Newsletter - Spring 2019
The New Year began with smiles and sparkle for our dance students, who performed at the Marin County Civic Center Auditorium with their Love2Dance friends. Our parents say the experience of being onstage in a professional performance boosts their children’s confidence and gives them a sense of purpose.
One of our teens articulated these ideas beautifully: “Being part of a dance team is great for my health because I suffer from major depression, which makes me not want to get out and do anything. And all I want to do is stay home. So being on a dance team gives me a sense of purpose. And when I’m on the dance floor, my mind goes blank and all I can think about is the next steps and the words of the song. All my worries go away and in that moment I am one with the moves and the music, and nobody can take that feeling away from me.”
Most of our children report feeling supported emotionally and intellectually. Over the years, several athletes noticed their grades improved. “You are helping me to become a great person,” said one of our karate students, honored at his middle school for academics as he achieved a Grade Point Average between 3.5-3.99.
His mother noted, “Your karate program has really put him on the right track. He’s getting great grades in school now and doing so well. And karate is so helpful for my younger son also. He said, ‘Karate is helping me learn so that I can maybe be the one, one day, to save the world!’”
Exercise in a Safe Environment
Providing exercise in a safe environment is a priority for all our children. The importance of creating “safe spaces,” especially for LGBT children, was emphasized recently in a webinar hosted by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, which recommended these resources for families: LGBTcenters.org, GenderSpectrum.org, GSANetwork.org and GLSEN.org.
Our soccer kids are now kicking the ball around the gym at North Marin Community Services, where Coach Diane Ascher offers a popular indoor soccer program. Most of our kids have never played soccer or any sport so they cherish the opportunity to learn.
“Soccer has improved my life because of the team. Teams let you cooperate with people and listen to their strategies” said one of our students. “Soccer is improving my health, because it helps my asthma. My asthma is improving because of the constant running you do in soccer.”
Valentine’s Day Fundraiser
Love was in the air! Pictured left is board member Alison Moore, RN, who hosts our annual Valentine’s Day Bake Sale at Novato’s Marin Community Clinic.
The Clinic’s doctors, nurses and other staff bake, purchase delicious treats, and donate generously. And throughout the year, they refer their young patients to us, because athletics can amplify health.
Heart of Marin Awards
In January, the Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership hosted the much beloved “Heart of Marin Awards,” celebrating the achievements of numerous nonprofits. NovatoSpirit was nominated for “Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence,” and I was honored with a nomination for “Lifetime Achievement.”
Several community leaders, such as Care for Peace Founder Jeff Hardy, extended themselves to nominate me for the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame and the World of Children’s Humanitarian Award—which will donate a multi-year grant of $75,000 to NovatoSpirit if I win.
Actually, the real winners deserving of these awards are our young athletes and their teachers who inspire, encourage and guide them forward.
Movement and Mentorship
Our inspirational teachers are the focus of my book Movement and Mentorship, which was discussed on KBBF Radio. Santa Rosa Junior College Professor and Youth Advocate Rafael Vazquez hosted the show in English and Spanish. To listen, please click on the link below, then click on the arrow next to January 3, 2019 @ 5 p.m.: https://www.radiofreeamerica.com/show/lideres-del-futuro-la-voz-de-su-comunidad
Another highlight: Marin Charitable recently hosted an elegant grants ceremony for 53 nonprofits, and NovatoSpirit was fortunate to be among them. The women of Marin Charitable work to enrich the lives of vulnerable youths throughout the county, and their service spans more than 50 years!
Donors and Volunteers
Empowering children is an exceptional gift to our impoverished families—and for this, we thank our donors and volunteers.
We were blessed during the holiday season with gifts from Love2Dance’s Tara-Caprice Broadwater and volunteer parents, who raised funds for us during the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in downtown Novato; Claire Knoles of Kiosk Creative LLC, who sponsored 10 NovatoSpirit children; Melanie & Peter Maier; Jerry Ghirardo, Cindy Grove and Dewitt Blackmon from Ghirardo CPA; Jason Walters & his wife Helene, a pediatrician at Marin Community Clinics; Drs. Robin & Chris Rodi; Dr. Peter Flagg; Steve Hauge; Phoebe Twichell Peterson; Rev. Lucia Kendall Lloyd; Barbara Weghorn; Mary Ilyin; Don Schinske; Bank of the West; and the Kenneth Berg Living Trust.
We’re very grateful for all the Facebook donations many of you have given to us. Other outstanding pro-bono professionals include Kiosk Creative’s Claire Knoles, Kayla Swenson and other skilled staff. Laurence Wollak Molinari, Rafael Ayala, Rommy Smith, Maritza Luna Sanchez and Jose Olvera have served as Spanish translators and interpreters; Jade Paterson is our computer guru; Margaret Gompertz is our administrative aide; and Ronda Gotti continues to wear many hats for us in the community. Many thanks also for the development advice from Ruthie Dineen and Sara Rader of the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.
Our youngest volunteer is the charming, well-spoken Rowena Gonzalez, who put NovatoSpirit in the spotlight during the Miss Teen Marin Pageant and continues to support our kids. Rowena said she spreads the word about NovatoSpirit because she wants “all children to feel a sense of love and community through their sport. The whole point is to reach out to these children and give them an opportunity that they sometimes only dream of. Sports can be a way of relieving stress or any other form of negative emotion and replace them with positive ones.”
Board Members and Advisors
Suzanne Daggert, CPA, is our longest-serving volunteer. She gave me the information I needed to establish NovatoSpirit 14 years ago, and has offered expert guidance and constant encouragement ever since. Following her longtime service as a Board Director, she continues to serve us with her considerable financial skills and enthusiasm.
Our Board is flourishing, thanks to the addition of our new directors Marta Posada, Newcomer Counselor for the Novato Unified School District (NUSD), and Charles Dresow, a criminal-defense lawyer who was recently installed as President of the Marin County Bar Association.
And now, our Board is thrilled to add Mari Avedano, an experienced community volunteer, who will be helping us launch our first-ever fundraising event in November! Mari donates her time to several nonprofits, including North Marin Community Services, Gilead House, Novato Museums Association and the Novato Senior Citizens Club. She’s a Board Director of Soroptimist International of Novato and the Schurig Center for Brain Injury Recovery. In addition, Mari recently completed the Leadership Novato Program and was Class Valedictorian. We also appreciate her professional experience in administration, human resources, marketing, and information technology gleaned from her previous work with Fair Isaac, Technology Partners, and Maier Siebel Baber.
“Mercy has a human heart,” noted the poet William Blake. Please consider making a Valentine’s donation to help our kids continue to practice the sports they love. All donations are tax-deductible, and checks can be sent to: NovatoSpirit, 936 Seventh Street, Suite B, Postal Mailbox 236, Novato, CA 94945.
With heartfelt appreciation,
NovatoSpirit Executive Director