Westchester/Playa HomeTown News May 2019 edition

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Will your favorites win the Best Of?...page 6 2019 Super Mom honoree, Erika Puzik, poses with her two sons at Playa del Rey’s Ballerini Cooley Studios.

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Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

This Month Brings You

help you prom help you prom nization or even nization or even A look inside your HTN

Community Spotlight: NCWP candidate forum Calling all Fourth of July Parade participants Teacher Eddy Award honorees 2019 Super Moms In Pictures: AMCS Spring into Well-Being

04 06 08-09 13-16 27

HOMETOWN STAFF/CONTRIBUTORS Stephanie Davis, Publisher, Editor

Jeff Blair, Contributing Writer Fay Craton, Contributing Writer

Kirby Israelson, Graphic Design Consuelo Israelson, Contributing Writer

Advertisers’ Directory

Airport Marina Counseling 24 Project Scientist Ballerini Cooley Studios 14 Regatta Capital Group Cantalini’s Salerno Beach 22 SoCalSport Drollinger Properties 12, 23 Stephanie Younger Group Food Pantry, LAX 23 St. Bernard High School Head to Toe Salon 18 Vergari & Napolitano Jane St. John 12 Visitation School LAX Coastal Chamber 08-09 Westchester Farmers’ Market LAX VIP Program 25 Westchester Lutheran School Loyola Marymount 04 Westchester Rotary Club Marina del Rey Hospital 28 Westchester Town Center BID Nanci Edwards 07 Westside Pacific Village Neighborhood Council 19-21 Zacha Homes Playa Music 18

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act us for rates and act us for rates and hesterhometo About The HomeTown News (HTN)

The HomeTown News is a monthly community newspaper dedicated to providing information about the people, events and happenings of Westchester, Playa del Rey, Marina del Rey and Playa Vista. Look for the HomeTown News the first Thursday of the month at your home or at one of our drop-off locations.

hesterhometo Connect with the HTN:

Mailing Address: 8939 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Ste. 110 #745 Westchester, CA 90045 • Email: westchesterhometown@yahoo.com • Website: thehtn.com • Facebook: facebook.com/thehtn The deadline for submissions is the 22nd of each month.

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May 2019 • Page 3

Community Spotlight: Meet the candidates running for Neighborhood Council at upcoming forum Big changes are coming to the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa (NCWP), as the election on Sunday, June 2 could bring up to eight new members to the advisory board, which votes on community issues and makes recommendations to the city and to Councilmember Mike Bonin. The board represents stakeholders in Westchester, Playa del Rey and Playa Vista. Although 14 seats are up for election on the 31-person board, three seats have no candidates running. Four candidates are running unopposed and will automatically win their seat during the election. The council will also be faced with replacing some very key members. Longtime NCWP representative, Cyndi Hench, decided not to run after more than 12 years on the council and more than a decade as president. Pat Lyon who heads the Planning and Land Use Committee and the NCWP’s treasurer, Don Hellwig, are not seeking reelection, as well. “Having served on the Neighborhood Council as president for so many years, it is hard to leave,” said Hench. “I definitely have mixed emotions, but I think everybody has to find the right season for things in

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NCWP candidates pose for a photo outside the Westchester Community Room to promote the candidate forum. From left to right: Garrett Smith, Dennis Miller, Sue Fisher, Michele Cooley-Strickland, Cord Thomas, Naomi Waka, Kimberly Fox and Sylvia Wilson.

their life and it’s time for me to step aside to let other’s fill those shoes.” For the candidates who are running, giving back to the community and working toward a solution

for problems like traffic, airport congestion and development issues are paramount. Westchester resident, Cord Thomas, first became involved with the NCWP

by attending the Planning and Land Use Committee, and is running for a seat on the council for the first time. He is running unopposed. “I think impending congestion due

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

to all the development and housing is a big concern,” said Thomas. “For me, public safety in our neighborhood is also a concern and I’d like to see more attention paid to it.” Garrett Smith, who is running for reelection for one of two At-Large Seats, wants the council to keep moving forward. “I’m running to continue to serve our community. I oppose using our streets for commercial use—rental cars and LAX parking. I would also like to minimize the impact that LAX will have over the next few years,” said Smith who currently serves on the Outreach Committee and organizes the community dinner held in January. “I like the direction we’ve been going in, and I’d like to maintain it. Replacing Cyndi and Pat will be a big loss, and I don’t know who is going to be able to give that many hours to Neighborhood Council.” Kimberly Fox, who is an appointed member of the Planning and Land Use Committee, is another candidate running for an At-Large-Seat. She is running for election for the first time with two issues in mind. “One [issue] is very old-fashioned, but I really believe in public process. Anything we can do to actually enliven the public conversation is good and the Neighborhood Council is the perfect forum for that,” said Fox. “I believe it’s the right place to put your energy if you care about creative solutions in the community. The other thing is that we’re about to get hit by a tidal wave of transit-oriented, high-density

development. That poses really interesting problems for us as a community specifically.” She explains that parts of the community are “going to get hammered” by new developments. “I want to make sure we’re ahead of the game instead of playing catch-up with developers who have an infinite amount of resources,” said Fox. “You have a choice, you can either complain or get to work. That’s what it boils down to.” The community is invited to hear from all those running for NCWP at a Saturday, May 4 “Meet the Candidates” forum at Loyola Marymount University from 2 to 4 p.m. The forum will have a question-and-answer format. “This is a great opportunity to hear from some of the candidates that are running to serve the community and hear how they want to make a difference,” said Election Chair Grace Yao, who holds the LMU seat on the board. “People need to get to know who they’re voting for before they cast their ballots on June 2.” The forum will be held at LMU’s University Hall in the McIntosh Center. Parking is free. LMU is located at 1 LMU Dr. in Westchester. The Neighborhood Council election will be held on Sunday, June 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Westchester Community Room, located at 7166 Manchester Ave. in Westchester. Learn more about the candidates running for NCWP and voting on pages 19-21 of the HomeTown News.

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

May 2019 • Page 5

Business & Nonprofit News

Photo by Glenn Marzano.


The Charro Horses make their way down Loyola Blvd. during the Fourth of July Parade. The horses are a yearly tradition and have now become a crowd favorite.

Calling all community support for the Fourth of July Parade! Interested in participating in the 20th anniversary of the Fourth of July Parade? Organizers are looking for community support to help make this Westchester tradition the best parade yet. Hosted by the LAX Coastal Chamber, organizers are putting out the call for entries, volunteers and sponsors for this year’s celebration. “The Fourth of July Parade was only supposed to be a one-time event to celebrate the millennium,” said LAX Coastal Chamber President/CEO Christina Davis. “So the fact that we’re now celebrating our 20th anniversary says a lot about the dedication of our volunteers and our community that supports this tradition year after year. It’s a special feeling to see Loyola Blvd. lined every July 4th with families, neighbors and people from across the city, and we’re dedicated to putting on an entertaining event for them.” Applications to participate in the parade are due by May 17. Floats are especially encouraged, as well as entries with musical numbers. As this is a milestone year for the event, organizers are asking potential participants to put extra thought and creativity into their applications. The theme for the 2019 parade is “America…Better Together” and symbolizes the importance of working together and focusing on what unites us to make a stronger community and nation. For more information about participating, please visit Page 6 • May 2019

the winners will be revealed in our Thursday, August 1 issue. For more information and to vote, please visit our website at thehtn.com or facebook.com/thehtn.

Service (AMCS) since 2016. During that time, her responsibilities have included facilitating group therapy sessions known as “50+ Know Your Why” and working with underserved seniors to assist them through the stressful, transitions of their lives by incorporating meaning-centered therapy. A short question-and-answer period will follow her talk. A light lunch will be served during the meeting. There is no charge to attend the meeting, but reservations are requested by May 8 by emailing info@ westchestermhg.org. The meeting will be held at Covenant Presbyterian Church, located at 6323 W. 80th St. in Westchester. The Westchester Mental Health Guild was founded in 1962 to raise funds to support AMCS and otherwise support good mental health. All the Guild’s fundraising events support AMCS, which provides thousands of hours of child, adult and family mental health services to people in our local communities and also trains therapists. For more information, please visit westchestermhg.org or amcshelps.com.

Community invited to Mental Health Guild’s annual meeting. Members of the community are invited to hear therapist Nicole Barkopoulos speak on “Dynamic Aging and the Quest for Fulfillment” at the Westchester Mental Health Guild’s annual membership meeting on Wednesday, May 15 at 11:30 a.m. Barkopoulos is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist who has been on the staff of Airport Marina Counseling

Coming soon...a new book store in Westchester! Progress is underway for the Westchester Triangle’s newest business—Gatsby Books Westchester! The bookstore is the dream of Drollinger Properties President, Karen Dial, who wanted to create a one-ofa-kind Westchester store that merges literature, art, food and community. Dial says she hopes the space will be ready to open this fall.

Flowers by Felicia owner, Felicia St. Denis, poses in front of her Playa del Rey flower and coffee shop. St. Denis’ beautiful arrangements, creative design and customer service had her topping our 2018 Best Of poll for “Best Florist.”

laxcoastal.com/parade or call (310) 645-5151. Get ready to vote for your favorites in our 8th Annual Best Of poll! Voting will open for the HomeTown News’ 8th Annual Best Of Readers’ Poll on Friday, May 10 at noon. Readers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite local restaurants, businesses, organizations and places in more than 85 categories. The annual Best Of issue is a chance to highlight and recognize the best of the community of Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Marina del Rey and surrounding areas. Voting will end on Monday, June 17 and

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Gatsby Books owner, Sean Moor, and Karen Dial pose in front of the space that will house the bookstore, which is currently under construction.

Another unique aspect of the store will be a second story community room and space that can host book readings, author signings, events and cooking demonstrations. A cafe serving drinks and light snacks like sandwiches, soup and pastries is also planned. Stay tuned for more details! WPV welcomes new leadership to steer nonprofit. During the past couple of months, the Board of Directors of Westside Pacific Villages (WPV) has conducted a search for a new Executive Director. Some excellent candidates were identified, and through the screening process, the board decided to split the role into

two part-time positions rather than hire one full-time Executive Director. Last month, the two director roles were announced: Carol Kitabayashi as the Director of Operations and Christine Calderon Caruso as the Director of Development. Calderon Caruso will be responsible for WPV’s fundraising activities. She comes to WPV with more than 15 years of experience, working with both small and large nonprofits in Los Angeles. Kitabayashi is rejoining the WPV team after stepping down in 2018 to focus on her family. For more info, please visit thewpv.org. We want to hear about your business or nonprofit! Email us at westchesterhometown@yahoo.com for a chance to be featured.

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

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Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

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School News


The LAX Coastal Education Foundation recently distributed more than $50,000 to local schools. The money was raised through the foundation’s 2nd annual Rock Roll & Run 5K/1K in partnership with LMU that took place on March 9. Additional money raised from the event will be distributed back to schools via grants. This month, the foundation will announce the recipients of its STEM (in partnership with SoCalGas) and teacher development grants. Pictured: Education foundation board members pose with principals and representatives from local schools.

Project Scientist hosts all girl STEM summer camp in Playa Vista. School-age girls interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have a new learning opportunity this summer with Project Scientist, a nonprofit committed to exposing a diverse population of girls to a high-quality STEM academy. The summer camp will offer three weeks of fullday camp at Loyola Marymount University’s new Playa Vista location, near technology leaders like Google and Facebook. “We want our campers to envision a future working in STEM careers,” said Project Scientist Founder and CEO Sandy Marshall. “What better place for them to see their potential and meet women role models in STEM careers than Silicon Beach?” Project Scientist celebrated its new location with a $2,500 donation to Playa Vista Elementary School. “Partnerships with local schools, as well as local STEM workplaces, are essential to encouraging the next generation of women STEM leaders,” said Marshall. Currently open in California, North Carolina and Minnesota, Project Scientist seeks to originate a diverse STEM talent pool by building confidence for more than 20,000 girls by 2022. The Playa Vista camp location runs June 24 through July

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Awards are an evening of celebration and fun, with more than 300 educators, administrators, business leaders and community members in attendance to recognize outstanding teachers from our local schools. This year’s theme is “How Sweet it is to be Taught by You!” and teachers from 21 schools will be recognized. If you are looking to support these dedicated educators, please consider attending, sponsoring or donating raffle items to this one-of-a-kind event. For more information or to donate, please call the LAX Coastal Chamber at (310) 645-5151.

Project Scientist COO Regina Ossey presents a check to Playa Vista Elementary School Principal Rebecca Johnson in celebration of the STEM summer academy opening its site at LMU’s Silicon Beach campus.

12. Designed for working families, the camp runs from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. STEM themes are “All Aboard: Transportation–Past, Present and Future (June 24-28 with an expedition to a STEM company to be announced); “How It’s Made” (July 1-5 with an expedition to Sony’s Santa Monica Studio); “Genetics, DNA and Dissection” (July 8-12 with an expedition to Abbott). Visit projectscientist.org to learn more and register. Enter code

Hometown10 to receive 10% off at checkout. Sponsor a teacher for the Eddy Awards. It’s time to honor local educators at the Teacher Eddy Awards! Once a year, the LAX Coastal Chamber honors those responsible for teaching, supporting and inspiring our neighborhood’s young minds. Seen as Oscar night for our teaching community, the Teacher Eddy

Westchester Lutheran readies to host annual Spring Carnival. Save the date for Westchester Lutheran’s 35th Annual Spring Carnival on Saturday, June 1 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.! This year’s theme is “Westchester in Wonderland,” and the event will feature carnival rides, games, food, a silent auction and more. The carnival is Westchester Lutheran’s biggest fundraiser of the year and helps support the school’s programs including Gateway to Art, Portals to Science and outdoor education. Westchester Lutheran is located at 7831 S. Sepulveda Blvd. in Westchester. For more info, please visit wlcs.org.

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

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Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Do you know a Super Mom? We bet you know at least a few because we encounter these inspiring women every day in our community! Being a mom isn’t always easy, but somehow these women make it look effortless­­—juggling demanding careers, running their own businesses and friendships with homework help, sports schedules, school spirit week outfits and keeping the household running with clean laundry, warm meals and love. This is the fifth year that we’ve asked our readers to nominate moms that are making a difference in the community through their dedication to their families, careers, volunteer work and education, and we always love reading the nominations that land in our inbox from supportive friends, husbands, kids and colleagues. With such a great pool to choose from, it’s hard to narrow down our honorees to just four each year! Below are our 2019 Super Mom honorees, their original nominations and their “Super Mom Stats.” We hope you enjoy reading a little bit more about four awesome women in the community that all embody what it means to be a Super Mom! A special thank you to Playa del Rey’s Ballerini Cooley Studios for partnering with us on our Super Moms’ issue and providing our honorees with a fabulous family photo shoot!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of our community’s awesome Super Moms!

Meet Nadia: A Super Mom professor that loves spending time outdoors with her daughters. Nomination: I would like to nominate Loyola Marymount University Professor Nadia Kim as a Super Mom. Professor Kim teaches Sociology at LMU, having entered her 12th year as a faculty member at the university. Besides being a tremendous teacher, lecturer and colleague, Nadia is the mother of two beautiful young daughters, Taybe, 8, and Kitani, 4. As a colleague of hers at LMU, I had a chance to see her navigate writing a book, commuting to New York City to participate in a year-long visiting faculty program at the City University of New York and raising two young daughters, who are both demonstrably bright and well-adjusted, as a single mother. Nadia told me that her work commitments are the standard expectations of any top-notch faculty member, but I was overwhelmed with how seemingly effortless these responsibilities were for her. When I learned that one of her children was battling a medical condition, and that she had to manage her daughter’s treatment, care and comfort during the “tough” times, I became aware of the fact that she was a Super Mom in the highest sense of the phrase.

for help, who welcome your call and who never doubt that you’d return the favor, will always rule the day over money, status and fame—though being able to make myself invisible at will is a close second.

What is the best part about being a mom? The best part is experiencing a love

like no other. Loving your own children is quite different from loving a romantic partner, a friend or one’s parent. Although these other relationships are just as important, being a mom/parent is the most unique, in my eyes, because your child could not survive without your love. Studies show that babies whose basic needs are met–they’re fed, bathed and clothed–but who are not loved, often die. Children are wired to want to love you unconditionally and to feel that love when your infant cries for you or when your 8-year-old quickly forgives you after you unfairly snapped at her, is a love that actually keeps me alive.

What is the best tip you can share with other moms or local families? I have a

very hard time finding time to work out, so I started including my kids in the process. Until recently, my 4-year-old wouldn’t let Nominated by colleague Hampton Cantrell. me leave her at a gym daycare, and since I don’t enjoy working out with the kids on the NADIA’S SUPER MOM STATS street, I’d instead go to malls like Westfield Culver City that have long hours because As a Super Mom, what do you consider of the Target inside. I would push them in your “super” power? I think the correct a double stroller and fast-walk in a huge, way to label myself is “Mom with Super near-empty space for a half hour early in Friends.” Honestly, I could not be a decent the morning! It’s great cardio, it tones your mom without super friends like Hampton, arms, there’s A/C, and you can eat and let who was so sweet to nominate me. All of the kids enjoy the play area after. Warning, my family live far away and child care in though: you’ll get a lot of funny looks from West L.A. is quite expensive, so many of us mall security! divorcees who are single co-parents have to rely on the kind generosity of friends—or Favorite way to spend Mother’s Day? our “friendmily.” When I’m falling behind I love connecting with the earth with my at work, become sick or injured, or just need kids because they love it too, so we might go academic writings. When it comes Nadia Kim is not only a Super a long overdue break, friends like Hampton on an easy hike to a gorgeous overlook like time for fun, Nadia enjoys sharing Mom, but also a super professor. bring tears to my eyes when they say with Baldwin Hills or Griffith Park, hit the beach her love of the outdoors with her For the past 12 years, she has good cheer, “Sure, Nad, what do you need?” in Playa del Rey or El Porto to take in the taught at LMU, inspiring her students two daughters who are always It reminds me that those friends who never awesomeness of the ocean and play in the ready for a hike or trip to the beach. make you feel weird or intrusive for asking and taking home awards for her waves, or go to an animal sanctuary. Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News May 2019 • Page 13

When it comes to helping make her community shine, Amy Servidea is always willing to lend a hand. Using the same creativity that has made her a successful art director, Amy has been able to help elevate the branding of her kids’ school and church, by volunteering her time to serve on committees, design T-shirts, posters, banners and more. And when it comes to her kids, she’s always ready to give them an encouraging word, cheer them on at the soccer field and have a good laugh. Nomination: I would like to nominate Amy Servidea as a Super Mom because she 100 percent is one! I have known Amy for a little under three years, and am thoroughly impressed with her dedication to her children, her family, her career and her community. Amy is not only a talented and extremely busy art director, she is also a full-time mom to Lorelei and Jack. If that’s not enough, she also finds time to volunteer at her children’s school, coach AYSO, help with marketing/outreach for her church and also give back to the community. Oh yeah, and she has a husband, and I bet she is a pretty awesome wife too! What impresses me most about Amy is that she is always willing to lend a helping hand. I have had the privilege of working with her as a volunteer and when she commits to something, she gives it her all. She looks at ways she can improve the things she invests her time in and never disappoints. She is super talented and gets pulled in a ton of different directions, but her number one priority is her family. She is definitely a SUPER MOM and deserving of this

Meet Amy: A Super Mom that puts her family first, while juggling a creative career and volunteer work. honor. Nominated by friend, Christina Davis.

AMY’S SUPER MOM STATS As a Super Mom, what do you consider your “super” power?

Oh geez. I’d love to say it’s something amazing like extreme patience but unfortunately that’s not one of my strongest characteristics. Maybe positivity? I tend to be an optimistic person and am solution-oriented. I like to encourage my kids to look on the bright side. It’s okay to feel sad, but I never want them to feel hopeless.

What is the best part about being a mom? The whole job is

pretty great. But to name a few of my favorite parts...Making my daughter laugh her loud boisterous guffaw of a laugh. Cuddling with my son at 3 a.m. Cheering them up after a bad day. Finally understanding my own parents’ decisions. The challenge to be a better human. The hugs!

Which of your daily “mom” activities do you wish you could hire someone else to do? Anything

What is the best tip you can share with other moms or local families? Let people help you! Invite

others in and don’t be afraid to share your “messy” with them. It’s a whole lot easier if we parent as a community.

Favorite place in the community to take your kids or family? I love

being on the soccer field with my kids, especially as the sun goes down and the field lights come on. Or sitting in the stands watching their softball and baseball games.

and everything to do with a wiggly tooth.

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Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Mother of three, Stephanie Rosen is enjoying motherhood each step of the way. As her kids have grown, she has enjoyed helping them cultivate their hobbies and find their niche. Passionate about education, Stephanie, who has a tutoring business, has become immersed in volunteering at her kids’ school and supporting new initiatives to help students thrive. Nomination: I would like to nominate my wife, Stephanie Rosen, for recognition as a Super Mom. She is truly a remarkable person. Stephanie is the mother of three children: Lillie Grace (8), Alexandra (7) and Tyler Shea (2.5), who we adopted when he was one-day-old. This amazing mother, who already had a full house, opened her heart and home to a very special little boy and our family was complete. In addition to raising three children, she is also a private tutor. If this was not enough, she is incredibly involved in the kids’ school and school activities. She was one of the principals who brought the social-emotional program “Ruler” to WISH Charter, as well as the “Council” program, which encourages the students to be open with one another and share what is important to them. She is also an active volunteer in the school library and other school activities. Another achievement recently took place. Stephanie was key in bringing a spelling bee to WISH, as well as the Westchester school community. The program started with a couple of spelling bees at WISH and this grew into a competition for second grade students at four local schools. In addition, she helped secure sponsorships, which allowed the kids to receive prizes. I could go on and on

Meet Stephanie: A Super Mom who cherishes family time, while taking an active role in her kids’ school and activities. about how amazing Stephanie is…I am What is the best part about being just the husband who is in awe every a mom? Getting to really know and day. Nominated by husband Jory Rosen. enjoy my kids at each step. Helping them find and pursue new passions skills, overcome obstacles, STEPHANIE’S SUPER MOM STATS and discover with them cool things in their world, and of course, rediscover all the As a Super Mom, what do you stuff from my childhood through their consider your “super” power? My eyes. super power is enjoying the moment at hand. As Albert Einstein said, “There What’s your favorite way to spend are only two ways to live. One is as Mother’s Day? With Jory, Lillie though nothing is a miracle. The other Grace, Ali, Ty, Homie (our dog) and is as though everything is a miracle.” friends. And a mimosa or two. And Having, over the course of my years, chocolate. lived both ways, I’d say the latter is much more fun. I’m so grateful for the What is the best tip you can share snuggles, reading times, game nights, with other moms or local families? family councils, bike rides, movie Sometimes when at wits end, I remind evenings, French lessons, dinner myself that we’re all in this parenting conversations—the list is endless.

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

thing together. Our kids are always changing, and we need each other for advice, laughter and perspective. I also try to replenish myself daily, so I have something to give. After all, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Which of your daily “mom” activities do you wish you could hire someone to do? Around the

time I turned 40, it dawned on me that life is too short to be constantly doing stuff I don’t want to do! I hire someone to weekly clean bathrooms, floors and beds so I have the time to work as a creative consultant for two companies I strongly believe in and tutor writing and history to a select number of cherished students. Then, when I’m home, I want to be there and am grateful to unwind with the laundry and dishes.

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Erika Puzik is a lifelong Westchester resident and loves her community. She’s built a successful career in financial planning, consistently being recognized for outstanding service and sales performance. Seamlessly moving from determined business owner to super fun mom ready to host a sleepover, Erika encourages her kids’ activities and enjoys cheering them on. Understanding the importance of giving back, Erika currently serves as the Board President of Airport Marina Counseling Service. Nomination: I would like to nominate my wife, Erika Puzik, as a 2019 Super Mom. Erika is a lifelong resident of Westchester. She attended the original Westchester Neighborhood School, Notre Dame Academy and graduated with a degree in Finance from Loyola Marymount University. She is a small business owner of Erika Puzik & Associates, an Ameriprise Private Wealth Advisory Practice that has been located in the Howard Hughes complex for nearly 20 years. Recently, she received the Diamond Ring award for 13 years of exceptional service with Ameriprise. She is also annually invited to the Barron’s Women’s Conference, an exclusive, inviteonly conference for the top women financial advisors in the country.

Meet Erika: A Super Mom who seamlessly moves from successful business owner to super fun mom ready to play. organizing, sponsoring and attending events to help raise money for AMCS and the many members of our community that it serves.

What is the best part about being a mom? The best part of being a

Airport Marina Counseling Services Board of Directors and being a part of an organization that helps those less mom is being able to see life through my kids’ eyes, and it reminds me to be fortunate and serving an organization that’s part of our community. I’m present and find the fun and silliness a true believer of the saying “pay it in every day. forward.”

Along with all her responsibilities, she still finds time to spend vacations Our fourth grader, Trevor, attends with her family and enjoys motorcycle What’s your favorite way to Westside Neighborhood School and riding, water skiing and hiking. Riley, attends Covenant Presbyterian spend Mother’s Day? I really enjoy Nominated by husband Dirk Young. Church Preschool. Riley will attend Mother’s Day brunch with the family, kindergarten at WNS in the fall. but this year I’m super excited to head Erika often encourages our children ERIKA’S SUPER MOM STATS out to Gorman for a weekend of dirt to participate in extra-curricular bike riding with our family! Yes, I like activities, despite the strain it may put As a Super Mom, what do you to play in the dirt! on her schedule. consider your “super” power? My super power is the transformation What is the best tip you can In addition to her commitments to from busy business owner working share with other moms or local our children and her business, Erika woman to a super fun and flexible families? While I love to spend has been on the board of directors mom who’s ready to fully engage time with my boys when I’m not at at the Airport Marina Counseling with and play like a kid and host work, I think it’s so important to do Service for several years and for the sleepovers. I like to think the boys something for yourself every once last two years has served as President really enjoy our play time together in a while. I also think it’s really of the organization. In that capacity, when I “transform” into “fun mom!” important to give back in one way or she devotes her time to planning, another. I really enjoy being part of

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Which of your daily “mom” activities do you wish you could hire someone else to do? Every so often I’d like to outsource putting the kids down for bed after a long day of work.

Favorite place in the community to take your kids or family? Our

favorite place to go is to grandma’s house. She feeds us and has a swimming pool. What more can you ask for?

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

May 2019 • Page 17



1. Big Sunday Spruce Up at Emerson Avenue Community Garden Saturday, May 4 @ 9 a.m. to noon and Sunday, May 5 @ 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Emerson Avenue Community Garden (EACG) needs your help in beautifying this treasured community space! On May 4, the EACG is looking for volunteers to help prepare its storage units for painting. Then on May 5, the garden is partnering with Big Sunday for an extra special volunteer day. Volunteers will receive a T-shirt and a free taco lunch for lending their time to paint three storage units and helping to spruce up the garden. The Emerson Avenue Community Garden is located on the campus of Wright STEAM Magnet on Emerson Ave. between 80th St. and 80th Pl. More than just a community green space, the land features garden plots and is home to family-friendly events like the Westchester Arts & Music Block Party. For more information, please visit eacgc.org.

participate in kid-friendly activities provided by Champ Camp Kids. Organizers will also be collecting items including socks, hoodies and pants for Venice’s Safe Place for Youth. The event will be held at Concert Park, located at 13016 Runway Road in Playa Vista. For more info, please visit playavista.com/may-happenings.

6. Westchester Lariats Spring Show Sunday, May 19 @ 2 p.m.

Head to Toe

2. Westside Voices presents Bohemian Rhapsody Sunday, May 5 @ 3:30 p.m. Join the Westside Voices, a 12-piece a cappela group, for a concert featuring the music of Freddie Mercury and Queen. The group will also be performing songs from The Beatles, Dion and the Belmonts, Eric Clapton, Bobby Darin and more. The cost to attend is a suggested donation of $15. The concert will be held at the Westchester United Methodist Church, located at 8065 Emerson Ave. in Westchester. For more information, please visit westsidevoices.com.

Thousands of books will be available for purchase at the Westchester Rotary Book Sale starting May 23 in the Ralph’s Market parking lot located off of Sepulveda Blvd. and Howard Drollinger Way in Westchester.


gatherings that take place on the second Saturday of every month. Bring your own pizza dough and toppings for the 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. pizza bake, where the pies cookup in 90-seconds. Serious bread heads have a chance to bake loaves from 2 to 3 p.m. Holy Nativity is located at 6700 W. 83rd St. in Westchester.

4. ARTsea Saturday, May 18 @ 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. & Sunday, May 19 @ 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Marina del Rey is throwing an art party at the beach and the community is invited to celebrate! Located in the parking lot of Mother’s Beach, ARTsea will transform the Marina into a creative destination featuring a pop-up arts district, workshops, art installations, live music, food for purchase, beer garden and more. The event will be held at Mother’s Beach (lots 10 and 11), located at 4101 Admiralty Way in Marina del Rey. For more information, please visit visitmarinadelrey.com/events/art-sea.

5. Fit Expo & Health Fair Saturday, May 18 @ 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Interested in health and wellness? Get ready for Playa Vista’s Third Annual Fit Expo featuring free workout classes, vendor booths, swag, photo booth, friendly challenges and more! Hosted by Elevation Corporate Health and Playa Vista Community Services, the event is family-friendly and encourages people to try new fitness challenges and exercise. Bring your own yoga mat, and starting at 10 a.m. enjoy fitness classes like Flight, featuring electronic dance music; Dance Out of the Box, which combines shadowboxing and dance; and Pound, a full-body workout featuring a weighted drumstick. For those feeling competitive, signup for the “Fittest of Playa Vista” competition. Selected contestants will battle it out at an obstacle course, with the quickest time taking home the top prize. To attend the workouts, you must be 14 and up. Children under 14 can

Marisa Cardenas

3. Westchester Community Pizza Day Saturday, May 11 @ 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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You’re invited to a pizza and bread bake day at Holy Nativity Church! The church is home to a large earthen wood-fired oven designed and built by volunteers from the neighborhood. Everyone is welcome to these

The Westchester Lariats, a nonprofit youth international dance troupe that has served Westchester since 1950, is holding its Annual Spring Show this month. The organization’s K-12th grade members will showcase dances from around the world at the performance. The event is free and open to all ages. Refreshments will be provided. The Spring Show will be held at the Westchester United Methodist Community Room, located at 8065 Emerson Ave. in Westchester. For more information, visit facebook.com/thewestchesterlariats.

7. Rotary Book Sale Thursday, May 23 through Tuesday, May 28 @ 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Get your summer reading list together and head to the Westchester Rotary’s 64th Annual Book Sale! The sale will feature thousands of literary classics and paperbacks in all genres, including fiction, art, history, biographies, self-help and everything in between. New this year is a Scholastic Book Fair, featuring books for K-8th grade students. The proceeds from the book sale benefit the Westchester Rotary Club’s humanitarian, educational and community projects. The sale takes place in the Ralph’s parking lot, located at 8824 Sepulveda Blvd. in Westchester. For more information, please visit rotary-westchester.com.

Email us your event at westchesterhometown@yahoo.com for a chance to be featured!

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Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

May 2019 • Page 19

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Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

As a 25 year resident, I have been active in this and another neighborhood council with a very high attendance record at the board meetings for at least the last ten years. In another area, I have served as the Bylaws Committee Chair during, which over the course of a year, the bulk of the bylaws were reviewed and revised to suit the evolution of that board and the system to increase stakeholder participation.

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

May 2019 • Page 21

Community Spotlight: YMCA Youth & Government lets teen’s voices be heard By Natalie Wilkinson, Westchester Y&G Delegation Clerk Sixty-one high school delegates from Westchester recently took Sacramento by storm at the California YMCA Youth and Government (Y&G) Model Legislature and Court. Y&G is a program where 3,500 youths come together for three conferences a year to learn about and reenact California’s government. The delegates are divided into different program areas each with the vital task of helping run the government. This immersive experience is considered to be one of the most reliable youth civic engagement programs in the state. The Westchester Family YMCA has a very robust Y&G program, which provides the opportunity for its members to make lifelong connections and learn valuable lessons about both failure and success. To highlight some of the Westchester team’s successes, we had two delegates selected for statewide office, Jaya Sandhu and Wyatt Hittelman, who became important representatives for the entire program. Also, one of our own delegates, Malik Castro-DeVarona, wrote one of eight pieces of legislation signed by the Youth Governor, after being unanimously passed by committee, senate and the assembly. These are the kinds of moments in Y&G that are

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YMCA board members and staff joined the Y&G delegation during VIP Day in Sacramento. Back row from left to right: Lead Advisor Christian Johansen, Fred Puza, Nate Davis, Danny O’Neill, John Loussararian and Gregg Goldfarb. Front row left to right: Jaya Sandhu, Anna Kozma, Madison Kellum and Lauren Goldfarb.

the reasons so many teenagers return every year. In this program, the youth’s opinions and voices are heard. We are extremely proud to have had delegates recognized as California leaders by being selected to attend additional conferences. Nate Davis and

Madison Kellum were selected to be two of 24 delegates from California to attend the Conference On National Affairs, a two-week legislative debate program in North Carolina. Clarke Austin and Killian De Rego were selected as part of the California team headed to

the National Judicial Competition, a nationwide YMCA moot court program. One of the underlying and key components that makes Y&G an amazing and progressive program is the never-ending spirit exhibited by delegates. While Westchester is not the largest delegation, our reputation for having the most spirit and treating everyone as family is second to none. To underscore this, our own Nate Davis was recognized with the Spirit of Youth and Government Award, given to just one delegate out of 3,500 and one adult each year. He was also recognized by the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles with the Spirit of the YMCA award. This opportunity changes lives, and for the teenagers in Westchester, our YMCA is calling you. Many of our delegates tell us that Y&G has made them politically aware and has even given them direction in life. We would like to thank all of our generous donors: GatewayLA, The William H. Hannon Foundation, Westchester Rotary and Loyola Marymount University. Westchester is a family, and throughout my two years of experience in the program, a family is exactly what I gained. For more info about the program, visit ymcala.org/westchester or contact Danny O’Neill at DanielONeill@ymcaLA.org or (310) 981-5346.

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Scout troop for girls welcomes new members


Scoutmaster Susan Peterson poses with her troops in front of the scout house.

Visitation School has chartered a Girl’s Scouting Troop, and it’s welcoming new members! Troop 410 serves girls ages 11-18 and gives scouts the opportunity to learn about the great outdoors, as well as safety and life skills. The troop meets on Thursdays from 7 to 8 p.m. at the El Segundo scout house and offers many opportunities for field trips including camping, hiking, backpacking and canoeing. The troop is led by Susan Peterson, who was born and raised in Westchester, and is also an alumni

of Visitation and St. Bernard High School. “I have taken on the position as scoutmaster to give back to girls during a time when they need support the most,” said Peterson. “My job as scoutmaster is to create a program of activities led by the girls themselves to help create future leaders. I also want to provide a safe environment where the girls can learn and create lifelong friendships.” For more information, please contact Susan Peterson at susanp930@gmail.com.


Emergency Food Distribution to those in need. Sponsored by the Westchester Clergy Association

Open Tuesday & Friday, 10am-12pm 355 Beach St., Inglewood

Bring donations of non-perishable food to Covenant Presbyterian Chuch. Volunteers and money donations also welcomed and encouraged!

For more information, please call (310) 677-5597

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Ad donated by the Covenant Presbyterian Church

May 2019 • Page 23

Random Notes/Opinion


Real life successes should be applauded

By Jeff Blair

Opinion: Hillary is a self-employed professional. Her job is challenging from both a time and an energy perspective. She must balance managing the business side of things, while doing the day-to-day activities of her work. Anyone who has done this knows how challenging that can be. Hillary is also a wife and mom. One of her children is special needs, and Hillary is her full-time caregiver. Being a special needs mom means some nights Hillary gets very little sleep. She is basically on call 24/7 and needs to be able to drop whatever she is doing at times. That responsibility obviously provides a number of unique challenges. A couple of years ago, Hillary’s doctor suggested she start a workout program to prevent osteoporosis and to deal with back pain and stiffness she was experiencing. At that time, she was experiencing a very stiff back, which made walking difficult. Her mobility had dropped significantly,

and she could see the writing on the wall: things weren’t going to get better unless she started exercising. Hillary had been a jogger in the past, but hadn’t worked out consistently for several years at the time she had the conversation with her doctor. Her doctor’s suggestion posed a problem for Hillary. She knew he was right, but she didn’t know how to find an extra two hours in an already overbooked, overstressed and challenging work and family schedule. She wasn’t even sure she had the energy to do anything on a consistent basis. She had tried going it alone for years and that hadn’t worked for her. That was about the time she reached out to me for help. For the past two years, Hillary has worked out with us twice per week. Her schedule and the demands of caring for her daughter has, at times, made keeping those appointments very difficult and she has simply had to miss a few appointments. Despite the challenges, however, she has never stopped coming.

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Hillary says the extreme back tightness she used to experience is completely gone and that has made a huge difference in her daily activities. Her mobility is dramatically improved. She considers this one of her biggest successes. The other thing Hillary lists as a big success is she has worked out for two years and hasn’t quit. With all of life’s demands, Hillary said quitting could be easy. She has found having an appointment twice per week and knowing someone is waiting for her works better than simply trying to do it herself. Admitting the fact that she wasn’t going to do it on her own was a turning point in her fitness journey. I think Hillary’s story carries some great lessons. Hillary is navigating real world challenges and some of those are simply stressful. She might not always feel 100 percent when she gets to the gym, but she has maintained her commitment to her physical and emotional health. She has greatly improved her mobility and that has improved her quality of life.

I often talk about avoiding the all or nothing approach, and Hillary is a great example of that. She probably isn’t exactly where she wants to be physically. She would definitely love to get more sleep. Ideally, she wouldn’t have to miss sessions. On the positive side though, she has greatly improved her physical well being. Her back feels much better. She is working to prevent osteoporosis. She has worked out consistently and has improved her strength. Her quality of life has improved with just two hours per week (sometimes less) of working out. These are real life successes that should be applauded and celebrated. Jeff Blair (MS, CSCS) is a fitness author and has been a certified personal trainer in Westchester for 17 years. He has been featured in numerous national and international fitness publications. Contact him at jeff@socalsport.com for story comments. *Before you start any fitness routine, please consult your doctor.

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Coping with life’s potholes By Fay Craton Opinion: Most of us spend considerable time behind the wheel of a car. When the road is smooth and the traffic is light, driving can be enjoyable. But sometimes, as we travel down a smooth road, relieved we are not ­in gridlock and anticipating a good evening, there’s a “clunk.” The car has hit an unseen pothole, shakes and a few minutes later, the car has a flat tire. Life sometimes throws us something undesired and unexpected. It could be the sudden need for car repair, change at work or school or perhaps a family member that does not see eye-to-eye with you. The metaphoric “potholes” in life could be many different situations, but one thing they all share is that in a relatively short period of time, the pleasant calm is gone and irritation has taken its place. The moment the unexpected event happens, control over your experience can seem to slip away. When frustrations pop up, do you find your irritation grows into anger? Some people rapidly spiral from frustration into hostility, seeing other people or situations as the cause for ruining their day. Since their day is ruined, other people should know what a bad day it is, leading to words and behaviors reflecting their discomfort to those around them. In this manner, annoyance spreads like a virus. Eventually, relationships around you can deteriorate. There is a healthier way to respond to frustration. You may not always have control over events, but you always have control over your reactions. You can change how you perceive and respond to what happens around you. Through changing your responses, you can be more content and have better relationships. The first step to changing is deciding to change. This will take effort on your part. When the unexpected happens, observe your thoughts and behaviors.

Ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing and how I’m behaving helping me thrive?” If what you are doing does not improve your life, it is time to try something new. Prepare yourself before difficulties occur by taking three actions. The first is to take a few minutes each morning to consider a spiritual presence greater than yourself. Allow yourself to imagine the presence deep within you and ready to help you throughout the day. Second, set an intention at the start of the day to be calm and pleasant. Third, throughout the day, seek out things for which you can be grateful. At first, taking the actions may seem awkward and strange. Just keep doing them every day. Before you know it, they will become part of your everyday routine. Once you have built a framework to help you when life gets tough, you will be better prepared to respond to unexpected events in a more constructive fashion. When you hit one of life’s inevitable “potholes,” pause what you are doing as soon as possible. Simply stop. Take a couple deep breaths to clear your thinking and to help calm you. Remember your daily intention to be calm and pleasant. Can you also imagine the spiritual presence moving forward to help you? When you’re thinking clearly, you are in a position to regain control over your life. You have the power to choose what you wish to experience even when confronted with a sudden difficulty. I want you to have the skills to have a contented life. You can change your reactions and choose your experiences, so you can thrive. Fay Craton, M.A. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (mfc40011), which is the psychology license specializing in relationships (with ourselves or with others), and she has an office in Westchester. For more info, please visit communicationtriangle.com or contact her at (310) 645-6762.

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

May 2019 • Page 25

Local AYSO boys soccer team wins Western States Championship The Westchester Blue Jets recently won the Western States AYSO Soccer Championship in the U11 Boys Extra age division in Lake Forest, California. The Western States Championship brings together the top AYSO teams from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington for a tournament to conclude the season. The Blue Jets defeated Thousand Oaks 7-1 in the semi-final and defeated South Redondo Beach 2-1 in the championship game. The team finished the season with a 40-7-3 record and captured tournament titles at the Costa Mesa McMillan Invitational and the Long Beach Classic. The Blue Jets formed in August and represent AYSO Region 7, which

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consists of players from Westchester, Playa Vista, Playa del Rey, Inglewood, Ladera Heights, Marina del Rey and Mar Vista. The team competed in the AYSO Extra Program, which provides a more competitive and progressive soccer experience from the core program. The Blue Jets were the top team in the regular season and playoffs for Section 1, which covers the South Bay to Riverside. “The boys came together and played for each other,” said Coach Robert Milligan. “They were not going to be denied with their goal in reach. They showed tremendous heart and effort throughout our championship run. They believed in themselves even when no one else did. We couldn’t

The Westchester Blue Jets celebrate their championship win. Bottom row from left to right: Devan Vadgama, Jack Milligan, Chris Donell, Elias-Micah Matthews, Karlito Palos and Matthew Dombrowski. Top row from left to right: Coach Robert Milligan, Cayden Washington, Micah Smith, Jacob Burns, Max Abroms, Dasian Galvan, Brogan Comer and Coach Harvey Galvan.

be prouder of their accomplishment and the long-lasting memories they provided.” “This was a very special team,” said Coach Harvey Galvan. “The boys came a long way from the beginning of the season and put in the hard work to achieve their goals. The championship game was not easy and brought even greater happiness in the

victory.” AYSO was founded in 1964. Today, the national nonprofit has more than 50,000 teams, nearly 900 leagues and 500,000 players nationwide. To learn more about the local league, please visit ayso.bluesombrero. com/region7. Submitted by Robert Milligan.

Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

Photos by Venice Paparazzi.

Airport Marina Counseling Service del Rey resident, Jane St. John, with raised more than $344,000 at its most the Champion of Mental Health successful fundraiser ever—the April Award for her 30-plus years of 11 Spring into Well-Being Gala. support of the organization. St. John, More than 300 community a real estate agent with members attended the event at the RE/MAX Estate Properties, first Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel become involved with AMCS when and were treated to dinner, a silent/ she was asked to host appetizers live auction and entertainment from at a Holiday Home Tour. Since NBC4 weatherman, Fritz Coleman, then she has been one of the who served as the evening’s emcee. organization’s strongest supporters, Attendees also took advantage of and over the years she has served Venice Paparazzi’s popular photo on its board, sponsored events and booth, posing with props and signs provided support to AMCS and the that read “We love AMCS!” Westchester Mental Health Guild’s The event honored longtime Playa activities. Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown

“I am so pleased that we had the honor of recognizing Jane St. John for all she does for us,” said AMCS President/CEO Eden Garcia-Balis. “Jane is very community oriented and understands the importance of having a low-cost mental health clinic like AMCS in her backyard, where people can go when they need it the most.” May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so if you’ve ever considered seeking counseling or are dealing with depression, trauma, relationship problems, stress or other issues, AMCS is here to help. News

“We want to remind everyone that AMCS is doing its part to destigmatize mental health. People don’t have to suffer in silence. They are not alone, and AMCS is here in your time of need. We are only a phone call away,” said Garcia-Balis. For the month of May, AMCS is offering half-off initial appointments for mental health services at $15. For more information, please visit amcshelps.com or call (310) 6701410 to schedule an appointment. Next up for AMCS is the Jet to Jetty Beach Run, scheduled for Sunday, September 15 at Dockweiler Beach. May 2019 • Page 27

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Westchester • Playa del Rey • Marina del Rey • Playa Vista HomeTown News

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