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may 2012



Great Communities Are Built And Sustained By Great Families

Business highlight: Moms making six figures resident spotlight: the shaffer Family

may 2012


local getaways


from the editor... My mom is amazing. Born in England to an American G.I. father and an English woman from a small village in the countryside, Ramona Ann Minjares first arrived in North America as a child. She initially stayed with my grandfather’s family in Tijuana, Mexico before heading north to San Bernardino. There, she met my dad and the two decided early on to move down to San Diego to build a better life for their young family. The oldest of five children, Ann has long set the example for others to follow. She held high expectations for each of her children and made sure we knew that only our best would do. She worked outside of our Chula Vista home while I grew up, but she always found time to help with homework and all school projects and attended nearly all of my athletic events. In many ways, my mom also served as my first writing teacher. She saw in me a skill for putting words on a page that told a story or got across a point of view. My mom introduced me to good writers and throughout my youth we regularly discussed books we both had recently completed. As I majored in journalism in college, my mom often read my major term papers – correcting grammar, catching typos and posing questions that challenged me to find a better way of expressing my thoughts. Even now, every month as I write and edit My Hometown Chula Vista, I complete my work knowing my mom will be reading each issue cover to cover. The level of support I receive from my mom is nothing unusual. Both my brother and sister could quickly share examples of how our mom, and our dad as well, has encouraged them in both their professional and personal lives. She’s done the same for her own brothers and sisters and lifelong friends. As I watch her turn her loving gaze to her seven grandkids, I simply smile and admire how much my mom has left to give. Who knows what each of them will turn out to be when they grow up, but whatever it is they will do so knowing they have the total faith and support of one amazing individual – the one I celebrate this month. Happy Mother’s Day Mom!


MAY 2012

What’s inside



community news 9

Body By Bobbie’s 90-Day Fitness


Cycle Chula Vista!

scene 10

Photos from around Chula Vista...

on topic Tips for High School Students Taking Math SAT


community calendar Local Events and Activities


resident spotlight The Shaffer Family


school news Eastlake High Swimmer an Inspiration In and Out of the Water


business highlight Moms Making Six Figures


Michael Minjares, Editor of My Hometown

may 2012 my hometown 3



Look what great things your community is up to...

To Rancho del Rey Middle School teacher-librarian Alejandro Picazo, on recently being named as a 2012 Horace Mann-Abraham Lincoln Fellow. The fellowship selects 50 educators from around the U.S. to travel to Springfield, IL over the summer. Fellows spend a week of their summer walking in Abe’s footsteps by touring various historical sites in Illinois, including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site, Lincoln’s home, Lincoln’s tomb and the Old State Capitol State Historic Site.

To Chula Vista’s Copy Link, Inc. on being named a Platinum Level Service Provider by Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America (SIICA), a division of Sharp Electronics Corporation. The local business was recognized for its high level of achievement in critical areas of service delivery. “It is an honor for us to receive the Sharp Platinum Level Service Providers Award,” said Kevin Marshall from Copy Link, Inc.

To the City of Chula Vista for receiving an Award of Excellence from the California Park & Recreation Society (CPRS) for the category of “Park Planning and Community” for Mt. San Miguel Ranch Park. The 19-acre community park, located at 2335 Paseo Veracruz, was built in 2010 and designed by San Diego’s Schmidt Design Group. In addition to three softball fields, Mt. San Miguel Ranch includes many community amenities such as an off-leash dog park, basketball and tennis courts, playgrounds and picnic areas. An adjacent open space area is surrounded by walking trails that connect to regional trails and provide beautiful views.

To the Arroyo Vista Coyotes Soccer Team (Coed Champs) and the Olympic View Eagles Soccer Team (Coed 3rd Place) on their recent victories at the Olympic Training Center. Both teams are part of the unique, all-volunteer Chula Vista Elementary School District Soccer League. This year the league had 50 school teams participate in Juniors, Boys, Girls, and Coed teams, organized primarily by district teachers Gerardo Morales and Denis Vargas.

To Eastlake High School Sophomore, Sarah Sieber, for winning first place in the allround category of the California State Gymnastics Championship on March 31. Sarah won first on beam, first on floor, second on the uneven parallel bars and third place on the vault. Sarah has been a member of the South Bay YMCA Storm gymnastics team for several years.

To the Wolf Canyon girls basketball team on winning the CVESD basketball league title. The local team capped an undefeated season with a win in the championship game played at Bonita Vista High School on March 23. In addition, Wolf Canyon’s boys team captured third place.

If you would like to contribute to Bravo, send a quick note to My Hometown’s editor at and we’ll do our best to put your good-news announcement in an upcoming issue. Submissions should be sent by the 10th of the month. Published by Fountain Media Group, Inc 1501 San Elijo Rd, Suite 104-202 San Marcos, CA 92078 (800) 497-1309 x701

4 my hometown may 2012

Publisher Tim Minjares

Editorial Mike Minjares

Sales Melissa Granados

Production AJ Moreno

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form, in whole or part, without written permission is prohibited. Fountain Media Group, Inc. is not responsible for the views of contributing writers and assumes no responsibility for errors appearing within. Opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Publisher or advertisers.

on your doorstep Chula Vista Celebrates Cinco de Mayo

“Bonita in Bloom” Garden Tour to Showcase Local Landscapes

The Third Avenue Village Association invites the entire local community to come out to downtown Chula Vista to experience a taste of Mexico at the 16th Annual Festival Cinco de Mayo on Sunday, May 6. The May 6 Festival, which runs Downtown Third Avenue from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. between E and G Streets on Third Avenue, features two stages, a Kids Fun Zone, nearly 200 vendors, a Mariachi Band Battle and a spicy dish contest. Enjoy this local celebration of Mexican culture, south of the border cuisine and the work of local artisans. Come join the 30,000 community members who enjoy this celebration of Hispanic culture every year. For more information, visit

Bonita Valley Garden Club will hold its 15th annual garden tour on Wednesday, May 9, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in one of Bonita’s beautiful neighborhoods. This tour of seven gardens will celebrate the club’s 40th anniversary with plant sales, opportunity drawings and more at the Bonita/Sunnyside Library, 4375 Bonita Road, Bonita. The flat-terrain walking tour promises a variety of world-class gardens demonstrating water-saving techniques, creative garden art and lush designs from tropical to desert landscapes. Ample free street parking is available. No dogs or strollers, please.  For ticket information, contact Vera Matthias at (619) 479-0429. Proceeds from the garden tour will support scholarships for horticulture students from Cuyamaca and Southwestern Colleges. Tickets run $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Membership to Bonita Valley Garden Club is open to anyone interested in gardening. Guests are welcome to any meeting held the second Wednesday of every month from September to June at 9:30 a.m. at the Bonita/ Sunnyside Library. Each meeting features speakers or demonstrations from floral design to horticulture and includes supporting scholarships for local college students.

AYSO 2012 Season Registration May 12 & 17 Having served the South Bay community for more than two decades, American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) has played a major role in introducing the game of soccer to thousands of local youth. That effort continues with the help of over 300 volunteers. Registrations are now being accepted for the upcoming 2012 season. On May 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and May 17 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., local families can come by the Chula Vista High School cafeteria and submit paperwork for the next season for AYSO region 290. Registration fees run $110 per player and include uniform (jersey, shorts and socks), team photograph, insurance and trophies for U6 and U8 divisions. Sibling discounts are available. For more information go online to

Crusaders Youth Football & Cheer Registration Open Registration is now open for the 2012 Crusaders Youth Football and Cheer program. Interested participants should attend one of the open registration events on Sunday, May 6, or 20, June 3 or 24, or July 1 or 8 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. All registration sessions take place at Mater Dei High School, 1615 Mater Dei Drive. Visit the organization’s website at or call (619) 288-8126 for registration requirements.

may 2012 my hometown 5

on your doorstep


Olympian High’s Lori Lopez Competes for Dairy Contest PrizE


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For the third year in a row, Chula Vista’s Olympian High School has a finalist in the annual Lucerne Art of Dairy Contest. This time it is junior art student Lori Lopez who is representing local, talented young art students in the seventh year of the national art competition. Voting is open on the Lucerne website – www.artofdairy-artcontest. com/Finalists – for the public to decide who wins the top prizes. Voting runs through May 15. Responding to the theme of “Red, White and Moo; Celebrating American Ingenuity,” Lopez’s design is based on the work of Roy Lichtenstein (American pop artist). This theme was designed to challenge student artists to feed off of America’s ingenuity and showcase their own creativity. Her piece was chosen for the one of the top nine finalists spots out of 9,267 entries from across the nation. Lopez is representing the state of California (Region B) in the contest. My Hometown Chula Vista offers our congratulations to Lori Lopez and encourages our readers to support this talented local artist by casting a vote for her terrific work.

on your doorstep New Business Networking Group Opens in East Chula Vista


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Formed in late 2011, the Eastlake Business Association focuses on education, networking and ensuring the success of its members while improving the lives of those in the local community. Eastlake Business Association offers free membership, free educational presentations, a free networking event and a free dedicated web page to its members. “Community partnership is big on our list. Why? Because our members aren’t just business owners, or professionals, they are local family members and friends who care deeply about our community� said Eastlake Business Association President Jorge Balvaneda. “They are people you already know, like and trust.� Meetings take place every Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Tacos & Tarros in the Otay Ranch Town Center. Each week the meeting includes an educational presentation on topics such as economic development, social media marketing, search engine optimization, press release strategies, business operations, personal investing, and more. To learn more, check out the website at or simply attend an upcoming event.

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Foundry UMC – New to Otay Ranch; Open to All Maybe you’ve seen the signs at Otay Ranch Town Center; or at the family movie nights they sponsored last summer; or at last October’s Centennial Celebration. They are Foundry United Methodist Church and before opening their doors for weekly worship services, they have intentionally formed working relationships with local organizations that serve Otay Ranch and EastLake. “We couldn’t imagine starting a church in a new community, without first learning about that area’s distinct needs,” said Rev. Christian DeMent, Foundry’s Lead Pastor. “That means meeting with local city leaders, business owners, social service agencies, parents, teachers and youth to learn what challenges they face.”

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Serving the needs of this community has in fact been the hallmark of Foundry’s young existence here. Their members have taken part in community clean-up projects at Salt Creek Recreation Center, Mountain Hawk Park, Del Rey Canyon and the Wildlife Refuge on Proctor Valley Road. This summer, Foundry is reprising its popular Free Family Movie Nights at Montevalle Recreation Center with a special tie-in to Mayor Cox’s campaign to improve literacy in South Bay schools. Their Birdies, Bogeys & Books golf tournament last November raised money for the Chula Vista Public Library Foundation and helped make last month’s library grand opening in Otay Ranch Town Center a reality. Just



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last month, they sponsored their second Easter Sunrise Service overlooking Otay Lake. Rev. DeMent says that the church is now embarking on its second phase of development by leasing space for offices and a worship center in the EastLake Design District off of Otay Lakes Blvd. “We have felt warmly embraced by the people of Otay Ranch and EastLake,” Pastor Christian said. “We are eager to return that welcoming spirit by inviting people to join this new faith-life community as it is being formed. It is a rare opportunity to get in on the ground floor and have a say in what this new church should be. ” Foundry UMC will open its doors at 861 Harold Place on September 9 for Sunday morning worship. To learn more, go to

on your doorstep


Body By Bobbieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 90-Day Fitness Challenge Update Back in January, My Hometown Chula Vista highlighted a great opportunity for local residents to kick off the new year with a commitment to taking control of their weight and building a healthy lifestyle. The 90-Day Fitness Challenged offered by EastLakeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Body By Bobbie â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Institute of Health & Fitness is now underway and waistlines are shrinking and body fat percentages are falling â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just after one week! The six finalists went through their first weekly measurements at the beginning of April and Ty Valkanas from Body By Bobbie is pleased to report that every single one of them has seen tangible improvement in several areas. From a 1-inch loss in

waistline measurement to a high of 6 inches off the waistline of one male participant, the contestants are stepping up to the challenge. In addition, the loss in body fat percentages ranged from .7 to 5.5 percent, again in one week. Based on a 500-word essay and a personal interview with the local fitness centerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s staff, six finalists were selected to participate in this potentially life-changing activity. Each participant has different reasons for wanting to improve his or her life, but all of them now have the support and resources, thanks to Body By Bobbie, to make those necessary and lasting changes. The 90-Day Fitness Challenge

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includes personal training, nutritional guidance, fitness classes and TRX training, body fat and linear measurements and a health and fitness lifestyle coach for the 90 days of the challenge. With the focus on dropping body fat and reducing waistlines, Body Program Personal Training & Nutrition By Bobbie will continue to take skin KIDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S PROGRAMS K-12 fold and linear measurements without an over emphasis on the contestantsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; weight. The goal is to help the programâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s participants remain consistent in their approach and success with living a healthier lifestyle. Good luck to all the finalists and FAMILY GYMinitial & MIXED MARTIAL ARTS congratulations on your success. To follow the finalists and their progress online, go to BodyByBobbie. com my.




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Around Chula Vista

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Bill Griffith - Emcee

Buzz Off Team

CVESD Board Team

Chula Vista Centennial Closing EVENT

Centennial Closing

(L) Jennifer Santander and (R) Mary Marcdante; photo by John Kalpus

Centennial Closing

Otay Ranch Town Center Library Grand opening

Mayor Cheryl Cox - Ribbon Cutting 10 my hometown may 2012

Library Technology

Doors Open

on your doorstep CV Community Fun Run May 19 The 4th annual Chula Vista Community Fun Run is set for Saturday, May 19 at the US Olympic Training Center. The local 5K Fun Run is intended for all levels of runners, while allowing strollers and families to participate in a fun and engaging environment at Chula Vistaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s U.S. Olympic Training Center. Gates open for registration at 6:30 a.m. with the event kicking off at 8:00. A community expo and celebration follow the run. Proceeds of the event benefit youth, health and environmental education through the support of the Chula Vista Nature Center and Friends of the Chula Vista Parks and Recreation, Animal Shelter and Library. Some Olympic athletes will be present during the event to meet with participants, pose for pictures and sign autographs. Individual fees are $25, which includes an event t-shirt, or $35 after May 14. A family of four can register for $55, which would include two t-shirts, or $75 after May 14. For more information visit the website at

Free Bullying Prevention Seminar Pride Martial Arts is once again offering a free bullying prevention seminar for children 7 and up on Saturday, May 5 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. at 2334 Proctor Valley Road, Suite 101 (in the Albertsons Shopping Center). The program will assist local children with appropriately responding to threats of bullying and provide them with valuable information. For children under the age of 7, Pride Martial Arts will conduct a child safety seminar called â&#x20AC;&#x153;Kids N Power.â&#x20AC;? To receive more information, call (619) 421-1282 or visit

Community Open House for SWCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Crown Cove Aquatic Center Southwestern Collegeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Crown Cove Aquatic Center has once again teamed up with Cal Boating/Department of Boating & Waterways to host its Annual Community Open House on Sunday, May 20. Held in conjunction with National Safe Boating Week, the general public has an opportunity to experience free boating and recreational activities from 11:00 a.m. through 3:00 p.m. at Silver Strand State Beach. From free beach parking, to free instruction and rides on sailboats, kayaks, standup paddleboards and catamarans, guests will learn about the many opportunities available through Southwestern College.









* The state benchmark is 800; 41 of 45 CVESD schools exceed the benchmark.



on your doorstep

Cycle Chula Vista!

For anyone who has hopped on a bike and headed out on our local roads and trails, it quickly becomes evident that Chula Vista is a great bicycling community. With wide, nicely paved roads, plenty   of interesting bike trails and wondrous views seemingly around   every bend, Chula Vista – especially the eastern portion of the  city – offers much to attract local and non-local riders. Throw in annual events like last month’s Cycle EastLake!, Bike to Work Day and the Bike the Bridge ride that starts in Coronado, crosses over the famous bridge and winds its way along Chula Vista’s marina, and our city provides enough outlets to satisfy even the most active cycle enthusiast. Obviously, a city’s accessibility to bike riders of all ages doesn’t happen by accident or happenstance. To create a bicycle-friendly community takes intentional and directed effort – exactly what Chula Vista has done for years now. Two recent activities clearly illustrate our city’s commitment to making the local area a bike rider’s ideal setting. Both the “Safe Routes to Schools” program and the newly opened segment on the Bayshore Bikeway provide cyclists, both young and old, with new resources to make enjoying the city while on two-wheels easier and safer. “Bike paths and routes build connectivity to the community,” said Pedro Garcia, Conservation Specialist with the City of Chula Vista. “People used to be outside more than they are now. We are trying to encourage people to get outside and bike and meet their neighbors.” In an effort to raise awareness about Chula Vista’s bike-friendly areas, Garcia created a city bike map that has proven to be very popular. Portable enough to be easily carried in a pocket and durable enough to handle heavy use, the city bike map highlights the many bike lanes, bike trails and bike routes that cyclists can use on daily commutes or weekend rides through local neigh12 my hometown may 2012

borhoods. Just last month, Garcia and his team added to the bike map library with the introduction of more detailed maps for several local middle schools. The “Safe Routes to School” program encourages families to use their school-specific map to plan a route from their residence to the school that is safe and completely accessible by bike. Garcia said the maps, which include bike lanes and bikes paths and indicate locations of stop signs and traffic signals, are a result of feedback from students, parents and teachers. “The biggest concern we heard from parents centered on the safety of their kids,” Garcia said. “We designed the map so kids can literally map out a safe bike route to school. Success of this program will be measured by how many students bike to school. It is going to be a great program.” On March 24, San Diego leaders, bicyclists and residents came out to celebrate the completion of a new 1.8-mile segment of the Bayshore Bikeway. This new segment of the eventual 24-mile loop around San Diego is located entirely in the City of Chula Vista and begins on H Street, ends on Palomar Street and runs along Bay Boulevard. The 1.8mile stretch cost $1.8 million to build and is funded by federal Transportation Enhancement funds and the regional TransNet half-cent sales tax administered by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). “This new segment of the Bayshore Bikeway offers bicyclists a safe and scenic route to explore the Chula Vista bayfront,” said County Supervisor and former Mayor of Chula Vista Greg Cox in a release. “You can visit Chula Vista, get a little biking in and then enjoy beautiful San Diego bay. That’s not a bad way to spend a day.” SANDAG is also coordinating activities associated with Bike to Work Day. Scheduled for Friday, May 18 as part of National Bike Month, Bike to Work Day encourages residents to keep the car in the garage and ride a bike to work. Garcia said Chula Vista will once again participate and be the site for several “pit stops” where participants can rest, pick up their event t-shirt and enjoy water, snacks and encouragement. More than 6,000 people participated in last year’s event and that number is expected to increase this year. To register, visit or SANDAG’s website at Garcia, who leads by example by regularly biking to work, said people who ride to work enjoy several benefits including arriving energized, awake and ready to work. Garcia even coaxed his mom into giving a two-wheel commute a try and now she is hooked. “We want everyone in Chula Vista to be healthy,” he said. “I encourage everyone to give it a try at least once. Bike riding can benefit you in both your personal and professional life.” my.

on your doorstep

Eastern Chula Vista: An Endurance Athlete’s Paradise By Emily Cebulski When people think of EastLake and eastern Chula Vista, they envision the typical suburban community – houses that are all in the same style and color pattern, lush greenery and parks on every corner. While EastLake has all of this and so much more, it is also an amazing training ground for endurance athletes. Whether it be running or riding, eastern Chula Vista is home to some of the best trails, sidewalks and bike paths in San Diego. As a master-planned community, EastLake is extremely pedestrian

friendly for residents of all fitness levels. While all of the major streets are lined with well-kept sidewalks, many have fire roads as well. Many of these fire roads are tucked away from the busy streets, giving pedestrians a feeling of security in knowing they are not as close to the speeding cars. Telegraph Canyon Road, Olympic Parkway and Proctor Valley Road all have wide, well-kept dirt sidewalks that are perfect for running, walking or a casual stroll. As any longtime runner can tell you, running on a softer surface like a fire road can be more forgiving to the joints than the hard concrete of a sidewalk. For all you cyclists out there, the amount of bike lanes in eastern Chula Vista is perfect for those long rides. While almost every major street has a bike lane, they are also well maintained with very few potholes, debris or hazards. And as you go farther east, the

hills get longer and steeper, giving your legs an amazing workout. And for the more experienced cyclists, a ride out to Jamul on Otay Lakes Road makes for a great training session. If you are really daring, venture out to Honey Springs Road off the 94 in Jamul for a serious workout. The long climb will make any cyclist’s legs scream. When you venture away from the roads and to the trails, EastLake can be a trail runner and mountain biker’s paradise. With trails ranging from single to double track, flat to steep, there is something for every outdoor enthusiast in eastern Chula Vista. The most popular trails are the ones around the Upper and Lower Otay Lakes which are mainly flat, single track that hug the lake shore. Due to the rise in popularity of trail endurance events, these lakes have become home to races such as the Dirt Devils Wild Horse Trail

Valley Road are steep and challenging. Whether on foot or a mountain bike, these trails are sure to test your endurance while offering beautiful scenery at the same time. Training on difficult trails like these is sure to lower your time in a flat road race and increase your fitness level. Although EastLake is an awardwinning master-planned community, the natural beauty and terrain of eastern Chula Vista deserves accolades as well. So the next time you want to get some exercise in, venture to the roads or trails of EastLake, it will not disappoint. my. Emily Cebulski is a freelance writer, lifelong runner and has been an EastLake resident for 10 years.

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may 2012 my hometown 13

Spring Fever

Great Communities Are Built And Sustained By Great Families By Veronica Gerace

When thinking of what makes an exceptionally great community, most people think of resources such as libraries, recreation centers, civic groups, and places of worship, but few immediately think of the family component. Great communities are built and sustained by great families. Great communities stem from great mothers who build community in the course of raising their children. For example, moving into eastern Chula Vista, a community that was not yet fully developed, meant, for many mothers, taking a leap of faith in the potential community that mothers could help shape. Everyone has a mother, so, most people believe that they have a good notion of what Motherhood is all about. But as two Chula Vista mothers share, their idea of Motherhood evolved dramatically after becoming mothers themselves.

may 2012 my hometown 15



Summer Fialkowski, originally from the Los Angeles area but now a resident of eastern Chula Vista, is the mother of 5-year-old Allen. After weighing the positive and negative parenting choices of her own mother, Summer has been inspired to make very thoughtful parenting choices in working to be a special mother to Allen, “a mother who is present, active, and not afraid to admit that she is not perfect.”

Summer’s hopes of attending graduate school and earning her teaching credential have been put on hold while she focuses on raising her child. Although motherhood has meant tremendous self-sacrifice for Summer, she believes that the things that she has given up have been replaced by far more important things. “My child has taught me things that I never would have learned in school; things no professor and no amount of school could ever teach me,” she said. “It is one thing to read about unconditional love in a book, or to hear people talk about it, but the greatest lesson Motherhood has taught me is the true meaning of unconditional love.” Summer attributes her confidence in herself and her mothering skills in part to her Chula Vista community. Initially a bit reluctant to move into a rapidly developing community, Summer values interacting with people with whom she and her husband share family goals and

values and participating in community activities that enrich their lives. Summer also cherishes the variety of people her family is surrounded by and in feeling so connected as a community member. The engaged women in Summer’s eastern Chula Vista community, who have been willing to share and discuss motherhood, have helped Summer appreciate the importance of maintaining a strong marriage and taking care of herself in order to be the best mother that she can be. Inspired by the saying, “There is no right way to be a perfect mother, but there are a million ways to be a good one,” Summer takes every opportunity to enrich the lives of other mothers in her community by being a positive person and sharing uplifting words. “Don’t stress yourself,” she said. “You’re going to make mistakes, but kids are so forgiving. Don’t be afraid to say that you’re sorry and love, love, love your children.”

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16 my hometown may 2012


Lucy Levett child helps to build trust and enhances communication. Make a conscious effort to provide lots of love. That love will produce great kids who will give back to their community.” The meaning of motherhood varies depending on whom you ask, but few would argue about the impact that mothers have on the community. It is not buildings, such as libraries and communi-

Lucy Levett, originally from North Carolina, but now an eastern Chula Vista resident, is the mother of 18-yearold Brian and 12-year-old Brianna. “Motherhood is one of the biggest blessings from God,” shares Lucy. Orphaned at the age of 8, Lucy was raised by her older sister Rhonda Wilkes, who was just out of college. It was Rhonda’s selfless act in taking on the role of mother to Lucy and her siblings and Rhonda’s endless supply of love and nurturing that she showered upon her orphaned siblings, that left the most profound influence upon Lucy in her dream of becoming a mother. Although always grateful to Rhonda, Lucy did not truly appreciate the sacrifice that her sister had made until Lucy became a mother herself. Lucy recalls the rude awakening when she realized that being a good mother requires so much more work than she ever imagined. Surrounded by community members, Lucy has been inspired to become very active in the lives of her children. Lucy strongly believes in leading by example and recently completed graduate school. While showing her children how she has been able to focus on them and then return to school, Lucy plays a very active role in her children’s activities. Lucy stays involved in parent associations, often in leadership roles at both of her children’s schools. A supportive husband and community have helped Lucy to really reflect upon what is important. “Treat each child different,” she said. “Give kids lots of love. Connect with your child, because it will bring out the better qualities in them. Connecting with your



ty centers, but mothers, who are thoughtful about their role in the lives of the little people they are preparing to be our leaders of tomorrow, that are the foundations of great communities. my. Veronica Gerace is a mother of three children, a part-time professor at Southwestern Community College and a resident of east Chula Vista.



may 2012 my hometown 17

Words of Motherly Wisdom By Lisa Johnson “You won’t understand until you’re a mother.” Yet again, I hear myself saying this phrase to my almost 21-year-old daughter. “Mom,” she says, “you don’t have to worry so much. I can take care of myself. I run in my neighborhood all the time.” Or, she might say in response to my

18 my hometown may 2012

now tiresome statement, “Really mom, I’m just going to San Francisco for the weekend. I’ll be fine…I don’t know why you worry?” Having two daughters, I also receive a similar response from my 17-year-old daughter. She’ll say, “Mom, I drive in

traffic every day and I’m always fine; you really don’t need to worry.” Really?! Not worry?! I’m a mother for Pete’s sake (not that Pete – whoever he is - would understand). If you are a mom reading this, you get it. If you’re a dad reading this, well, then you have likely heard similar conversations in your home many times. The month of May is the time we celebrate Mother’s Day, which has evolved into a day set aside to do nice things for our moms or those in our lives who are like moms to us. Every other day of the year is also Mother’s Day but in a different sense. Each day is mother’s day to make sure everyone eats properly; to ensure everyone has clean underwear and socks; to double check that all field trip permission slips are signed, the school emergency cards are completed, the piano teacher is paid and the dog is fed. You get the picture. Now, I’m not saying that dads and kids don’t help with some or all of these things, but it’s mom who worries until they are done and who, to lessen that worry, ensures completion. I don’t think any mom, including me, would complain about any of the things we do each day for our families because we relish the opportunity to give of ourselves selflessly. Did any of us really realize when we decided to become moms what was in store for us? I think I thought I did until I actually had my first child. When I was expecting my first child, I remember asking my mom, “How do you know if you’re a good parent?” She replied, “Well, you never really know until your kids grow up;” to which my sister replied, “Mom, I think you can relax since both of us are self-supporting and not in prison.” Not exactly the litmus test I was hoping for. When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter I was about half way through graduate school. We had planned for this baby and were thrilled at the thought of becoming parents. Driving home from school one evening, I just began to cry. Really not my style, but when you’re pregnant you can pretty much blame any behavior during that nine months on hormones. The tears came from an overwhelming feeling that I was trapped. Here I was in graduate school pursuing an education towards a career I planned on


and now my life was over. I was forever going to have another individual dependent on me and I would never again really be able to do the things I wanted to do. One morning about two weeks later, I completed a final exam and went right to the hospital to give birth to my daughter. When I returned to school a week later everything was the same – except I wasn’t pregnant. During a class break, I called my husband and said, “Thank you.” He asked, “For what?” I told him, because I was able to return to school, that I realized there was life after giving birth. As I am embarking on the new stage in my life of becoming an empty nester when my youngest daughter goes off to college next fall, I realize how quickly the time has gone by. Children just grow up before our eyes. Everyday as a mom has been a blessing. Did I always think that at the time, especially when I was worrying, no. My own mom has been gone now for a few years, but so much of what she taught me becomes even more important

as my children get older. I recall her once saying, “Be certain about who you marry but be even more certain before you have a child. You don’t always have to be a wife but you do always have to be a mother.” I also recall, not all that long ago, when I was driving home from work and received a call from my mom. At the time, I had a job that took me downtown so I traveled to and from work in traffic. When she called that day she said, “I heard the traffic was bad today and I was worried about you driving home.” As I began to say, “Oh mom, you don’t have to worry, I’m fine; I drive this every day,” I caught myself. Instead, I said, “Thanks for calling, how was your day?” I understood why she had called because I’m a mom, too. my.

Every other day of the year is also Mother’s Day but in a different sense.

Lisa Johnson lives in east Chula Vista with her family and can often be found all over the Chula Vista community giving back and making a difference, including at home.

Johnson Family photo courtesy of Jessica Fraser;

Keep your kids busy this summer with non-stop fun at Xtreme Camp! Weekly fieldtrips, art, games, and lots of opportunities to make new friends. We provide safe, age-friendly groups with experienced staff. Spots fill up fast though so don’t wait too long to give them a summer to remember. Open enrollment to all first-sixth graders based on the upcoming 2012/13 school year. Ask about full or part time options.

June 4-8 Bursting Into Summer [Laser Tag Field Trip] June 11-15 Red Carpet Madness [It’s Movie Time] June 18-22 Chillin’ in San Diego [Boomers Field Trip] June 25-29 Summer Spectacular [Bowling Field Trip] July 2-6 Cruisin’ Around Town [Martial Arts]* *Special 4 day camp Register weekdays at EastLake Church (990 Lane Avenue) or download forms online at, (click on Xtreme Camp under the kids/students tab) Questions, 619-339-8703 or email Lic. #376700014

may 2012 my hometown 19

on topic: EDUCATION

Tips for High School Students Taking Math SAT By Ming Ji, GoldBridge Learning Academy


f you are a high school student who is applying to universities, you know you need to pass the MATH SAT with a good score. There are many review test prep courses and programs on MATH SAT. Some are better than others. However, even if you attend test prep courses or work with a tutor, you still need to discover strategies that work for you. Be active and not passive. Through intensive review and practice, you can identify and familiarize yourself with good strategies for taking the MATH SAT. The purpose of this article is to provide a few tips that can maximize the benefit of your MATH SAT test prep efforts. In general, there are two important factors to do well on MATH SAT: knowledge and test-taking strategies. We will present our tips along these two lines: 1. Start Early – It is better to start at the sophomore year than the senior year. You have at least one year of time to improve yourself. Take the PSAT and mock tests to get an idea where you are.

2. Block Out Protected Time Windows – Time management is critical for high school students who may be taking five classes and doing many extracurricular activities. You must have some blocks of time reserved for MATH SAT. You should not be distracted during these time blocks. Learn how to say no. 3. Do a Complete Review of Middle/High School Math – You must make sure you do not have “holes” in your middle school and high school math. If you do not know the basic math required by MATH SAT, even the best test taking strategy will not help you. Review the fundamental knowledge of middle/high school math and identify your weak areas. Your job is to make sure you master the concepts and skills in your weak areas during the test preparation time period. Create or buy a study aid with all the formulas.

4. Do Practice Tests and Analyze Your Test Results Carefully – Do practice tests. Time yourself. Analyze your results and identify your weaknesses in knowledge, skill or strategy. Review and study to strengthen your weak areas and then go back to practice tests. 5. Understand the Structure of MATH SAT and Use Appropriate Strategies – Always try to get all the points on the first eight questions in each of the three sections. Always try all the questions in the grid-in section, even if you guess the answer. Never make a guess on a multiple-choice question unless you can eliminate at least one answer. 6. Keep Fit and Be Energetic – Maintain regular exercise, relax and get plenty of rest – and that includes sleep – during the days leading up to the test. MATH SAT is a challenge to most students. But it is also an opportunity for you to do a systematic review of your high school math and to learn and practice test-taking strategies. The knowledge and skill you acquire from MATH SAT test prep should help you in college as well as your graduate school applications when you might need to take the GRE or GMAT. Good luck to everyone who will take the next MATH SAT test! my. Ming Ji, PhD, is a professor and member of the GoldBridge Learning Academy here in Chula Vista.

20 my hometown may 2012

To g Spriney Vall

Otay Lakes Rd.



l ler

EastLake Pkwy.

Olympic Pkwy.

125 Expy.

Telegraph Cyn Rd.

S. Bay


Otay Lakes Rd.

East H St.


calendar may 2012

out and about May 4 2nd Annual Miss Cinco de Mayo and 1st Annual Miss Teen Cinco de Mayo Pageant – 4pm at the Lyceum Space Horton Plaza; Scholarships awarded to the winners along with opportunity to play active role in community events; Tickets $25 general seating;

May 5

May 6

May 9

Free Bullying Prevention Seminar – 1-2:30pm at Pride Martial Arts, 2334 Proctor Valley Rd, Ste 101; Pride Martial Arts offers program to assist kids 7 and up with responding to bullying; “Kids N Power” child safety seminar offered for kids under 7 from 2:30-3:30pm; (619) 4211282;

16th Annual Festival Cinco de Mayo – 11am-5pm between E & G Streets on Third Avenue; Music, dancing, food, drinks, entertainment and a kids’ zone; Admission is free;

Bonita Valley Garden Club’s 15th Annual Garden Tour – 10am-3pm at Bonita/ Sunnyside Library, 4375 Bonita Rd, Bonita; Tour a variety of world-class gardens; Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door; Vera Matthias (619) 479-0429

May 12

May 15

AYSO Chula Vista 2012 Registration – 9am-1pm at Chula Vista High School Cafeteria; Reg fee $110 per player and includes uniform, team photo, insurance trophies for U6 & U8 divisions;

SUHSD District Orchestra Spring Concert at Chula Vista High’s Jack Tygett Performing Arts Center; www.suhsd.k12.

Castle Park High Trojan Football Golf Tournament – 8am Shotgun start at Eastlake Golf Course; 4-man scramble format, closest to the pin and longest drive contests; $95 fee includes green fees, cart, dinner, refreshments and raffle prizes; Hans Graham (619) 804-9351

May 19 4th Annual Chula Vista Community Fun Run – 8am at U.S. Olympic Training Center; www.chulavistaca. gov/goto/funrun

May 26

“Mother’s Day” – 5-9pm – Neisha’s Dance & Music Academy; Kids ages 3-12; $25 per student; $35 day of event; We will surprise mom with a gift made just for her!; (619) 585-1133,

Memorial Meters 5K – Otay Lakes, 2270 Wueste Rd; Benefits the Sun Strides Foundation; Semi-hilly course starts at the landing area and forms a smooth figure 8 through service roads and trails;

SUHSD District Jazz Festival at Olympian High – 1-7:30pm; Jazz music featuring jazz bands from throughout the district;

Otay Ranch Town Center Farmer’s Market – every Tuesday 4-8pm Eastlake Business Association – every Monday 11:30am-1pm at Tacos & Tarros;

May 17 Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce Mixer –5:307:30pm; hosted by Scripps Health, 435 H Street; (619) 420-6603 or AYSO Chula Vista 2012 Registration – 6-8pm at Chula Vista High School Cafeteria; Reg fee $110 per player and includes uniform, team photo, insurance trophies for U6 & U8 divisions;

May 20 Crown Cove Aquatic Center Open House – 11am-3pm at Silver Strand State Beach; Learn about the many opportunities at Southwestern College’s Aquatic Center; (619) 575-6176 or

May 18 Southwestern College Commencement – Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre, 2050 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista; Info call (619) 482-6537 or email

May 24 Olympian High’s Pop Concert – 5:30pm; Final performance of this year’s senior class. Outdoor concert also offers BBQ dinner option before the music. CV Business Symposium Part 2 “Ready, Set, Cash Flow” – 6-8pm at Chula Vista Public Library, 389 Orange Ave; Free business educational program designed to help business owners succeed; (619) 420-6603 or email

Save The Date:

May 28 Memorial Day

June 7 – Opening celebration for “This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land” – a yearlong exhibit documenting the history of Chula Vista’s Japanese American Community at Chula Vista Heritage Museum

Please note events and times are subject to change.

22 my hometown may 2012

The Shaffer Family S

haron Shaffer is a fighter. For five years the local resident, wife and mother of two has fought to live her life as close to normal as possible while fighting the devastating effects of Huntington’s Disease. She can no longer drive or work. She has difficulty walking for long stretches. Speaking and swallowing have become increasingly more difficult. And yet, this incredible woman continues to be active in raising awareness – along with husband Renato and daughters Alexa and Taylor – about this incurable, hereditary and degenerative brain disorder. Readers of My Hometown Chula Vista may remember the Shaffers from a cover story in the April issue in 2010. At the time, Renato was preparing to ride across country in seven days raising awareness and funds for HD research. When we caught up with them this past month, the whole family had just completed the inaugural HD Walk. “Team Sharon” – as the family’s walking group was named – raised the most amount of money of any team and also had the highest number of supporters. Their efforts illustrate yet again how Sharon’s fighting spirit, showcased by her determination to walk the entire three-mile route, rubs off and empowers everyone around her. “We had a great turnout and far exceeded our goal for the first HD Walk,” Sharon said. “It was great to have the whole family involved and to see that we were the top team in terms of fundraising. I was amazed at the support we received from friends

Photo courtesy of: Schafer Photography (619) 261-0471

and family. I feel really, really blessed.” Seeing their mother battle this disease and remain a pillar of strength for her family and the HD community, has left a lasting impression on Alexa, 21, and Taylor, 16. A junior at UCSD studying psychology with an emphasis in healthcare and social services, Alexa has followed her mother’s lead in being active in the fight against HD. She has spoken at conferences and participated in multiple events. Following graduation from Eastlake High, Alexa contemplated going to college in Santa Barbara, but chose instead to live at home and go to school locally. “I decided to stay home in large part due to my mom,” she shared. “I want more time with my mom. It’s not the time for me to move away right now. Her Huntington’s is there and it is not going away. But when you’re not inclined to hide your story people are much more supportive and understanding.” Seeing the wonderful woman he met at Helix High School in La Mesa and married in 1988 show unmistakable signs of HD, tears at Renato every day. However, with the support of family, friends, neighbors, the community and, of course, his two daughters, he continues to hold out hope. “HD is devastating and it is our reality,” he said. “It’s important we get people into the research trials. Doctors have said they are close to slowing it down and if they can slow it down they can cure it.” my. may 2012 my hometown 23

Chula Vista

Business Symposium

Presented by First Bank & My Hometown Chula Vista Magazine

business. This 4-part series will address: “Everything you wanted to know about owning and running a successful business but did not know whom to ask.”

FREE but Space is Limited!

PART 2: Ready, Set, Cash Flow

something Thursday, May 24th to give 6 - 8 pm If you have something to give, then don’t give up on me.

Chula Vista Public Library

389 Orange Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91911 Seating is limited! RSVP by Thursday, May 17 Casey Family Programs is Call (619) 420-6603 or email looking for foster parents who can help teenagers find their way home to a safe and stable family. Learn more at or call 619.543.0774

OUR SPEAKERS represent the following agencies:

change a life change a life forever. forever Fine & Sharif, APLC A year of your life can

school news

School News Eastlake High Swimmer an Inspiration In and Out of the Water


t any age receiving a diagnosis of cancer is devastating. Emotions and questions come fast and furious. Some get verbalized, while a whole host of thoughts stay quiet and internal. Patients and family members want answers to questions about treatment options, survival rates, extent of the area affected and long-term prognosis. At the age of 11, Ellen Erickson faced this unfortunate reality. And while she had many of the typical concerns one would expect, one fear immediately stood out more than others – was she going to lose her hair. Ellen had been experiencing pain in her knee for some time when her parents decided she needed to see her pediatrician. When the results of the tests came back, Ellen, a sixth-grader at the time, and her family were told the doctors had found something they didn’t like. She needed to go to the hospital. “In 33 minutes our lives turned upside down,” mother Cyndi recalled. “The doctors indicated it was a malignant tumor and the next day Ellen was admitted. She went through 11 months of chemotherapy and six months in she lost her knee and part of her femur. It was a life-changing event for our whole family.” Ellen’s battle had begun. Diagnosed with osteocarcinoma – bone cancer – the young woman missed all of sixth grade and part of her seventh-grade year while undergoing treatments, blood transfusions and major surgery for something so rare only 200 cases are reported across the country each year. But it wasn’t long before Ellen’s determination and willingness to fight, evidenced since she was seven years old in the swimming pool, came to the forefront. Cyndi said that despite her daughter’s ordeals, as time went on Ellen would regularly show more concern for others than herself. Even on days when Ellen would be as sick as possi-

ble going through chemo, there she’d be worrying about other kids at the hospital going through their own treatments. It wasn’t long before Ellen’s sense of humor returned and helped not only herself, but those around her to battle through all the tough, trying moments. “When you go through something like this your scope of things is so narrow,” Cyndi said. “It is survival mode. The focus is on getting your daughter better.” In addition to simply getting well, Ellen had one goal that she focused on achieving despite everything that had happened. She knew she wanted to get back into the pool as soon as possible. Ellen had been a swimmer for several years before cancer became a part of her life and she longed to return to one place where she felt incredibly comfortable. “I love to swim,” she said. “Anytime I compete in the pool, I’m motivated to get

my best time. I feel like I have no limitations in the pool. It is another home for me. When I’m in the pool, my knee feels like it can do anything.” As Ellen’s health improved, she returned to school excited but concerned about walking the halls without hair and how her classmates might react. Right before Thanksgiving, one of Ellen’s friends informed her that she would cut her hair off to show support for Ellen. But that wasn’t the only person who stepped up to support the local youngster. Ellen’s younger brother, older sister, uncle and grandpa all shaved their head to express their love and support. Her classmates, the local community and now her teammates have also rallied around the current freshman – whose hair is back and growing fast – at Eastlake High. Yes, Ellen has achieved one of her major goals and is a member of the junior varsity swim team at Eastlake High. With her team, she is busy training and preparing for Mesa prelims and finals in early May. “As soon as I made the team this year, the coach told me I was part of the swim family,” Ellen said. “The whole team has been so supportive. I feel so special that they care so much. I want to continue to swim for Eastlake and make the varsity team.” Considering how much this incredible young woman has already overcome to meet her goals, there can be no doubt she will be a Titan varsity swimmer in the very near future. my.

may 2012 my hometown 25

Moms Making Six Figures H

eidi Bartolotta walked into the late lunch meeting professionally dressed, phone in hand, ready to share her story with the community publication her business has been advertising in for several months. However, before beginning the interview there was one important item she needed to take care of – ordering lunch. It is that sense of balancing work demands with personal well being that led Bartolotta, and many of the moms that make up her team, to this new professional opportunity nearly three years ago. “A lot of women have a difficult time in finding work and life balance,” she said as the interview began. “I have a background in pharmaceuticals and have two young daughters at home. I was looking to get more time to spend with them. Life is totally different now as I control my schedule. The biggest thing with this line of work is the ability to choose. It’s my business and I control when I work.” Moms Making Six Figures – a marketing arm for a U.S. manufacturer – allows women like Bartolotta a way to make a sizable income while having the freedom to stay at home and be directly involved in their children’s life. Women come to her business looking to earn extra money each month or to replace the salary they previously received for working outside the home. For others, the draw lies somewhere in between these points on the earnings spectrum. According to Bartolotta, the people that are successful in this type of work have several elements in common – they are diligent, self-motivated, possess good time manage26 my hometown may 2012

ment skills and consistently get the work done. “We are looking for moms who have a professional background and decided to stay home and who can commit some time to it,” Bartolotta said. “We also want people who know how to manage their time. It’s the biggest thing and one of the toughest skills to master. People who work with us need to be able to not let things that pop up interfere with their set business hours.” Bartolotta shared that becoming a part of Moms Making Six Figures is a personal process. A person interested in finding out more about the business would speak directly to one of the moms featured on the website. During the phone call, the goal is to find out what drew the individual to this line of work and to assess how much time she has available. The income opportunities vary based on the individual and how much time they can commit. A training process that lasts about three months follows the initial consultation and includes a lot of one-on-one mentoring. “I think the team aspect of this is a wonderful thing,” said Bartolotta. “You have other women that are also moms who know the struggles women who are moms have. It is a support team, in a sense. It is nice to have a choice and to get to interact in my kids’ lives more.” my. Moms Making Six Figures, (858) 837-1505;




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Intensive Summer SAT Test Prep Course (Free Mock test & grading, systematic review, test strategies & simulation)

(619) 808-1598



Personalized, one-on-one speech therapy services in the comfort of your own home. Research-based bilingual therapy for children and adults. Private pay only. Letitia A. Stanton-Aicher MS, CCC-SLP

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(619) 821-2300

For the past 20 years, Pack & Bianes Vision Care has offered state-of-theart eyecare for adults, children and infants. Look to us for the latest in contact lenses, eyewear, vision therapy or Lasik. We are providers for several insurance plans such as VSP & Tricare. Dr. Pack habla español.

Celebrating 20 years of Vision

(619) 216-3937





Authentic Italian Cuisine With A Modern Twist. Come enjoy delicious food and exquisite wines in our beautiful dining room or watch a game in our bar! Reserve our elegant private room or patio for your next group function. Daily happy hour, open seven days a week.

2330 Proctor Valley Rd Chula Vista, CA 91915

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Great Communities Are Built And Sustained By Great Families may 2012 Business highlight: MoMs Making six figures resident spotlight: the sha...