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.”

How time flies - my 10 years at Maryvale

Posted by Steve Gunther on Feb 11, 2019 3:13:13 PM











How often has each of us found ourselves sobered by the reality of “Where has the time gone?” I’ve come to another of those moments in my professional life as I celebrate 10 years at Maryvale.I was honored to have been selected as the new CEO in early 2009 and to join the Daughters of Charity’s incredible legacy of service in Los Angeles.

Each day I am surrounded by dedicated and caring Associates who live our Mission to Heal, Empower and Educate the children and families we serve. We face challenges large and small, but in each instance we strive to serve with compassion and respect.

Over the 10 years, there have been many faces and stories. I think about a resident who just about everyone had given up on, but our staff was willing to welcome her to the program and would not give up on her. She made remarkable progress and left us an entirely different person than the closed off and frightened person who first arrived at our door.

I see the beaming faces of preschoolers and their parents as they say goodbye to our early education program ready for the next step in their education. I remember a youth in crisis and the incredible work our community-based Associates did to ensure her safety and supports moving forward. And finally, I reflect on the countless ways our support staff have contributed to the work of Maryvale, often quietly behind the scenes, but vital nonetheless.

I am proud of what we have accomplished over the past 10 years including the opening of the Family Resource and Early Education Center in Duarte which resulted in the expansion of our early education programs as well as the beginning of community-based services. We are seeing the transformation of child welfare services in California including the transition of our residential program to a short-term residential therapeutic program serving youth who have experienced severe trauma. We also received Maryvale’s first national accreditation through the Council on Accreditation. And while it is important to honor the past, we continue to look forward and discern what God has in store as the next chapters in Maryvale’s long and rich history.

I thank God each day for the gift of Maryvale and the opportunity I have been given to lead this amazing agency. I am especially grateful to the Daughters of Charity, all our Associates and to all of you who support our work! May God continue to bless Maryvale for the next 10 years and beyond!

16 reminders for a safe holiday season

Posted by Albert Bustos on Dec 14, 2018 1:29:14 PM


At Maryvale, we pride ourselves on providing the secure environment our children and staff need to succeed. Maintaining vigilance and practicing safety are among a handful of actions we take to keep us protected. 

But, since 'tis the season, we get it. Right now, finding the perfect gift, celebrating a great parking spot and even showing off that hideous sweater decorated with tinsel and twinkling lights is your priority. Unfortunately, this level of excitement leaves people vulnerable to holiday related crimes and dangers. 

Let’s leave ugly to the sweaters. Don’t let an unfortunate situation ruin your holiday season. We offer these reminders because we can never be too careful, too prepared, or too aware. And please, please, no matter how loud the "share" button calls, follow #8.

At Home

1. Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when leaving the house, even for a few minutes.

2. Large displays or holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.

3. Constantly inspect Christmas light wiring.

4. When setting up a Christmas tree or other holiday displays, make sure doors and passageways are clear. 

5. Place your live Christmas tree in water or wet sand to keep it green and healthy, prevent it from becoming a fire hazard.

6. Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts. Solicitors may come to your door requesting donations. Ask for identification.

7. If you're going on vacation, have a neighbor or family member watch your home. 

8. Don't announce your travel plans on social media! 


Shopping & Child Safety

9. Don't leave packages and valuables on the seat of your car. Lock it in the trunk or keep it out of sight.  

10. When using an ATM, choose one inside a police station, mall or well-lit location.

11. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.

12. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.  

13. Be extra careful when carrying a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas or public transit systems. 

14. Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. Con-artists will try various methods of distraction in attempt to steal your valuables or belongings. 

15. Never allow children to make unaccompanied trips to the restroom. 

16. Teach children their full name, address and phone number to give to officers or mall security should you get separated.


From S'mores to skills: we celebrate decades of service

Posted by Albert Bustos on Nov 6, 2018 7:34:09 PM

Mary Urbina 2-1

Gas prices were a $1.16. A brand new Ford Mustang was $6,500. The world was introduced to the now-iconic characters, the Mario Bros. It was 1983, the year Mary Urbina joined Maryvale.

Going strong as a passionate Resident Counselor, this month marks Mary's 35th year at Maryvale. For her amazing commitment to fellow staff and our children, we are proud to deem Mary one of our Superheroes. Happy Anniversary Mary!

Flexible, adaptable, thrives through change – all characteristics that describe her. And since much has evolved since her first day on the job, she took time to reflect on the many changes she has experienced during her career at Maryvale. 

“Back then, the kids needed a home. Now, they need treatment.”

Today, Mary still delivers smiles, but admits that building relationships with the children in her care proves to be more difficult. She is quick to add that Maryvale staff is responsive. “We will weather through the change.”

Mary’s advice to new employees? Stay determined. You are making a difference even though sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.

Being a life-long influence is her hallmark. She grins from ear to ear talking about former residents who are now engineers, nurses, teachers, therapists, airline attendants and one who owns an art gallery. Some of her former residents, now in their 40s, still invite her to birthday parties and weddings.

Drawing on her knowledge, passion and on-going trainings, Mary plans to prepare our children for life beyond the
gates of Maryvale.

So after three and half decades, what keeps her going? “Making a difference in these girls’ lives…hearing back from former residents.”


The long journey

Posted by Steve Gunther on Jun 13, 2018 1:19:57 PM

IMG-5473-HThis year has been and will continue to be an extremely memorable one for my family. By year’s end, we will have celebrated two college graduations, two weddings and, by God’s grace, the birth of our first grandchild! As a father, each of these occasions stirs up countless feelings as I reflect on the journey my children and family has made thus far. There have been many special moments such as these, but there have also been some very challenging times as any family experiences. Seeing two of my daughters graduate knowing the difficulties they had to overcome to achieve their goal or walking my youngest daughter down the aisle after the many sacrifices she and her husband made to arrive at this day are proud and hard earned moments for us all.

At the same time, I am also reminded of the great privilege we have at Maryvale to accompany hundreds of children and families on their journeys. Today we will honor the high school graduation of four of our residents as well as the middle school promotions of 11 of our children. June is also the time when we cheer on our 76 families as their little ones leave us moving on to kindergarten. Each day we are humbled to celebrate successes, provide encouragement and support, or simply remain a steady and reliable presence for those we serve.

Through your prayers and support, you journey together with us. We never know what words or action might prove to be a pivotal moment for a child or family, but, through your generosity, having the opportunity to share God’s love in the smallest of ways leads to life changing opportunities for all of us.

May God bless you and your families as you journey together and write new chapters in your family story!

Steve Gunther is President and CEO of Maryvale.

Identifying PTSD in children and teens

Posted by Susan Marie Eigenbrodt on Jun 8, 2018 5:21:50 PM
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, more commonly known as PTSD, doesn’t only affect adults. A growing number of children, starting as early as infancy to age six, are being treated for PTSD symptoms. 
In fact, research shows that children exposed to violence in their family show the same pattern of activity in their brains as soldiers exposed to combat. 
A study conducted by scientists at University College London in collaboration with the Anna Freud Centre, shows that exposure to family violence was associated with increased brain activity in two specific brain areas (the anterior insula and the amygdala) when children viewed pictures of angry faces.
You can learn more about PTSD in children and teens by reading Maryvale’s infographic. If you or someone you love needs treatment or additional information, contact Maryvale’s Community-Based Services team at 626.263.9133. Child-Parent Psychotherapy treatment is currently offered among other mental health services for children and families. 




Help #EndTheStigma around mental health today

Posted by Susan Marie Eigenbrodt on May 18, 2018 3:31:31 PM

"The best way out is always through," said writer Robert Frost. In honor of May as Mental Health Awareness Month, when it comes to addressing mental health needs, we'd like to say "the best way out is always through ... with the help of friends and mental health professionals."

You can make a difference today by taking the pledge to spread awareness at https://www.endthestigmatoday.com/pledge. You can also raise awareness and provide resources for those in need by sharing Maryvale's "Did You Know?" mental health awareness infographic with family, friends and associates. With 350 million people globally who are affected by some form of depression, it's important to know you are not alone and where to find help.



Therapy takes a creative spin

Posted by Susan Marie Eigenbrodt on Feb 27, 2018 10:59:32 AM

If you had the chance, how would you articulate the experiences that reach deep into the subconscious?

For many of Maryvale’s children, a new form of expression is helping them cope with those feelings – art therapy. This developing process, which combines psychotherapy with various art forms, is becoming an essential part of our Trauma Informed Care program.

At Maryvale, art therapy takes the form of group projects, which not only teach the value of communication and collaboration, but also emphasize to these fragile children that they are not alone.

With a community loom, children expanded their imagination, growing as a team, trusting each other to construct a beautiful and intricate art piece that featured words of expression.

Painting, filmmaking, writing, music, photography and poetry, among other art forms, have been tools through which Maryvale’s children have expressed a sense of worth and self-discovery.   

The healing power of art is well known, and its application as therapy for children coping with trauma is growing and has tremendous potential.

It is hoped that through this creative process they may help reconcile their painful past and visualize a future filled with hope.  

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.

The life of a superhero isn't easy, but boy is it fulfilling

Posted by Susan Marie Eigenbrodt on Nov 27, 2017 2:20:48 PM

600x378-superhero-web-girl.jpgBefore you launch into your holiday shopping on Cyber Monday, consider becoming a superhero to Maryvale's children who need extra support during this emotional time of year. 

All you have to do is sign up for AmazonSmile and select Maryvale as your charity of choice. It takes only a minute to sign up by clicking here, and it will mean the world to so many kids in need.

A percentage of every purchase you make from now (until infinity and beyond!) will go directly to Maryvale's children, at no cost to you.

And while you are visiting Amazon, consider taking a peek at our children's Amazon Wish ListAll Amazon presents will be delivered directly to a Maryvale girl or boy over the holidays.

Children send letters of gratitude to U.S. troops

Posted by Susan Marie Eigenbrodt on Nov 21, 2017 2:15:56 PM

IMG_8567cardxmas-4.pngIn November, we give thanks for the beauty of life, the comfort of family and friends, and the strength of the human spirit to persevere when times are unkind.

It's humbling to see children who have already been through so many challenges find the quiet courage and grace to care for others who are in harm's way. This Thanksgiving, Maryvale's boys and girls have been writing loving cards of hope and gratitude to comfort U.S. troops far from home. Whether it's the simple message "I would like to give my heart to you for serving our country. Bless you" to drawings of hearts, flags, and reminders of holiday cheer, we are so proud of our kids' open hearts. And of your thoughtfulness too. 

Because of our supporters, we have been able to provide foster children with a place of sanctuary with opportunities to heal. 

As emotions intensify for Maryvale's children during the holidays, know that thanks to the kindness and generosity of so many, our kids are surrounded by love during this season of giving. 

Please take a moment to read their notes and get a glimpse into the spirit of our children.

Voice of wisdom, compassion

Posted by Susan Marie Eigenbrodt on Nov 1, 2017 12:44:57 PM

KRISTINE-CR.jpgMaryvale team member Kristina Velasquez was born to serve. For 13 years she worked with the cognitively impaired, and later with seniors.

Those years were professionally satisfying, but she didn’t feel as though she was where she needed to be until she began working with the youngest residents at Maryvale; girls ages 6 to 12.

“They are my family,” Kristina says. “I teach them that they are each other’s sisters. To me, they’re superheroes. They really are. They’ve gone through some stuff, and it’s so hard for them to be vulnerable, to accept our love and support. We have to be there when they’re hurting. We have to inspire them to be more, no matter where they come from, no matter the obstacles they’ve encountered.”

Kristina is busy (an understatement!) four days a week, 10 hours a day providing guidance, empathy, and a loving ear to these children in crisis. More than that, she offers them a sense of dignity and respect, and shows them what it is to be loved unconditionally. As much as anything, she wants them to feel safe, and to learn how to trust.

Kristina challenges, and she teaches. But she also learns. “Every day these kids teach me something,” she explains. The daily exchanges have had an impact on her own life in ways she never imagined.

The mother of an adult daughter, she also has a young son and two grandchildren. She says her experiences with the girls of Maryvale have helped her to love and appreciate her family even more.

As the voice of wisdom and compassion, Kristina’s ability to connect with the children is a gift. “This job is life-changing,” she said.

Weaving a way to connection

Posted by Susan Marie Eigenbrodt on Sep 27, 2017 4:09:14 PM

FullSizeRender-7.jpgFor Maryvale's girls, ages 13 to 18, the path out of trauma and addiction is building trust and healthy bonds with staff and each other. Every interaction and activity at Maryvale is designed to foster an environment that is positive and safe, generating the relationships that are vital to helping them through the stages of recovery to community and connection

But gaining that trust isn't easy. Thanks to supporters like you, a group of our residents recently had the opportunity to bond in lasting ways.

Working with art therapists, our children learned to expand their imagination, trust each other and construct something beautiful and emotionally moving from strips of fabric, dye, and a giant loom they built together. Over five weeks, they worked to create a large-scale, intricate woven art piece.

The community loom had a distinct purpose: to allow them to individually transform through art with the opportunity to grow as a team. The finished piece was layered and dynamic, an artistic way of showing the evolution and interconnectedness of the relationships essential to life outside Maryvale.

And the personal notes that adorn the piece show the heart behind the creation. "Be adventurous." "You're beautiful." "Enjoy today because tomorrow is not promised." "Love." "Never lose hope."

Thank you for your support and helping to give a voice to children who otherwise would not have one.

Give today to help children's needs!

Alumna's legacy brings hope to children in need

Posted by Susan Marie Eigenbrodt on Aug 25, 2017 2:51:14 PM

IMG_6043-statue-motherandchild-1.pngFor Virginia Riggio-Babin, the act of giving, of making a difference in young lives, has come full circle.

Virginia has made it her mission to provide for people in need, and her dedication to Maryvale's children is no coincidence.

In 1969, 16-year-old Virginia was taken in as a resident at Maryvale, having run away from home because of a complicated relationship with her parents. She had lived with a friend's family for a time before they brought her to Maryvale.

That stay lasted for two years and helped turn her young life around. Virginia now seeks to do the same for others, and in 2016 she and her husband created the Riggio-Babin Scholarship to help fund college or vocational school tuition and fees for Maryvale residents and alumnae. Wanting to ensure this scholarship is available beyond their lifetime, Virginia and her husband have included Maryvale in their planned giving and have become members of the St. Louise de Marillac Society.

The motivation behind joining the St. Louise de Marillac Society and establishing the scholarship fund is both simple and sincere.

“My husband and I like to do things that directly impact our community,” Virginia explains.

The memories of her time spent at Maryvale are many, from the old plug-in telephone switchboard to the special trips the girls were given, including the times when “the nuns would haul all of us in buses and take us to the beach in the summer.”

She also remembers the grounds, especially the sense of peace they provided.

“I found security and structure for my life at Maryvale,” she said. With that came the support of a foster care community that included the other girls, the Sisters, and the Los Angeles Orphanage Guild – a family when she needed it most.

“It was a turning point for me. I felt like I was cared for, defended, and secure. I took that time and those experiences into my life going forward,” she said.

The St. Louise de Marillac Society and scholarship fund are two ways the Riggio-Babins intend to help other young lives go forward – with a sense of confidence, poise, and purpose.

“I decided to make a difference at the place that made a difference to me,” she said.

“I hope other people will join us in believing in and supporting children who need it most.”

TIC and the power of relationships

Posted by Susan Marie Eigenbrodt on Jul 14, 2017 4:08:05 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 10.30.38 AM.png

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects more people than you might think: To raise awareness about the prevalence of PTSD among the children Maryvale serves, Maryvale President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Gunther shares the success of the Trauma Informed Care (TIC) approach with its foster children. Maryvale has implemented the TIC principles, which address the neurological, biological, psychological, and social effects of trauma and how those experiences impact those who seek and receive mental health servicesClick here to see video. 

The journey home - foster youth excels

Posted by Susan Marie Eigenbrodt on May 30, 2017 2:40:18 PM

iStock-486883991-1.jpgRecent high school graduate and Maryvale resident Haley has a dream, and it involves helping children less fortunate. “I want to be a social worker,” she said. “When you’ve been through the foster care system, and you know how it works, you’ll be a great social worker. I can give them advice, and they’ll know I’ve been there.”

Her troubles began as a child, when she, her mother and brother, lived for a time with her uncle and aunt. That’s when her uncle tried to molest her.

She remained silent about the episode, but internally she experienced rage and defiance. Her path toward self-destruction surfaced during high school when she repeatedly tried to get expelled. In desperation, she overdosed on drugs, which landed her in the hospital. When she finally shared her secret with a social worker, she was placed in a group home.

Unfortunately, that group home proved unsafe and she ran away. In three years, her life included five failed foster care placements and a life-threatening period of being held in captivity by a man.

It was the beginning of nine months of abuse, as 16-year-old Haley was imprisoned and repeatedly beaten; she was forced to take drugs and, as a result, became addicted to methamphetamine.

“I couldn’t go to school; he wouldn’t let me out. I was malnourished,” Haley said. “He would threaten me, hit me. He would try to brainwash me. He would tell me ‘you have no one else. There is only me.’”

Though she tried to escape, he would catch and hurt her. Haley was a victim of Stockholm syndrome.

One day, her body covered in bruises, she saw an opportunity and finally escaped. She ran to a friend’s house where she stayed until a detective located her with the help of her family. She filed a police report, and was transferred to Maryvale. She wasn’t done testing boundaries, however, and her distrust of others was damaging. She was still having nightmares and flashbacks.

“When she arrived here, she assaulted staff. She was on the verge of being sent away to a rehab facility to face her meth addiction,” said Isau Graves, Maryvale Group Supervisor. “But then she turned it around. She is a real leader now.”

Her turning point happened during a frightening AWOL episode. She left Maryvale and ended up at a house with drug addicts. What she didn’t expect to see, however, were two toddlers playing in the midst of adults who were taking drugs.

“When I saw those babies with their mom right next to them getting high, I said what’s going to happen to them? Those children deserve a better life,” Haley said. “After I came back to Maryvale, I reported to staff what I saw, and changed my life.”

Haley was intent on staying at Maryvale, and she  made the most of every residential treatment program offered, including chemical dependency, college prep, and life skills workshops.

That shift in attitude enabled her to graduate early from high school. “Even after a year of not going to school, I was able to catch up quickly,” she said. “I learned I was smart.” Her efforts resulted in a much deserved Alhambra Latino Association Scholarship. It was life-changing.

At 18, Haley is eager to begin the next chapter in her life. She has enrolled in college with the goal of graduating with a sociology degree so she can help foster children just like her.

Not long ago, this would have seemed impossible. “Only we can stop ourselves from achieving our goals,” Haley said. “And I will succeed.”


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

Build A Bear love

Posted by Susan Marie Eigenbrodt on Jan 31, 2017 1:57:10 PM

Facts about the youngest victims of sex trafficking

Posted by Susan Marie Eigenbrodt on Jan 27, 2017 11:25:25 AM

You see them in your child's classroom. They play on soccer teams too. What you probably don't know, is that some of these boys and girls are victims of the unthinkable - sex trafficking. 

Human trafficking, and child sex trafficking, in particular, has saturated society to such a degree that January has been designated Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This is a time to offer recognition and support for the countless victims, many of whom live, hidden in plain sight, in our neighborhoods. This modern-day tragedy has become too common, and Maryvale is helping more and more of these young victims recover from the pain and betrayal they have endured.

We will keep working to help our children no matter how extreme the traumas they have experienced before joining Maryvale's family -- including the young victims who have fallen prey to sex trafficking. 

To learn more about the sex trafficking of children and how you can help these young victims, see below.


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.

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