Causes Dear to my Heart
Aside from my writing, I've long been involved in advocating for Arts and Education in Burbank and throughout the state of California. Recently appointed to the Burbank Cultural Arts Commission, I am excited to work toward big-picture goals for beautifying and connecting my hometown and its diverse cultures and talented artists. A PTA Resolution that I co-authored in 2013 HOMEWORK: QUALITY OVER QUANTITY was unanimously approved at the 2014 California State PTA Convention and was adopted by the National PTA at the 2016 Convention in Orlando, Florida. I also serve on the Board of Directors for the BURBANK ARTS FOR ALL FOUNDATION and have been volunteering with my children for several years with BUILD A MIRACLE helping to build and furnish houses for needy families in a community outside Tijuana, Mexico. I've recently added Mental Health Advocacy to my mission through a writing project for FAMILY SERVICE AGENCY OF BURBANK. I'll use this space to share links and updates on these important projects and others that are near and dear to my heart.
The arts are a critical part of education, inspiring creativity, self-expression and communication. But sadly, when budget cuts hit our schools, the arts are often the first thing that goes. This Foundation is near and dear to my heart because the impact we've made in the past DECADE is seen at every one of Burbank's 17 main campuses and in nearly every classroom. Since 2006, the Burbank Arts For All Foundation has given more than $300,000 in grants to support the integration of the arts into educating our children. Of all the many causes that I have been involved in in my home town, I think I am more proud of this beautiful organization and the tangible transformation we see on a regular basis when children are exposed to the arts.
The Homework Resolution that passed unanimously at the California State PTA Convention in 2014 was adopted by the National PTA at their annual convention in Orlando in 2016. We are continuing to advocate for effective guidelines and policies and professional development in local school districts that take into account the pressures on our children and the stress of too much homework on students and their families. Our work is grounded in research and the wisdom of experts in the field of education and child psychology. The conversations with students, teachers, parents and administrators have been compelling and it is clear we need to continue the dialogue.
When my daughter and I first met Chris and Julianne North in the fall of 2012, we knew we'd come into contact with two of the most compassionate, hard-working, determined people we'd ever know. Since then we've made numerous trips down to Tijuana to be part of BUILD A MIRACLE, the organization they founded in 2001. And while it is profoundly meaningful to give homes with indoor plumbing and solid, concrete floors to these families who once lived in shacks with old tires holding their corrugated metal roofs down in the wind, it is even more touching what they have given to us. The joyful spirit of the community of El Florido is palpable. We have made friends there and watched families become confident and self-sufficient in the security of their new, furnished homes. In order to participate in the program, they must also make a commitment to getting their children through High School. The El Florido community is becoming more educated with BUILD A MIRACLE sponsoring secondary school and college scholarships. A very worthy cause making sustainable, generational change.
Since 1953, Family Service Agency has been renowned in the Burbank community as the leader in Mental Health Care, ambitious in extending services to students in all of Burbank’s Public Schools and providing quality and comprehensive support to people dealing with depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, bullying, verbal or physical harassment, grief, trauma, health issues, learning difficulties, relationship problems, drug or alcohol problems and any issue causing undue stress. FSA is a sounding board so people know they don’t have to go it alone, and FSA is a voice in education and advocacy on Mental Health issues. During their 65th Anniversary Year, I helped build awareness for their work with published stories, profile pieces, social media outreach and discussions with elected officials.