What a Lucky Month! Past Events in March

April 4, 2023

California Alliance Summit & Advocacy Day

On March 14-15th Dr. Judith Sandino, Naomi Novak and Kristin Malka participated in the California Alliance Summit and Advocacy Day in Sacramento. The Summit hosted a variety of speakers from various departments who we work with to achieve our mission to Transform Lives. We heard from Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), California Department of Social Services (CDSS), Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC), and experts from Child Welfare, Education and Behavioral Health.   There were a number of budget and policy requests developed and presented by partner agencies and members of the Alliance. As a collective we held over 50 meetings with Assembly representatives from counties across our State.

We were thrilled to be a part of these discussions, imagining the impact of these important bills and budget requests which affect our staff and the communities we serve. We conveyed the importance of supporting these requests by elaborating on the real world struggles the proposals are aiming to change. It is through this advocacy we were able to garner the attention and compel assembly members to not only support, but in some cases commit to co-author these proposals.

The experience was invigorating and empowering. We spoke on issues related to fingerprinting delays (which impacts our staff and families who seek to provide kinship care for children entering the foster care system), continued efforts around documentation reform for our service providers, advocacy for foster youth who identify as LGBTQ to be placed in gender affirming homes and legislation to require schools to take a public health approach to addressing substance abuse on campuses where 80% of the youth are BIPOC and harsher penalties are often applied as the educational code continues to be vague.

We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to represent our staff and communities through advocacy.

-Kristin Malka, Penny Lane Centers

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Our Antelope Valley Supported Employment Program

Hello, my name is Jessica Rojas, Supported Employment Clinical Supervisor in the AV.  I would like to bring awareness to our incredible Supported Employment program in the Antelope Valley that works with participants enrolled in CalWORKs Mental Health Services. The Supported Employment program helps our adult clients become employed and sustain employment. Our clients are referred either by the Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) office or through a “back door referral.” Once the referral is received, we schedule an intake and assign the client to a CalWORKs therapist. The CalWORKs therapist will work with the client in reducing mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and trauma, which are often barriers for the client to seek and maintain employment.  A referral can be made to the Supported Employment program to help the client become job ready. Services include resume development, mock interviews, help with job search, and assistance with completing job applications.  The CalWORKs therapist can also make an additional referral for case management services to help with legal expungement, utility assistance, and housing support to continue removing barriers that interfere with the client’s ability to focus when job-seeking.  

See what one of our Employment Specialists has to say:  

Hello, my name is Cynthia Barajas, Employment Specialist, at Penny Lane Centers for almost 2 years now. As an employment specialist, I have found that it is important to talk to clients about the benefits of employment.  Highlighting the advantages of employment and the benefits of obtaining financial independence, encouraging the client to engage in job-seeking activities. As an employment specialist, I have observed a drastic positive change when clients become employed such as improved mental health symptoms.  A job boosts their self-confidence, motivation, financial independence, purpose, and stability.  Being employed also brings a positive impact as it allows the client to become a positive role model for their children.

The Supported Employment program is geared to provide opportunities for the clients to speak with hiring managers to build confidence and continue building their skills to be successfully employed and improve their overall well-being.  Job development is crucial to help build connections with hiring managers in the community and helps empower the clients.  

Here’s what another one of our Employment Specialists says:

My name is Cristina Solis, Employment Specialist for the CalWORKs program at Penny Lane Centers. As an Employment Specialist my goal is to build relationships with employers so that they may reach out when they have employment needs. Going out to businesses in person and connecting with hiring managers is a great way to learn company needs, as well as what the business has to offer. Occasionally you get lucky and are offered a walkthrough of the company, which is a gem for future follow-up visits in building that network and relationship.

Recently, the CalWORKs team offered a Virtual Job Search Workshop for our employment-seeking clients. We invited hiring managers from Fralock, Inchcape Shipping, and Magic Mountain to provide insider tips and tools for the hiring process. Latoya with Fralock presented on the company’s hiring process. Fralock is a manufacturing company in Valencia, CA that develops and manufactures custom integrated solutions for medical and aerospace industries. Latoya was able to provide tips and tools for a standout resume and successful interview. Hope from Inchcape Shipping, which is a global shipping company, provided insight regarding pre-employment assessments and unique entry-level positions.  Amanda from Magic Mountain offered suggestions for virtual interviews and professionalism in the workplace. Our hiring mangers made our clients feel less intimidated and more confident to follow through and show up for an interview.  This type of networking is helpful to relieve stress and conquer “the unknown” when talking to employers. Clients experiencing this type of job development and networking overcome their fears of talking and asking questions to employers.  We all have a core gift and have something great to offer as an employee.

Our Supported Employment specialists meet where the clients are and focus on the client’s interests, goals, and skills.  We wanted to highlight one of our client success stories. This individual obtained a janitorial position, and his biggest obstacle was not putting himself and his mental health first. Now that the client is working, the client has established a positive connection with his coworkers and has established many skills to achieve his goals.  

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about Penny Lane’s Supported Employment program. The team is available if you want more information or need employment resources in the Antelope Valley.

-Jessica Rojas, Penny Lane Centers

Check out some more photos below!

Commerce TAY Musical Expression Session

The Penny Lane Transition Aged Youth Drop-in Center in Commerce has always valued music as a platform for not only entertainment, but also one for expression and art.  The annual Taystock event was rooted in art, music, and community and our events (one in each of our TAY Center locations) heavily showcased live music, and thanks to recent purchases, we will continue to do so even better than before.  The LA County Department of Mental Health agreed with our vision of using music as a form of expression and approved the Commerce site’s purchase of musical equipment including an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drum set, amplifier, speakers, and a studio microphone.  The team also ordered studio headphones so the clients can play music without interrupting any other Penny Lane programs that might be in session.

In the past, the Commerce TAY Drop-in Center had basic music recording equipment, but as the tastes and skills of the TAY clients grew, we wanted to expand and meet their new needs.  During the pandemic, our drop-in centers hosted virtual music listening and discussion sessions online and our team developed Spotify Playlists that were rooted in these listening sessions.  Now, this has evolved into music groups where clients can practice using our new equipment.  We have some TAY clients that are very talented musicians who have stepped up and taught other clients how to play various instruments and the TAY Commerce team has some partnerships in the works that includes bringing in professional instructors.

DMH was extremely impressed with how our TAY clients have enjoyed using the music equipment and how otherwise shy and non-verbal clients have been able to use the equipment as a form of communication and expression.  We hope to purchase even more equipment this year and will continue to be the trend setters when it comes to meeting the emotional and mental health needs of our clients through unconventional but innovative ways so they can reach their highest potential.

Link to the Penny Lane TAY Spotify channel: https://open.spotify.com/user/jmhcuant4m9e1bcl3396un2gg
-Bryan Do, Penny Lane Centers

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CSUN Spring Job Fair

Ronetta Gandy (Recruitment Manager) and Jesus Canela (Recruitment Assistant), part of Penny Lane Centers’ family, attended the California State University Northridge (CSUN) Spring Career Fair seeking to attract the next generation of talent, such as recent graduates, alumni, and even current eligible students, to come join our family. Penny Lane was in attendance along with many other employers from various industries and career fields, which included non-profit, government, advertising, marketing, education and more! Attending this in-person job fair allowed us to connect in person with the CSUN students and alumni.  We talked with many and educated them about who we are and shared information about our agency open positions. This opportunity allowed us to answer role-specific questions and get to know more about their interests and career goals. Penny Lane’s presence gave potential candidates the opportunity to learn about the different programs and services that we offer within our communities, and to learn more about the agency’s competitive salary, benefits, perks and diversity and inclusion along with all the other positives about working at Penny Lane Centers.  Sharing this information allows graduates and alumni to get excited about joining our Penny Lane Family!

-Ronetta Gandy, Penny Lane Centers

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AV Housing Celebrates St. Patrick's Day

At Cedar Ridge apartments we love an excuse to have a good time and the most current good time was had in honor of St Patrick’s Day.  We had some traditional green food aka cookies and such as well as a number of activities for all to enjoy.  At Cedar Ridge we have many wee folks due to the presence of the “First Five” program there.  We also have some Measure H transitional housing beds at Cedar Ridge.   The staff worked with the residents/parents and put together a day that was fun for all and made sure that every wee person left with a prize of some kind.   There were many happy faces and tummies thanks to the case management staff at Cedar Ridge.  Thank you and hope you all had a great St. Patrick’s Day however you chose to celebrate.

-Cathy Blair, Penny Lane Centers

Check out some more photos below!

The 2023 West San Fernando Valley Preparedness Fair

The 2023 West San Fernando Valley Preparedness Fair at Pierce College was a huge success. This family friendly event was there to prepare our community for a quick recovery in the event of a disaster. Knowing what to do and how to prepare in advance to a disaster is so important considering where we live and the possibilities. The event covered information and resources to best prepare for an emergency or a major disaster and how to keep yourself and your family safe. This event had expert speakers with demonstrations and information booths. It was great to see our staff and clients participating and learning about Preparedness for different types of emergencies. Thank you everyone for spending your Saturday with us.

-Erik Ingebrigtsen, Penny Lane Centers