Mardi reconfirmed that there is trafficking in the San Gabriel Valley and her organization is active making a difference. One function they perform is to help repatriate rescued kids, back into society. Another is to educate kids and families about where the risks are that they may not be thinking about.
“We live in La Canada; I’m an attorney” is not a safety net when kids are at risk from the internet, shopping mall or walking home alone. Marti’s organization partners with other organizations to support a coordinated effort.
One of their partner’s, Journey House supports at-risk kids that have aged out of the Foster system to support them going into and succeeding in college. A new bill recently passed in Sacramento, created by two Journey House alumni, demands Foster youth be informed by e-mail of all the support services available to them to give them a better chance in college. currently of the 8000 college eligible Foster Program alums, 1% graduate.
DIGNITY/FREEDOM BACKPACKS were assembled by our members. They were stuffed with useful items for rescued girls (1% of trafficked kids are boys). Clothes are taken as evidence so the rescued kids have nothing. Our backpacks (we made 50!!) had clothing items of various sizes: flipflops, workout gear (name brands like Nike and Under Armor), and underwear, a blouse, sports bra, leggings, socks and a t-shirt. There was also a bag of toiletries, a coloring/journal/activity book, colored pencils, hairbrush, comfort stuffed toy. We also included some snacks and water.
These backpacks will be distributed to service organizations.
FIRE PERSON OF THE YEAR: Captain John Twitchell first began as a fire “technician” in 1990 for Arcadia. He was hired full time in 1991 and has steadily risen up the ranks, with new accomplishments every few years. He attained the rank of Fire Captain II, in 2014 with almost 24 years in Arcadia.
He has also become a trainer, not only of incoming fire fighters in Arcadia but also for as an instructor in Oxnard for Fire Marshalls.
POLICE OFFICER OF THE YEAR: Office Jordan Elders is an Arcadia High graduate, was a Police cadet and in 2012 was hired.
He not only enforces the law with many arrests to his credit but also has a softer side as a Homelessness Liaison. He has reconnected homeless with relatives and helped get them off the street to safer surroundings.
He is also a Field Training Officer helping train others to be safe and effective in the field while under pressure.
Arcadia Rotary and our community congratulate these fine professionals.
Joan Pera, Supervising Deputy Probation Officer from the LA County Probation Department presented the uncomfortable topic of how lives are used and abused by others.
She explained that “Child Prostitution” is no longer an accepted term – these are VICTIMS, no longer identified as criminals since 2010. As a result they need support and to regain their lives – they do not get involved in lives of sexual abuse on purpose or as a choice.
Ms. Pera reviewed the myths of how sex trafficking happens, and it is not as we expected; not just girls, not bad kids, not just male pimps and the problem continues to evolve and expand. For example, gangs have found they can sell a child over and over – a more profitable trade than dealing drugs.
2001 statistics were quoted (probably worse now):
- every 26 seconds a child runs away 1.6 million per year.
- 1 in 3 will be approached within 48hrs at bus stations, train depots etc.
- The AVERAGE age is 12 years
- 70-90% have a history of child abuse
The at risk populations include
- poor families who may pimp their child or sell them
- peers – recruitment is occuring at High and Middle Schools
- group home and foster homes
- kids kidnapped off the street
- the transgender population
The child trafficking unit has been working in the community to support those at risk and to extend help to them. Foster care support has been increased twice: “Extended foster care” to age 21 and “foster care plus” goes to the age of 24. Prior to the extensions 14,100 arrests in 2009 in the 18-24 age bracket.
The topic makes most of us squirm. What can we do?
- Support programs already in place with money; support the education of the community.
- mentor victims or include them in parts of your family life.
- read books on the topic, often by victims: Put “sex trafficking” in Amazon – there are lots of choices.
Arcadia Rotary is forming a committee to focus on the topic. If you are interested in Stopping Human Trafficking please contact Rosie Mares.
Ralph Martinez, a retired pharmacist and long-time involved community volunteer spoke about what we can do to stem the deterioration of aging.
Though some seem to do whatever they want, “everything wrong” for their health and get away with it, he said we cannot take that risk. Others who do take care of themselves, like top athletes are seeing with advances in nutrition, medicine and training that they can participate longer, past their 30’s!
Overall he encouraged us to support our health focusing on nutrition, medical, exercise and the senses – oral/vision/hearing. He suggested the following principles: moderation, consistency, balance and common sense.
He showed us the new improved nutrition panel approved by the FDA that can help us determine what is in a food product. He compared Rolled Oats with Raisin Bran, the latter has 28 grams out of the daily 60 grams sugar recommendation… in one serving!
He said “fast food” is not just “drive-thru” but foods that cook fast and have been processed. If the nutrition label lists many ingredients it has been highly processed and offers reduced nutritional value.
Ralph suggested we eat better and do not expect to make up for poor nutrition with supplements.
Prevention was his admonition related to Medical Care. “Bad things don’t come and go, they come and stay”. He advised to get things checked out earlier than later.
In summary he put the onus back on us. The insurance companies, the food companies, the drug companies are not putting our health first. We need to… and by following Ralph’s principles of on-going effort supporting our health we can live longer and better.
“Thank you God for this time” offered Frank, eyes lifted upward, arms outstretched. That was his response to the program of reflections and admiration from family and Rotarians as he closes in on his 93rd birthday and recently retired from 63 years of hairdressing.
We were reminded of his 58 years of perfect attendance in Rotary – it used to be that standard for Rotarians years ago. Unfortunately we were also reminded of prejudice (and overcoming it) – that Frank had to change his name from Perez to the Italian sounding Perini to be able to buy a house and to be accepted into Arcadia Rotary. President Rosie Mares as a Mexican American appreciated Frank’s tenacity that opened the door for her and others to follow more easily.
Repeatedly those at the lectern spoke of Frank’s contributions to his family, his community and his inherent kindness at a personal level. We heard how he made memories with his children, taking them to new release movies in Hollywood and a meal at Clifton’s Cafeteria, how he helped with numerous Rotary projects, and even made housecalls for infirmed clients. We heard how he arranged for a flat bed truck with lights, sound, Santa and plenty of Crackerjack to meander the streets at Christmas time and raise the spirits of the community.
Some may not have known that his hard-of-hearing was from his WWII Army artillery contribution.
Numbers are big describing Frank: 50+ years as photographer for the Rotary Club – he was still taking pictures at the meeting honoring him! 47 Presidential scrap books, sponsored Little League for 40 years, was an athlete that stopped pitching at 84, a 30 year marriage and a current 20 year marriage… and on and on.
He sets the bar very high for Rotarians and admirably demonstrates the Rotary motto: “Service Above Self.” A tribute well-deserved.
Jim, looking as vibrant as ever, took up the time for two Senior Craft Talks to share about himself and more recently the challenge of a being a heart transplant recipient.
Jim is a local guy, met his wife Sandy in middle school in Arcadia, dated at UCSB… and the rest is history with three grown children.
The last few years have been focused on Jim’s survival from what began as a cough that would not resolve and turned out to be his heart failing.
He shared how Sandy found him unconscious on the floor and had trouble turning him over to do CPR when he was heavier and the old heart was failing. He was in a coma for days and from the way it was described, it was touch and go whether he would make it.
Jim gave us the chain of events recalling the critical dates for all of his hospital visits and procedures. He has suffered six surgeries alone for defibrillators that either were recalled or had complications prior to the transplant. Jim glossed over details but hearing about his experience was gut wrenching.
Though Jim is looking good, moving well and speaking with exuberance, he shared that a complexity has developed. His old heart had a very rare condition and apparently his new heart has contracted the same. He said his medicines are so delicate they are modified as often as once every two weeks.
He began his presentation with gratitude to his friends in Rotary and ended with encouragement to each of us to live each day fully – somber and wise words from a courageous Rotarian.