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september 2012



What’s Business As Usual? Small Business Tips and Ideas from Chula Vista Resources

Business highlight: surrogate alternatives resident spotlight: the vincej FAMILY


september 2012


local getaways


from the editor...


What’s inside


With school back in session as both my kids and my wife return to their individual school grounds this month, I find myself letting out a quick sigh of relief. You see, working from home is much easier when no one else is here. Now don’t get me wrong, I greatly enjoy spending time with Marietta, my daughter Mariana and son Andrew. However, my family’s presence around the house presents some interesting challenges when my “office” sits in a corner of our dining room. As a principal, my wife’s only true time off comes in the middle of summer. So, despite Mariana’s packed softball schedule and an unexpected foray into youth basketball for Andrew, we managed to squeeze in a family vacation to Hawaii. We had a great time making the most of Disney’s Aulani Resort on Oahu. We visited the USS Arizona Memorial, the Dole Plantation and the Polynesian Cultural Center. We snorkeled, went tubing, attended a couple of wonderful outdoor shows and genuinely enjoyed just being away from home. After five days in Hawaii’s tropical paradise, we set off for the best part of our trip – coming home to this great area. So often we go through our daily existence taking for granted all the amazing people, activities and amenities we have right here in our backyard. As we often like to do in this neighborhood publication, we turn the spotlight on some of the best aspects of our local community. Both our Resident Spotlight and Business Highlight stories feature people making significant contributions to our community. We are also proud to share with our readers the creativity of young students from a nearby school. Check out our School News section and we think you will be impressed with what these young people have accomplished. As I mentioned last issue, we are asking for the community’s help in discovering the favorite places to enjoy a beer, a glass of wine, a bite to eat. If you have a favorite spot you are willing to share – or one you own that you’d like to promote – I hope you’ll drop me a line at We would love to receive your input. Our list will only be as good as the input we receive from you.

community news

Michael Minjares, Editor of My Hometown

Surrogate Alternatives, Inc

What’s Business As Usual? Page 12

90-Day Fitness Challenge Results Are In


lifestyle 16

Slice of Life - Lunch Box Ideas

community calendar 20

Local Events and Activities

on topic Eastside Sequel Making a Difference


Neighborhood Treasures


Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan Approved


resident spotlight 24

The Vincej Family

school news Local School BLASTs Into Comic Con


business highlight 26

september 2012 my hometown 3


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

To several outstanding local high school students on being recipients of the 2012 Pack and Bianes Vision Scholarship. Pictured with Dr. Pack (left) and Dr. Bianes are Alyssa Pack from Bonita Vista High (attending UCI this fall) and Samitha Liango who will attend Johns Hopkins University after also recently graduating from Bonita Vista. Other students to receive the scholarship were Sabrina Evans (Eastlake High, SDSU), Bianca Lopez (Montgomery High, SDSU), Louise Yagi (Hilltop High, UCLA), Sarah Gargarin (Otay Ranch High, UCLA) and Alec Vicedo (Olympian High, UCLA). We wish you all the best in college. To the Brew House at EastLake on winning top honors with a first place ribbon for its Wolf Canyon Wheat at the 6th Annual International Beer Competition at the Del Mar Fair. In total, nearly 140 breweries and 300 beers were entered in the competition representing 15 states and 15 different countries. The Wolf Canyon Wheat is an American-style wheat beer. While most beers are brewed with 100% malted barley, wheat beers have about 50% malted wheat included in the recipe. The result is a beer with a dry, crisp finish. The Brew House at EastLake is located in the heart of the EastLake Design District. To Rebecca Kelley – Marketing, Business and Community Relations Director at the South Bay Family YMCA and an Otay Ranch resident – on being named to SD METRO Magazine’s 13th Annual “40 Under 40” honor roll. The list

represents some of San Diego’s outstanding young leaders. Kelley, who was nominated for the honor by Zachary Schlagel and Mayor Cheryl Cox, will be honored at a luncheon on September 25 for her wonderful work at the local YMCA and in the community. To Kohl Music School students Soren and Annaka Zaiser. On August 10, the EastLake Trails siblings won their respective 2012 AFNA piano competitions at the Hyatt Regency Irvine, CA. Both Soren, 10, and Annaka, 7, have been playing piano and other musical instruments since age 5. To the COWBOTICS FLL neighborhood robotics team and Little LEGO Ladies JrFLL team for hosting a LEGO Showcase at Chick-fil-A Eastlake Terraces on July 21 for over 65 children and their parents.  Robot demonstrations and motorized LEGO models were on display. Everyone had a great time creating LEGO masterpieces for display and judging by the EastLake Educational Foundation. Chickfil-A and LEGOLAND provided awards. COWBOTICS was awarded one of the 100 nationwide LEGO Showcase grants to increase community awareness of the use of LEGOs in education from Education Blueprints Association. For more information on FLL/JrFLL teams:

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 september 2012

Publisher Tim Minjares

Editorial Mike Minjares

Sales Melissa Granados

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 YMCA Adventure Guides

Serving families has always been at the heart of the Y. The wonderful community organization has a fundamental desire to provide opportunities for every family to build stronger bonds, achieve a greater work/life balance, and become more engaged with the South Bay community. The South Bay Family YMCA is proud to announce a new family program, Adventure Guides. YMCA Adventure Guides and Trailblazers (formerly named Indian Guides) enable families to strengthen relationships and foster a lifetime of companionship. With Adventure Guides and Trailblazers, families have the opportunity to participate in overnight camping trips, one-day adventures and competitions such as pumpkin carving and pinewood derbies. YMCA Adventure Guides and YMCA Trailblazers are parent/child programs that provide opportunities for parents and children to spend quality time together, making memories outdoors. The first YMCA Adventure Guides overnight camping trip will be September 7 through September 9 at YMCA Camp Surf in Imperial Beach. All participants will enjoy a two-night cabin camping experience with surfing, boogie boarding, archery, and rock climbing for an affordable cost that includes meals. To learn more about YMCA Adventure Guides (children ages 5-9) and YMCA Trailblazers (children ages 10-14), please visit, or contact YMCA Day Camp and Family Programs Director for the Y, Courtney Baltiyskyy at

Otay Ranch Business Mixer – Sept. 11 Wells Fargo Bank and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage invite the local community to attend the Otay Ranch Business Mixer on Tuesday, September 11. The mixer will take place from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. and provide an opportunity to meet real estate and business professionals in the community. RSVPs can be made by emailing Jaimie Rubio at

Latino Film Series Returns to Otay Ranch Town Center The very best of Latino documentary and feature films once again comes to Otay Ranch Town Center for the 2012 “¡Que Viva! Cine Latino” Film Festival. As in years past, the festival is free and will showcase some of the most critically acclaimed Latino productions from the past 12 months, including Academy-Award Nominated “A Better Life,” “Precious Knowledge,” “Anita” and “Habanastation.” As an added bonus, guests will be treated to prescreening entertainment each week, featuring an assortment of live local Latino musical groups. ¡Que Viva! Cine Latino screenings takes place every Wednesday in September starting at 6:30 p.m. (September 5, 12, 19, 26) in the Food Pavilion at Otay Ranch Town Center. “Que Viva is a great free community event we have been proud to host every year since the mall opened,” said Tim Colby, general manager of Otay Ranch Town Center. “This series celebrates the wonderful depth of Latino arts and media and is accessible for both Spanish and English speaking guests.”

Fire Department Open House – Oct. 6 Chula Vista Fire Department’s annual open house for Fire Prevention Day will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6. Features at this year’s event include live fire department demonstrations, fire equipment displays, and fire prevention exhibits. All of the activities will take place at Fire Station #4, located at 850 Paseo Ranchero in the Rancho del Rey neighborhood just north of East H Street. Firefighters, fire prevention personnel, and Fire Explorers will be participating in this special event. In addition, the event will include free blood pressure checks by A.M.R Ambulance Service and information booths from the Burn Institute, San Diego County Haz-Mat Unit, Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT), Citizens Adversity Support Team (CAST), and the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County, as well as free rides on the “Little Fire Truck.” Highlights for children will be the fire safety program in a specially designed “house” and puppet shows demonstrating fire prevention and safety. september 2012 my hometown 5

on your doorstep

march 2012


Heritage Elementary School Funhouse Carnival – September 7


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The Heritage Elementary School PTO invites the community to join the local school for an afternoon of fun at its annual carnival on Friday, September 7 from 1:00 to 7:00 pm at Heritage Elementary School, located at 1450 Santa Lucia Road in Chula Vista. The festivities will include games, crafts, food, live entertainment, and more! For more information, contact the event organizers at heritagecarnival@yahoo. com or (619) 421-7080. Come on out, have some good old-fashioned family fun and support one of the great local schools in our area.

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6 my hometown september 2012

on your doorstep

Graduation Coaches Needed According to the America’s Promise Alliance, a student in the United States drops out of high school every 26 seconds. Personal, social and economic consequences result every time a young person does not graduate. Chula Vista has started a new campaign – Graduation Coaches – aimed at helping students graduate high school through positive adult leadership. By becoming Graduation Coaches, adults in the city of Chula Vista can encourage more local students realize the goal of high school graduation and transition to college and career. Supported by the Office of Mayor Cheryl Cox, and driven through Chula Vista Serves, the Graduation Coach campaign educates caring adults in Chula Vista about critical conversations that empower “Coaches� to mentor students and discuss positive actions that help students navigate through school with a goal of graduating on time and formulating a plan for life after high school. Graduation Coaches is not a matching program that pairs adults with students. Rather, it is designed to help adults identify students they know in their own lives who

can benefit from encouragement and to get people talking about how they can support educational efforts. Adults of any age and professional status can become a graduation coach. Adult volunteers in the community will be trained as Graduation Coaches in free 60-90 workshops located throughout Chula Vista. Workshops will equip adults with key topics, conversations and questions to ask students of all ages to support their educational progress. Coaches also will be provided with local resources and skills to help young people who may be struggling in school or to ensure they stay on track. Coaching can begin at any grade level with themes designed to be relevant for grades K-6, 7-8 and 9-12. Chula Vista Serves is actively scheduling workshops and recruiting locations to host training sessions. To schedule a Graduation Coach workshop at your business, place of worship or community center, please call (619) 691-5175 or email CVServes@ChulaVistaCA. gov. Individuals who would like to attend a free workshop to be trained as a Graduation Coach Facilitator to lead workshops are also invited to call. Visit for more information.


To learn more about

YMCA Adventure Guides and YMCA Trailblazers are YMCA Adventure Guides (children ages 5-9) parent/child programs that provide opportunities for and parents and children to spend quality time together, YMCA Trailblazers (children ages 10-14) PDNLQJPHPRULHVRXWGRRUV7KHžUVW<0&$$GYHQWXUH*XLGHV please visit, overnight camping trip will be September 7th through or contact September 9th at YMCA Camp Surf in Imperial Beach. YMCA Day Camp and Family Programs Director for the Y, All participants will enjoy a two-night cabin camping Courtney Baltiyskyy at H[SHULHQFHZLWKVXUžQJERRJLHERDUGLQJDUFKHU\DQG rock climbing for an affordable cost that includes meals. ZZZVRXWKED\\PFDRUJÂ&#x2021; september 2012 my hometown 7

on your doorstep

90-Day Fitness Challenge Results are In By Ty Valkanas, Body By Bobbie waistline and weighed 137lbs! Stacey’s continued goal is to drop below 20% body fat in the next 3 to 6 months. Congratulations Stacey! Jeremy Buenviaje – 18-year-old male Total Loss: 11.2% drop in body fat; 8 inches lost in his waistline; 14 lbs dropped in body weight. Body By Bobbie’s 90-Day Fitness Challenge is a 12-week program of personal training, group conditioning, nutritional guidance and tracking the individual progress during a 12-week period. In April 2012, the local institute of health and fitness gifted this program to six finalists who were picked from a stringent selection process. Participants’ progress was tracked by taking body fat measurements, linear measurements and body weight. The most important measurement to track is the body fat measurement, next is the linear measurements. Only the waistline measurement is displayed here. Body weight is the least important measurement but necessary to determine caloric requirements. Here are the results: Stacey Curry – 55-year-old female Overall Winner! Total loss: 11.5% drop in body fat; 6 inches lost in her waistline; 21 lbs dropped in body weight. Stacey started The 90-Day Fitness Challenge at 34.9% body fat with a 36-inch waistline and weighed 158lbs. She is career oriented and her work schedule has made it very difficult to maintain her health and level of fitness. She has struggled with some very tough life circumstances and decided that she absolutely needed to do this program in order to get back on track and not be afraid of what her health will look like if she didn’t get it in check. 12 weeks later she dropped to 23.4% body fat with a 30-inch 8 my hometown september 2012

Jeremy started at 36.9% body fat with a 48 3/4-inch waistline and weighed 250lbs. Jeremy has suffered from epileptic seizures from an early age, which has made it very difficult to follow any kind of fitness program. He saw this program as an opportunity to work with professionals that might be able to help him change his lifestyle. 12 weeks later he dropped to 25.7% body fat with a 40 3/4-inch waistline and weighed 236! Yovana Munro – 34-year-old female Total Loss: 10.3% drop in body fat; 7 1/2 inches lost in her waistline; 16 lbs dropped in body weight. Yovana started at 37.8% body fat with a 39 3/4-inch waistline and weighed 177lbs. After having a baby she found it extremely difficult to get back in shape and drop the extra body fat. 12 weeks later she dropped to 27.5% body fat with a 32 1/4-inch waistline and weighed 161! JC Ruiz – 39-year-old male Total Loss: 10.2% drop in body fat; 5 1/4 inches lost in his waistline; 23 lbs dropped in body weight. JC started at 39.1% body fat with a 54 1/2-inch waistline and weighed 324lbs. This guy had a rough time with every life circumstance hitting him from every direction when getting started in this program. With everything that took place in his life, he was really only able to sporadically focus on this program about 6 of the 12

weeks, off and on. 12 weeks later he dropped to 28.9% body fat with a 49 1/4-inch waistline and weighed 301! Imagine if he was able to engage himself for the full 12 weeks! Lanae Gutierrez – 36-year-old female Total Loss: 7.4% drop in body fat; 6 inches lost in her waistline; 10 lbs dropped in body weight. Lanae started at 30.6% body fat with a 36 1/4-inch waistline and weighed 161lbs. She is a careeroriented woman whose job takes every ounce of energy from her. She wanted to be fit and feel better. 12 weeks later she dropped to 23.2% body fat with a 30 1/4-inch waistline and weighed 151! She is more fit, stronger and feels better! Nicole Trull – 40-year-old female Total Loss: 7.1% drop in body fat; 5 1/4 inches lost in her waistline; 24 lbs dropped in body weight. Nicole started at 40.6% body fat with a 43-inch waistline and weighed 210 lbs. A mother of two and dedicated wife, Nicole sacrifices everything for her family. She needed this program to get her out of her rut and “save her life!” 12 weeks later she dropped to 33.5% body fat with a 38 3/4-inch waistline and weighed 186! As the overall winner, Stacey Curry won a one-year membership to The Institute of Health & Fitness. There is no doubt that Stacey will see her continued goal become a reality. Let her success inspire everyone to help make Chula Vista the healthiest city in California! my.

Visit www.TheInstituteofHealthand Fitness. com/home/the-90-day-fitness-challenge to see before and after pictures.

on your doorstep

2nd Annual Police Explorer Golf Tournament – October 8

EastLake Country Club will be the site of the 2nd Annual Police Explorer Golf Tournament to be held Monday, October 8. The four-player scramble event serves as a fundraiser for CVPD Explorer Post #2831. The entry fee covers green fees, golf cart, range balls and a catered lunch.

The Explorer Program currently has 27 active explorers, who participate in several local community events, as well as San Diego County events. The group participates in all City of Chula Vista major events such as the Lemon Festival, Bonita Fest, holiday parades, DUI and driver’s license checkpoints and various events within Chula Vista, as well as county parades, festivals and special events. The program donated over 5,000 hours of service to the City of Chula Vista and to the County of San Diego in year 2011 with plans to exceed that this year. Any teen or young adult between the ages of 14 and 21 years old is eligible for the program as long as the candidate meets the minimum qualifications. A New Applicant Orientation is set for September 24, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Interested youngsters should contact Officer Eric Carter at For more information on the golf tournament and to download an entry form, visit

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on your doorstep

A Playful City In March 2012 Chula Vista became a Playful City USA, this national recognition program honors cities and towns that make play a priority and use innovative programs to get children active, playing and healthy. Playful City USA communities make a commitment to play and physical activity by developing unique local action plans to increase the access to play in their community. Today’s children spend less time playing outside than any previous generation, but 213 cities and towns, including Chula Vista, earned recognition from national non-profit KaBOOM! as 2012 Playful City USA communities for their efforts to increase play opportunities for children. KaBOOM! selected Chula Vista for its outstanding dedica-

tion to play. Chula Vista aims to increase access to additional playspaces through joint use agreements. The 213 Playful City USA communities are now eligible for $15,000, $20,000 and $30,000 grants via Let’s Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, to get kids and families active nationwide. Chula Vista will launch the Playful City Campaign during this year’s Harbor Days 2012 Festival, Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23. The Harbor Days Kidzone is designed to create play opportunities before, during and after the event. Chula Vista children will decorate 200 rocks in afterschool centers that will be used as paperweights for vendors, during the event they will play games and participate in contests that will require physical activity to win prizes, and they will be invited to take the Play More Pledge. The Play More Pledge Campaign will take place during Harbor Days where the goal is to get at least 500 children to take the pledge to increase their physical activity through play for at least four hours per week for six months. Kids will be given a pledge card with their name and a list of suggested activities they can do to accomplish their pledge. The objective is to make them aware of how easy it is to become more active. “It’s important to lend support to the many local networks that provide opportunities for play. Playful City USA leads the way nationally and it is a perfect fit for Chula Vista’s award winning Parks and Recreation program” said Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan who took the lead in bringing this program to our city. “I appreciate the Playful City USA recognition as it fits with the City of Chula Vista Recreation Department’s goal to create more accessibility to recreational resources,” said Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox. “Our city’s San Miguel Ranch Community Park was recently recognized by the California Parks and Recreation Society for its user friendly design and programmable elements. We look forward to creating more opportunities through the Playful City USA program to enhance our park system and recreation programs.” my. For more information on how to be a part of this celebration contact or email Jennifer Santander at

10 my hometown september 2012

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What’s Business As Usual? By Michael Monaco, First Bank

We often hear; it’s business as usual. Is that really true today? In this economic environment it would appear it’s not business as usual. Is it normal to see abandoned shopping malls? Is it normal to see advertisements for bankruptcy more often than any other legal service? Will business as normal ever return? Probably not as we know it. The “build it and they will come” small business philosophy is gone. It’s more like build it, fund it, promote it and hopefully they will come. So what’s the new normal? Strategic business planning paired with good old fashion quality and service. A big part of strategic business planning includes an understanding that today’s businesses don’t compete for a consumer’s discretionary dollar, they compete for the household dollar. Families may no longer have separate budgets for entertainment, eating out, clothes and luxury items. After paying major expenses like housing, food, utilities and insurance the rest is up for grabs.

So how can businesses grab these household dollars? Try working hard and working smart. What’s the difference? Working hard is sweat equity, long hours, financial sacrifices and faith. However that may not be enough. Businesses need to work smart too. One way is to understand your strengths and weaknesses. A business owner has a defined amount of time. If their strength is sales and service, why spend a large amount of time doing the bookkeeping, banking, human resource and payroll? Working smart is to learn the skill of delegation and diversification. Consider building a team of professionals and delegate. What may be perceived as saving money doing it yourself may end up costing you more. A simple payroll error like not paying taxes on time costs average small businesses 2-15% in late fees in addition to 4-6% in interest states Cynthia Mattalucci payroll consultant for Paychex. Working smart in part is also defining your customer base and allocating

september 2012 my hometown 13

small business

resources to reach them – simply stated advertising. “Advertising has always been a mandatory expense in my company’s budget,” says Neisha Hernandez of Neisha’s Dance & Music Academy. “We allocate between 7 to 15% per month for marketing and advertising. Don’t save your way into bankruptcy by not advertising.” Other ways to work smart is networking. Most businesses have competition. A business may feel they do it better, but


how will anyone know? Promoting a business is a multi-layered approach ideally casting a wide net. The Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce is a great place to start. The Chamber not only offers business networking, they’re business advocates. The mission of our Chamber of Commerce is to encourage our city to Shop, Dine, Invest and Stay in Chula Vista. “Keeping consumer dollars in our city increases small business revenue and sales tax,” explains Lisa Cohen CEO of the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce. Within the city of Chula Vista, you’ll find numerous resources to help build a business. Recently, My Hometown Chula Vista Magazine, First Bank and the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce presented a fourpart series called the “Chula Vista Business Symposium.” This free series was designed to reach out to new and existing businesses providing free professional information to support small businesses. Subtitled “Everything you wanted to know about owning and running a successful business but did not know who to ask” the symposium featured a number of local professionals speaking on a wide range of business topics. The next Chula Vista Business Symposium is scheduled to start in late January 2013. More information will follow in upcoming issues of My Hometown Chula Vista. Working together, we can thrive in this new business as usual time. my.

Michael Monaco is an east Chula Vista resident and President of Chula Vista Rotary.

14 my hometown september 2012

small business

12 Small-Home Business Ideas that can Thrive During Tough Times 1. Food Service – Customize your product to chalk up record sales. Small indulgences such as speciallymade cookies or chocolates can be enjoyed at a customer’s home.

2. Financial Advisor – Retirees and small-business owners alike could benefit from management advice when it comes to their shrinking retirement or investment funds.

3. Home Staging – Sellers need help gaining appeal to increase the value of their homes now, more than ever.

4. Auto Repair/Maintenance – People skip luxuries, like purchasing new cars in a tough economy. Consider the purchase of a franchise or troubled shop, with potential, at a bargain price.

5. “Green” Home Business – Everyone is turning green. Offer environmentally friendly products to businesses and individuals.

6. Virtual Assistant – Part-time

9. Cosmetic & Small Indulgence Sales – Lipstick helps put a ‘best face forward’ for a small amount of cash.

10. Buy into a home-based franchise –

administrative support via email, can save money for many employers, while helping a recent college graduate gain experience, and compensation, while searching for employment.

7. Eldercare – Errands and caretaking with an adult care-related business are in demand, despite economic forecasts.

8. Online video production – Commission-based opportunities are available in the area of creators and producers.

Childcare and education services are always in demand.

11. Direct Sales – Everything from vitamins to jewelry sales could be an alternative income for someone who has just been laid off from their job.

12. Home-based Tutoring Business – Even in a recession, education and learning are high on a parent’s priority list. In addition, adults looking for work may need assistance brushing up on skills in a tightened job market.

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september 2012 my hometown 15

food By Karisma Sinnot

Slice of Life

Lunch Box Ideas Last year I thought long and hard about lunch ideas during the summer before school started and made a plan that worked year-round for my family


nce again we are back making lunches five days a week for months on end. I know that some of us start the year off with the best intentions, and by mid-year, we are out of ideas, out of energy and just plain bored of making lunches. Last year I thought long and hard about lunch ideas during the summer before school started and made a plan that worked year-round for my family. This month, I’d love to share my plan with you in the hope that it works brilliantly for your family too. Along the way, I’m hoping you’ll generate some of your own fabulous ideas, adding to your repertoire of family favorites. First, some tips: Bacteria grows between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is especially true for dairy and meat, so the goal is to keep those foods away from that danger zone for as long as possible. If your mayonnaise-based sandwich is sitting out for 30 minutes in warm weather conditions, chances are it will be safe. But if it sits out for more than an hour during the summer days or two hours on cold days, it becomes an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. One of the things I’ve learned that 16 my hometown september 2012

works better than just an ice pack is a bottle of frozen/icy cold water in addition to the ice pack. This helps to keep the food in the lunch box at the desired temperature, especially if it has meat, mayonnaise or cheese in it. The ice melts just in time to become cold drinking water at recess/lunch. On Sunday afternoons, I sit down at the kitchen island and work on vegetables. I peel and cut carrots, celery and cucumber, jicama (if you haven’t tried jicama, it’s like a yummy, less-fibrous version of celery) and sugar snap peas. I wrap all my veggies in kitchen towels and store them in an air-tight container. This way, I have them ready to go every morning. I usually pack whole fruit – nectarines, satsumas, grapes, raspberries, so prep-time for that is minimal.

Cold Wraps and Sandwiches So you have your usual – ham and cheese, turkey and cheese, salami and mustard/mayo, peanut butter and jelly, Nutella and banana. My kids love egg salad and tuna salad sandwiches, but I don’t ever send those to school because I think that they are just too smelly. But, try these sandwiches on your kids and maybe they will have a new favorite.


Any of these can be a wrap as well, with the addition of deli meat. Herbed cream cheese and cucumber – an English tea time favorite. You don’t have to make your own cream cheese, try a brand like Boursin instead to make your life just a little easier. Try adding roast beef to it when you make a wrap.

Health-ables – You know how children love Lunchables? Well, here’s a much more healthy alternative, without sacrificing taste. Find a Japanese Bento Box (online), or a Tupperware container that is divided into sections. Take your favorite lunch meat and cheese (you can buy these pre-sliced at your deli, our favorite brand is Boar’s Head), and with a cookie cutter, cut out desired shape of meat and cheese. Choose a cracker

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that your kids will love (Social Snackers from Trader Joe’s, or Annie’s Organic Bunny Crackers) and make up your lunch box. Add grapes, a cookie (try Newman O’s) and you have a perfectly customized Health-able. Turkey with cranberry jelly, lettuce and mayo/mustard – this is my husband’s favorite, and he likes the jellostyle cranberry jelly that you get in a tin. It sounds gross, but it is a sandwich that is happily reminiscent of Thanksgiving. Hummus and veggie – my kids love hummus. Our favorite brand is Sabra’s Supremely Spicy, paired with sliced cucumber, crisp Romaine lettuce and Boar’s Head sharp Cheddar. Change the veggies, add alfalfa sprouts, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and test it on the kids.

I’ve heard from friends who are gluten-free that the best way to make sandwiches is to use rolls/bread from Healthy Creations in Encinitas, or Mozzarella wraps from Sprouts. So for those of you who prefer to stay away from gluten, these might be viable options for you. Just a quick note – we have many families with peanut butter allergies that are life threatening, so if at all possible, try to eliminate peanut heavy lunches for school. It seems strange to imagine, but for a lot of these children, the tiniest smidgen of peanut is enough to cause anaphylaxis. Hope these tips and ideas help. I would love to hear your lunch box ideas as well! If you have family favorites, please share them with My Hometown Chula Vista Magazine Editor Mike Minjares at, and save another mother from thinking of yet another lunch idea. my.


september 2012

out and about September 2

September 3

September 5

September 7

Village Vibes Concert Series – 4-6pm at Memorial Park, 373 Park Way; Free weekly concert series in September presented by Third Avenue Village Association;

Labor Day – Schools closed

“¡Que Viva! Cine Latino” Film Festival at Otay Ranch Town Center; 6:30pm; Free film festival for Spanish and Englishspeaking guests; Each week a new film is shown;

Heritage Elementary School Funhouse Carnival – 1-7pm at 1450 Santa Lucia Rd; Games, crafts, food, live entertainment and more; Email heritagecarnival@

September 8

September 9

September 11

September 12

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center Open House – 1-6pm on Sat & 10am-4pm Sun at 868 Starboard Street in the Venture Commerce Ctr; Come in and play for free – gymnastics, games, music, puppets, giveaways and more; www.

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center Open House –

“¡Que Viva! Cine Latino” Film Festival

Village Vibes Concert Series –

Otay Ranch Business Mixer – 6-7:30pm offered by Wells Fargo Bank and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage; Email

September 13

September 15

September 16

“Diva Fashion Show” – 5-9pm – Neisha’s Dance & Music Academy; Kids ages 3-12; $25 per student; $35 day of event; Try on the latest diva fashions and show your individual style in our own Fashion Runway; (619) 585-1133,

Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce Mixer –5:307:30pm; hosted by Brew House at EastLake, 871 Showroom Place #102; (619) 420-6603 or

Hispanic Literacy Day – Otay Ranch Branch Chula Vista Library, 2015 Birch Road, #409; Cultural performances and chance to meet several authors and illustrators;

Village Vibes Concert Series –

September 19

September 20

September 22

September 23

“¡Que Viva! Cine Latino” Film Festival

EEF Golf Tournament 11am at EastLake Country Club; $120 per golfer; or (619) 997-6470

Chula Vista Harbor Days – 10am-5pm on Sat. & 11am4pm on Sun. at J Street/ Marina Parkway; Celebrating a Century of Maritime History with free tour of ships, SEAL boat tour, games, live music, beer garden, food and juried fine art show;

Village Vibes Concert Series –

September 24

Pediatrics in Paradise One Year Anniversary Party – 5pm at the Otay Ranch office, 1741 Eastlake Parkway, #107; Games for kids, facepainting, balloons, raffles & free concert by Hullabaloo band;

September 26

12th Annual Community Art Show (Ends Oct 26) presented by the Chula Vista Art Guild at Bonita Museum & Cultural Center, 4355 Bonita Road; Exhibition open to all artists 18 and over; Awards presented to top entries;

Kids Ready To Read – every Thursday 11:15am at Otay Ranch Branch Library; Interactive storytime program for kids 3 and younger;

“¡Que Viva! Cine Latino” Film Festival SAVE THE DATE October 6 – Chula Vista Fire Department Open House – 10am-2pm at Fire Station #4, 850 Paseo Ranchero

San Diego Restaurant Week Begins (Ends Sept 21)– Lunch and dinner prix-fixed menus at over 160 participating restaurants; www.

Chula Vista Harbor Days –

September 30 Village Vibes Concert Series –

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

Please note events and times are subject to change.

on topic: community

Eastside Sequel Making a Difference For People Right Here


t South Bay Community Services’ Eastside Sequel – a resale boutique on East Palomar St. that benefits women and children affected by violence – stories about how neighborhood businesses positively impact the local community are plentiful. Here, it is no cliché to say dollars spent in our city affect Chula Vista residents in meaningful and impactful ways. The story of young “Elijah’s” growth and development is a prime example. “Elijah” started with the local service organization in February 2009 as a foster child placed with an infant sister. Staff described him as painfully shy, withdrawn, sad. He cried easily and lacked social skills, was emotional, unsure of himself, and had little confidence. At 42 months of age he still experienced toileting accidents. Within a month of preschool, he was in underwear and staying dry, and teachers reported that he began interacting with other children, although mostly girls, on the playground although he usually cried each morning and did not want to come to school. He worried constantly about going home and who would pick him up and when. By the beginning of the third month of being enrolled, he would pretend and play in the dramatic play/ kitchen area, and began to interact with boys as well.    That year, his foster parents took him to his first trip to Disneyland, and he came back sharing the experience although still quite shy. By the fourth month, he was interacting with adult staff, became very descriptive about his favorite movies, and provided details of things he experienced. He moved to the pre-k class after six months of preschool and had set backs and adjustment issues, but they improved after a week of close monitoring, staff interactions, “Incredible Year” groups on change, and close alliance with family. A social worker visited to inform the organization that his foster parents wanted to adopt! He began missing a lot of school, but family informed us they were moving to a new home, and Elijah was experiencing a lot of anxiety and worries. SBCS staff worked with the family to keep continuity at school, and Elijah came back excited that he had his own room, in his own house, with his own mom and dad. He even had the chance to decorate it himself and he picked dinosaurs. He also started planning a birthday party with dinosaur decorations. He enjoyed and participated in dinosaur themed “Incredible Year” groups. He began to get physically closer to staff, with hugs, following them to “chat” and less isolating. He started staying longer hours at school, and cried more for “dad” and wanted to be at his home. His parent’s attended conferences and stated they were less concerned with academics and were focused on giving him love and stability.  By Dec 2009, he was happy, confident, learning and retaining well, and on a consistent schedule. His parents received much needed help with gifts from adopt-a family. Elijah started missing more time at school after the holidays, but staff called family, met

with them, and got attendance back on track. Elijah got his first real haircut after years of long tight curls. When he finally took off the hoodie, staff and children complimented him repeatedly and his confidence grew.  In June this year, Elijah drew a picture and stated he was taking it home to his sister because she loves Elmo. He also noticed that the markers he used had the wrong color caps, so he changed them all and matched them up, repeating his colors, counting, and engaging in conversations. His parents announced the adoption was final and he would leave at the end of the month after graduation. Elijah shared at the table that he had a nightmare that he didn’t have a family anymore, but he woke up, mom and dad were still there, got him a drink of water and he felt better. The staff ’s final assessments showed a large growth in all areas, including social/emotional, cognitive competence, language and literacy, fine and gross motor skills (all but one mastered!), math, and safety and health. Your support of Eastside Sequel makes a powerful difference right here in our community. my.

september 2012 my hometown 21

on topic: family

Neighborhood Treasures By Veronica Gerace


eaving my house in a rush to meet my children at the bus stop every day, I would see a gray haired lady cross the street with her cane to check the mail. Sometimes, I felt inconvenienced waiting to pass while she slowly crossed the street. Then one day I noticed that she dropped the mail in the street and was struggling to pick it up. So, I pulled my car over to the curb and helped retrieve her mail. I quickly learned that we shared the same first name. She told me of the many times that she had dropped her mail and that this was the only time that someone had stopped to help. From that moment on, my life was forever changed. We started an extraordinary friendship. I have learned so much from her, from how to grow lemons the size of grapefruits, to how to Skype. I found a human treasure in my own neighborhood. Almost daily, we all set out to find something meaningful in our lives whether it is knowledge, companionship, or simply pleasure. We often reach out to those with whom we feel we have the most

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Pediatrics in Paradise

Anniversary Anniversary Celebration Celebration & & Open Open House House

Date: Sept. 20th Time: 5pm -7pm

Hullabaloo Band Live at 5:30pm Location: 1741 Eastlake Parkway in the Marketplace At Windingwalk More Details At:

in common, usually someone close to our own age who we meet at school, work or play. But we could easily extend our social borders without leaving home. We can readily find wisdom, companionship and fun with senior members of our family, neighborhood, school, work, recreational groups and community. Ironically, we rarely reach out to the treasures in our midst, people everywhere around us, who are a generation or two, or three older. On the surface, one might believe that senior members of our community don’t seem to share our interests in technology, music, fashion or fun. Yes, decades ago emerging technology for today’s seniors may have been color televisions or calculators. Music of yesterday may have been delivered in the form of vinyl records or radios. Bell-bottom pants may have represented the fashion rage and fun may have been meeting with friends at the drive-in. But with time, people who grew up with dial telephones adapted to computers, music on MP3 players, current fashions and remained very active. So, the differences between generations are not so great. Seniors have deep and vast experiences of work, sport, war, friendship and love. Their anecdotes are often the things books, movies and poems are made of. Sometimes it may be a history or romantic lesson, or an inspiration for a school assignment. Other times, they may be able to share technical knowledge, cooking secrets or how to catch that “big fish”. Senior members are more “connected” and active today than ever. You can connect with senior members on Facebook or stay in touch and chat via Skype. If a senior adult in your life is not active in social media, you may want to offer to teach them. Or, if you want to learn about social media, there are many senior adults who can teach you. If you are searching for companionship, seniors are great listeners as well as great conversationalists. You can find very active seniors who can teach you how to use equipment at health clubs or help you to perfect your baseball techniques. If you are a budding chef, a senior member may love to be a part of your test kitchen. If you want to knit the grooviest scarves before fall, a senior holds the key. If you reach out to make the connection, the difference in years fades away. Discover the richness, wealth and treasure at our fingertips embodied in another human being, one with more years of adventure behind him or her. September 9 is National Grandparents’ Day and as we celebrate this national holiday, it is exciting to know that we have so many wonderful senior members – so many treasures – in our Chula Vista community. Make it a point to discover the senior treasures in your neighborhood. my. Veronica Gerace is a resident of east Chula Vista and a big fan of My Hometown Chula Vista Magazine.

Follow Us On Facebook For More Event News 22 my hometown september 2012

on topic: community

Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan Approved By Lisa Cohen, CEO, Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce


hula Vista’s bay front is one of the last significant waterfront development areas in California. We have worked hard to develop a visionary plan for this 556-acre waterfront site that included input from numerous partners, represented the interests of both residents and stakeholders, and provided balance between economic drivers, public access and protection of natural resources. After years of planning, analysis and compromise, the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan (CVBMP) represents a vision of an extraordinary project that will transform an underused industrial landscape in South Bay into a much-needed residential and resort destination. On August 9, the California Coastal Commission voted Unanimously Approval for CVBMP. The plan before the Coastal Commissioners had been molded by extensive public participation conducted over more than 10 years and supported by a broad range of special interest groups, elected officials and community organizations. The Port of San Diego, the City of Chula Vista, Pacifica Companies, Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce, and the extensive coalition of stakeholders have ensured that this plan provides something for everyone. The project’s features and amenities speak for themselves and unveil the careful craftsmanship that went into the plan.

The CVBMP is also an outstanding example of a development plan that balances the interests of development and environmental groups. It offers a much-needed resort conference center and hotel that integrates commercial recreation and retail, while providing public access to parks and open space and the restoration and protection of natural habitat. The site has been carefully planned to be economically sustainable and is expected to contribute $1.3 billion to the regional economy in its first 20 years. Plus, well-located amenities and expanded waterfront access will help to maximize benefits to residents and visitors. The plan also contributes to more than 3,000 acres of contiguous habitat in the South Bay, while creating 2,200 permanent jobs and nearly 7,000 construction jobs. Our Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce recognizes and supports the role of the CVBMP in bringing equity to South Bay communities. South Bay and its residents will now see the same economic growth and investment that North Bay has experienced for years. It’s time to begin the process of transforming Chula Vista’s underused industrial waterfront into a world-class destination that local residents and the region can take pride in, enjoy and appreciate. For more information, visit my.




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on your doorstep

The Vincej Family T

im and Sally Vincej must be as comfortable in the local community as any couple could be. The former Hilltop High Lancers have called Chula Vista home nearly their entire lives. Sure there was the time when they spent a few years living in nearby Spring Valley early in their now 20-year marriage, but the local residents always knew this would be the community they’d be living and raising a family in. “I actually moved out here in 1986 with my parents,” Tim recalled. “I remember riding my bike around the lake one day and seeing a condo for sale across the way. I bought that in 1988. After moving to Spring Valley for five years, Sally and I moved back to EastLake Greens in 1997. In 2003, we upgraded to the Vistas. We love this community.” With two daughters – Alissa and Lexi – attending EastLake High and Eastlake Middle, the Vincej family continues to establish deep roots in east Chula Vista. Those connections include Sally’s work at Marshall Elementary School as a fourth grade teacher and Tim’s job as a mail carrier out of the Bonita post office. Sally enjoys teaching in the heart of her community, maintaining ties to many of the wonderful local families she has met over the 11 years she has taught at the east Chula Vista school. “This is such a family-oriented community, that’s one of my favorite things about it,” Sally said. “All of our kids are growing up together which means there is always someone with an eye on your child.” 24 my hometown september 2012

Schafer Photography (619) 261-0471

As a result of the supportive foundation their parents have created, the Vincej girls have had many opportunities to try out various activities to pursue their personal interests. Knowing how their parents starred in sports in high school – Tim in football, basketball and baseball and Sally in soccer and volleyball – it is no surprise to learn that both Alissa, 15, and Lexi, 13, have given sports a try. Both have played softball for Bonita Valley and have danced at Dance Society. Currently, Alissa dances ballet, jazz and contemporary at Dance Society with an eye on making the top competition team at Eastlake High. “I dance because I like the different styles out there and how people move so gracefully through dance,” she said. “I like the challenge dance gives me. It pushes me to improve since once you master one style you move onto the next one.” For Lexi, softball still provides that avenue for personal growth. For several years, she has played All Stars for Bonita Valley while serving as a solid infielder and general utility player, happily doing whatever the team needs from her to be successful. A trait no doubt instilled in her by both mom and dad. “I started off with dance, but my dad got me into softball,” Lexi shared. “I choose to stick with it because of all the people I’ve met. I met my best friend through softball.” And the local connections continue to be built for the Vincejs. my.

School News Local School BLASTs Into Comic Con


long the back wall of the massive exhibit hall at this year’s San Diego Comic Con International, among the hundreds of professionals artists, painters, illustrators, writers, retail booths, dwarfed by huge displays from Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Aspen and other comic publishing outlets, sat several Chula Vista youngsters meeting and talking to convention attendees about their own independently-created comic books. Los Altos Elementary students Juana Vargas, Abraham Lizarraga, Jorge Garcia, Alyssa Brown and Viviana B. spoke to every visitor to their table with a confidence and ease that is required of an emerging artist trying to make it in today’s crowded comic book scene. The Blazing Los Altos Super Team – BLAST as the group is known – represented some of the youngest comic book authors and illustrators to ever have a booth at the annual gathering for all things comic and popular culture related. For these Chula Vista students, the opportunity to exhibit their comic books at this year’s Comic Con came after a year of monthly meetings after school to work on and perfect their individual story ideas and concepts, draw scenes, edit and lay out their book. With titles such as “Captain Nerdy Pants!” “The Amazing Potatoe Man,” ‘The Super Friends,” “Super Bunny,” and “Jessica the Fox,” the students from Los Altos relished the chance to showcase what they had worked on throughout the school year. “This is my first time at Comic Con and I have my own table with my group from school,” said Lizarraga, a sixth grader with

a love of drawing. “People have been generous with donations and really like our comic books. Being here spreads the word about our work and lets more people know about our school club.” Stephanie Jones, a third-grade teacher at Los Altos, was one of the first teachers to work with the school’s Principal Dei Romero – herself a frequent Comic Con attendee – in putting together the structure of the school’s first graphic novel/comic book club. The two wanted to find a way to hook students, particularly those in fourth through sixth grade, into reading and writing skills that would be fun and interesting for the students. “I’ve always been interested in comic graphic novels,” Jones said. “Last year I came to San Diego Comic Con and couldn’t believe how many artists were here. Ms. Romero and I talked then about how we could bring this idea of having a booth at Comic Con to our school. A year later we are here and it is exciting to see how the kids’ projects have evolved – from sketches and ideas to a full comic book.” Principal Romero said that the school staff has been very supportive of BLAST right from the beginning. Many of the

staff brought in their own comic book collections to help give the students ideas and examples while also working with the group during intersession and after school. For Romero, this year’s exhibit is just the start. “We are the only elementary school now to exhibit at San Diego Comic Con,” she said. “I hope we can continue to grow the group. I also hope that from this experience these students can see the vast opportunities available to them as they get older. It’s been great to see them develop a true love of reading and writing.” my.

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Photo courtesy of: Photo By Elsa

Surrogate Alternatives, Inc. (SAI) A s a mother of three, Diana Van De Voort-Perez knows firsthand the joys and rewards being a parent brings. She also understands accepting parental responsibilities means taking on the challenges and trying moments that are a part of every family’s experience. It’s both the successful development and difficult growing pains that make the journey worth living. So, what would her life be like if she had been faced with the harsh reality of not being able to have children of her own? “If I was told I couldn’t have children, it would be devastating,” the mother of two girls – 20 and 16 – and one boy aged 12 said. “I couldn’t imagine life without them. You celebrate the holidays with your children and eventually you welcome grandkids. My life would be empty without my three children.” With Van De Voort-Perez’s professional help, families and couples who struggle with infertility or face limited options for adding a baby to the household are able to experience the joys of parenthood. Van De Voort-Perez is the Founder and CEO of Surrogate Alternatives, Inc. (SAI) in EastLake. Opened in 1998, Van De Voort-Perez has been pairing surrogate mothers and intended parents for just over 14 years. Surrogate Alternatives, Inc. (SAI) offers both traditional and gestational surrogacy – where the baby is not biologically connected to the surrogate – as well as egg donation. Van De Voort-Perez has personally served as a surrogate mother twice. She still vividly remembers when she was pregnant for the first time for another family. “The family had been struggling with infertility and needed a surrogate,” she recalled. “I had two children of my own at the 26 my hometown september 2012

time and thought it would be a miracle to help another couple become parents. In fact, I became pregnant with twins for this couple from Los Angeles. It was a remarkable experience. To see the couple’s faces when their babies were born and they held them for the first time, it was incredible to know I played a role in that.” At Surrogate Alternatives, Inc. (SAI) the goal is to match people wanting to expand their family with women willing to help make this dream a reality. The local business maintains a database of potential surrogates, all of whom have undergone an extensive screening process to assess their fit for this delicate arrangement. According to Van De Voort-Perez, potential surrogates are screened for health issues such as smoking or drug use, as well as psychological issues. The staff wants to be sure the potential surrogate is taking care of herself in such a way that she can be trusted to handle carrying a child for the intended parents. Finally, the compatibility of the two parties – in terms of values and belief – is also examined. “Surrogacy is such a selfless gift,” Van De Voort-Perez said, “If we didn’t have women with huge hearts and the compassion to do this, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to give such a gift to these parents.” my. Surrogate Alternatives, Inc. (SAI) 876 Jetty Lane, Chula Vista 91914; (619) 397-0757;




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My Hometown Chula Vista - September 2012  

Community news for Chula Vista

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