Monthly Cultural Corner - May

May 4, 2022

Meet Ashley Holmes

My name is Ashley Holmes, I am currently working at PLC at the Lancaster clinic as an Outpatient Therapist, and I am brand new to the team. 😊

Ashley Holmes

I identify as a single mother, bi/multi racial, LGBTQ, Autism mom, and part of the Ink Lover tattoo community as well.  I was born in Northridge, CA but moved to Santa Clarita, CA where I spent most of my life until I moved to Palmdale in 2012, as a mother of 3 (then).  I have been in the AV ever since.          

I really love all genres of music. I would say my favorite is R & B (I am an old school, Aaliyah, Monica, Toni Braxton, Mya type girl), however, I love certain rap songs when the lyrics speak to you (Lil Wayne, Jay Z, Kanye, Tupac, J Cole, Kendrick, Eminem, etc.).  I also like my crazy Rap type of music like Cardi and Meg, love Nicki too, and I could not be here without OLDIES. I was introduced to oldies by my grandfather (my mom’s dad) and I have a playlist with just oldies to listen to at least 4-5 times a day (Supremes, Temptations, Aaron Neville (Tell It Like It Is)-one of my FAVS, etc.)

When it comes to food from my black side I would have to say anything soul food, from my white side I have to say MAMBO Italiano, from my Hispanic side, I would have to say my Tia’s tamales and tacos of course (every Tuesday is a Taco Tuesday in my house).

My birthday is near Christmas (December 22nd) so I am a Christmas baby.  I would have to say that my family (my white side which includes my mother, grandmother, etc.) we would always make homemade coffee cake.  It is not like your ordinary coffee cake so I will have to bring some to the office at that time and share it. It is to die for!

I would also say another cultural tradition I have grown accustomed to, since being a single parent for years, is that I love to sing karaoke with my girls (I have 3, and my son just shuts his door and rolls his eyes at us lol).  We have Facebook Live Karaoke nights where we just take turns singing or my girls will do rap battles.

Ashley's Family

A few things that I would want to share with others that they may not know about me . . . It is difficult being a biracial individual because it is as though you are always living in an identity crisis. Growing up it was difficult for me to embrace my blackness because I lived with my white mother and my father (who is Black or African American) was not around. I missed out on the culture of my African American side and the family aspect of that growing up. Later I lived with my stepdad and his family was Mexican (who I looked more like), so I was accepted into the Mexican culture more than my own Caucasian or African American culture. It is difficult being mixed race and just finding that sense of belonging.

As a single mother work and babysitters often present challenges because we must trust people with our precious babies to provide stability for our children. If I can suggest something to anyone who encounters a single parent, please be patient and understanding because it is not always easy.  Additionally, I am a parent of two children on the spectrum.  For people who stare while we are in public instead of getting upset that my child may be throwing a tantrum, recognize that not all children have the language skills to communicate their needs, so instead of filming the child and uploading a video titled, ‘ kid behaving badly’, research and be compassionate, and teach inclusion because we all want to just belong.          

When asked about an anecdote or memory from my childhood, I thought of this:   It always looked as though my family adopted me.  One time I got mad at my mom and would not speak with her for a week because I swore that she adopted me from my real parents. It’s funny now looking back at my behaviors.  As a psychologist I can see it was just me not understanding where I identified.  I don’t think it was until I was in middle school that I really began to believe that my mom was actually my mom and that she didn’t just ‘steal’ or ‘adopt’ me from someone else.

-Ashley Holmes, Penny Lane Centers

3 Holidays 1 People

Last month there were a number of religious celebrations occurring simultaneously.  The beauty of this struck me.  On one evening in particular, I witnessed a family gathering for Passover.  I then encountered a family who was on their way to a Ramadan celebration and finally, I returned to my kitchen to prepare for Easter brunch the next day.  The beauty of this sort of diversity is one that I celebrate.  The celebration of Easter has long been a tradition in my home.  Through the Christian faith, we acknowledge the resurrection of Jesus.  And then there is Judaism and the Muslim faith, of which I am not well versed, but I know enough to say that the fellowship, belief and joy of tradition is something that we all share.  How wonderful is it that we can live in a world where we can celebrate each other.  Where we can respect and embrace our differences.  

Just a little history . . .


Islam’s most sacred month. Muslims observe the month of Ramadan, to mark that Allah, or God, gave the first chapters of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad in 610, according to the Times of India. During Ramadan, Muslims fast, abstain from pleasures and pray to become closer to God.  


Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is one of the Jewish religion's most sacred and widely observed holidays. In Judaism, Passover commemorates the story of the Israelites' departure from ancient Egypt, which appears in the Hebrew Bible's books of Exodus, among other texts. Exodus is when God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Its main event is the seder, which is a festive meal where the Book of Exodus and related writings are recited in a set order.


Easter is one of the principal holidays, or feasts, of Christianity. It marks the Resurrection of Jesus three days after his death by crucifixion.  For many Christians churches, Easter is the joyful end to the Lenten season of fasting and penitence.

While, on that evening it was these three faiths that I observed, I am aware that there are many others, Baha’i, Buddhism and Hinduism, to name a few.  Without researching all the religions of the world, I am sure we would continue to find similarities.

As I took a look at the history of these events, I noted some similarities.  For example, all three represent a very significant event of these faiths and there are elements of sacrifice during this time.  In all cases these holidays center around Allah’s or God’s work for the people and all three center around a communal gathering of a shared meal.  

Whether you are fasting or feasting, the similarities, the connections and the traditions bring people together to celebrate our history, ponder the future and move through it together.  Three very different religious holidays, all with one message for one people.  To me that message is one of unity.  

I am so thankful for the world that we live in.  It is a world where we are free to choose what we believe in and how we honor those beliefs.  We are free to embrace one another, learn from each other and grow in our understanding.  Whether it is a holiday, or other significant event in our lives, I am reminded that we are indeed one people, even with the glorious differences that make each of us so unique.

-Judy Grant, Penny Lane Centers

May is National Mental Health Month

National Mental Health Month raises awareness about mental illness and related issues in the United States. In recent times, attitudes towards mental health issues appear to be changing. Negative attitudes and stigma associated with mental health have lessened and there has been growing acceptance towards mental health issues and support for people with them.

Despite this shift in attitude, the idea of a mental health awareness campaign is not a recent one. In the late 1940's, the first National Mental Health Awareness Week was launched in the United States.  During the 1960's, this annual, weekly campaign was upgraded to a monthly one with May the designated month.

May is National Foster Care Month

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize that we can each play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care. Starting in 1988, U.S. Presidents issued annual proclamations in recognition of National Foster Care Month to show appreciation and gratitude to foster parents across the nation.

The purpose of National Foster Care Month continues to evolve based on the needs of the time. Current activities focus on increasing the visibility of the needs of children and youth in foster care and highlighting how the child welfare system can prioritize foster care as a service to families and promote reunification.

The Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the federal agency that seeks to provide for the safety, permanency, and well-being of children through leadership, support for necessary services, and productive partnerships with states, tribes, and communities. Foster care is a part of the constellation of services provided to children and families. The intent of foster care is to provide a safe environment for children and youth who temporarily cannot live with their families

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

The roots of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month can be traced back to 1976, when Jeanie Jew, president of the Organization of Chinese American Women, contacted government officials in response to the lack of Asian Pacific representation in the U.S. bicentennial celebrations that same year. The observance began in 1979 as Asian Heritage Week, established by congressional proclamation. In May 1990, the holiday was expanded further when President George Bush signed a proclamation making it month-long for that year. On October 23, 1992, Bush signed legislation designating May of every year Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The month of May was chosen to commemorate two significant events in history: the immigration of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 (Golden Spike Day). The diversity and common experiences of the many ethnic groups are celebrated during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with numerous community festivals as well as government-sponsored activities.

May is Jewish American Heritage Month

Jews first arrived on American soil back in 1654 in New Amsterdam. In search of better opportunities and lifestyles.  They made the U.S. their new home base, finding in it a space where they could openly practice their faith and lead their lives freely without the fear of persecution. The efforts to create a Jewish American Heritage Month had been in the pipeline since 1980. The U.S. Congress passed and authorized a bill that would allow President Carter to designate a special week in either April or May for Jewish heritage celebrations. Finally, in April of 2006, the whole month of May was dedicated to recognizing and honoring Jewish contributions and achievements.

Stories of triumph and bravery always get us in the mood for celebrations, and this Jewish American Heritage Month in May is no different. From contributing important scientific discoveries to raising the flag for the abused and neglected, Jewish people have had a huge role to play in where America stands today on the world stage. The more than 350-year history has given us names like Albert Einstein and Ruth Bader Ginsburg — both of whom fought through hard times to emerge victoriously. To honor the Jewish communities’ continued achievements, May was declared as Jewish American Heritage Month by former president George W. Bush back in 2006.

May is National Teen Self Esteem Month

May is National Teen Self Esteem Month and it’s a great opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of ensuring our teens are self-aware and feel confident about themselves. The effect that their self-esteem has on their physical and mental well-being is of paramount importance and a crucial focus of the awareness month.

The teenage years are a notoriously difficult time for most young people and therefore this is a fantastic way of checking in and ensuring we are doing everything that we can to support and nurture the teens in our lives- be it family or friends.

May is Maternal Mental Health Month

Each May the spotlight is shined on Maternal Mental Health with the whole month being Maternal Mental Health Month. This also coincides with Maternal Mental Health Week and Day which also take place during May.

In many countries, as many as 1 in 5 new mothers experience some type of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMD). These illnesses frequently go unnoticed and untreated, often with tragic and long-term consequences to mothers, children, and fathers alike.