Spring is in the Air- Past Events in March

April 3, 2024

Erase Hate at Knollwood Preparatory Academy

On Friday March 1st, Penny Lane introduced Knollwood Preparatory Academy to “Erase Hate.”  Joined by Summer Gomez, Cameron Glasgow, Jeniffer Barraza-Garcia, and Diane Nunn, we shared a message of inclusivity with the 3rd and 4th graders.

Erase Hate is one component of a 3-part series created for our elementary schools.  We begin with the parents with Raising Anti-Racist Children, followed by a faculty professional development session, Creating Anti-Racist Curriculum and Classrooms and ending with the Erase Hate assembly.  Over the last year we have received more and more invitations for these presentations.  The schools are seeing a need to engage with the students on these issues and, while these are difficult conversations to have, we know that are essential if we want to create a truly inclusive environment.

100 students gathered in the auditorium as we shared Erase Hate.  The students were broken up into 11 groups where small discussions could take place.  We began the assembly by asking how it feels when you are excluded and or judged for being different.  The students were able to tap into their personal experiences and share their feelings.  We often heard “I was sad” “I got mad” and “I didn’t like it”.  Sharing videos from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to reading the book Strictly No Elephants further cemented the negative feels that come about when you are treated poorly for being different.  

The students had an opportunity to push those feeling aside when looking at the opposite feeling of acceptance.  The students were then able to identify the positive thoughts and feelings they have when feeling accepted.  To this we heard “It makes me happy” “I feel good” “I like when I am included”.  From there the students created poster boards with the positive words/phrases that were later placed in their classrooms as a reminder of why it is important to Erase Hate.

Throughout the assembly students participated in raffles where books, t-shirts and bubbles were given out.  Teachers were all gifted a copy of The Big Umbrella and all students left with a goodie bag.

We are so proud to be a part of this effort.  Our children are far more aware than we think.  They know how it feels to be excluded and included.  Erase Hate gives them the space to have these discussions in a safe and trusting way.  It is our hope that the students leave feeling proud of who they are and the unique qualities they bring while embracing the differences of those around them.

-Judy Grant, Penny Lane Centers

Penny Lane's Mini Job Fair

The CalWORKS program hosted their first mini job fair at our Antelope Valley (AV) clinic for the community. The CalWORKS community is close to our hearts as we interact often with community partners to help our clients resolve some of life’s toughest challenges such as unemployment, homelessness, legal issues, DCFS/custody issues, trauma, and mental health symptoms. Our Employment Specialists (Cynthia Barajas and Cristina Solis) used one of Penny Lane’s most impactful values, “collaboration”, to team up with our TAY program Employment Specialist (Aly Humphrey), to make this job fair a success.

After months of planning and engaging with employers we were able to solidify the commitment of several community partners including McDonald’s, Antelope Valley Partners For Health (AVPH), Antelope Valley College (AVC), 360 Behavioral Health, America’s Job Center, Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN), Maxim, and of course we were there to share some of Penny Lane’s current openings. These employers took their time to speak with over 100 job fair participants and even scheduled interviews with participants on the spot. We also collaborated with our clinic case Manager, Stephanie Cruz who spoke with participants about community resources, handed out flyers, and shared about the wonderful things that Penny Lane has to offer. I overheard one participant expressing gratitude for having this event as she explained that she is new to the area and living in Imagine Village but never knew “what this place was”. I felt overjoyed to know that we were able to bring the community to us and care for them in this way. The CalWORKS team is looking forward to more events that can draw the community in and give them a sense of safety and belonging right here in the Antelope Valley.

-Fanta Ritchie, Penny Lane Centers

Check out some more photos below!

Sun Commons Vibrant Workshops

Introducing the latest addition to The New Sun Commons – vibrant workshops designed to foster a sense of community among families and kids alike! Last week, we kicked off the festivities with a spirited St. Patrick's Game Day. From lively rounds of Bingo to an exciting scavenger hunt, the energy was palpable as participants eagerly hunted for clues. Amidst the excitement, one lucky winner emerged, claiming a gleaming gold box adorned with a heartfelt label: "You found the treasure and followed each clue! But remember, there's no treasure better than you!"

In addition, we're thrilled to announce that families have had the opportunity to participate in an enriching Infant Massage class, set to span five sessions. As we embrace these new experiences, we're also looking forward to the possibility of hosting parenting classes in the future. And speaking of exciting events, last week marked the eagerly anticipated Egg Hunt, we had over 65 children join in on the fun!

With each event, we're reminded of the boundless joy and connections that unite us. Here's to the adventures that lie ahead – we can't wait to see what the future brings!

-Evelyn Pacheco, Penny Lane Centers

Check out some more photos below!

The Loving Paws Project at Metamorphosis (Meta)

In October of 2023, Penny Lane began collaborating with Loving Paws for basic pet care and grooming services for the many pet-owning participants at the Metamorphosis Housing Project.  Seeing the need and that pet owners could benefit from basic pet knowledge and resources to assist with their pets Penny Lane Housing Services reached out to Loving Paws (owned by a former Penny Lane staff member). In Jan 2024 Loving Paws presented to the residents information on their services. They were able to get the participants to engage by raffling items. The best part was giving each participant a voice to share their pets name and what their pets mean to them.

Ongoing grooming appointments began in Feb 2024 after Loving Paws conducted individual assessments of the participant pets and apartments. In addition, in March 2024, Loving Paws requested to conduct a giveaway at Meta for the participants, simply because they wanted to do something nice for the participants at Meta.

Overall, this has been a rewarding journey. It’s amazing to see the joy and newfound confidence that participants display while accompanied by their pets. It’s important to remember that the bond that one share with their pets is one of love and could often go beyond words. So, to all you “animal lovers”, “pet parents”, ‘furry friend fans”, and “dog devotees”, I hope you enjoy this short video that gives you a glimpse of the journey between Metamorphosis and Loving Paws.

-Sheila Cano, Penny Lane Centers

Helping Hero Shoutout

Hello, this is Enorris, a kind and wonderful gentleman who has supported the Penny Lane FFA for over 20 years and helps coordinate and collaborate an ongoing relationships with the United States Postal Service to ensure the needs of the foster youth we serve are met. Enorris is a retired postal worker himself and has kept his connections with the USPS.  

He has been a monumental support for the kids and families within our agency. Every single year, their donations enable us to provide much needed supplies to our youth and families during back-to-school season and the holiday seasons as well. His heart centered personality aligns with the Penny Lane’s mission and we are so fortunate to be able to work with him. This dedication and hard work should be recognized by us all, so if you see Enorris around the community in his new Penny Lane hoodie, please say hi!

-Andrea Espinoza, Penny Lane Centers

North Hills Prep Academy Donates Backpacks for Penny Lane Families

On Thursday, 03/14/2024 I went to North Hills Prep Academy to pick up a donation of backpacks from the kiddos above.

The teachers below, Adrian and Jason, are familiar with Penny Lane Centers and have donated back packs for us for many years.  They do this to help the students learn about giving and helping others.  In the fall of 2023, they held an art sale.  The students create unique works of art and then others on campus are able to purchase them.  With the funds they collect during that sale, they purchased the backpacks and the blankets that are inside them.  This activity is a great way for students to engage, work together, and commit to a long term project.

North Hills Prep Academy is a school that is part of The Help Group. The school is fully accredited as a therapeutic school serving special education students from grades 1 thru 12.  The school supports the students social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. They have a small classroom setting that helps nurture the individual needs of every student.  NHP serves students with eligibilities of emotional disturbance, specific learning disabilities, other health impaired, and autism. NHP recognizes the students unique capabilities and encourages them to explore their varied interests.  They currently have about 73 students at the North Hills campus, which is located just south of our North Hills office.

It was a great experience for me to meet these boys, their teachers, and see the campus. I was able to give them information about Penny Lane and the great services we offer across our locations.

-Charito Guerrero, Penny Lane Centers

See some more photos below!