Recent Posts

No Job She Can't Handle

Posted by Maryvale on Jul 8, 2019 4:19:04 PM


If it was up to Erica, her story would never have been told, but we are so glad she agreed to tell it.

The definition of modest is “moderate in the estimate of one’s abilities or achievements.” And Erica Gonzales, Director of Administrative Operations, for all of her accomplishments at school and at Maryvale, embodies that meaning.

In 2007, she wanted to take a break from full-time employment to focus on school. She found a posting for a part-time Administrative Clerk at our Rosemead campus. She lived relatively close, learned more about our mission and responded. 

While employed at Maryvale, she not only received her Bachelors of Science in 2012, she also got her Masters in Business Administration in 2014. So it is no surprise that Erica’s work ethic and talent enabled her to hurdle positions like a track & field star. In a span of 10 years, she was promoted to Administrative Assistant, then Housekeeping Supervisor, followed by Administrative Operations Manager. And in 2017, she became our Director of Administrative Operations. In this role, Erica oversees the inventory and purchasing of our facilities and IT equipment, housekeeping materials, general office supplies and furniture. She also evaluates Maryvale's OSHA regulations and standards, manages our maintenance vehicles and conducts on-going safety training and drills.

Being employed at an organization for nearly 12 years speaks volumes about Erica’s commitment and affinity for Maryvale. She really enjoys the interaction with her team and colleagues. In fact, Maryvale has become a family affair with dad John, who works in the facilities department, and younger sister Traci, who is a Teacher's Aide at our Early Education Center.

“My dad, sister and some of my good friends work here. Having them with me at Maryvale is something I will definitely cherish for the rest of my life! Maryvale is really a great place to work and I recommend it to everyone I meet.”

Those who work with Erica know her as an incredibly competent, hard-working, friendly person who really enjoys life. She loves outdoor adventures, hanging out with her Yorkies, making people laugh, organizing anything she can get her hands on and spending time with her husband, family and friends.

Although Erica plays a large part in Maryvale’s success, she doesn’t need the accolades. She was even reluctant to share her story because she felt others should be featured (and they will be).

Erica4Her final thoughts?

“My fellow team members - know how thankful I am for each one of you. I witness goodness everyday all over the campus. Our jobs are stressful – but all of the kids and families make it worth while. You really do put the heart first and then the work!

For our volunteers - thank you, we appreciate your time and dedication. Especially the volunteers and Guild members that have supported Maryvale for many years.

And to the donors - there’s a million places you could help and you chose Maryvale! You help fund and support programs and services that touch the lives of so many people and it’s truly amazing.”


Posted by Maryvale on Jun 6, 2019 2:00:16 PM


In 1980, Jose Chagoya arrived from Mexico and resided in East L.A. Two blocks from his home was a convent, Our Lady of Rosary Talpa. There, he met Sr. Minerva Rodriguez. Through their interactions, a bond was formed. She recommended he apply at Maryvale, so he did. And, as they say, the rest is history.  

“Hermano” has been here for 25 years. In this timeframe, he has worked in only two departments. Starting as kitchen staff, then moving to facilities last year. He enjoys the camaraderie with his fellow associates and the responsibility of helping others.

“I’m so happy when the residents recognize what we do and say thanks,” he says. “When that happens, I make sure to tell them I'm happy to be at Maryvale. I feel it's important the kids know we love them.”

He has witnessed the evolution of our organization and feels change is positive. Stating it's good to keep up with technology and our residents to be successful. However, he is proud of one thing that remains the same - we continue to empower children and families so they have a chance at brighter futures. 

Memories and a final thought
Working anywhere for two and a half decades will create many proud moments. For Jose, one occurred at a recent staff training when trainers posed this question: what do you like most about your role?

Since he considers himself a non-fluent English speaker, he can be hesitant to speak up. This time he raised his hand and expressed himself.

“Everyday, I'm happy to see you all. To greet you and say blessings. I want to keep working with everyone, because I am here to help these children.” 

For him, this was a great accomplishment because it was something he has always wanted to say. He believes when we show respect to each other, we can all achieve our goals. 

As you can tell, Jose is one for friends and healthy relationships. So it’s no surprise his favorite past time is celebrating holidays with friends and family. When asked what he would like his coworkers, volunteers and donors to know about him?

“I am grateful for your generosity. We're able to do what we do for our children and families and that’s because of you. For that, I am thankful to all of you.”

Survivors write, produce award-winning film 

Posted by Maryvale on Jan 31, 2018 2:38:16 PM

trappedwithin.pngFor five years Maryvale has participated in the Kids in the Spotlight (KITS) filmmaking program. The 15-week program empowers foster children to grow through storytelling while learning all aspects of film-making where they collectively write scripts, act, cast, edit and work in production.

This year one of the films our Maryvale girls created was a gritty, heart-wrenching look at human trafficking and the devastation it causes to the child and to the family.

Trapped Within" was a seven-minute short film written by four of our residents, two of whom were survivors of child sex trafficking.

The script’s focus and raw truth were powerfully evident because the two writers had lived and survived its reality and had the courage to share their experiences. They were unflinching in their detail to their truth and their short film received the Jordan Award for Best Picture at this year’s Kids in the Spotlight 8th Annual Movies by Kids Film Festival.

All of the films can be purchased through the KITS website. To learn more about resources and supportive services for the survivors of human trafficking and those who are working to support them, visit http://www.nctsn.org/resources/public-awareness/human-trafficking.

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

Posted by Maryvale on May 4, 2017 3:30:58 PM

Today, on National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, we would like to recognize every child, in residential care to the traditional home, who battles with mental illness. 

Children are particularly vulnerable – one in five ages 13 to 18 – will have a serious mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The number increases exponentially when children are involved with the juvenile justice system, where 70 percent of probation youth struggle with a mental illness.

To learn more about mental health and how it affects children and teens, see the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) infographic below.


Glorianna's story

Posted by Maryvale on Mar 7, 2017 5:21:33 PM

glorianna-crop.jpgI know I’ve been blessed. I have endured more than most, and the stories of my childhood have made people cry.

But I am here to tell you that anything is possible.

Last September I spent my first day at Pasadena City College, majoring in digital media, where I hope to transfer to UCLA. It seems like it’s taken me a lifetime to get here. But I’m here!

When I was only two, I became a foster child. The Department of Child and Family Services removed me from my mother’s care; we were living on the streets. Initially, my foster home seemed stable. However, my foster parents became abusive, and I moved again.

My whole life changed when I was five and was placed at Maryvale. I didn’t know what to expect so I decided not to expect anything so I wouldn’t be disappointed again.

I learned that Maryvale was different. Maryvale has kind and compassionate people who surround me with love.

You have to remember that I was five and used to being an only child. I was alone and comfortable with silence. But at Maryvale, I was surrounded by girls, and it was noisy and different. Although it was intimidating at first, I quickly learned that relationships form the foundation of therapy and care at Maryvale. I learned to accept and believe in the love and consideration from the staff who advocated for and comforted me; more importantly, perhaps, was that I finally learned to love myself.

I’ve been at Maryvale for 12 years; this place is the only home I’ve known. As I grew and encountered challenges, I learned the hard way that the choices we make in life can define us for a long time. Even though my childhood was troubled and far different than other children who were blessed to have a mom and dad, I knew to care for those who gave me strength.

The toughest time was when I was 12 or 13. My best friend was a bad influence on me. Instead of lifting each other up, we ended up damaging each other. When she was hospitalized and then sent to another group home, I wouldn’t eat or sleep. I felt my life had ended. I wanted to go where she went. But then I got a wake-up call!

I’m so glad my therapist was honest with me – she told me that if I didn’t turn things around now, I, too, would have to leave Maryvale forever. I loved Maryvale, and I loved my friend, but I wasn’t going to give up my life for her.

I still feel guilty about my decision, but I knew I had to control my emotions and make smarter decisions.

I realized that the girls who used their situations as a disability were getting held back in school. I didn’t want that to be me. So I charged ahead, did everything to fit in socially and studied harder.

Of course, there were days when I wanted to pull the covers over my head and plunge deeper into my depression and anxiety. I knew, though, that by doing that I would be handicapping myself because people start thinking you are incapable of doing what you know you can do.

I did whatever I had to do to get good grades, and I found out that I enjoyed school. So I tell girls who are younger than me to do the best you possibly can. Don’t let life’s challenges handicap you.

At Maryvale, I found people who never gave up on me, who gave me as much as I needed to grow – even when the road got rough for those caring for me. For a long time, I didn’t believe I could make it. But I did. I’m going to get somewhere. Wait and see.

From darkness comes light at Maryvale

Posted by Maryvale on Feb 23, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Fotolia_11703773_XL.jpgZach’s life began in darkness, a victim of abuse, rejection and other unfathomable traumas.

He arrived at Maryvale’s Emergency Placement Center (EPC) the first time with a fury and aggression that required more intensive treatment at another residential treatment facility.

After several failed placements, Zach returned to Maryvale’s EPC. But this time instead of anger, he was despondent. Maryvale’s team was ready.

“We let Zach know that we would keep him safe and never give up on him,” said Andrew Hernandez, Emergency Placement Center Program Manager.

Zach was apprehensive at first but slowly embraced the kindness and affection, later thriving in his new surroundings thanks to the intensive counseling provided by Maryvale professionals. He began to develop close bonds with Maryvale staff and became a positive role model by assuming leadership responsibilities.

He befriended a resident, Jim, and upon learning of Jim’s father’s cancer diagnosis, Zach was supportive and caring, mirroring the compassionate care extended to him at Maryvale. Zach wrote a heartfelt letter to Jim, explaining that “he understood how tough it could be, that it was OK to cry about it and he would pray for him and his dad.”

Although Zach’s struggles are far from over, he is learning to heal by providing hope, compassion, and love to others.

Learn More

Christmas Eve services at Maryvale

Posted by Maryvale on Dec 22, 2016 8:59:18 PM
Screen Shot 2016-12-18 at 9.43.43 AM.pngPlease join us for Christmas Eve Community Mass, Saturday, Dec. 24, at 4 p.m., in Maryvale’s Miraculous Medal Chapel.

Why I enjoy college

Posted by Maryvale on Dec 9, 2016 10:40:50 AM

Fotolia_75682347_XL.jpgJulia, a former Maryvale resident who recently started college and transitioned to independent living after living at Maryvale, shares her first college essay about ... college.

I enjoy college for several reasons. First of all, I am more independent and on my own. Despite me still being under strict supervision, college has made it easy for me to forget my living situation. Even though I just started college, I love it because all the work keeps me motivated to do my best. Furthermore, I enjoy college because it is helping me grow as a person every day.

Additionally, I enjoy meeting new people who then become my friends. Specifically, making friends along the way has helped me learn more about college. Meanwhile, I have realized it is not easy to transition from high school to college. For instance, the work to do is doubled, and there are certain requirements. Then I am on my own completely with no teacher always there to help me. However, I never liked school growing up, I liked college as soon as I started. The work is not as hard as I thought it would be. Also, college has made me realize what I want for my future, and there are many resources available for me. For example, as a foster care student, I am in a program specifically for foster kids, and the program helped pay for all my books and materials. As a result, with all the resources available, the people I meet, and the work assigned, it has helped me enjoy college more.

In conclusion, college has made me see things differently from school to reality at home. Furthermore, I do get stressed out about my assignments and things I have to do daily, but there is always a way to deal with it. Moreover, with this being my first college class, I have learned many new skills that will help me out all throughout my time in college. Finally, I enjoy college because my first professor has taught me skills to prepare me for my future and now I think about things in different ways with all the advice and lectures, I am ready to succeed.

Important holiday safety tips

Posted by Maryvale on Dec 1, 2016 5:00:00 AM

holiday safety.jpgThe holiday season is always a special time of year. It is also a time when busy people become careless and vulnerable to theft and other holiday related crimes. We can never be too careful, too prepared, or too aware. Please share this information with family, friends and neighbors.

At Home -
• Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave the house, even for a few minutes.
• When leaving home for an extended time, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up your newspaper and mail.
• Indoor and outdoor lights should be on an automatic timer.
• Leave a radio or television on so the house appears occupied.
• Large displays or holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.
• When setting up a Christmas tree or other holiday displays, make sure doors and passageways are clear.
• Place your live Christmas tree in water or wet sand to keep it green and healthy, to help prevent it from getting dry enough to become a fire hazard.

Strangers at Your Door -
• Be aware that criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts.
• Ask for their identification. If you are not satisfied, do not donate. Ask them to kindly leave and then donate to a recognized charitable organization like Maryvale!

Driving -
• Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.
• If you must shop at night, park in a well-lit area.
• Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows.
• Park as close as you can to your destination and take notice of where you parked.
• Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside.
• Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.
• Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels.

Shopping -
• If you must use an ATM to withdraw cash for shopping, choose one that is located inside a police station, mall, or well-lighted location. Withdraw only the amount of cash you need.
• Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.
• Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
• Always carry your California Drivers License or Identification Card along with necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use.
• Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings.
• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
• Pay for purchases with a check or credit card whenever possible.
• Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen, or misused.
• Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
• Be extra careful if you carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses and other public transit systems.
• Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
• Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, “con-artists” may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.

Children -
• If possible, leave small children at home with a trusted babysitter.
• Teach children to stay close to you at all times while shopping.
• Never allow children to make unaccompanied trips to the restroom.
• Children should never be allowed to go to the car alone and they should never be left alone in the car.
• Teach children their full name, address and telephone number to give to police officers or mall security. Teach children to immediately inform you if a stranger is bothering them.

Amazing Grace and Strength in a Young Teen's Struggle and Triumph

Posted by Maryvale on Aug 25, 2016 11:50:54 PM

Johnny-revised2.jpgLife can be beautiful. For many children in foster care, however, the path to a calm and beautiful life sometimes requires a small miracle.

Physical and emotional scars marked Johnny’s childhood, beginning from the moment he entered the world. The day after his birth, with Johnny’s parents facing allegations of neglect and domestic violence, the hospital had to take steps to safeguard the newborn. When Johnny was four, his mother and her boyfriend allegedly sexually exploited him, while his father, a convicted sex offender, was incarcerated.

Johnny’s tragic family history led to an immediate placement in the Los Angeles County foster care system. His case was so severe, and mental health so compromised that he was moved to five different homes. He could not escape the trauma, which sometimes produced visual and auditory hallucinations. Then there were tantrums, fighting, and head banging. The County was unable to find a stable environment to accommodate his needs, and Johnny was transferred to Maryvale’s Emergency Placement Center.


Initially, it was a challenging fit. Johnny didn’t trust the Maryvale staff. He was defiant and disruptive and had difficulty adjusting to the program’s routine.

“He had hallucinations – seeing cockroaches and rats in his room and hearing snakes,” said a Maryvale staffer. “He had poor hygiene and was afraid to go into the dressing room to try on clothing.”

The Maryvale team refused to give up. Maryvale’s care, compassion and persistence eventually prevailed. Johnny received the care he so desperately needed -- mental health services, medications, crisis intervention support and other services. He learned to trust others and establish relationships. His defiant behavior decreased.

“We were able to create an environment where he was able to be a child for the first time,” said Will Sanchez, Director of Residential Services.

After his stay at Maryvale, the County was able to locate a long-term foster placement for Johnny with a family who understood his needs.

“We hear he is doing well, and we keep him in our
thoughts and prayers,” said Sanchez.

About Maryvale: Maryvale cares for severely traumatized children, ages 6 to 18, who require specialized treatment in an intensive therapeutic 24-hour environment. We have been caring for children in the greater Los Angeles area since 1856.

Prevent childhood drowning with a water safety plan

Posted by Maryvale on Jun 30, 2016 5:50:57 PM

P1000446_1.jpgAs the Fourth of July weekend approaches and temperatures continue to rise, many Southland families are preparing to find relief and relaxation at the local beaches, water parks, and other recreational facilities.

The refreshing blue waters can sometimes conceal unexpected dangers. In California, drowning is a leading cause of injury-related deaths among children under the age of five. Each year, near-drowning incidents result in life-long disabilities.

One important safety measure you can take is to designate a "Water Watcher” whenever children are near or in the water. An “official” Water Watcher is an adult who agrees to give 100 percent of his or her attention and care to kids playing in or near a pool, lake, or even a backyard tub filled with water. The Water Watcher agrees to set aside all distractions, including cell phones and tablets, books, etc. Before Independence Day arrives, download Maryvale’s Water Watcher Card and make a water safety plan for the weekend and the summer. Take a moment to review the Department of Developmental Services’ “Layers of Protection Approach for Drowning Prevention.”  Drowning and near-drowning incidents are 100 percent preventable!

Layers of Protection for Drowning Prevention

> Never leave a child alone near water, even for a few seconds;

> A supervising adult should be close enough to touch a child under four years old near water;

> Keep a constant adult eye on young children and use the Water Watcher approach;

> All collections of water are dangerous for infants and toddlers including bathtubs, buckets, toilets, ponds, spas, swimming pools and natural water sites;

> Swimming pools should have fences, alarms, and drains that meet regulations;

> Pool gates should be self-latching, opening outward, with the latch out-of-reach for children;

> Keep rescue aids near a swimming pool;

> All children should wear a personal floatation device while playing near bodies of water, but remember these devices do not replace adult supervision;

> Parents and caregivers should know how to perform rescue techniques and strategies to respond to an emergency;

> If a child is missing, check the pool first.

> Watch and listen to this simple steps pool safety video in English and Spanish narrated by actress Ming-Na.

According to California Gov. Jerry Brown, there have been more than 60 drowning deaths among children ages five and under in the state, every year for the past five years. More than half of these accidents occur in residential swimming pools.

Take action now to prevent a devastating incident from happening.

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