you need to paint a word portrait of, in order 



(Jay Conner Works with Honor: continued)

As for the HFCCC itinerary, Jay tells me that it is mostly set as to when they take off, where they f ly to and when they return. Upon arrival in Washington, D.C. the variations are mostly due to weather and which facilities are available. In their early days, the many hats it would take to keep everything running smoothly would all be worn by their Chairman, Bear McGill and his son Greg McGill, who was Jay’s inspiration.

to give the readers a clear picture. It’s an honor to sit with Jay for a couple of hours. Yes, he is indeed the real thing. Jay does not just work on behalf of veterans, he also is one himself, being a Vietnam Era Army Veteran, attaining the rank of Sergeant by the time of his discharge in 1968. He and I discussed a problem that many vets face, but find it difficult to speak about. Those who toiled behind the lines in positions not so fraught with actual danger can leave the service with a condition akin to a form of survivors’ guilt. They are uneasy being called a Veteran, because to them they see only the combat members as real vets. Jay had a conversation with a combat veteran years ago and was told in no uncertain terms that for every combat participant, it took 30 or more noncombatants to keep supply chains functioning. Motor pool specialists and a whole array of others doing non-frontline duties without whom the machinery of combat would grind to a halt would put the combat vet in grave danger. Fortunately, this issue and many others that were swept under the conversational rug are now seeing the light of day. Jay works on that front line these days with his hard-won expertise guiding him.


The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

“The flights normally leave from the SLO Airport about 6:00am on a Monday morning,” Jay says. “They f ly to Phoenix Airport and are greeted by another Honor Flight Hub, transfer to a larger plane and travel on to Baltimore, MD., where they spend the evening. On Tuesday morning at 7am, after a hearty breakfast, buses are loaded and with a special police escort, they begin a full day of touring the various memorials in D.C.” The usual tour will start with Arlington Cemetery, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for the changing of the guard. Next, they are taken to the W W II Memorial and other memorials for each branch of service. At day’s end everyone returns to Baltimore for a recap dinner and an evening of stories traded back and forth. This is only a part of the whole story, of course.

to SLO for a 9:40pm official Welcome Home Ceremony. This trip can be an emotional roller coaster experience for many of the vets, allowing them to realize that their sacrifices and those of their buddies has not been forgotten and is still highly appreciated. “What I find frustrating,” Jay tells me, “is that we are running out of time. Hundreds of veterans have died while being on the national waiting list of over 20,000 W WII and Korean Veterans. We are looking to include Vietnam Veterans on the list as well. These are men and women who have agreed to make the biggest of all sacrif ices for their country. The least we can do is respect and honor them.” Jay shakes my hand and strides to the door, on his way to yet another meeting, on his phone to change another problem into a gem and improve life for those around him. 

Wednesday is another early day, taking them all to Annapolis Naval Academy for a special tour and/or presentation, then off to Fort McHenry, home of the Star Spangled Banner. After lunch, they are bussed to the Baltimore Airport around 2:30pm to trace their steps back

WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE? www.honorflightccc.org

HONOR FLIGHT PHOTOS Send an email to random@centralcoastkind.com to share your memories, photos and stories. And make sure you give us a like and review on facebook.com/centralcoastkind. If you like what you see, help us spread the kindness!


Loretta Borges centralcoastkind.com


(Honor Flight Photos: continued)


The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019






SEAN CASSIDY MILITA RY MEMBER / OW N ER OF CON N ECTED EN ERGY LLC TELL US ABOUT YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY? I have been in the military for 19 years. I am proud to have served in both Active Duty and in National Guard and Reserves units. I have been deployed six times to three wars. I have mixed feelings about the wars I have been deployed to, but I have a never-ending love and connection to my Brothers and Sisters, some who have fallen in battle or from a broken heart. We are forever together in our Veteran world; this one and the next. I volunteer with local Veteran’s service organizations in the San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. We live in the most beautiful place in the world, but there are many veterans who need help. That’s what Veterans do; they help other Veterans, just like we did when we served together over there in the war.

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO GO FROM THE MILITARY TO GENERATORS? I was a proud member of the REDHORSE (The Seabees of the Air Force). REDHORSE stands for “Rapid Engineers Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers”. I was part of a team called “Power Production” as a NonCommissioned Officer. I helped run and maintain the generators for two bases in Afghanistan. It was an experience I will never forget keeping soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines and Afghani soldiers powered up in order to keep the mission going. In the civilian world, I really enjoy giving people the power they need, helping people be ready for the future and protecting people’s family security and food

preservation. To me, there is nothing as satisfying as seeing the lights go on and stay on because of the sound of that generator or the hum of that battery system that I helped to design, install and maintain.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOLAR AND GENERATOR IS? Solar panels, (Actually more correctly referred to in the industry as “Photo Voltaic Modules”), collect energy from the sun to either go back into the energy grid or be stored in a battery storage system to power your home or business. A generator provides immediate power when the energy grid goes down. In addition, a generator can charge a battery system as well.

WHAT IS THE TIME LENGTH FROM START TO FINISH TO GET SET UP WITH THE INSTALLATION ON A GENERATOR? A typical Back-Up Power Generator installation can take about 2 or 3 days depending on the layout of the house or business, the location of the electrical distribution center and natural gas or propane line. Propane is a very good option for those living in the country or remote locations. A Solar / Battery Storage / Micro-Grid system can take considerably more engineering, design and installation time. 

HOW ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS RESPONDING? “Thank you, Connected Energy, for your reliable work on our off-grid system. You guys went above and beyond making sure the job was done to our full satisfaction. We will call you for all our solar needs in the future, and let our neighbors know too.”

“So glad we found Connected Energy. They helped us advance our installation and were always available for questions and continued maintenance. Don’t hesitate to contact this company for your stand-alone generator needs.”

— Carrie from Santa Maria

—Kathleen from Creston


The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

family fun

Red, W h i t e & Bl u e By Natasha Powell

Here are some fun and easy Fourth of July activities. My daughter’s favorite is the star designs in the yard. You can jump from one to another, use them as frisbee targets, or just delight in the decoration. Maybe you will come up with your own new idea. Enjoy!

Holidays are meant to celebrate with the fam. Make it memorable. Check out Pinterest for more red, white and blue ideas. Who knows? You may find something that becomes a lasting memory or tradition for years on end. 94

Lake Access Summer 2019

Parade Sticks Supplies:

Duct tape in red, white & blue

❶ Cut a 12-inchlong piece of duct tape.

Scissors Sturdy cardboard tube (from aluminum foil or plastic wrap)

❷ Fold onto itself lengthwise and stick it together. Press down and smooth out. Use scissors to trim any sticky pieces.

❸ Repeat this step until you have nine strips.

❺ Use small bits of tape to attach each strip of tassels to the end of the cardboard tube, overlapping each strip as you go.

❹ Create tassels on each strip by cutting down the center of the strip lengthwise but stopping a couple inches from the end. Then cut each of these two tassels in half lengthwise, making four tassels on each strip (younger children might need help with this step). Repeat this step for each tape strip.

❻ Once all strips are loosely attached, secure with a piece of duct tape wrapped around the entire tube. Continue wrapping tube with pieces of duct tape. Create a striped pattern with alternating colors, if you want.

Once all wrapped, your parade stick is done. Wave it around at your next Memorial Day or Fourth of July Parade!

lake-access.com centralcoastkind.com

95 53

ng Services Non-Profit 501 C-3 Providi urological

ve Ne The mission of Alternati lp provide lifehe to is ) NS Solutions (A urology treatment for changing functional ne y not afford the care the those patients who can . SD PT h wit s vet wounded need, particularly our

donate dollars that make good sense!

our local vets w/ neurological disorders suffer w/o treatment What are some examples of neurological disorders? Examples include seizures, memory issues and other dementias, cerebrovascular disease including stroke, migraine and other headaches, tremors, anxiety, anger issues and other disorders of the nervous system due to trauma.

every donation helps! Mail checks to: 2441 Professional Parkway | Santa Maria, CA 93455 Pay with credit card at: www.alternativeneurologicalsolutions.com * Cash donations accepted in person at office *

2441 Professional Parkway | Santa Maria • (805) 934-5703 • wayne@weadju.com


CENTRAL COAST KIND RECOMMENDS MILLER CHIROPRACTIC Dr. Wayne Miller and his Staff at Miller Chiropractic are KIND hearted and helpful! The Doctor: A heart filled human being. He cares about his community, his country and his patients. I travel in from Texas and each time, I call from the 101 to see if I can get appointment to get on his schedule in the office.

Plus, as you are admiring the office you can see the constant in keeping up with the latest education and information as it is framed, which gives a patient confidence when they read it on the walls. I like that! Also, the office gives back with the Veterans program headed off by Dr. Wayne Miller. Yes, I am honored to be a patient, a friend and involved with this kind of peoples! They keep it real! 

For more information: wayne@weadju.com • 805.934.5703 • www.westcoastfunctionalneurology.com


Central Coast Kind Recommended

The Staff: It’s not just a one-person operation either. The entire team at Miller Chiropractic in my opinion are gentle, and truly Kind and really care about your health, your day, your family and your time. The entire staff is so very friendly, they great you with open arms and compassion and sincerity in their eyes, as if they’ve known you forever and they listen and take your information while walking you back to your room, then even they don’t rush

out and leave you lonely but spend an extra 30-45 seconds making sure your comfy and showing true concern. Then in comes the Dr. and zip zap, crack, pop and boom your back to new! I recommend this business as a truly sincere and KIND clinic.





All Military Branches join in: Army Infantry; Army Air Corps, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. Their strides have slowed a bit, but their poise and grace have not wavered. They are outstanding members of “The Greatest Generation.” 


LTJG Joseph Brocato

These fifteen men that survived those battles assembled once more to be honored at the San Luis Obispo Country Club, in January 2019. It is for this type of courage and bravery that we have our freedom today! These are the great Americans who, in their youth, lost their innocence and saved the world. And then, having done their duty, returned home to rebuild our Country for future generations. They are part of a long line of patriots who have fought to preserve the legacy of our Founding Fathers. They are, in fact, the guarantors of the Freedoms in our Constitution.



his hearty group of men whom are a part of a generation that served in W WII with quiet valor we’re honored at a luncheon sponsored by the “General Hoyt S. Vandenberg Chapter”. They faithfully served our Country from the “black sands” of Iwo Jima; to the jungles of New Guinea; to Luzon; to Okinawa to Normandy, to the Arno River; and the Battle of the Bulge. They flew from bases in Italy and China and fought with the storied Flying Tigers. Their final victory was achieved when they occupied the capitals of Japan and Germany.



andy, Jack Brill’s wife, blurted out in frustration, “C’mon Jack. You can step over the line. Put your foot right here.” She placed her foot in front of him. Watching her, Jack broke free and took several steps.


Darryl Armstrong

Jack contends with “freezing of gait (FOG),” a syndrome common to approximately 80% of Parkinson’s sufferers. Somehow the wiring in their brains gets mixed up and they feel frozen to the f loor, a highly debilitating condition also known as “start hesitation.” Worldwide there are seven to ten million people aff licted with Parkinson’s and around sixty thousand new cases are added each year.


The walker Jack uses cost over $600 and was equipped with a red laser line shooting across the uprights just above the f loor to assist the users by giving them a target for stepping forward. “After nearly seventy years of driving, combined with the FOG,” said Jack, “my brain had diff iculty interpreting red as a go signal. It read the red line as a stop sign. I requested a new unit with a green light, but my requests were met with denial from the manufacturer. They only produced the U-Step walker with a red line laser.” As a past President of the San Luis Obispo Parkinson’s Support Group for over six years, Jack had encountered other similar situations such as securing the door handle and the chair lift his van is equipped with, which had to be modif ied and improved. But companies are slow to acquiesce to change, even if the suggestion comes from the end-user. Jack has a Masters in Engineering, so his suggestions usually come with detailed explanations. The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

“I’ll Walk the Line” Knowing the change would benefit many users, Jack reached out to Lily Laiho in the CalPoly Biomedical Engineering department. Ms. Laiho’s eleven years of experience in special projects uniquely qualified her to assist Jack in modifying the walker so it would work better for him and other Parkinson sufferers. Jack ’s designs included turning the red laser into a green one, adding a metronome for pacing, and then suggestive walking songs played on a small speaker added to the side of the walker. The latter strategy was aimed at providing sensory-motor drive stimulation to overcome the freezing. There are many songs with “walking” in the lyrics and combining those with a green light and the insistent rhythm of the metronome may lead to more successful experiences for Parkinson’s patients. CalPoly has embraced the concept and considers it one of the most innovative designs of the year. Plans to patent Jack ’s idea have already begun. Attempts to reach DeOro Devices have been made to garner an update on their efforts. Jack was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Paul Wolfe, Emeritus Professor in the Architecture Department, for his advocacy. At eighty-f ive, Jack isn’t looking for royalties from the design, and has asked that any money derived from the improvements be equally split between the Parkinson’s Support Group and the CalPoly Development Fund. So, if you pass a tall gentleman on the street, using a walker, and Johnny Cash is singing about “Walking the Line,” make sure you nod to Jack. You have just met a true gentleman. 


Place an American flag in a Veteran's yard to show appreciation.



Founder of Operation WEBS: Women Empowered Build Strong


peration WEBS Women Empowered Build Strong, was created based on the experience of founder, Sandy Blair. Honorably Discharged from the United States Air Force in 2005, the year long wait for VA eligibility determination for education, employment, and medical benefits left her uncertain of her future beyond a very successful 12-year career. Blair was overwhelmed with depression, worthlessness, failure, physical ailments, anger, despair, and suicidal thoughts plagued her daily as she was told repeated by civilian employers that she was “overqualified” for many jobs, including the same jobs she held in the military. Due to long term unemployment, Blairs home she bought for her and her children upon return to the states was foreclosed on. Facing homelessness, her best friend offered a safe and loving home with her husband and three daughters to share as she muddled her way through the transition to civilian life. Knowing firsthand how difficult this transition can be, Blair dreamt for years about how she would assist other women Veterans’ transition after military service. “I’ve wanted to be a REALTOR since purchasing my first home back in 2004. I fell in love with the process but never had the right opportunity until my move to the Central Coast.” Since earning her real estate license in 2014, Blair has been living with her sister and together they have searched for and purchased what they believe to be the perfect location and property to create and build a safe and supportive farming village community for their sister Veterans who are displaced or homeless. Forward to 2018, Blair formed this Corporation and received their 501(c)3 determination from the IRS on September 11, 2018.

Since then, Blair has been full speed ahead with creating relationships and has now implemented Phase I of her housing plan, providing immediate housing to women Veterans at the newly formed Sister Stability Home in Orcutt where two former homeless Navy and Army Sisters now call home. The farming Village is still in its developmental stage, but in the meantime Operation WEBS is in full swing on a tiny house on wheels (THOW) build with the help of Tiny Homes Of Ventura County, R.E.I.N.S of Hope Ojai, and outstanding active duty and civilian volunteers from Vandenberg AFB. The needs of Operation WEBS (OPWEBS) are great! The vision is empowering and supersized! The commitment is unlimited! They have organized several fundraising events for this year which include a GoFund Me account, 5K Run / Wa lk Benefit Housing for Homeless Women Veterans on June 15, 2109, 2nd Annual Gala and Live Auction on September 07, 2019, Benefit Music Concert w/ Pryor Baird and Kaleb Lee September 28, 2019, Tiny Footprint Expo October 11-13, 2019, and Veteran Day Weekend 2019 Tiny House build. Proceeds from all these events will directly support the mission of creating the farming village community on their privately-owned property, and building THOWs in Santa Maria, CA for homeless women Veterans. 



Help us build strong. operationwebs.org

welcome home women veterans


is a complex process. It is critical we raise awareness of veterans’ need for ongoing understanding and support from family, friends and the general population. It is critical we provide this to assist them as they continue on a journey brought about by their service, a journey which may last for the rest of their lives.

VETERANS WOU N DE D BY PTS D The setting is a desert in the Middle East scarcely populated with scrubby bushes, their parched limbs poking into the air and temperatures breaching the 110-degree mark. The gritty, sand is hot, blowing at a steady, fast pace, keeping visibility to a minimum. The stillness of this desolate area is shattered by loud explosions, which blast away the dry scrub. Small creatures, disturbed by the noise, scurry from their underground safe houses to try to find more secure landscaping. The previously scent-free air takes on the strong odor of explosives. The noon-day sun pierces the released clouds and dust, raising internal temperatures to the point of pain. Charlie’s military career ended when he was medically discharged after his second stint in Afghanistan. The image of his buddy, some feet away from him, stepping on a land-mine during heavy enemy fire, pervades his memory. Most of his platoon died that day. An added element to the stress he experiences is the guilt of surviving while other good soldiers died. Charlie, a veteran, lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) His PTSD has prevented him from keeping a job, his wife, and his sanity. In his mind, he lives those moments in Afghanistan over and over, complete with the explosive sounds, smells of the arid terrain, and the blood and gore of war.


hat you’ve just read relates the situation of a fictionalized person in a fictionalized setting, but in reality, the profile fits many American veterans, victims of PTSD, who struggle today to put the horrors of war behind them as they attempt to resume a normal life. For many this goal seems out of reach, impossible.

WHAT IS PTSD? The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation says PTSD is:

In the general population there are many other trauma situations that result in PTSD, but the focus here is on veterans.  centralcoastkind.com

Judythe Guarnera

Charlie, our fictional veteran lived in a “fight or f light” situation constantly during the time he spent in Afghanistan. Though safe at home now, his mind and body are unable to turn that response off.


An anxiety disorder that some people get after seeing or living through a dangerous event. When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “ fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. In PTSD, this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger.


(Veterans Wounded by PTSD: continued)

WHAT ARE TH E SYM PTOMS OF PTSD? The research foundation recommends diagnosis by a psychiatrist or psychologist familiar with PTSD. To be diagnosed, a person must have symptoms for at least one month. Symptoms include: • Flashbacks—the trauma is relived over and over and includes physical symptoms such as elevated heart rate and perspiration; • Nightmares; • Frightening thoughts; • Inability or difficulty in performing acts of daily living (ADA), These symptoms affect Charlie’s daily routine. They are exacerbated by his own thoughts and feelings, comments or reactions from others, or exposure to trigger objects or situations. It’s easy to see how a battle-related nightmare could put him mentally right back in the danger he faced in Afghanistan. More subtly, imagine Charlie hearing the noise of a car back-firing, his wife dropping a glass vase, the vacuum cleaner starting up, or the garbage truck emptying cans. Such everyday happenings are major triggers for war-weary veterans. Although Charlie needs a job, needs the comfort of his wife and family, his distress can interfere with those endeavors. He becomes depressed and worried, numb, unable to enjoy a sports event or a family barbecue as he used to. His sleep is disrupted, he is tense and on edge with his wife and children, blowing up when there doesn’t seem to be an obvious cause. Charlie may also remain in a state of hyper-arousal, always stressed and angry, unable to perform daily tasks. Naturally he can’t keep a job, even if he’s able to get one. Family can be puzzled if Charlie returns home, pleased and excited to be with them, but weeks or months later his undiagnosed PTSD symptoms intrude and take over his life. This is a common experience, but especially hard to understand.


The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

“Charlie, what’s the matter with you? You need to put your service time behind you.” If Charlie’s wife said that to him, imagine where the conversation might go when he’s unable to make sense of or explain his own emotions. At this point, both Charlie and his family are overwhelmed, and he might begin travelling a path to suicide when the feelings and stress continue. Loving families fall apart under such conditions. Some of those who experiences acute stress, suffer from Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and eventually return to normal lives. Others go on to develop PTSD. There are a series of risk factors which can increase the likelihood of PTSD. One is having little or no social support after the event (war time) is over and facing additional stress such as the loss of a loved one, or the pain and loss of a job or home. This points out the importance of: increasing awareness and understanding of the disorder; being alert to symptoms; and assuring the availability of sufficient support and treatment for veterans and their families. Let’s say Charlie is home, seems to be doing alright, but begins to experience debilitating symptoms. Here are some of the things he might be encouraged to look for and do to reduce his risk.: • Seek support from other people, such as friends and family • Find a PTSD support group • Develop coping strategies to get through the bad moments. Usually this is best done with therapeutic support from a therapist or other mental health professional.


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts almost 31 percent of Vietnam veterans. The numbers mount as the United States military maintains a presence in the middle east.

TREATM E NTS FOR PTSD: • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, to help vets recognize their patterns of thinking, or “cognitive patterns” that keep them stuck. • Exposure Therapy to help them safely face what they fear, in order to learn to cope. • Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) to help them process traumatic memories and change the way they respond to those memories. • Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants to relieve symptoms.

CALL TO ACTION Charlie’s story points out the importance of raising awareness. Veterans, who risk their lives to keep our country and its residents safe, should never be abandoned if they return home and are dealing with physical, emotional, or psychological injuries. If you personally know a veteran, check in with the family to see if you can help. Be patient while they struggle with the aftermath of war. Support your local VA and vets and contribute to organizations which support them.

The following veterans statistics are from a major study done by the RAND Corporation, a study by the Congressional Research Service, the Veterans Administration, the Institute of Medicine, the US Surgeon General, and several published studies. • 50% of those with PTSD don’t seek treatment. • Of those that do, only half get “minimally adequate treatment.” • 19% of vets may have traumatic brain injury (TBI). • Over 260,000 veterans from the middle east have been diagnosed with TB. • 7% of veterans have both PTSD and TBI. • Rates of veteran suicide are much higher than previously thought—as much as 5-8 thousand a year. • A recent sample of 600 vets from Iraq and Afghanistan found 39% abuse alcohol. Major depression is also a problem. “Mental and Physical Health Status and Alcohol and Drug Use Following Return from Deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.” Susan V. Eisen, PhD

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is committed to alleviating the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research. Support that research now by going to: https://www.bbrfoundation.org/get-involved. 




Central Coast Kind Recommended

Bill Gault is a ninety-eight-year-old veteran, retired from McDonald Douglas as a technical illustrator and in 1992 moved to the Central Coast to stay for good. He currently spends most of his time peacefully painting watercolor art with wonderful taste that somehow matches his personality. He recently won the Judges Award at the Morro Bay Art Gallery for his piece called “Half Dome”. (A beautiful piece if I do say so myself ). Bill Gault’s talent and f lair make his work incredible. The cheerful pieces he displays in his private studio make for a bright outlook on life. His paintings, in my opinion, are amazing! The talent and love that go into each individual piece of art is priceless.


His daughter Sheila Gault Gibilisco, whom, by the way, is a guardian for Jay Conner’s Central Coast Honor Flight program, works with Veterans, her community, and owns a business “In-SPA-rations Full Service Salon” in Orcutt, California, is his right-hand and spends every free moment with him that she can. She speaks dad language in almost every sentence that comes out of her mouth. Her Facebook page is loaded with the love between her and her dad daily! I’ve watched these two during the interview time, and grown to admire, his work, her love, and the bond they have between them! Join me in praising his work as I feature it above and if your interesting in investing in one of these priceless pieces of work, contact him or his daughter to schedule a walk thru of his private studio.  The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE? Contact Sheila Gibilisco






Eamon Young



he boy who grew up on the Central Coast of California became the valedictorian of Maria Regina Academy in Spokane, Washington, then immediately migrated to the warmth of Phoenix, Arizona for 15 years in the aerospace industry, but fate interceded to bring him full circle. In 1998, Steve Lavagnino’s father was recovering from health issues and so he moved back to Santa Maria to watch over his dad. Steve and his wife, Marian, raised a family and still live in the family home which Steve purchased. Ever the go-getter, Steve spent the next thirteen years as a senior level government staff assistant, dealing with all the minutiae and big issues which would tax most people’s patience. He was a natural fit given his sense of humor and a penchant for seeing the bigger picture through the haze of various personalities and agendas, as well as how they all work together. He became the go-to guy in any group, knowing how to put his finger on the necessary piece of the puzzle without diminishing others in the process. Sitting in Steve’s off ice seems a bit like being in a military command center. He is the Santa Barbara

The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

Board of Supervisors 5th District Supervisor, but this is the off ice of a man with his f ingers on many different buttons, as he tries to chart a non-partisan course through the many muddy channels it takes to get things done for his constituents. Awards and citations abound, but they only paint a partial picture of the man. You need to look further and deeper into what drives the loquacious and amiable speaker at the desk. During those thirteen years as staff assistant he spent a large amount of time with younger people, especially those applying to the service academies. He felt it was time well spent, to give of himself to make the path ahead clearer, with fewer obstacles for those future leaders. Taking note of his commitment level, the U.S. Military Academy named him an Honorary Admissions Officer and bestowed on him the title of “Friend of West Point.” He first ran for Supervisor in 2010 and has been reelected in 2014 and again in 2018. His easy-going and f luid manner can be deceiving. He’s a hard charging force for changes that make sense to and for those

“The Veterans Stand Down Event is a great opportunity to display our commitment as a community to our local veterans and a great way for veterans to jumpstart their lives after returning home!” – Steve Lavagnino around him. He continues to run on a program of fiscal sensibility and people friendly policies. Upon being elected in 2010 he stopped construction of a six million dollar County Administration Building in Santa Maria that was deemed a misuse of money, shifting funds to the construction of a badly needed North County jail and bringing the Fire Department up to a state of financial independence for the first time. On a trip to San Diego, Steve investigated the Stand Down for Veterans event which is modeled on other communities that have successfully served homeless and at-risk veterans for years. Once his eyes had been opened to the community possibilities, he spearheaded the drive to bring this event to Santa Maria. 2018 marked the 7th annual Veterans Stand Down in Santa Barbara County. The event takes place at the Santa Maria Fairpark and the following services are provided: New Clothing and towels – Hygiene products – Showers Haircuts – Flu shots – Chaplain Services – Medical, Dental, Vision and Hearing services – Social services – Mental/ PTSD counseling – Legal services – Food – Employment counseling – Kid’s Zone for Veteran families – Pet Zone, and Transportation.

The logistics of such an endeavor would be mind-boggling to many, but Steve is like a General planning a major campaign. Just twisting a few arms would not cut the ice. He understands how to inspire people to do all the necessary bits and pieces involved in such an undertaking. He sits back and heaps praise upon a lady, Sandy Agalos, who was once in a hard space herself and so holds a heart full of kindness and compassion for those in troubling times. She is his irreplaceable right arm in the operation they oversee. In 2018 the Stand Down event was attended by 530 Veterans, 171 of whom were homeless, 56 were female veterans and 15 of those were homeless. In order to service these fellow citizens, there were 649 registered volunteers. Of those, 165 were Vandenberg AFB active duty volunteers and 40 Grizzly Academy youth volunteers. These are Steve’s ground troops. The support troops are the donors and sponsors such as the American Red Cross, Chumash Casino, United Way, Dignity Health, PODS, Salvation Army, Good Samaritan Shelter, The Food Bank, Fed Ex, Community West Bank, News Channel 3, Toyota/Scion, Commission for Women, Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce and many others large and small. 



(Standing Up for Vets Stand Down: continued)

The benefits to the community at large are huge. Civic pride is immeasurable, but you can sense it all around you. People view the city and other citizens in a different light. The veterans are no longer such a part of the homeless problem, due to the fact that many re-join the workforce and become housed. Mental and physical problems are being dealt with, even beyond the Stand Down event itself. Volunteers and donors alike see what can be done, providing a basis for future activities. Veterans from anywhere in the area can apply to attend the event. There is a strict rule the day of the event that political campaigning is not allowed and those running for office may not seek admittance. One of the volunteers at a previous event refused an admittance request and Steve had to come to the gate to explain to the volunteer that Lois Capps was an elected off icial and not running for off ice at the time. Steve was happy to guide her around the grounds, both of them having a good laugh about the misunderstanding. Just in case Steve has too much time on his hands, he also hosts a radio show and does comedy to keep his personal ship on an even keel. His wife Marian and seven grandchildren add a modicum of humility to the mix, but I would say from my observations that he is a very balanced guy. He and his team are in the planning stages for the 2019 annual Santa Barbara County Veterans Stand Down event from 9am to 1pm on October 15 at the Santa Maria Fairpark. ď Ž


The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE? If you would like to become an official partner, please contact Sandy Agalos at:

(805) 346-8402 or Sandy.Agalos@countyofsb.org If you would like to contact Steve Lavagnino:

www.sbcountystanddown.com or (805) 346-8402 Contributions may be directed to:

Good Samaritan Shelter 245 E. Inger, Suite 103B Santa Maria, CA 93455 Please make a notation on checks that contributions are to be used for: SB County Veterans Stand Down Applications are now available at www.sbcountystanddown.com for any veteran who may wish to attend the Stand Down event. Veterans from any area are welcome.




commit to your kindness

74 Lili Sinclaire 78 Poetry 82 Roxanne Schuyler 83 Wordmonger 85 CCK Recommended: Heavenly Chia 86 Writers Event Photos 88 Saving Sadie




The Fork in the Path, Nine Mindful Choices to Well-Being, is different than any other book on wellbeing. Not only is The Fork in the Path beautifully designed, it’s also condensed into easy to understand steps about being mindful of your choices. “Lili has done a wonderful job with this beautiful book. She explains clearly how to become aware of the choices we make in order to change our lives.” Frank Ricceri, Division Director Transitions-Mental Health Association

The Fork Trail Guide, is a follow-up book to The Fork in the Path, Nine Mindful Choices to Well-Being. This workbook goes into greater detail about how to take control of your life so you can create the life you want to live. Each chapter has charts and exercises to bring clarity, motivation and change.

The Bridge, is a coming of age story. On New Year’s Eve 1960 Acacia and her friend Dwight want to find out why a light is shining in the deserted migrant camp where a girl’s body was found three years before. The teens cross the bridge that night. Soon they discover someone is spying on them. The Bridge deals with social, political, and religious themes related to injustice, intolerance, and acceptance.

Lili Sinclaire, a local author, has published three books. For over 20 years, Lili’s researched well-being; she’s also studied communication and conflict resolution with three non-profits. She’s attended and presented workshops, as well as facilitated support groups. She’s worked as a parent coach for SLO Parent Connection, and as a crisis phone counselor for Stand Strong, previously The Women’s Shelter of SLO. “Lili’s natural approach to healing is a lovely path that allows one to navigate their trials and tribulations through introspection, bringing them to a place of truth.” – Shannon Aguirre, Marriage and Family Therapist To order books go to: www.LiliSinclaire.com


o you ever feel dissatisfied with your life? Do you, or someone you know struggle with depression, anxiety, or addictions? Then you’ll want to read this introduction to my book. The Fork Trail Guide The Three Questions to Change Your Story & Change Your Life Many, many years ago my husband at the time grew dissatisfied with his life. One day he told me that he didn’t know if he wanted to be married anymore. When his words hit it me, it felt like I’d been shot in the chest at close range and a five-inch hole of emptiness had been left behind. I did what any sane person would do; I got in my car and drove. I ended up in San Francisco wandering about Golden Gate Park. I walked around like a zombie, hearing the laughing children and seeing the young couples holding hands with that look in their eyes that made their faces glow. Walking over the bridge across Stow Lake, I headed to the highest point in the park. Spread out before me stood the city. Sitting on the ground, my heart seemed to fall out of the hole in my chest. Tears filled my eyes; I think I sobbed for an hour. My entire existence was my family, and my identity was that of being a wife and mother. It seemed as though I had disappeared, and all that was left was my heart lying in the dirt. Through my tears I heard, clear as could be, Fred Rogers’s voice, “You are not your feelings; you’re much bigger than those.” Suddenly, it felt like my heart had been resuscitated, and I could breathe again. It seemed strange that the TV personality who spoke to calm children had just given me my life back. On that day, Mr. Rogers became a hero in my heart and mind.

Albert Ellis is considered one of the most influential psychotherapists in history. In the 1950’s, he brought into mainstream psychology the idea that our thoughts and beliefs are what cause us to feel the way we do. I discovered that each of these become a way we relate, and this all becomes a story we tell ourselves.

Fortunately, we have free will. No matter what circumstances we experience, and no matter what our nature or how we were nurtured, we are ultimately the Storyteller of our lives. The story becomes destructive, and we suffer when our plot line says we are our thoughts, beliefs, feelings, actions, or what has happened to us. Mr. Rogers was right – the truth is we are not these things – they are just part of our experience; we are much greater than any of them. In the First Fork, Thoughts, and Second Fork, Beliefs, we’ll look at how both cause us to feel the way we do. In the Third Fork, Feelings, we’ll look at how these cause us to act the way we do. In the Fourth Fork, Letting Go, and Fifth Fork, Taking Control, we’ll examine how unhappiness occurs and stays alive in the story in our heads when we don’t let go of certain things or take control of others. In the Sixth Fork, Actions, and Seventh Fork, Focus, we’ll come to understand how each of these direct the path our lives take. Finally, in the Eighth Fork, Connection, and Ninth Fork, Change, we’ll become aware that behind most of our desires is the longing to feel a deep connection to ourselves, others, and life, and to realize the power we have to create change within, which will create outer change. The wonderful thing about our stories is we can change them. A human being who lived an amazing life, Albert Einstein, said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” The Fork Trail Guide is all about being curious. In this book you’ll learn The Three Questions to ask yourself so you can become aware of who you are beyond the story in your head. When you become mindful of your story and understand it, you’ll be able to embrace the power you have to make different choices. You’ll then be able to create a different story which will put you on a new trail filled with hope, connection, and purpose. Paying attention to our story and aligning it with what is true is the kindest thing we will ever do for ourselves because it transforms us inside and that changes the world around us.  centralcoastkind.com

Lili Sinclaire

Life is about relationships, and relationships are about communication. We’re relating all the time – to ourselves, others and life. The most important relationship we have is with ourselves because it influences every other relationship. So, the way we communicate with ourselves will impact our lives in a powerful way.

Nature and nurture contribute to all of our lives. Our looks, intelligence, and biological inheritance are all elements of the nature part. How we were reared and our environment is the nurture part. Together nature and nurture make up the “hand” we are dealt in life.


Over many, many more years, I studied feelings and where they come from. I spoke to a lot of therapists, read books, went to classes, workshops, and lectures. I learned an enormous amount about feelings and the human experience.

The story that plays out in our heads is ongoing. Daily, we’re telling ourselves things about our experience. If our inner dialogue is positive, the storyline will be constructive, and our lives will reflect this. Conversely, negative self-talk becomes a story that is destructive, and our experience will reflect that, as well.


Being rude is easy. It does not take any effort and is a sign of weakness and insecurity. Kindness shows great self-discipline and strong self-esteem. Being kind is not always easy when dealing with rude people. Kindness is a sign of a person who has done a lot of personal work and has come to a great self-understanding and wisdom. Choose to be kind over being right and you’ll be right every time because kindness is a sign of STRENGTH. - Geraldine Vermaak


The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019



This Could be a Beautiful Place This could be a beautiful place

The only remedy, a personal commitment

to live,

to truth

even though our hearts get grabbed

where we consider our neighbors interwoven

by anguish,

with ourselves,

each soul wears pain’s aching mask

fix a less judgmental eye on the propriety

of addictions,

of humanity,

and co-existing is in a state of never-ending war

and keep faith that unwavering love allows for

and strife.

the unfolding.

Legacy When I cease to be on this earth’s plane, what to leave behind? A legacy of love.

Dear Friend


Carolyn Chilton Casas



Care. Enjoy. Give. Receive.

This I Believe I believe that goodness is the root and core of all of life; an act of kindness is the best reaction to any action; there is no separation between myself and my fellow living beings; a benevolent river of consciousness exists that holds us forever af loat in our experience; each time we respond to an encounter it is from a choice of fear or love; we live to the best of our ability, receive and give in our own capacity; with love, trust and allowing everything can be sorted out. I believe in openness, in being vulnerable, and in making a practice of our shared breath.

Help. Be kind. Befriend. Be present. Be grateful. Connect. Love, love, love.

The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

Carolyn Chilton Casas is a Second Degree Usui Reiki Practitioner. She is a student of metaphysics, Science of Mind, Quantum-Touch, life and possibilities. Along with her husband, she operates a family agricultural business on the Central Coast of California as well as being an interpreter, a writer, a poet and an artist. She co-founded a women’s circle in her area to raise money for Guatemalan women who are living at poverty level to start businesses to support their families. She also raises funds for an organization in Nicaragua that supports children for their education. Carolyn can be contacted at ceccasas@aol.com.

INFORMATION FROM www.lifevestinside.com

Mission: To EMPOWER and UNITE the world with KINDNESS. Life Vest Inside inspires people to recognize the potential they have to affect real and positive change in this world through kindness. Life Vest Inside is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to spreading kindness, helping people recognize their potential, and building self-esteem.

Dance For Kindness

Project Hope Exchange (PHE)

In 2012, Life Vest Inside initiated Dance For Kindness, a WorldWide event in celebration of World Kindness Day. Groups from across the globe join together to perform a Kindness Freezemob/Flashmob to the same song, same dance, all happening on the same day.

Would just like to tell you about another amazing Life Vest Inside initiative called Project Hope Exchange (PHE). PHE is a story sharing community, where people anonymously share 30 second audio messages of hope based on an adversity they have overcome or may be currently battling.

Let's Unite! World Kindness Day!

SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS A FREEZEMOB/FLASHMOB? Music fills the streets, as participants pose in acts of kindness positions, increasing people’s awareness of what kindness looks like, and the kindness opportunities that surround them. Immediately after, the Flashmob song begins, and participants unfreeze and break out into dance!

PHE allows people to openly share how they were able to persevere against all odds. Adversities range from physical health, to mental health, to life challenges. Whether you’re looking to give or get hope, this is an amazing Initiative and truly inspires those who need it most. Interested? Visit our website. Feel free to record your message of hope or send an existing message to someone who could use a bit of hope.

For more information, visit us online at www.lifevestinside.com

84 Central Coast Kind • Living Grateful 2016



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oxanne Schuyler planned to be a Psychologist, but her love of children inspired her to spend thirty-six years as an elementary school teacher. Then, later in life, into a program that advocates for abused and neglected children. She was born and raised in Lompoc, CA. After graduation from San Diego State University with the degree in Psychology, she decided to spend the next year continuing in school to get a license to become a teacher. Her teaching career was in the Lompoc Unified School District. Roxanne now resides in Santa Maria.


Ruth Starr

During that time she would see kids in her classroom that were in foster homes knowing they were in bad situations. Many had signs of abuse. Being a very compassionate woman, she wanted to take them all home with her, which, of course, she couldn’t. As an elementary school teacher, she taught reading, writing, arithmetic, social studies sex ed, and art. She taught every grade from kindergarten to eighth at different times. Of course the different levels required age appropriate curriculum.


After Roxanne retired in 2008 she decided to go for CASA training (Court Appointed Special Advocate) beginning in 2009. She had to participate in a 30-hour pre-service training course and agree to stay with a case until it is closed (a year and a half on average). It also included an extensive background check. CASA is the eyes and ears of the court. The kids come through juvenile court where the judge requests a CASA Volunteer to be with them.The CASA Volunteers have already been trained and sworn in for this activity. Even though Roxanne had been a teacher, she had to be finger-printed, her record checked at the DMV. and provide copies of her insurance. These steps are important as the Volunteer may be driving kids somewhere. The Volunteers bring positive change to the lives of these vulnerable children, but also their children and generations to come. And in doing so, they enrich their lives as well. The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

The reason CASA is so vital is that the social workers only see these kids for an hour once a month whereas the CASA volunteer spends more than an hour a week with them.They are kind of like big brothers and sisters. Loving kids, Roxanne would often take them to a movie or out to eat to make the visit special. The main thing she wanted to know is that they were ok. She managed to form caring bonds with the children in her charge. CASA Volunteers talk to everyone who is in the lives of their appointed kids. These can be teachers, social workers, parents or siblings if they are still around. The Volunteers write a formal court report turning it in before the next court appearance for the child. A child is brought into court by Social Service Agencies. They may have been taken out of his/ her home or the school has reported something. The police are always involved. Then the judge has to decide on what happens to the child. There are various reasons the judge will decide if the child should be removed or be with the family. A regular schedule is set up when the kids have to come to court. One of the primary benefits of the CASA program is that, unlike case workers and others involved in the case, the CASA volunteer is often the only consistent adult who stays involved in the case from beginning to end; providing stability and continuity that is desperately needed. An example is a boy she met when he was nine. His mother was in Jail for drug use, no father around or any relative that cared. By the time he reached thirteen he couldn’t count how many foster homes he had been in. He was very angry and acting out. His mother taught him how to steal leaving him with different people when she was arrested. He and Roxanne figured that he had been in16-20 foster homes. He had been so deprived as a child he would take sugar packets from restaurants to keep for himself in case he needed something. He is now long out of the system but still stays in touch with her once in a while.

A VOICE FOR FOSTER KIDS Recently Roxanne has been working with two kids as the parents rights had been taken away. One was because of abuse the other neglect. They had lived in filth and were malnourished. Happily both boys have been adopted. One of her appointed boys was in a foster home that she went to visit. It was so bad that she reported her findings and was pleased to see that the foster license was not renewed. It helps that she feels she is making a difference in these kids as they are often lost in the system. For Roxanne, she gets much joy out of being helpful. Her observation is that some of the Volunteers, such as herself, had experienced some abuse as a child. There was no protective services when she was young. While her Mother looked the other way (maybe in fear), her father abused both she and her two brothers leaving lifetime scars. Much work on herself to overcome those scars and a desire to give back to other kids made her rise above her childhood experience and become a loving caring adult. To take care of herself and get away from the stresses of the kids, Roxanne goes to aqua aerobics, spends time with friends, and kayaking. Kayaking is her favorite sport to do. She kayaks mostly at Avila where she can see otters, dolphins, pelicans, other sea animal and birds. She has one son, Nick, who lives in the Los Angeles area. He graduated from Berkeley with a degree in Art and Theater. At present he does computer correcting programs. The foster kids are fortunate to have a caring champion like Roxanne in their corner. 

Though these days the term wordmonger refers to “a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly,” please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Snuggle, cuddle, hug Great sounding words, eh? I’ve no idea what it is about that short U sound in snuggle, cuddle, & hug that somehow speaks of coziness & comfort, but it does. Where did we get these comfy words, anyway? Back in the 1560s when hug made its way into English it was spelled hugge. As it does today, it meant embrace. Though we’re not sure what its original source was, here are the two primary contenders: -the German word hegen, to foster or cherish -the Old Norse word hugga, to comfort. Snuggle appeared in English in the 1680s. It came from the word snug. Like hug, snug has a questionable background. Some contenders for snug’s roots include: -the Old Norse word snoggr, short-haired -the Old Danish word, snog, neat & tidy -the Old Swedish word, snygg, trim & dapper When snug appeared on the scene in the 1590s, it was used primarily to refer to a ship, & meant trim or compact. In time, snug added the meanings in a state of ease or comfort, & fit closely. It seems snuggle was born of these two meanings.

My thanks go out to this week’s sources, Etymonline.com, Merriam-Webster.com, Wordnik, Collins Dictionary, & the OED. 


CS Perryess

May this find you engaged in just the right quantity & quality of snuggles, cuddles & hugs.


Cuddle is another word of questionable origin. The Oxford English Dictionary refers to cuddle as “a dialectical or nursery word” & some etymologists suggest it may have come from a now-defunct English word meaning embrace. That word was cull (which is the root of the word collar). Meaning to lie close or snug in a warm embrace, cuddle appeared first in English in the 1520s.



Inspire someone with a dish of gratefulness!


The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019

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Central Coast Kind Recommended




This is the second year for this exciting annual event in San Luis Obispo. Sponsored by the Central Coast chapter of Sisters in Crime, this one-day event is a Super-Pack of author information. The theme this year? The Craft of Writing. Mara Purl was very honored that she would start off the event as the Keynote Speaker with her new talk: “The Oyster and The Pearl: Using your Irritations to create your Gems..”


The Freedom of Kindness Issue 2019





SADIE How a dog that no one wanted inspired the world


adie teaches acceptance and kindness wherever she goes and is now known in 60 countries, but she may have had a very different ending to her story, If it wasn’t for Joal Derse Dauer, who was only donating blankets to a shelter when she saw a depressed dog when she was walking out. Derse Dauer asked what the dog’s story was and she was told in heartbreaking detail. Sadie was found by strangers in the mountains of Kentucky with a bullet between her eyes and one in her back put there after having multiple litters of puppies. She was taken to a vet and then transported to West Chicago, Illinois and eventually found her way to a no kill shelter in Wisconsin where Joal saw her. Joal asked the volunteer if she could take Sadie to another vet and she was told that she could, as long as she paid for it. So off they went. The f irst vet that they saw conf irmed by radiograph the bullets and shrapnel in Sadie’s body. They told Joal the she should get Sadie a cart. The second vet that Joal took Sadie to told Joal that because Sadie was fecally and urinary incontinent, plus the fact that Sadie couldn’t walk, Joal should consider doing the kind thing. But there was something in Sadie’s eyes that told Joal differently. Sadie was put back into Joal’s SUV and they went home for the night. The next day Joal took Sadie to a holistic vet and that vet said that Sadie should be given a chance. That is where Sadie’s story really begins.

Sadie started on intense therapies including acupuncture, aqua puncture, laser therapy, essential oil baths, e stim, far infrared therapy and swimming. Sadie had the bullet removed from between her eyes, but the bullet and shrapnel in her back are too deeply embedded to remove. They remain lodged in her body. Once Sadie’s story started to get bigger and bigger, newspapers and magazines started to pick up her story and that led to radio and more TV. People started inquiring about how she was doing and told us about their dogs in similar situations.

In her presentation, Sadie also says “Be nice to everyone that you meet because everyone is struggling with something”. So tr ue! Many times people can relate to animals much more than they can to people. After seeing the magic that Sadie has on people, Joal decided that she had to share Sadie’s story with the world, so she started writing the children’s book, “Sadie and the Superstars” which teaches children to think about what is possible. The book is available in English and Spanish. Sadie’s story started to get bigger day by day, so what better way to share Sadie’s story with the world than to write Sadie’s life story? That is when “Saving Sadie, How a Dog That No One Wanted Inspired the World” published by Kensington of New York really took hold. The book is also available in Spanish and is published in Spain by Alt Autores. After

only 11 months the books are already into their 4th printing and there are many, many 5 star reviews on Amazon. The audio book is in the works and another major retail chain will start selling Sadie’s book in July, besides Target, Barnes & Noble, Woodmans, etc. as well as many other bookstores across the United States. The publisher will not allow Sadie to make the announcement of the next big retailer who picked up her book. Sadie’s kindness, love and encouragement are contagious! Ask anyone who has met the amazing Sadie and you will see what everyone else sees! Sadie’s story continues to this day and Sadie and Joal can’t wait to see what the rest of their journey will bring! 

Joal Derse Dauer

People often ask Joal when she first decided to take Sadie’s story on the road and Joal knows the exact moment that it happened. Sadie and Joal were at an event at Lake Michigan in Milwaukee and there was a boy in a wheel-

Sadie says that “ALL of us have special needs, but ALL of us have special abilities, too”. That is a great way to teach acceptance of those with special needs and Sadie excels at teaching everyone that she meets this very important message.


Sadie and I are now on the road a few times per week with our presentations which start with our professionally produced 6 minute long movie (Bill Eisner) w w w. s av i n g s a d iemov ie .c om which took us over a year to create. Sadie was saved for a reason! Her message of “THINK about what you CAN do and not what you CAN’T do” resonates with everyone! You see, Sadie doesn’t walk like a normal dog because of the damage to her back legs, but she does high tens over her head, she f lies on big and small airplanes, she rides a motorcycle, she has her logo on the back of a police car, she has an ice cream named after her she sleds by herself and the list goes on.

chair who was blind, couldn’t move and couldn’t talk. Joal put Sadie next to him and the boy’s mother took the boy’s hand to pet Sadie. At that very moment, sounds of joy came out of the boy and Joal knew at that very moment that if Sadie cou ld touch one person, she could touch many people who were looking for hope.



Portraiture • Commercial • Photojournalism • Fashion • Travel & Nature ennis has worked in all areas of photography, specializing in travel and adventure photo journalism as well as product and portraiture photography. Dennis’ unique ability to synthesize passion and technical expertise is evident in his varied portfolio of images. Dennis’ photos have appeared in major publications and newspapers, such as GQ, SLO City News, Cosmopolitan. His travel landscapes have appeared in several galleries, including SLO Museum of Art. Some local clients are SLO Symphony, Opera SLO, Children’s Resource Network, SLO Night Writers, Clever Ducks, Endeavour Institute and many other private clients and businesses.

(805) 540-1271 // photodennis44@gmail.com // denniseamonyoungphoto.com //


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