Archive for November 22, 2014

Conference today on the King’s Table

Want a down-and-dirty lesson on the power of the Holy Spirit?
Jumpstart your theological knowledge at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 and 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 23 at the Scattering Seeds Church, 12217 Philadelphia St. in Whittier.

The two-day King’s Table Christian Training Center Conference features pastor Albert Cisneros, bishop Brian Redfearn and evangelist Johnny Soto and will cover the Holy Ghost atmosphere that should embody all Christians.

It will provide a “touch of God” perspective for all.

Child care will not be provided.

For information call pastor Joey Alvarado at 323-314-7711.


Whittier Union launches student well-being program

Student Well-Being Liaison Angela Castellanos leads a WhyTry training seminar for a group of master- and bachelor-level social work interns who are providing on-campus counseling and case management to students across the district.

Expands wellness centers, social/emotional support for students

By Juliette Funes
VMA Communications

WHITTIER – The Whittier Union High School District is expanding its award-winning mental health program at Santa Fe High School to all schools districtwide, with the expansion of wellness centers, counseling services and overall support for students who are experiencing barriers to their personal and academic achievement.

Following the success of Santa Fe’s Serenity Program, which won a Golden Bell Award in 2013, the district is launching a Student Well-Being Program under its Mental Health Initiative, which involves 16 master- and bachelor-level social work interns who are providing on-campus counseling and case management, expanded partnerships with community agencies, the implementation of an online referral system and staff training on threat assessment.

Through a widely inclusive process, the district identified wellness services as a priority under its Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), a blueprint that outlines how the district will target services for its greatest student needs.

“So far this school year, 215 students have been referred for mental health services, showcasing the need for social-emotional support programs on our campuses,” said Director of Student Support Services Amy Larson. “This is a very new and ambitious program that is providing us the tools to better assist our students with prevention, early intervention and support when they need it.”

The program is modeled after Santa Fe’s Serenity Program, which was established in 2006 and includes individual and group counseling, case management, classroom presentations and parent education sessions, as well as partnerships with local universities such as Whittier College, USC and Azusa Pacific University, among others.

Under the leadership of counselor and licensed clinical social worker Angela Castellanos, the Serenity Program was recognized with the prestigious Golden Bell Award for increasing student attendance rates and test scores and decreasing discipline cases. Castellanos is now leading Whittier Union’s efforts to expand similar mental health services across district schools as the new Student Well-Being Liaison.

“We want our students not only to have the ability to succeed academically, but also have the tools and resources that permit them to flourish in their behavioral, psychological and emotional lives,” Castellanos said. “Through the success we have seen with the model program at Santa Fe High, I am confident that we will experience the same results districtwide.”

Joining Castellanos in moving the program forward is Larson, a licensed clinical social worker with a background in mental health, and District Mental Health and Community Services Liaison Jack Ketchem, a licensed marriage and family therapist with a credential in counseling.

As part of the program, Whittier Union has instituted wellness centers at its five comprehensive high schools, and counseling services are offered to students in the district’s alternative education programs at Frontier and Sierra Vista high schools. La Serna and Pioneer high schools are currently working with their art departments to create murals for their centers and are in the process of creating a student well-being club called “LETS,” short for “Let’s Erase The Stigma.”

In an effort to strengthen the program, the district has partnered with several local community agencies, including Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse, which provides drug and alcohol counseling services at all schools; Pacific Clinics, which provides behavioral services at Santa Fe and Pioneer high schools; and The Whole Child, which operates an integrated school health center, dubbed “The Gallery,” on the Whittier High School campus.

Administrators, counselors and staff at each school site have undergone extensive training in suicide and threat assessment, led by school psychologist Stephanie Murray, an integral member of the district’s Crisis Response Team and suicide prevention education. Teachers also received training on how to refer students to services available through the program. Crisis response training is scheduled in the spring.

In collaboration with each school’s counseling staff, interns are coordinating mental health-related presentations for parents and students, with a suicide prevention training being offered to La Serna High School parents this month. California and Santa Fe high school parents received similar training last year.

Additionally, Whittier Union has partnered with APU for grant proposal writing and received a $10,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente to administer the WhyTry program, which has enabled teachers and staff from the district’s intervention programs to undergo training on how to motivate at-risk students to achieve in school.

“We are strongly encouraged by the impact this much-needed program has already made on our students, whose emotional and mental well-being and health is foundational to their success in school,” said Whittier Union High School District Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson. “This is another example of our genuine concern for our students’ well-being and our ability to use LCAP funding to develop new and innovative programs to benefit our students who are most in need.”


Local dentist pulls adult school heroes award

Whittier dentist, Dr. John Sudick receives the Hacienda La Puente Adult School 2014 Heroes Award from Heather Pasicznyk, RDA, BVE, MS for his more than 10 years of volunteer work with the Dental Assisting Program.

Local Whittier dentist Dr. John Sudick wasn’t sure to expect when he arrived at the Hacienda La Puente Adult School (HLPAS) on Thursday Nov. 13, 2014 for a luncheon to honor volunteers for the adult education program.

Sudick has been volunteering for the HLPAS Dental Assisting Program for more than 10 years in various capacities including teaching, consulting on the board for the accredited dental assisting school, placement for dental assisting externships and providing dental services for the San Gabriel Foundation for Dental Health at the school’s clinic.

The walls were adorned with superheroes from various DC Comics including Superman and Captain America. The chairbacks at each table had various superheroes capes attached, and large life-size cutouts were at the side front of the room for photos.

It was over the top to honor 12 volunteers from the various Career and Technical Education Programs at HLPAS. The gourmet food prepared by the HLPAS Culinary Arts students for the luncheon included smoked beef brisket, shrimp, mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, various salads, and fruits and wonderful desserts.

Sudick enjoyed the fresh fruit tart while seated with his sponsor, Heather Pasicznyk, RDA, BVE, MS , the Dental Assisting Program director. Those interested in learning more about the one-year-long Dental Assisting Program or other career education opportunities can go to the website and click on “In Our Community.”

This week’s homily

Tom and Virginia Boles

By Thomas M. Boles, DMin., d.D. PhD.

James 4:17

Therefore, to one who knows the

right thing to do, and does not do

it, to him it is sin.

Knowing and not doing are equal to not

knowing at all.

An ethics professor at Princeton Seminary

once gave this assignment. He divided a group of 15 volunteers into three groups of five each. He then instructed the first group to immediately go across the campus to Stewart Hall and to arrive there within 15 minutes.

A few minutes later, he instructed the second group to go to Stewart Hall within 45 minutes. After they left, he gave the third group three hours to arrive at Stewart Hall.

Unknown to the volunteers, the professor had arranged for three drama students to meet them along the way, acting as people in need. One of the students covered his hands and moaned in pain near Alexander Hall. One lay face down as if unconscious on the steps of Miller Chapel. The third student feigned an epileptic seizure on the steps of Steward Hall.

No one in the first group stopped to help any of those in need; only two in the second group stopped, and all five in the third group stopped.

“I don’t have time” is a frequent excuse of those who avoid getting involved in meeting needs. A lack of time, however, is really a mask for a lack of care. We each know the right thing to do.

The question is, do we love others enough to do it?

‘Amazing’ transformation for Steve’s BBQ

Filo and Steve Hernandez have been married for 35 years. They recently reopened Steve’s BBQ in Uptown Whittier after orchestrating a complete makeover to the longstanding Louisiana-style rib eatery.

Biker-bar reputation a thing of the past

By Tim Traeger

WHITTIER – There was a time when a trip to Steve’s BBQ in Uptown Whittier was a perilous journey.
The place used to be rife with Mongol biker gangsters and people who would get drunk, loud and unruly as the clock edged past midnight and the music rose even louder.
That was, used to be.
Now take a look at the longtime eatery at 7007 Greenleaf Ave. If you’ve been to Steve’s before, prepare to be amazed.
Owners Steve Hernandez, his wife Filo (Filomena) and son Josh – with help from interior designer Gabriel Morones – have transformed the place into an upscale eatery, even if those predisposed to stereotypes don’t easily equate class and family with Louisiana-style ribs.
Steve, 55, who began his career bussing tables in Montebello at the ripe age of 16, recently invested a large chunk of change to give his restaurant a completely new look. Following a six-week renovation, the place that formerly could pass as a bad bar at best is now a classy establishment in the truest spirit of a revitalized Uptown.
Steve and his staff hosted a reception last week for about 30 people who were equally amazed.
“It’s a big deal. It’s absolutely gorgeous,” espoused Mayor Pro Tem Fernando Dutra. He said Steve’s might help transform Uptown into a destination spot, not unlike Old Town Pasadena, Downtown Long Beach or Los Angeles.
“This is a transformation. For the types of businesses we have in Whittier, Steve’s provides entertainment that nobody else provides. You combine that with great food and a great atmosphere … and it’s going to turn Uptown into a destination. I’m so proud of what he’s done and how far he’s come. He stuck it out and through perseverance, look what it’s gotten him. It’s amazing,” Dutra said. “I’m shocked at the (ceiling) elevations here. It’s beautiful. He’s done a great job and I’m proud of him.”
Steve’s regular Samantha Ridout, past president of the Boys and Girls Club of Whittier, was equally impressed at the restaurant’s metamorphosis. For years Steve Hernandez has donated food to the “Ribs for Kids” events and has been a longtime supporter of the club.
“He helped raise money for the organization,” Ridout said. “It gave us the opportunity for good community exposure – letting people know who we were. He’s always been so generous. He donates to the (BGCW) gala every year. He loves the community. He loves the kids. He’s a hard worker and has good ethics. He had troubles in the past with his business years ago, but everything (the city) asked him to do he did.
“He just has a huge heart,” Ridout said. “That’s the reason why I love supporting him and being his friend, because he’s such a wonderful person. I’m so impressed by the work they did. It is good for Uptown Whittier. People are investing in making things better in Uptown. I’m sure his fellow businesspeople are happy he’s upgraded.”
Steve bought the restaurant in 2002 from his mom, Nancy Lemus. Both are staples in the Whittier Host Lions Club. Before that, Steve and Filo owned The Barbecue House in Montebello. The times have changed, but the food remains the same, albeit on a more focused menu. Patrons can order half and full orders of baby back, spare and beef ribs, ribeye steaks, barbecued chicken, crab legs, oysters, fried and garlic shrimp, chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks and chicken salads. And don’t forsake the mashed potatoes, perhaps the best this writer has ever tasted.
Add a full bar that includes delectable cucumber or mango margaritas, peanut butter shots and more than 20 craft and domestic beers, and there’s plenty on the menu to please the palate and keep customers coming back for more.
What Steve’s offers that many other restaurants don’t, however, is live music. From Thursday through Sunday, after 9 p.m., Steve’s features rotating bands like the Midnite Cats and Sal’s All-Stars, serving up jazz and blues until 2 a.m. Between 10 and 15 different bands appear on Steve’s musical menu. The kitchen remains open until 1:30 a.m. for the late-night diner.
Steve’s employs about 20 and is open six days a week. On Tuesdays it’s open from 5 to 10 p.m., Wednesdays from 5 to 11 p.m. and Thursday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. with aforementioned live entertainment. The restaurant also caters food for every occasion.
“I’m a 54-year-old guy who happens to enjoy the music they provide. They cater to my particular generation,” Dutra said. “It’s got high-level food and a loyal customer base. This is how he rewards them, by putting money back into the establishment. Think about it. Steve is taking money out of his own account and investing back in his restaurant and the city. You wouldn’t come up with this type of investment unless you believed in the area.”
“Our specialty is still barbecue. We’ve incorporated other dishes to just offer choices like some shrimp and some tacos. It’s been a work in progress,” Filo said. “We wanted to make this place accommodating, comfortable. We wanted people to come in and not feel like you’re in a bar.”
And for Steve, it’s a love of family that’s spurred his restaurant’s transformation more than anything else.
“I’ve been in the restaurant business most of my life, since I was 16,” Steve said. “I just wanted to create something where families could come, enjoy their meal and have it cooked for them the way I’d want it cooked for me. So, we try and put that extra love into it – like it was being served for me or other family members. That’s how we try and treat our customers. People come here and just want to have a good time.”
Call 562-789-0200 or visit for the delicious details.
Tim Traeger is former editor of the Whittier Daily News. Reach him at or call 626-646-7352.

Family education and addiction

An educational program on addiction presented by Dr. Sheila Khaleghian of the Intercommunity Counseling Center and Mark Scott of H.O.W. House will be presented from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on four Saturdays, Nov. 15 and Nov. 22 and Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 at 7702 Washington Ave. in Whittier.

There is a $5 donation per person.

The presentations are designed to increase knowledge on the topics of addiction and addiction treatment; addiction and family dynamics; to learn, practice and apply coping skills; provide resources for individuals and families struggling with addiction and creating a safe and supportive environment.

For information call Scott at 888-599-4208.

Yosh Nakamura still teaching long after retirement

Yoshio Nakamura in the present day.

“Yosh” Nakamura teaching art class at Rio Hondo College in the 1960s .

Community icon featured in L.A. Magazine

By Ruthie Retana

Rio Hondo Community College

WHITTIER – Rio Hondo College’s Yoshio Nakamura taught high school and college students about creating art for more than four decades – sharing the unique perspectives that drove the dramatic images he created on canvas, paper and through sculpture.

Now, 22 years after retiring as Rio Hondo’s vice president of community services and institutional development, Nakamura continues to share important lessons on life and art.

Nakamura and his wife, Grace Shinoda Nakamura, are among a dozen Angelenos ages 59 to 100 whose philosophies and tips for aging gracefully are featured in the November edition of Los Angeles Magazine.

“The Rio Hondo community knows well that ‘Yosh’ still has much to offer all those who know him,” said Rio Hondo College Superintendent/President Teresa Dreyfuss. “He is, has been and will continue to be a driving force for excellence for our students and faculty. This recognition and his many other honors are well deserved.”

In the article, Nakamura, 89, cites a quote Chelsea Clinton in turn attributes to her grandmother: “It isn’t what happens to you that is important. It’s what you do when something happens to you.”

Grace Nakamura, 87, an artist and retired educator, adds, “I believe that you can have a fulfilled life if you try to think positively and make the most of situations, if you try to live by the Golden Rule, if you’re accepting of people, if you try to give service to others,” she told the magazine.

It’s a lesson Yosh Nakamura learned early on.

At age 16, he was interned with other Japanese-Americans at the Tulare Assembly Center, a converted racetrack near Fresno. He was later relocated to a camp in Arizona, where he reported for active duty in the U.S. Army in 1944.

Nakamura was sent to France and Italy, where he served with the 442nd Regimental Team, a unit made up of Japanese-Americans. He was assigned to a heavy-weapons group, using deafening mortars and machine guns to wage war. In 2000, 20 members received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor. In 2011, the unit was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest U.S. civilian honor and Nakamura received the Bronze Star.

“All of us have been through hard times,” Nakamura said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have people who have been there to help me out and give me a more positive outlook on life.”

In 1952, Nakamura earned his bachelor of fine arts from USC and began teaching at Whittier High School while he worked to complete his master of fine arts. In 1960, he was named Teacher of the Year by the Whittier and the San Gabriel Valley Federation of Women’s Clubs.

In 1963, Nakamura joined the first faculty as fine arts chairman of the newly opened Rio Hondo College and, in a very real sense, found his home. Over the next 29 years, he added a series of administrative duties to his teaching role, becoming a dean and eventually a Rio Hondo College vice president.

His stamp can be seen across the college community, from the fine arts program to the Learning Assistance Center, from the fitness center to the campus gallery. All three of his children have attended Rio Hondo.

These days, Nakamura doesn’t seem to have slowed much.

Since retiring, he has dedicated himself to his art, but also found time to volunteer for a number of art-centered community groups, including Whittier’s Art in Public Places Committee and Cultural Arts Commission.

In January, he will join a handful of other veterans atop the City of Alhambra float in the 126th Tournament of Roses Parade. The “Go For Broke” float honors the Japanese-Americans who served during World War II while their family members were interned.

In February, Nakamura will be one of two featured artists at the Hillcrest Congregational Church’s 55th annual Festival of Fine Arts – an event he has been involved with since its inception.

In April, he will be inducted into the Whittier High School Hall of Fame – an honor that recognizes the scope of Nakamura’s impact – a role so strong students still stop him to say how much his classes influenced their lives.

Nakamura is also focused on an issue closer to home. His grandson, Kai Nakamura, is struggling with a heart illness that is currently untreatable. But, in keeping Grace and Yoshio Nakamura’s trademark positive outlook, the family has turned to YouTube to raise awareness and funds to help find a cure. See their video appeal at See their video appeal at