2024 March LCN!

Page 1

Volume

44 Number

Women in Business CELEBRATING

GLCC Celebrates 75th Anniversary

It's the 11th hour, and the red carpet has been ordered.

The time has come to SAVE

THE DATE for the Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce's 75th Anniversary Gala, set to take place on Thursday, April 11, 2024 inside one of the City of Lakewood's most iconic buildings, now home of Starlight Cinemas.

Taking place on the actual date of our incorporation 75 years later, it is with great honor to invite the community to join us in celebrating the Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce and its 75-year history in the City of Lakewood.

The Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce was incorporated on April 11, 1949 by John Todd, five years before the City of Lakewood was incorporated. With its historic chandliers as a backdrop, the Starlight Cinema's Grand Lobby will be transformed into an evening of old Hollywood elegance and classical music. Tickets for the 75th Anniversary Gala will be $25.75 each. Sponsorship opportunites are also available. For more information, call (310) 387-6639 or email lakewoodchamberinfo@ gmail.com

There are so many inspiring quotes that could apply to women in business these days, but this one by the late Bader Ginsburg seems appropriate for 2024.

An article published recently in Business Wire states that women-owned businesses continue to fuel the economy, representing 39.1 percent of all businesses - over 14 million - employing 12.2 million workers, and generating $2.7 trillion in revenue. In fact, women launched more businesses than they closed after 2020.

This month, in honor of 2024's Women's History Month theme, "Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion," the Lakewood Community News' Quarterly Advertising Special celebrates women business owners for the force that they have become in today's economy.

"Women business owners today are a light, not just for themselves, but for other women business owners, that's where their power comes from," said GLCC Chair Joanie Dixson. "What I have learned to love about our Chamber is that our members support each other, no matter what - that's powerful - when a business empowers another business."

City of Lakewood's Women Lead the Way

Women’s History Month is a time to commemorate and celebrate the vital role of women in American history. While they have spanned the ages of time and distance, luckily you don’t need to look far, with extraordinary women right here in our city.

In fact, Lakewood has a long history of women in leadership roles from its earliest days. Jackie Rynerson, who emerged a leader in the 1954 incorporation movement, later served on the city’s Recreation and Community Services Commission before being elected to the Lakewood City Council in 1978 where she served for 12 years, with three terms as mayor. Rynerson Park and Lakewood Beautiful’s Jackie Rynerson “Transformation

Valerie Frost and Kelli Pickler

Award” are named in her honor, and Jackie was named one of the original “Legends of Lakewood” in 2004. In the recent past, the city’s director of finance, director of community development, assistant city manager, and deputy city manager in charge of public safety were all women. Currently, women serve as the directors of two city departments: Recreation & Community Services and Public Works.

(Continued on Pg. 3)

For first time in LACoFD history, Battalion 9 is led by two women

won't admit it, but Acting Assistant Fire Chief Jessica Post, and Battalion Chief Brenda Simonian have made Los Angeles County Fire Department History as the first women to lead Battalion 9, which oversees Lakewood. Along with Community Services Liaison La Fonda Riggins, and Secretary Esther Marquez, they truly are Division 4's fantastic

There are only 85 badged personnel that are women in the entire Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) and two of them are Post and Simonian, who together lead Battalion 9 in Division 4 history.

Together they oversee 7 cities, including Lakewood and nearby cities, Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens, Artesia, Bellflower, Paramount and Signal Hill among a few other unincorporated areas.

Post, is currently serving

as the only female in an Assistant Fire Chief role in the entire County, though acting, and oversees 400 badged personnel.

Scheduled for an interview to discuss the department's 2024 Women's Fire Prep Academy for a Women's History Month story, La Fonda Riggins, Division 4's Community Liaison, informed Post and Simonian that they were indeed the first women to ever lead Battalion 9 in Division 4, simultaneously.

Battalion Chief Simonian supervises 12 Fire Cap-

(Continued on Pg. 3)

Happy 15th Year Anniversary to Costco in the City of Lakewood.

Costco is a pillar of economic empowerment in the City of Lakewood. Not only does it generate 60 percent of sales tax revenue for the City, but it also provides 385 jobs.

Sales tax revenues help cities like Lakewood fund recreational programming, infrastructure needs, public safety programs and the maintenance of landscaping parks and median islands, along with so much more.

Thank you Costco for being a great community partner for the City of Lakewood.

Happy 15th Anniversary!

Valarie Frost has a photo from 1999, when she was a mid-level city staffer, sitting comfortably in her department director’s chair (but with her feet playfully propped up on the desk). It seemed like light-hearted fun, but Valarie was seriously en3 March 2024
More Inside
four. C ost C o TURNS 15
They
When Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, "Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you," she was talking about empowered women, empowering other women.
Jessica Post and Brenda Simonian didn't know that they were history makers.

Mayor Ariel Pe Help Yourself and Help Others by Volunteering

Volunteerism by residents is an enduring community value in Lakewood.

One of the best examples comes from the 1950s when Lakewood was known as “kids town” because of the huge number of children in every neighborhood (sometimes nearly 100 per block) from all the young families getting started in our brand new city. The city started up its own recreation sports programs but was quickly overwhelmed by the large number of children and the small number of staff who could serve as coaches. With necessity as the mother of invention, the city appealed to parents to volunteer as coaches. Hundreds of parents answered the call, and the innovative Lakewood Youth Sports program was created.

LYS quickly became an award-winning program and continues today in Lakewood, and it still looks to parents and other adults to volunteer as coaches. Other sports programs do as well, such as the Lakewood Little League and AYSO soccer. So if sports is a strong suit of yours, I encourage you to consider volunteering as a youth sports coach.

There are many other ways you can volunteer to help those in need and our community as a whole. This includes religious congregations, service clubs and direct service providers.

See a short list of some of the longstanding volunteer opportunities in Lakewood at

www.lakewoodcity. org/volunteer. There are opportunities for all ages, and you can see videos about many of those, narrated by Lakewood City Council Members.

Personally, I volunteer with the Rotary Club of Lakewood, Pathways Volunteer Hospice, the Lakewood Family YMCA, and an organization run by my friend Shannon Stewart that provides grass-roots direct help to people in need called Helping Hands, Giving Hope. Each is rewarding in its own way.

On Saturday, April 13, my City Council colleagues and I will join over 400 Lakewood community members who will come together for Volunteer Day to help on projects throughout the city, such as exterior landscaping or painting for seniors or persons of limited means who have difficulty maintaining or repairing their homes. See the

Sheriff’s Station to run the event’s 5K/10K course for time, or do the 5K walk or ruck.

For participants and spectators, the day includes a fitness expo and displays of public safety equipment and programs. There is also live entertainment, food trucks and special giveaways from Lakewoodarea businesses, plus a scavenger hunt and rock star costume contest. Major sponsors include Lakewood Center, AirProducts, Kenny’s Auto Service, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Basiago Family Dentistry, Kidztown, First City Credit Union and the City of Lakewood.

Registration fees increase to $50 and $60 on race day. Register online now at www.lakewoodrun.com/

photo accompanying this story of some of my Rotary Club partners and me helping at Volunteer Day a few years ago. Find out how your organization or you individually can be a part of this community-wide effort at www.lakewoodcity. org/VolunteerDay.

There’s an old adage that when you get outside of yourself and your own immediate situation and instead provide help to others, you end up helping yourself and feeling much better and fulfilled in the process. I owe so much to my parents, including instilling in me the habit and the value of volunteering to help others and to help the community where I live.

Those who know me have often heard me talk about the importance of also volunteering to mentor the next generation of leaders in our community.

One of my favorite new

registration. Registered participants may pick up their packets on Friday, March 1 between 5 and 8 p.m. at the Lakewood Center Mall (near Macy’s).

Your support of the Lakewood Run provides funding for many local organizations, including Soroptimist International of Lakewood/Long Beach, Su Casa~Ending Domestic Violence, Friends of the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station Fund, and 9-9-9 for Kids (a program benefitting foster children in L.A. County).

Race Day

On race day, Saturday, March 2, registration begins at 6:30 a.m. The 10K Run starts at 8 a.m., 5K Run at 8:10 a.m. and 5K Walk/Ruck at 8:15 a.m.

You may encounter traffic delays when traveling certain streets on Saturday, March 2 from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. If you live near the route,

projects that I’ve been honored to be part of is the creation of the Lakewood Leadership Academy, where the city in partnership with others in the community, is mentoring and training young adults (and people of any age) who are interested in learning how our city operates and how to become part of the next generation of Lakewood residents who lead our city.

In 2023, we had a great firstyear class of over 30 people. And in 2024, we have a class of over 40 people.

Mentoring and developing future leaders in Lakewood is key to making sure that the blessings that have been bestowed upon us from our predecessors in our city continue into the future, so that Lakewood remains a great community to live in…for generations to come.

Lakewood is fortunate to be a place where thousands of residents volunteer regularly or periodically to help others and the community as a whole.

The City of Lakewood and dozens of non-profit organizations facilitate people doing that important work. I encourage you to check out the possibilities at www. lakewoodicity.org/volunteer as you consider your own personal growth throughout the year ahead.

And remember: One Community, One Family. Live, Love, Lakewood.

plan on delays crossing the route roads.

The Lakewood Run begins on Clark Avenue in front of the Sheriff's Station and proceeds toward South Street. The race will also use: South Street (from Clark to Palo Verde), Palo Verde (from South to Harvey Way, crossing Del Amo), Harvey Way (from Palo Verde to Woodruff), Woodruff (from Harvey Way to Del Amo), Del Amo (from Woodruff to Clark), and Briercrest will be used for the 5K run between South and Del Amo.

Hundreds of runners, walkers and wheelchair participants will be in attendance, and Sheriff's deputies and volunteers will be assigned to traffic control and safety that morning.

To review the course, and for parking information, visit the Lakewood Run website at www. lakewoodrun.com.

Page 2 Mayor's Monthly Report: March 2024 Page 2
Greater Lakewood CHAMBER OF COMMERCE GREATER KEWOOD CHAMBER COMME CE The Lakewood Community News is an official publication of the Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce. Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Jose Luis Solache 2024 GLCC Executive Board Chair Joanie Dixson Vice Chair Deena Henry Secretary Sherry Daisey Treasurer Travis Jackson Immediate Past President David Arellano Board Members Jonathan Byun Ulysses Carmona Glenn Curo Mike Hedges Erika Parada Glen Patrick Mike Segura Lakewood Community News Managing Editor Marisela Santana GLCC Director of Business Development & Member Value Administrative Assistants Kyle Henry Anthony Puente The Lakewood Community News is printed once a month and covers the City of Lakewood and surrounding communities, with a strong emphasis on the business community. Both the GLCC President/CEO and Managing Editor have exclusive authority over the content that is published. For advertising or story inquiries, email us at: lakewoodchamberinfo@gmail.com Call: (562) 531-9733 For MEMBERSHIP Inquiries, please go to the Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce's website, at www.lakewoodchamber.com YOU CAN ALSO FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA @lakewoodchamberofcommerce Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce 24 Lakewood Center Mall Lakewood, CA 90712 Greater CHAMBER GREATER LAKEWOOD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Lakewood Run is on March 2; reminder to avoid traffic delays Rain or shine, the Lakewood Run returns the morning of Saturday, March 2 when Sheriff’s Deputies, recreational runners, families and kids gather at the starting line in front of the Lakewood

Making History at LACoFD

(Continued from Pg. 1)

tains at 9 stations, three of which are in the City of Lakewood. Each Battalion in the LACoFD has 3 Battalion Chiefs (A, B, and C shifts). Simonian, who has been with the department for 19 years, is the only female Battalion Chief in Division 4.

Simonian was promoted from Rowland Heights to Battalion 9 ten months ago and little did she know that her longtime friend, Post, was going to be named Acting Assistant Fire Chief over her Division two weeks ago. While the title is not entirely hers, yet, Post and Simonian were a joy to interview together about the history that they're making in the department together.

In the history of LACoFD, Post is the second female to serve in an Assistant Fire Chief role. The first was Eleni Pappas, who is now a Deputy Fire Chief

Lakewood Leaders

(Continued from Pg. 1)

visioning her future. Fast forward to 2018, Valarie’s dream became a reality as she took the helm of Lakewood’s largest city department, Recreation & Community Services, where she manages 61 full-time and over 250 parttime staff with an annual budget of $17 million.

Valarie oversees the hundreds of classes and programs the city offers; the parks, community centers and pools; special events like the Civic Center Block Party; human services and emergency preparedness programs; and landscaped areas and custodial maintenance throughout the city.

It is an impressive and eventful journey from when Valarie first started as a teen volunteer at Bolivar Park. She has logged 30 years of service for Lakewood.

Over that time, Valarie raised two exceptional young men who also grew up in Lakewood, both of whom attended Lakewood public schools and participated in sports and scouting. No short order for a parent who climbed to an executive management role, but she points to her mother Patricia, who as a single mom worked and raised three children, as the greatest of all her mentors. Moreover, for Valarie, being a mother is the most important role of her life.

assigned to the Special Services Bureau.

The history-making part, "it's an internal win," said Post, a 23year veteran with the department, but ultimately, "I'm here not because I'm female but because of what I've put into this job."

Both Post and Simonian live and breathe LACoFD. It's all both of them have ever known and as rigorous as the job is, both said they would do it all over again.

Jokingly, or maybe not, Post says that when she retires, she wants to raise chickens.

The fact that there aren't enough women in the entire department isn't because of lack of recruitment, said Simonian. "It could be generational, or theoretical, that this job is only for men. While it is very physically demanding, and it isn't for every man or every woman, it takes

commitment and unfortunately, time away from your family."

Simonian has a 10-year-old son, Olyver; when she has time off and gets to see him, happiness brims and her cup overflows, knowing that through her work, he'll be taken care of for the rest of his life. "That keeps me going," she said. While the rigors of the job are not easy, physically or in time away from home, Post believes that "mental strength" is the key.

"We see a lot out in the field that most people don't," she said. "On top of that, people aren't always kind to us out in the field. It takes mental strength to deal with all of it, but it is possible."

The secret, said Simonian, is to not give up. "If this is what you want to do, then do it and don't let other people's opinions determine what you can and can't do. You have to know inside, that

you can do it."

Post recalls, during her trials 23 years ago, that trainees had to throw a 110 pound wooden ladder to a window. "I couldn't do it, until one day I learned it wasn't about physical strength, but about technique, and I did it. The weight of the ladder never changed, it was my technique that needed changing."

Riggins has worked for LACoFD in Division 4 for 17 years, and has worked under 21

Assistant Fire Chiefs - but never has the AC been female.

"I'm honored to work with these two women who have dedicated their lives to the fire department," said Riggins. "I know they don't want us to make a big deal over them, but it is a very big deal that I'm proud to share with the world."

Both Post and Simonian are grateful for the acknowledgement, but want to remind every-

(Continued on Pg. 18)

Having also worked under a female director and assistant director, Valarie observed the multitude of women who paved the way for her generation to have a work environment that better supports working women. “I watched and listened to Lakewood’s pioneers of working moms who were in management positions and soaked up all their teachings,” she says. “I think I’m a great employee because I am given the space at work to be a great mom.”

(Continued on Pg. 15)

March 2024 Page 3
2729 East Carson St. Lakewood, CA 90712 (562) 421-9566 • carwoodcarwash.com EXPRESS FULL SERVICE DETAIL CENTER Your Car, Truck and SUV Detail Specialist! Drive In Contact Us Buy A Wash

Vote Centers in Lakewood for March 5 election

L.A. County’s Vote Centers, Vote by Mail and official Drop Boxes make it easy for everyone to participate in the March 2024 Lakewood City Council and Presidential Primary Election on March 5, 2024.

Lakewood voters in the new Districts 3 and 4 will elect a council member. You can learn more about the City Council candidates at www.lakewoodcity.org/2024.

Lakewood voters in districts 1, 2 and 5 will not vote for City Council members this year, nor will they see City Council election information in the voter

guides mailed to their homes. Candidates for all offices are listed in random order selected by the Secretary of State's office.

Your Presidential Primary Election ballot will include candidates for President, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, State Senate, State Assembly, as well as other local candidates.

Check your Vote By Mail packet for information on Drop Box locations as well as Vote Centers near your residence, or use the locator tool at www. LAvote.gov.

Vote by mail:

Your ballot includes a return envelope with prepaid postage. Just be sure it’s postmarked on or before Election Day. You can track your ballot using the State of California’s website https:// california.ballottrax.net/.

Official Drop Boxes in Lakewood:

Official Ballot Drop Boxes are an easy, secure way to deliver your ballot.

Drop Boxes in Lakewood are open 24 hours a day until 8 p.m. on Election Day at:

•Angelo M. Iacoboni Library

•CVS on South St. (Palo Verde

Ave.)

•George Nye Jr. Library Ballots are securely collected regularly at each Drop Box by L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/ County Clerk staff throughout the voting period.

In Lakewood, starting Feb. 24, you can vote in person at:

•Mayfair Park - Activity Room

Starting March 2, you can vote in person at:

•Lakewood Country ClubHacienda Room

•Lakewood Garden Civic Association - Clubhouse

•Lakewood Youth Center - East and West Rooms

•Biscailuz Park – Activity Room

Hours for these centers are:

•Feb. 24 to March 4: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

•March 5 (Election Day): 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Lakewood Family YMCA’s

You can find other Vote Centers near your work or home by visiting the locator page at www.LAvote.gov.

If you have forgotten to register to vote, you can complete a conditional voter registration application and cast a vote until 8 p.m. on Election Day at any Vote Center in L.A. County.

Your vote will be counted once the Registrar has determined that you meet voter eligibility requirements.

For more information, go to the Registrar's website at www. LAvote.gov.

You can also call the Lakewood City Clerk's Office at 562-8669771, ext. 2200 and they will provide the most helpful information they can on the locations and processes used by the county Registrar of Voters.

Page 4
March 2024

Abilities Awareness Assembly

Last month, Mayfair Middle/High School held its 14th annual Abilities Awareness Assembly.

The event, attended by both middle and high school students, featured exciting performances by the Unified Cheer team.

Students and family members shared their experiences with the audience about this incredible program that promotes inclusion and celebrates students of all abilities.

The assemblies were filled with many wonderful moments, including a singing performance, during which the audience spontaneously used their cell phone lights to illuminate the

gym, swaying along to the song. Michelle Young-Garcia, a parent, shared a lovely poem about her son Gericho, who excels both inside and outside of the classroom. Seniors who have been part of Mayfair Unified were honored with flowers.

The Mayfair Unified programs encompass art, cheer and physical education classes.

In conjunction with Mayfair's LAFF Club (Learning Acceptance through Friendship and Fun), these programs are fully inclusive, providing students of all abilities with an equal platform to shine.

Free math and science homework help

Middle school and high school students can get free expert help with any level of math and science homework on Thursday afternoons from 4 to 5:50 p.m. at the Lakewood Youth Center starting March 14.

The West Angeles Education and Enrichment Program (westaeep.org) provides experienced, well-qualified tutors to assist students in grades 6-12 with all levels of science and math, including algebra, geometry, calculus, trigonometry and statistics.

and their hardest problems of the week to the session.

Free sessions are offered from 4 p.m. to 5:50 p.m. on Thursdays from March to early June (no class May 9).

Pre-registration is required through the City of Lakewood’s Recreation Department at www.lakewoodcity.org/ecatalog. Search for activity #27412 or keyword “homework.”

Two BUSD Students Perform at L.A. Black History Month Festival

Mayfair 9th grader Ayanna Greenidge and ILC 4th grader Acacia Greenidge performed at the 2024 Los Angeles Black History Festival.

Ayanna shared a brief history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. She further expressed, on a personal level, what HBCUs mean to her. Acacia brought the piece, "I Don't Understand" by Nzinga Diahann to life on stage. Her memorizing recitation was one of the event's crowd-pleasers at the festival.

The education Ayanna and Acacia are receiving at the Bellflower Unified School District has prepared them for the many remarkable public-speaking engagements they've participated in. Ayanna and Acacia also performed for the City of Carson’s Black History Month Celebration on Friday, February 23.

Students should bring homework

The Lakewood Youth Center is located at 4658 Woodruff Ave. For more information call at 562-4297472.

March 2024 Page 5
LOVE was definitely in the air as we celebrated Valentine's Day with our February Mixer at Lakewood's only brewery, Syncopated Brewing Co. Co-hosted by Big Brian's Meats Catering and Syncopated Brewing, our February Mixer paid homage to new friendships, new business connections and 2024's new energy behind your Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce. Thank you to everyone who made time to join us. Thank you Brian and Jason for your hospitality in hosting our February Mixer and for being a light in this community. You two are a prime example of what happens when businesses support each other! See you all at our March Networking Mixer! The flier is within the pages of this month's Lakewood Community News! Have a great March, everyone! #WeAreChamberStrong March 2024 Page 6 Our Members MEET SOME of O'Connor's Irish Pub 4130 Paramount Blvd., Paramount 90712 (562) 541-1105 GREATER LAKEWOOD CHAMBER OF COM Outback Steakhouse 5305 Clark Ave., Lakewood 90712 (562) 634-0353 ServPro Lakewood/LB (562) 502-8076 Bellflower (562) 608-3060 Northwest LB (562) 517-0088 Titus Single Parent Mentoring 2201 E. Willow St., Signal Hills 90755 info@titusparenting.org www.titusparenting.org Lakewood Car Wash 5730 Lakewood Blvd., Lakewood 90712 (562) 634-9020 mixer Networking THANK YOU to everyone who joined us for our first Business Brew of 2024. Hosted by CostcoLakewood, this morning coffee with the Chamber was designed to give attendees an interactive experience where they can connect over coffee and information. Thank you to the City of Lakewood for collaborating with us for this new experience. Through this collaboration, our business community was able to learn about a business in Lakewood through a different lens, and learn how they contribute to our community. Thank you Costco for hosting our first Business Brew and for our exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Costco. We all LOVED meeting your Lakewood Team! Cristina Picarelli Realtor (562) 234-7862 Lynsey Russell Realtor (562) 841-6615 Outlet Tile Center 16315 Lakewood Blvd., Bellflower 90706 (562) 531-3605 Huge In-Stock Selection - Showroom Open WE TILE • COFFEE • CONNECTIONS • COMMERCE Brew Brew
Celebrating Women in Business This Special Edition Honors Women's History Month

Nostalgia

Gorditas

Celebrating Our First Year

Owning her own business has not been easy. It has been a great year filled with lots of highs, but also with lots of lows. Arlae Chio, who owns Nostalgia Gorditas in the City of Lakewood with her family, said that there's been times this past year when she's been close to throwing in the towel.

"A lot of tears have been shed this past year," said Chio. "But luckily my pillar, my husband is always there to stop me. He let's me go through my emotions, but then he reminds me that statistically we weren't supposed to make it this far. He always tells me that I've got this and then he reminds me that not giving up is in my blood."

Arlae is the owner of the Northern-Mexican food restau rant, but she owns it with her husband, Javier, and with her children and with her two right-hands, Fabiola and Luz (pictured). "This is a family-owned restaurant, so giving up is not allowed. We have made it this far and despite the

lows, it has been an amazing year - a year that my whole life I always dreamed about and now I'm living it with my family."

This March marks one year exactly since Nostalgia Gorditas served its first gordita.

"The Lakewood Community News did a story on us when we first opened, so I wanted to run a new story in the newspaper to THANK the Lakewood community. We would not have made it this far without your continuous support. Thank you for giving us a chance, and thank you for loving our food, and embracing our culture."

Nostalgia Gorditas specializes in flour gorditas, similar to thick flour tortillas, that are filled with different types of stews - or guisos, rooted in the Chio family's hometown of Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico.

Nostalgia Gorditas are flourbased and are nothing like you've tasted in L.A. They're not burri-

tos and they're not tacos. Gorditas from Torreon are very different from gorditas made in other parts of Mexico, which most of the time, are made out of corn and deep fried.

"People are surprised when they first taste our gorditas, especially a freshly made gordita with its thin, crispy layers," said Chio. "It's not a tamal or a sope, either. You just have to come and try it for yourself."

Arlae and Javier have been making gorditas for their friends and family for years. They started off as a pop-up, then catering, and they even tried to build their business on a food truck, but it's not what Arlae really wanted. "I have always wanted a brick and mortar. The response with the food truck was huge, but it still wasn't my own restaurant."

Longtime residents of Lakewood, Arlae and Javier were regulars of the old Don Ruben's Mexican Grill. "We had been coming here for years, so we knew the owner. It was as if she knew that we wanted to open up our own restaurant," said Arlae. "One day she just asked us if we knew anybody who wanted to buy a restaurant, and Javier and

I just looked at eachother, and we said, WE DO."

There was no looking back after that, she said. She had other offers, but in the end, she told us that she picked us because her heart told her that we were going to do something special with the restaurant. Less than a year later, we were the new owners.

"And now look at us," Arlae said with a smile. "It's surreal. I never imagined that I would get to do what I have always dreamed about doing in the very community where me and my husband have raised our family. I am truly grateful for all of the support and for the opportunity to serve my community."

Nostalgia Gorditas has started off the year hopeful. Along with selling her special salsas, doing more catering events and finding ways to give back to the community, Arlae

said that her motto for 2024 is to 'level up.'

"Our motto for 2024 is 'To Level Up.'" she said. "Our first year taught us a lot, but this year, we are looking to do things bigger and better." The Chio's have lived in Lakewood for over 10 years, but never have they gotten to know their community like the do now.

Arlae credits the Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce and the City of Lakewood for Nostalgia Gorditas' overwhelming support. "The community's support has been our motivation," said Arlae. "I'm the owner, but I couldn't do this without my family, and this last year taught us that we couldn't do this without the support of our community either, so from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. Thank you to everyone who made our first year possible."

March 2024 Page 8 NOSTALGIA 5835 Bellflower Blvd, Lakewood (inside shopping center next to Crunch and Dollar Tree) 1st FAMILY-OWNED RESTAURANT IN LOS ANGELES THAT SPECIALIZES IN FLOUR GORDITAS FILLED WITH HOME-STYLE GUISOS (FILLINGS) FOLLOW US @NOSTALGIAGORDITAS MEXICAN RESTAURANT GORDITAS (562)-202-9638 ALSO SERVING BREAKFAST BURRITOS AND MEXICAN BREAKFAST DISHES ALL DAY! GORDITAS-TACOS-BURRITOSQUESADILLAS AND MORE! Animo Lagunero!

St. Pancratius Parish School Meet Our New Principal

Meet Melina Ramirez, the first Latina to be named Principal for St. Pancratius Parish School in the City of Lakewood.

Hired last summer as head of the school by St. Pancratius Catholic Church leaders, Ramirez believes she was born to be Principal of St. Pancratius.

A Catholic school educator for over 15 years under the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Ramirez had always thought about being a principal, but never thought she would be one - at least not for another 20 years.

But then the pandemic happened and she, along with teachers all over the world, found themselves at a standstill trying to figure out how to teach children remotely, online, in a world that still lacked internet access to so many.

"The pandemic opened my eyes to the lack of support for teachers," Ramirez said. "I don't think any of us were prepared for

such a catastrophe."

With her faith in tow, Ramirez quickly adjusted to teaching virtually and volunteered to help her fellow teachers do the same. "It was in that emergency that I found myself being a leader; it made me realize how much I loved helping other teachers improve their craft."

After that, Ramirez said that her fellow teachers would always tell her that she would make a great principal right now, not in 20 years.

"One day," she said she would tell people. "All I knew was that if I ever became a principal, that I would want to be a principal that I wanted for myself as a teacher."

Then last year, her mentor, Principal Colby Boyson of Incarnation Catholic School in Glendale, told her she was ready.

Yes, she was. Almost a year later, Ramirez said that she couldn't have picked a better school to start her career as a principal. "It has been amazing," she said. "I love the school, the students and the families. I love the teachers, the community and I love the congregation and church leaders."

St. Pancratius has an enrollment of about 175 students, and 12 teachers, plus a physical education teacher. The school size is perfect, said Ramirez, adding that its size allows her to focus on supporting the teachers with meeting student's needs. As the new principal, Ramirez said that she's

always looking for ways to one, grow student enrollment, but also two, expand learning programs in science and technology. The new principal said that she is also looking at ways to grow the school's extracurricular programming.

"My goal is to stay here long-term," said Ramirez. "While I'm still getting to know my students, their families and our teachers, I want to build a relationship with all of them. Just as I want to get to know them, I'd like for them to get to know me, too."

Over the last year, Principal Ramirez said that she has learned that all of the teachers at St. Pancratius are passionate about the education of their students. "When you have passion for your profession, it creates a waterfall effect that transcends into everything that you do. That makes me happy."

With paintings of Frida Kahlo hanging in her office, Principal Ramirez smiles after being asked for her favorite Kahlo quote. "It's funny how God works," she added. "I have two daughters and my whole life has revolved around women's empowerment. I used to coach a girl's softball team, and I would think how great it would be to one day be an empowerment coach for women, to create something greater, beyond the reaches of a softball team."

It actually wasn't until after assuming her new role as Principal for St. Pancratius last

July, that she learned that all of the teachers at St. Pancratius were women.

"It's the full circle, how God does things," she said. "To place me in an educational setting surrounded by faith, where all of the teachers are women. God knew I was meant for this role. I said, not for 20 years, he said, 'you're ready now.'"

St. Pancratius' students, families and teachers have welcomed Principal Ramirez with open arms. "St. Pancratius families are very involved in their child's education," she said. "They are ready to volunteer and help where they can, however, they can."

Nothing is greater, however, than the students at St. Pancratius. "Our kids have the biggest hearts," Ramirez said. "St. Pancratius is a community within a community. It's a K-8 school, so kids grow up in faith together. This is their family away from home. Perhaps I'm a little biased, but honestly, this school is a gem. It's a great option for families looking for a private school."

Principal Ramirez is currently working with her staff on finalizing plans for the school's 70th Anniversary, which will be celebrated at the St. Pancratius Summer Fest in August.

March 2024 Page 9

Celebrating Women in Business

Lakewood LiveScan Fingerprinting & Notary

2725 Candlewood St., Lakewood, CA 90712 (562) 531-9199

MONICA SEGURA has owned Lakewood LiveScan Fingerprinting & Notary for eight years. After raising her three daughters in Lakewood for 17 years, today, Monica and her team provide at least 300 LiveScan fingerprints a month, plus Notary Services. "Both of these services are services that are needed more than people can imagine," she says. Whether people need these services for work, or school, or for licenses, affidavits or deeds, Monica says, she loves providing people with a service that they need. Monica hopes every client leaves with a good experience, knowing that her and her team are knowledgeable, were able to answer all their questions, and trust that the work is done right.

Vida y Alma House of Beauty

5840 Adenmoor Ave., Lakewood, CA 90713 (213) 425-4164

Long-time friends ERIKA PARADA and ROXANA PASILLAS-LUEVANO are co-owners of Vida Y Alma House of Beauty, a one-stop shop for self-care in Lakewood. Vida Y Alma specialize in aura esthetics, lash extensions, eyebrow shaping, spiritual healing and therapeutic massages - all under one roof."We're not your average beauty shop. We're about wellness, self-love and self-appropriation. When you leave our shop, we want you to leave feeling amazing about yourself," said Erika. Over the years, the two friends always wanted to open up a self-care house of beauty where women feel comfortable and not judged. Vida Y Alma House of Beauty is inclusive and nurturing.

Cindy Hinderberger, Realtor

EveryoneKnowsItsCindy.com DRE LIC 01902607 (562) 754-8802

Hi! Have we met? My name is CINDY HINDERBERGER and I would love to be your go-to real estate resource! In 2024, my primary goal is to serve at least 10 families in the greater Lakewood area, either by facilitating the sale of their homes or helping new buyers achieve their dream of finding the perfect home. As a trusted REALTOR® at Keller Williams Coastal Properties, I am committed to providing exceptional service and delivering results that exceed expectations. If you or anyone you know is looking to buy or sell a home in 2024, I am here to help. With a wealth of experience, a dedication to excellence, and a genuine passion for serving my community, I am committed to guiding you through every step of the real estate process. Let's work together to make 2024 a year where you make your best moves!

Paint & Chat Art Studio

16811 Bellflower Blvd., Bellflower, CA 90706 (562) 333-6708

Established in 2019, Paint & Chat Art Studio in Bellflower started when MARIA CARRETTA and a group of friends came together to support a friend going through a change into a new season of her life. Bob Ross was showing on PBS and an idea came to them after each of them successfully painted their first oil-painting on canvas. It was right there, that the concept of painting parties was born. Paint & Chat Art Studio gives people an opportunity to unwind, relax and get their creative juices flowing. It isn't just for a fun time with friends, but it can be a great teambuilding activity. With an instructor guiding the painting parties, Paint & Chat Art Studio offers everyone a fun-filled experience. Paint & Chat has held several complementary painting workshops at the Angelo M. Iacoboni Library.

Nostalgia Gorditas

5835 Bellflower, Lakewood, CA 90713 (562) 202-9638

ARLAE CHIO and her husband, Javier, are celebrating their one-year anniversary in the City of Lakewood next month. Serving up homemade flour gorditas from Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico, Nostalgia Gorditas specialize in homemade guisos, or stews, which go inside of the gorditas, which are very similar to flour tortillas but smaller and thicker. Their biggest seller in the last year, has been their Chicharron en Salsa Verde, (pork belly in green salsa). Arlae said she couldn't do this without the support of her husband and her family. A family-run business, Arlae said that seeing people enjoy her great-grandmother's recipes fills her with great pride. Long-time residents, Arlae and Javier want people to know that Nostalgia Gorditas is their home away from home, and their family dinner-table away from home where everyone is invited.

All About Fun

AllAboutFunLakewood.com (562) 541-1134

Looking for party rental equipment and supplies? Call All About Fun! NICOLE DIAZ, and her husband Isaac, can help you with all of your party needs. From tables and chairs, to linens and chafing dishes, to tents and heaters, All About Fun, has it all. All About Fun also specializes in balloon arches and decorations. Serving the City of Lakewood for four years now, Nicole is a balloon specialist and the favorite part about her work is seeing kid's faces light up when they walk into a party and see all of the colorful balloons. "Balloons make people happy. I love seeing the smile on kid's faces when they see all of the balloons," she said. "Honestly, you can't have a party without balloons. Balloons are the cherry on top." All About Fun has everything for your party, including the fun. All About Fun is local and will deliver. They also carry cocktail tables, and can create themed centerpieces for all types of parties and celebrations. All About Fun is a one-stop party supply and equipment shop. "The fun and smiles are included," Nicole said.

Page 10

Celebrating Women in Business

Patty's Cakes, Cobbler & Fried Chicken

5574 South St., Lakewood, CA 90713 (562) 202-9624

PATRICIA MURRAY opened her Southern-style restaurant last March in Lakewood and has never been happier. Serving up her mother's and grandmother's recipes, Patty says she can't believe how much the community has embraced Patty's Cakes, Cobbler & Fried Chicken Restaurant. While her menu is light, Patty's fried catfish and fried chicken sell out every single day. Patty's offers a variety of home-made desserts, including her famous Strawberry Crunch Cake, and sides, Collard Greens, Mac&Cheese, and candied yams. "We are a small spot, but we are mighty," she said, adding that she's blessed, too. As much as we want to be fast food, it's really impossible to make southern food fast." Luckily, Patty's customers don't mind the wait. If you've tasted Patty's food, you would know why her food, can't be fast food.

ALLISON VAN WIG REALTY

Allison@SuperBroker.com DRE Lic 00985700 (562) 882-1581

There really is no place like home, says longtime Lakewood realtor ALLISON VAN WIG, of Van Wig & Associates, about selling homes in Lakewood to families who turn into her neighbors. Allison lives where she works and has been selling homes in Lakewood for 25 years. Allison says that there is no better City in the country to sell a home to a family than in the City of Lakewood, CA. A home is a safe-haven for your family, it's where you're going to build your life, she says. Allison has been selling homes in Lakewood and in Long Beach long enough to know what families are looking for when they want to buy a home, and when they want to sell their home. Allison loves that it's her job to help people find the right home for their families.

OJ's Subs

4136 Paramount Blvd., Lakewood, CA 90712 (562) 421-9551

Women-owned and family oriented, OJ's Subs has served fresh and tasty, quality submarines and salads since 1984. Owned by PATRICIA PONCE, OJ's Subs is actually celebrating its 40th year anniversary in 2024. Patricia fell in love with OJ's when she first started working at OJ's with the previous owner. Then one day in 2016, she decided to invest in it for her and her daughters. Best known for her Italian Cold Cuts Sub, Patricia says she personally selects all of OJ's ingredients on a daily basis. "It's important to me to ensure that each sub and salad is prepared with the freshest ingredients," she said. What she loves the most, aside from owning her own business, is that her customers over the years have become her family. "I wouldn't still be here without my loyal customers," she said. "Thank you to everyone who has continued to support OJ's all these years."

Hacienda Mariana Restaurant

17845 Clark Ave., Bellflower, CA 90706 (562) 202-9325

KORINA LOPEZ is a singer and businesswoman. Korina always dreamed of owning her own restaurant. She opened her first restaurant in the City of Lynwood in April 2018 and recently, she opened up her second Hacienda Mariana Restaurant in the City of Bellflower. Serving a full menu, including breakfast, lunch and dinner, Hacienda Mariana serves up a Mexican menu full of homemade recipes that are flavorful and authentic. Korina, along with the support of her husband, have quickly earned a reputation for making authentic food. "We want people to feel like they're eating at home, like their mom or abuelita's food," said Korina. Her biggest sellers are her Tacos de Birria Dorados. "Not everyone can get the spices in cooking birria perfectly," Korina adds. "But at Hacienda Mariana, the sazon (the flavor) is perfect - in the birria and in all of our recipes."

Kingdom Journey to Healing with LaLisa Morgan

KingdomJourney2Healing.com (626) 862-3837

With over 30 years of professional experience as a licensed clinical social worker, community activist, trainer, therapist, mentor, ally, and advocate, LALISA MORGAN supports her clients to be the best version of yourself as you heal from trauma and life limiting beliefs and deeply rooted family and social barriers as you develop your career and professional identity. LaLisa provides individual, family, couples, and group sessions for psychotherapy, coaching, and counseling for adults in transition, men/women individual therapy, and couples therapy to help develop positive coping strategies for anxiety, depression, trauma, unhealthy relationship dynamics, and working through life’s peaks and valleys during life’s transitions: young adult (18-30), prenatal and postpartum, parenting, and aging. LaLisa has found that her divine purpose is to guide individuals to achieve the best version of themselves and love of self so that they can live out their purpose.

Str8 Up Tacos

20900 Pioneer Blvd., Lakewood, CA 90715 (562) 263-6040

They say belief starts from within. As a little girl always gravitated towards things that stirred her creativity. From nostalgic moments cooking with her grandpa, to helping her family on Thanksgiving with cutting the bread for the stuffing. "I cared not what the task was, but long for the creation of memories, moments I was a part of," said LaShelle. However, her life like many has been filled with peaks and valleys but as she followed her passion and intuition, she found herself in culinary school. "I was not sure what I wanted to do with culinary but I was convinced if I stayed the course following what fueled my soul I’d never work a day in my life." Eight years later, LaShelle now owns Str8 Up Tacos and works with a man she loves, and a team she's proud of. Str8 Up Tacos serves up burritos and handmade tacos, with veggie options, and has been Ranked 4th in California for Best Taco spot on Yelp, and #21 on its National Top 100 List.

Page 11

Car-care is a new form of self-care, says Michelle Choi, one of the new owners of the recently renovated Crown America Car Wash.

Along with her two brothers, Mathew and Michael, Michelle, and her parents Rachel and Kenny, are ecstatic to announce the RE-GRAND OPENING of the newly renovated Crown America Car Wash in the City of Lakewood. In partnership with the original owners of the car wash, Irene and Sunny Choi, who first opened Crown America back in 2019, this comeback will be better and bigger than ever, said Michelle.

"This car wash has been around for decades," said Michelle. "The car wash opened in 2019, but then the pandemic shut delayed everything. We finally got all of the permits in late 2022 which allowed us to start reconstruction in March 2023. Everything has been renovated, all of the equipment and the tunnel is new. We have turned this one-acre property into a one-stop shop for your car care, and for you too."

Crown America Car Wash offers a flex service that is very customer centered. A customer can choose from an Express Wash, a Full Service Wash, or Detail Services. Crown America Car Wash also features a smog check station and an official Valvoline Express Care Station for any

CROWN America CAR WASH

We are Back!

oil or fluid checks. Customers will have several options to choose from. Plus, said Michelle, the one-stop care care shop will soon feature a boba tea lounge, where customers can sit inside the lobby area while waiting on their car care.

"This won't just be a regular re-opening," said Sunny. "This is a Grand-Royal Reopening. After four years, including one year of full reconstruction, we are back."

Crown America Car Wash has been open for a few weeks and the response has been terrific, said Michelle. "The community is excited for our reopening. They are loving the one-stop shop services. You can get everything done, in one stop, people are loving it."

Irene calls the last five year the hardest years of her life. "We had 30 employees when we first opened in 2019, we couldn't let them go during the pandemic, so we had to find a way to keep them employed," she said. "Luckily, we received help from the federal government during the pandemic for our employees, otherwise we wouldn't have survived. I couldn't lay people off whose work was their livelihood."

As challenging as times were, she and

Sunny couldn't quit on their dream to reopen the car wash after the pandemic. "Quitting was not an option, we never quit," she said. "Plus, this car wash is my husband's dream, he's always wanted to own his own car wash."

During the shut down, Irene, an architect at heart, and Sunny focused on redesigning the car wash from the inside, out.

"Crown America Car Wash keeps the customer in mind," said Irene. "I'm very proud of the design and of all of the services available for our customers."

From top of the line vacuums, to fresh wet, clean towels, "the customer will have the best of the best available when he or she comes to wash their car here," said Sunny.

"Every detail of this car wash was designed with the customer in mind, a lot of thought went into everything," said Irene. "Our goal is to make sure that our car wash is convenient and efficient for our customers."

Michelle, who is serving as Crown America Car Wash's Marketing Director, calls the customer-centered service, "service with a little more umph." "Our car wash will help customers save time and energy," she said.

"One customer came in yesterday and told me she loved her experience here, and called it a self-care moment for herself, but also for her car. That really resonated with what we're trying to do here."

Crown America Car Wash offers customers a car wash experience. "They can stay in the car, or get out and let us take care of everything," she said. "Everyone loves getting their car washed, but if you can put your feet up for a moment, that's a plus."

Crown America Car Wash is a familyowned and family-run business. With a soft-opening taking place throughout the month of March, the Choi family is looking forward to celebrating their Grand Royal Repening in a few months.

"I love that I'm doing this with my family in this beautiful City," Michelle said. "I love that my family doesn't believe in quitting. We don't know how to stop. My mom has always taught me and my brothers to be solution oriented. She's always instilled in us that we can't just live and complain, we have to be solution oriented, and be find creative solutions to challenges we face in life." Crown America Car Wash is "our greatest feat, together as a family," she added, and we are looking forward to meeting our customers and meeting their car-care needs."

March 2024 Page 12

New to this year’s commemoration, the City of Lakewood has launched a Women's Success and Leadership Series, coined as LeadHer Lakewood, to engage, empower and bring together the women of this city.

The four-part series will span across each Wednesday in March (see ad on this page).

Registration is required for each event and you may sign up for multiple events using one form at www.lakewoodcity.org/LeadHer.

For more information or assistance, please call (562) 866-9771, extension 2408.

On behalf of the Lakewood City Council, Mayor Ariel Pe has issued a proclamation in recognition of Women’s History Month, which can be viewed at www.lakewoodcity.org/Women.

The two Los Angeles County Libraries in Lakewood will also be creating book displays in celebration of women in March in addition to some special programming:

Women's History Month in Lakewood

March is a time to highlight, celebrate and honor women and the vital roles they have held in American history and across the world.

The City of Lakewood joins the federal government, state government and hundreds of public and private organizations in paying tribute to this important annual commemoration and celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society, including women’s struggles for the right to vote and equality under the law.

Iacoboni Library is offering a special STEAM Storytime: Celebrate Women's History Month with Ada Lovelace & Binary Friendship Keychains on March 19 at 6 p.m.

Learn about the first computer programmer Ada Lovelace and create a keychain or friendship bracelet with a secret message. For ages 6-12 and their caregivers, registration is required.

Nye Library is also holding a special art program, Celebrating Amazing Women, on Monday, March 11 at 3:30 p.m.

Join for a read aloud of "Me...Jane" by Patrick McDonnell, a picture book about primatologist, environmentalist, and United Nations Messenger of Peace, Dr. Jane Goodall. Recommended for children ages 3-12 with their caregivers, attendees will create their own Jane or another woman they admire most. No registration is required and while supplies last.

Visit lacountylibrary.org to see the commemorative month’s specific resources, which will include a booklist, events and programming as well as a plethora of digital resources focused on women.

Also notable, started in 2022, and continuing through 2025, the U.S. Mint is releasing new quarters featuring American women who changed the nation and the world as part of the American Women Quarters™ Program.

Twenty pioneering American women are featured on their own quarter and includes icons like Maya Angelou, Sally Ride and Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as highly respected trailblazers like indigenous Hawaiian composer, custodian of native culture and traditions Edith Kanakaʻole, and Wilma Mankiller, the first woman elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.

March 2024 Page 13 Join us every Wednesday in March Join us every Wednesday in March For more details on each event and to register, visit www.lakewoodcity.org/LeadHer For more details on each event and to register, visit www.lakewoodcity.org/LeadHer Wednesday, March 6 Behind the Scenes of Success 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Tour departs Burns Community Center 5510 Clark Ave. Wednesday, March 13 Wine and Design 6 – 8:30 p.m. at Monte Verde Park 4626 N. Shadeway Rd. Wednesday, March 20 Women’s Wellness Fair 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Mayfair Park 5720 Clark Ave. Wednesday, March 27 Women’s Empowerment Lecture 6 – 8 p.m. at The Centre 5000 Clark Ave.
March 2024 Page 14

(Continued from Pg. 3)

While she readily acknowledges how emotionally and physically taxing it was to leave her children and return with energy and cheer after a long day, Valarie remains continually fueled by the community’s abundant appreciation for the work done by the recreation department.

“It makes you feel good. My work is continually validated by the sounds of joy and the sight of happiness on thousands of faces throughout the year.”

*****

Lakewood Director of Public Works

Kelli Pickler’s father had a fa vorite memory of when his very curious 12-yearold dismantled the cover of a broken microwave and asked how she could fix what looked like a burnt fuse. Good in math and clearly inquisitive, Kelli’s parents later suggested she pursue civil engineering.

Finding a balance between motherhood and career is an all too real struggle for many working women, but Kelli was able to do just that as she shifted to a four-person construction consulting company focused on public works. Kelli had consulted for many public agencies by the time she assumed the principal engineer role at the City of Anaheim in 2014. Then in 2017 she became the director of public works for Signal Hill.

There weren't many women in her engineering classes at CSULB but Kelli found the experience mostly positive while earning her bachelor’s degree there. However, regardless of her 4.0 in undergrad engineering courses, a male teacher at UCI—where she enrolled for her master’s program—told her she wasn’t smart enough and didn’t belong there. Kelli returned to CSULB to earn her master’s degree in civil engineering with an emphasis in construction management and never looked back.

Kelli’s career began at Fluor Corporation, a Fortune 500 company that focuses on engineering and construction services for the production of fuels, chemicals, liquefied natural gas and nuclear power services markets. Through an innovative employee rotation program, she worked as a structural engineer, pipe stress engineer and risk manager before eventually ending her 10-year-run with Fluor as their youngest female sales manager. The decision to leave was in direct correlation with her desire to have children. While Fluor offered to continue her advancement into executive management, it came with a six-year commitment overseas that Kelli declined.

In this new role, Kelli met many professional women across the region including Lisa Rapp, Lakewood’s then director of public works. Sharing a very similar background of work in both private and public industries, “we became fast friends,” recalls Kelli. “And she served as a mentor for me for many years.” Lisa headed Lakewood’s public works department for 26 years before retiring in 2022, but not before passing the baton to Kelli, who was selected as the interim director, and ultimately director. Sadly, Lisa passed away unexpectedly in December 2023.

With a budget of nearly $24 million, Kelli oversees a department of 34 fulltime staff and eight part-time staff that is responsible for repairing, renovating and constructing city parks, playgrounds and buildings; street repairs, tree maintenance, refuse and recycling, and stormwater management.

Now remarried and raising her two teenagers, Kelli has also mentored young women who have gone on to successful engineering opportunities. She is both the young girl who took apart a microwave and played with Tonka trucks in the dirt and a successful, proven leader on Lakewood’s executive management team today. “I was destined to be an engineer,” says Kelli, reflecting. “And that love of engineering has allowed me to overcome any early shuns of being a female in what used to be a male-dominated industry.”

For these two directors and the rich legacy left by scores of accomplished, driven women in Lakewood and beyond, we salute the achievements of all women and join in celebrating Women’s History Month.

March 2024 Page 15 Lakewood's Directors YMCA 56th Annual Good Friday Breakfast Keynote Speaker Honorable Gaddi H. Vasquez U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (Ret.) Former Director of the U.S. Peace Corps REGISTER BY MARCH 13TH | ONLINE: LBymca.org | SCAN: ENDURING IN FAITH Presented by Dr. Mike & Arline Walter Friday, March 29, 2023 7:15 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Long Beach Convention Center Grand Ballroom Individual Seat: $75 Sponsored Table of 10: $1250 Nonprofit Table of 10: $750 For Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce Membership Inquiries, call (562) 531-9733 Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce’s THURSDAY, MARCH 14, 2024 from 6 to 8 p.m. 5840 Adenmoor Ave., Lakewood, CA 90713 MARCH MIXER GREATER LAKEWOOD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Network Grow Empower Vida y Alma House of Beauty MAKE NEW CONNECTIONS to GROW YOUR BUSINESS! Don’t forget to bring your business cards. FOOD MUSIC NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS VENDORS

City Spotlight

Mother/Son Date Night

Mothers, grandmothers, aunts and other special ladies invite your son(s) or other special young men, ages five and older, to Mother/Son Date Night “Funky Town” at the Lakewood Youth Center, 4658 Woodruff Ave. on Saturday, March 23 from 5 to 8 p.m. Boogie on down to Funky Town with your son(s) at an event filled with games, contests and a delicious dinner. All guests will be entered into the Disco Queen and Prince raffle. Guests will also receive a keepsake mother/son photo and frame. Registration is $25 per Lakewood resident and $30 per non-resident. Each mother and son must be individually registered. Visit www.lakewoodcity.org/ ecatalog to register in advance using activity #27059.

Easter Egg Hunts at Lakewood Parks

The Easter Bunny will be visiting all of the parks and hiding eggs on Saturday, March 30. The schedule for the Bunny visits and other activities will be listed on special activity flyers available at Lakewood City Hall and Lakewood parks. Call City Hall at 562-866-9771, ext. 2408 for more information.

gram for children ages 6-12, and will be offered at Bolivar, Mayfair, Boyar, and Palms Parks. Camp will take place beginning Monday, April 1 and ending Friday, April 5. The program will provide supervised activities from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on a 1:12 staffto-camper ratio. Programmed activities will include a variety of arts and crafts, outdoor sports, indoor games and specialized activities. The fees for camp will be $200 for Lakewood residents, and $215 for non-residents and will include an excursion to Knott’s Berry Farm on Wednesday, April 3.

To register, visit www.lakewoodcity.org/ecatalog and search with the keyword “camp”. For more information, call 562-866-9771, ext. 2408.

FUN-Tastic Family Night Featuring Bubblemania and Company

org/ecatalog and use activity #27187 to register by March 7.

St. Patty’s Day Spikeball Tournament for Teens

Middle and High Schoolers bring your friends out to Bloomfield Park, 21420 Pioneer Blvd., on Saturday, March 16 from 2-6 p.m. and challenge other teens to Spikeball! For pre-registration or for more information call Bloomfield Park at 562-8651717.

Daddy/Daughter Date Night

The annual Daddy/Daughter Date Night is Friday, April 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Centre, 5000 Clark Ave. This year’s theme is “Dancing at the Disco.”

Dads and daughters, ages five and older, will enjoy a delicious dinner followed by dancing to a popular D.J.

Earth Walk at Monte Verde Park

Lakewood's free Earth Walk event returns this spring with an interactive experience for children and adults on Saturday, March 16, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will be held at rustic Monte Verde Park, which is the trailhead to over three miles of landscaped walking trails and the San Gabriel River Parkway. Monte Verde Park is located at 4626 N. Shadeway Road.

Spring Break Day Camp

Spring Break Day Camp is a pro-

Join us for an interactive activity to learn about the science of bubbles at The Centre, 5000 Clark Ave. on Friday, March 15 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. A bubbleologist will demonstrate the science of bubbles with audience participation. Ground beef tacos, refried beans, lemonade and a dessert will be served prior to the show. Seating is on a first come, first served basis. Doors open at 6 p.m. Cost is $15 per person, $12 for children 1-3, and children under 1 are free. Visit www.lakewoodcity.

Each dad and daughter duo can dress in their best “disco night” outfit and there will be exciting contests throughout the evening, including the crowning of the King and Princess.

All guests will receive a keepsake daddy/daughter photo. Registration is $45 per Lakewood resident and $55 per non-resident. Each dad and daughter should register individually. For more information, or to sign up for this event, call 562-866-9771, ext. 2408 or sign up at www.lakewoodcity.org/ecatalog using activity #27060.

Participants will learn what they can do to help keep the earth beautiful and protected. Adults and children are invited to take a nature walk, create nature-themed crafts, visit the petting zoo, and learn about recycling. “Woody the Tree,” Lakewood’s Tree City, USA mascot, will be in attendance to help teach visitors about Lakewood’s “urban forest.”

Participants can visit the stations along the trail and get their passport stamped with specialty Earth Walk stamps. With a completed passport, participants will receive a special Earth Walk gift, while supplies last. This free event is a fun and educational day for family members of all ages. For more information, call 562-866-9771, ext. 2408, or go to www.lakewoodcity.org/EarthWalk.

In the event of rain, a decision regarding event cancellation will be made by 7 a.m. The event may continue in a scaled down fashion if weather permits. Weather related updates can be obtained by calling Monte Verde Park at (562) 429-0598 on Saturday, March 16.

March 2024 Page 16
Come visit and take photos with the Easter Bunny! THE EASTER BUNNY IS HOPPING INTO CANE’S ® (AND THEY’RE FEELING PHOTOGENIC) MARCH 17 | 9 am -12 pm VISIT US AT 4634 Candlewood St

Long range plan for parks, rec and community services

The City of Lakewood is in the process of developing a Parks, Recreation and Community Services Long Range Plan. As an initiative of the City Council’s 2024 budget, the Long Range Plan will help the guide the city in resource allocation and decision making through the next decade.

With direction and leadership from landscape architecture firm MIG, Inc., Lakewood staff have already completed the initial data collection and review of existing programs and facilities.

The next step is community outreach and needs assessment. This is where Lakewood residents come into play.

Two “pop-up” events have already been held at the Harvest Festival and Tree Lighting Ceremony. Look for others in the near future. But if you don’t want to wait to see the community input

booths, all residents are encouraged to take the Community Survey at www.lakewoodcity.org/ RecreationSurvey to help steer the outcome of the Long Range Plan by weighing in with your greatest needs and priorities.

To follow along with the progress of the plan, visit www.lakewoodcity.org/ParksLRP.

The Long Range Plan is anticipated to take 18 months and be adopted by the City Council near the end of 2024. The plan will ensure the highest level of parks, recreation and community services are delivered to Lakewood residents now and into the future.

Page 17 March 2024
Ed Ramos Phone: (562) 508-5681 License: #0C38956 www.scanhealthplan.com/EdRamos Calling this number will connect you to a licensed insurance agent/broker. Reduce your out-of-pocket costs with SCAN Balance (HMO C-SNP) $0 for select Insulins1! If you have diabetes, keeping your medical costs manageable doesn’t have to be a challenge. SCAN Health Plan® offers comprehensive medical coverage, lowercost prescription options, and more, to help you live with and manage diabetes. 1You won’t pay more than $0 for a one-month supply of each insulin product covered by our plan on our “Drug List” (Formulary), no matter what cost-sharing tier it’s on. You won’t pay more than $35 for a one-month supply of each insulin product covered through a coverage determination, appeal, or transition. Only Humalog®, Humulin®, Lantus®, Levemir®, Lyumjev®, Soliqua®, Toujeo® and Tresiba® are available. SCAN Balance (HMO C-SNP) is an HMO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in SCAN Health Plan depends on contract renewal. Call the SCAN representative listed below. Are you new to Medicare and living with Diabetes? Y0057_SCAN_21110_2024_M 1312024 S2762 1/24 LAKEWOOD OFFICE: 4943 Paramount Blvd., Lakewood, CA 90712 (562) 634-2500 AREAS IN DENTISTRY: Implants, Invisalign Ortho, Root Canal, Mini-Implants, Gum Treatment, Cosmetics, Denture/Partial, Crowns/Bridge, Extraction and Pediatric Nguyen Dental is a family-run dental office. We use the latest DIGITAL technology and provide quality dentistry at an affordable price. Open Saturdays - Early and Late hours! NGUYEN DENTAL BetweenCVS& SocialSecurity

one that they are here today, in these roles, because they were fortunate enough to serve under Captains, who were men, who trained them and believed in their abilities.

"The fact that we both started nearly 20 years ago, or 25 years ago, and worked under men who didn't give up on us because of our gender, is pretty awesome," said Post.

Along with mental strength, comes reputation, said Post. "That's something you have to earn," she added. "You have to earn, every single day - a reputation that you can handle business. Here, your reputation is everything."

Post and Simonian met about six years ago and have been friends ever since.

"This career introduces you to a lot of people that you are forced to spend a lot of time with, that's a lot of different personalities, but if you're lucky, you also get to work with people that turn into lifelong friends and family."

The fact that these two friends suddenly working together was going to make Los Angeles County's fire department history had not even crossed Post's or Simonian's minds.

"Imagine working with your best friend, doing a job that you both love, being able to talk about the job that you both love, that you both have dedicated your lives to, every day, that's how it is," said Post. "It's worth every minute. Women have always been socialized to do for others, but when we do it for ourselves, we are selfish. My advice to women out there, is to do what you love, persevere, have those internal wins. Do it for you, not for anyone else - win for you, don't let anyone else dictate that to you. "

Page 18 March 2024 Making LACoFD history (Continued from Pg. 3) Join us for our monthly “In Person COFFEE CHAT” on Saturday, March 9th, 2024 at Granny’s Donuts, 5550 Woodruff Ave., from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and enjoy FREE COFFEE and GOODIES! Visit Us anytime at: www.ApplesTeam. KATHY “APPLES” Berkshire Hathaway H.S.C.P Call or Text (562) 884-1863 Email Kathy at kathyapples@gmail.com “Like” us on 5902 Elkport Ave., Lakewood ▪ Classic Lakewood Corner House With detached garage $729,000 284 Park St., Long Beach ▪ 3 Bedrooms, 2 Baths Belmont Heights Beauty ▪ Plus a 1 bedroom, 1 bath ADU Detached oversized garage, as well sold $1,200,000 NEW LISTING! (562) 884-1863 $869,800 5932 Eastbrook Ave. • 3 Bedrooms, 2 Baths • Family room home • Plus a converted garage with kitchenette and bathroom sold sold

Lakewood’s anniversary celebration continues

On April 16, 1954, Lakewood officially became a city, one month after residents voted by a 60-40 percent margin to incorporate and govern themselves, as opposed to remaining an unincorporated part of L.A. County or annexing themselves to Long Beach and becoming a small part of that bigger city.

Anniversary activities include a special Family Movie Night, currently being planned for Mayfair Park on Saturday, April 20. The night will include a showing of “Back to the Future” along with special fun features for attendees, to be announced soon.

Lakewood’s 70th Anniversary mascot, Woody the Tree, will make special appearances at several community events in April so residents can take photos with him, including at the Family Movie Night.

And, every Saturday leading up to April 20, the Lakewood Connect eMagazine is featuring a Lakewood history story and quiz, where residents who answer three questions correctly can enter a drawing for free 70th Anniversary prizes.

Sign up for the eMagazine at www.lakewoodcity.org/subscribe.

Hiring Accountant

Req. BS/BA in Bus Admin, Acctg, or rel.

Wage: $57,949/YR.

Mail Resume: Rindtek, Inc.

4010 Watson Plaza Drive, #252, Lakewood, CA 90712

trustee takes over the estate immediately without going through probate, then distributes the assets and terminates the Trust.

March 2024 Page 19 GET READY for your close-up BUNNY PHOTOS MARCH 1 - 30 CENTER COURT NEAR MACY’S PRE-BOOK YOUR VISIT Lakewood Blvd. & Del Amo Blvd. ShopLakewoodCenter.com LAK-24106 A1 March LCN Ad.indd 1 2/15/24 8:48 AM Why the Living Trust is so IMPORTANT ADVERTORIAL Living Trusts are an efficient and effective way to transfer property, at your death, to the relatives, friends or charities you’ve chosen. Essentially, a Living Trust performs the same function as a Will, with the important difference that property left by a Will must go through the probate court process. In probate, a public court proceeding, the deceased’s debts are paid. Then after a year or more at tremendous expense to your heirs, the remaining property is finally distributed to them. By contrast, property left by a Living Trust can go promptly, privately and directly to your heirs. Living Trusts are created while you’re alive and are “revocable.” You can revoke or change them at any time, for any reason. You can abolish the Trust, alter its terms or change the beneficiaries. As the original trustee, you can do whatever you wish with your assets - manage them, sell them, or give them away. Upon your death, the successor
For more information, contact Elizabeth Vozzella Attorney at Law (562) 426-9876 www.vozzella4law.com FIND YOUR JOY. FIND YOUR Y. Lakewood Family YMCA April 20 | Free to the Public 10am-1pm

2024 Lakewood Youth Hall of Fame

On Monday, February 26, at the Centre, the City of Lakewood and Piazza Family McDonald’s inducted the 42nd class of outstanding young athletes into the Lakewood Youth Hall of Fame

This year’s Athlete of the Year was Chaz Gilbreath, a superstar all purpose player on the Mayfair High School Varsity Football Team

Gilbreath displayed great leadership and tenacity throughout the entire 2023 season with the Monsoons His efforts helped fuel a historic year for his team, capturing the CIF Division VII Championship, the CIF Southern Section Regional Championship, and a firstever appearance for the school in the CIF State Finals Gilbreath humbly accepted this honor at the banquet with his family and Monsoon supporters on hand

Nearly 400 athletes, coaches, school administrators and community officials were on hand In total, 21 Performers of the Year, 14 Special Achievement Award Winners, 15 Youth Teams and 34 Distinguished Nominees were recognized Honorees included students from Lakewood, Mayfair, Artesia, and Saint Joseph high schools Additionally, four Lakewood residents who attend schools beyond Lakewood’s borders were recognized for their athletic achievements as well

The Lakewood Youth Hall of Fame Banquet continues to be a cherished event within the Lakewood community This one of a kind event is a true display to the city’s commitment to recognizing young athletes

The new display showing all of the athletes will be posted at the Woodruff McDonald’s, which houses the Lakewood Youth Hall of Fame, the week of March 11

March 2024 Page 20
principal
Visit the McDonald’s Hall of Fame Gallery at 4848 Woodruff Ave. This space paid for by Piazza Family McDonald’s Restaurants
Piazza Family McDonald’s is the founding
corporate sponsor of the Lakewood Youth Hall of Fame for the last 42 years
VISIT THIS LINK: https://wlink.live/2023_YMCA $20 GRAB A DIAMOND FUSION EXPRESS WASH FOR ONLY 50% Of Your Proceeds Will Go To This Organization 5730 Lakewood Blvd • Lakewood, CA 90712 Use Your Phone’s Camera Support Wash for YMCA Kids! Buy A Car Wash and Help Us Reach Our Fundraising Goals. SEE DETAILS BELOW. SUPPORT Wash For YMCA Kids
Chaz Gilbreath, Football Mayfair High School
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.