Monthly Cultural Corner - July 2023

July 3, 2023

Cultural Spotlight: Michelle Ferrante

Hi! My name is Michelle Ferrante and I am the Assistant Regional Manager for the Clinic at North Hills and North Hollywood. I have been with Penny Lane Centers for 15 years, starting as a therapist fresh out of school.

My ancestry is a mixture of European, mainly Irish (maiden name Coburn). I grew up in West Hills and stayed local for college (USC and Pepperdine). I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a therapist. When I was in kindergarten and friends would have difficulties, I enjoyed helping them. Somewhere along the way, I was told that’s psychology. My parents were also in helping professions so perhaps that was a piece of my family culture. My father was a firefighter and my mother a massage therapist. I am an only child and as a result I became good at making friends.

My mom is my best friend, we talk daily. Growing up, I was a daddy’s girl. My parents instilled a love of music in me and although my piano lessons didn’t stick, I have emotional attachments to a variety of genres and can connect them to different periods of my life.

I have been a vegetarian since I was 15. Over time, this way of eating has become more common and makes enjoying cultural dishes easier. I thought for sure I wouldn’t have many options when I traveled to Ireland but found that they had some of the most delicious vegetarian food there.

I feel most at peace in nature. If I have a moment to get away, I love the beach, especially in cooler weather. But a quick trip to the park can just as easily feed my soul. I absolutely love water.  My parents installed a pool at my childhood home when I was young, and swimming was a big part of my life. Looking back, I’m noticing even more how water is a theme incorporated into big life moments and favorite memories (gondola ride in Venice, Italy, my wedding was at a lake venue, scuba diving in Hawaii on my honeymoon, etc.). My holiday memories (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter) include trips to my grandmother’s house. Somehow, she would manage to cook the whole meal by herself for our large extended family.

I was in lots of activities and sports growing up. Tap, Jazz, and Ballet dance classes. Basketball, T-ball, and soccer. Gymnastics for 8 years. I “grew up” at the fire station. My dad joined the department the year I was born (1980) and retired after 35 years. He had a very strong work ethic, only missing work twice due to injury. About half of my holiday memories are of various fire stations. Many Christmas Eves and Thanksgivings were at station 3’s in downtown LA. This is the second busiest station in the LAFD so every meal was interrupted with a call. No one begrudged this however, it was just the norm. The families would stay and hang out with each other while we waited. Some fire stations have basketball and racquetball courts.

We had many trips to the snow, mountains, desert, and different lakes. We were a waterskiing family, and most family vacations were at Lake Havasu. My dad led river rafting trips on the Colorado river, so I thought I would try it out closer to home. This trip to Kern river was quite an adventure and once was enough!  There is a big love of water in my family. Beside waterskiing, I became scuba certified after I turned 18. One of the scariest moments in my life was being 60 feet underwater and told to remove my mask for 60 seconds (the final test for certification).

My husband and I have taken our love of travel outside of the US, first to Ireland and then to Italy (paying homage to each of our ancestries). My mom was the balance to my dad. She was more into wholistic care (I was raised on homeopathic) and she would have me stay home from school once in a while. She called them health days and said they prevented sick days. Perhaps she was ahead of her time as we now call those mental health days. Despite their different personalities, both of my parents instilled in me that it’s important to be a good person, do the right thing, work hard, and help people.

August will be my 16th Penny Lane anniversary and in all this time I have appreciated the warm hellos, the caring relationships, and the family feel of the agency. We are welcoming to everyone, clients, and colleagues. The Penny Lane culture is inclusive, and we continue to cultivate this in each new person that is hired.

-Michelle Ferrante, Penny Lane Centers

Check out some photos of me, my family and more below!