NovatoSpirit Newsletter - SUMMER 2019
There’s nothing like a winning smile!
Marin County sparkles with the smiles of our NovatoSpirit children. Recently, our dancers were in “A Sky Full of Stars” at the Marin Civic Center Auditorium in San Rafael and our karate kids performed brilliantly at their White Tiger tournament in Novato.
The tournament was hosted by Robert Ito Renshi, who has dedicated 50 years to teaching kempo karate and tai chi chuan. Mr. Ito and his wife Donna dedicated this event to NovatoSpirit and raised $815 for us!
Tara-Caprice Broadwater, known throughout the Bay Area for her uplifting performances for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, founded her company Love2Dance 17 years ago to share her passion with students of all ages—including our dancers.
“The things about Love 2 Dance are the teachers,” said one of our teens. “The teachers are so nice, kind, and helpful, and they support all the kids. Dance has helped my health by keeping me strong and flexible. Dance has kept me emotionally happy because I get to learn new things and dancing is just so fun. It also gives me more confidence wherever I go.” Her sister added, “My dance teacher really believes in me and pushes me to be the best, not just dance but as a human being as well. Dance has taught me how I actually care about the art. I personally love ballet and watching girls on pointe, and when I see them it motivates me more to keep working hard. It also taught what my passion was in a way. I love giving back to the community and helping kids that go through a really difficult time in their lives.
I believe that through art or whatever it is kids love to do and we support them then we can make the best change in the world ever. One of the other most important things that dance has taught me is to believe that there are angels out there that are taking care of my family and I.” There are also angels out there taking care of NovatoSpirit, and one of these angels is probably you!
We’re grateful to so many, including the medical staff from Novato’s Marin Community Clinics, who raised $600 during their annual Valentine’s “sweet treat” fundraiser hosted by our Board Director Alison Moore RN. Dr. Helene Walters of the Novato Clinic and her husband Jason gave a generous gift, matched by Bank of the West.
Other generous gifts came from Jerry Ghirardo, Cindy Grove and Dewitt Blackmon of Ghirardo CPA; Melanie & Peter Maier; Suzanne Daggert CPA; dentists McKell Perry & Eric Tyler of Novato, who founded the “Gold for Kids” Program; Gilead House; Rolling Hills Club; Unity in Marin; Claire Knoles and Kayla Swenson of Kiosk Creative LLC; Mark Schmidt of Unicorn Group; Linda Kalukukui; Development Consultant Sherrie Holmes; Sara Taylor, Esq.; Jade Paterson; Alexander Cho; Barbara Hurwick; Maritza Luna Sanchez; Rommy Smith; and a gentleman who wishes to remain anonymous.
The Equip Sports foundation, founded by retired teacher and school administrator Andy Boone and his wife Karen, co-owners of Novato’s CrossFit gyms, recently gave us a $1,000 grant. We’ve also received generous gifts from members of Rotary Club of Novato Sunrise, Marin Charitable and Soroptimist International of Novato.
The Soroptimists are an all-volunteer group of women dedicated to empowering women and children. NovatoSpirit’s girls and their mothers have benefited greatly from this group, and this year our dancer Damaris Marrufo won the runner-up “Violet Richardson Award” for her volunteer service throughout Marin County.
Additionally, Sandra Garcia (pictured), mother of two NovatoSpirit karate kids, won the Soroptimist “Live Your Dream Award,” which will help pay for her college tuition. She has repeatedly expressed her gratitude for this award, as it will enable her to take more classes at College of Marin in nursing. “My dream job is to be a nurse,” she said, “because I would like to help people, especially kids with special needs and the elderly.” Like Sandra, NovatoSpirit has a dream.
We wish to grow so that we can help more impoverished children increase their physical and mental health through sports. To accomplish this, we have expanded our Board of Directors, all of whom are exceptional: Alison Moore RN, Mari Avedano, Charles Dresow, Esq. and Marta Posada MA PPS. Additionally, we have hired an outstanding Development Consultant, Sherrie Holmes, who has assisted some of the county’s most well known nonprofits, which are additionally partners with NovatoSpirit: Marin Community Clinics, Homeward Bound, and North Marin Community Services.
And soon, we hope to secure funding to hire Maritza Luna Sanchez (pictured) as an Executive Assistant. Maritza is a former NovatoSpirit karate student and has assisted me for years as a volunteer Spanish interpreter and translator. She is completing her Psychology Degree at San Francisco State University, and hopes to pursue a PhD someday. Maritza is an incredible asset to us and wishes to help us serve more children.
To that end, we recently received a gift of a new partnership with Catchafire, a national nonprofit that matches professionally trained volunteers with nonprofits and social enterprises (www.Catchafire.org). The Catchafire team will enable us to receive top-notch assistance for our projects—for free!
Do you want to help us grow? Please consider giving us a gift: https://www.novatospirit.org/please-donate
Recently, we received a gift from Ronda Gotti, a black belt karate instructor who assists Mr. Ito with our kids. Ronda’s gift was given in memory of her aunt, Frances Gotti, an immigrant from Panama who was a devoted wife and mother. Frances loved dance and believed in offering all children the opportunity to practice athletics.
Interestingly, 60% of all our kids choose the martial arts, and these are enjoyed as much by girls as boys. These ancient practices emphasize safety, discipline, precision, respect, individual effort and teamwork.
We offer Tae Kwon Do with Master Myong O (pictured above, left); Karate with Mr. Robert Ito Renshi (pictured above, right); and now we’re delighted to offer Wrestling, taught by Robert Barkus and Rafael Ayala (pictured above, center).
Rafael admires NovatoSpirit, he says, because sports were beyond his family’s financial reach when he was growing up in the Canal area of San Rafael. But things changed dramatically once his family moved to Novato, where he participated in sports for the first time.
“Put simply, sports changed my life,” he said. “Overcoming adversity in sports gave me the confidence when I left my family and flew, for the first time, to attend Boston University.” Rafael pursued a triple major in Psychology, Neuroscience and Human Physiology, while competing on the Track and Jujitsu teams. Presently, Rafael is a STEM tutor at Santa Rosa Junior College and a cofounder of Wrestling in Novato. We’re delighted to have Rafael on our team.
Several individuals have stepped up to support me and NovatoSpirit as friends and volunteers this year and I would like to thank them here: Alain Diaz; Laurence Wollak Molinari; Cynthia Gonzalez; Phoebe Twichell Peterson; Mary Ilyin; Peter & Melanie Maier; Lynda Schroth; Barbara Weghorn; Jeff Hardy; Robert Schinske; Don Schinske; Susan Santiago; Rafael Vazquez; Jodi Weitz; Jody Cooper Martin; Kathleen Maillard Solmssen; Peggy Huntington; Liz Huntington; Julie Huntington De Polo; Dori Huntington; Ann Davis; Dan Cooper; Margaret Gompertz; John Gompertz; Linda Watson & Peter Ochsenhofer; Lauren Watson Cesare; Karen Boone; Renee Scott; Ronda Gotti; Donna Ito; Robert Ito; Genzo Ito; Racy Ming; Jade Paterson; Cyndi Foster; Pat Farley; Tzhal ben Avraham; James R. Smith; Mark Dale; Mari Avedano; Barbara Hurwick; Sylvia Barry; Sherrie Holmes; Sara Taylor; Aracelia Mendoza; Maria Vergara; Tianka Dimova; Rebecca Garcia; Patty & Doug Goodin; Sherry Ingram; Jodi Weitz; Toni Frederickson Shroyer; Jeffrey Novak; Jose Olvera; Horacio Robles; Andy Anderson; Josh Fryday; Charles Dresow; Marta Posada; Alison & Richard Moore; Suzanne Daggert; Dr. Helene Walters; Rose Jennings-Newhouse; Gail Schreuder; Reyna Velazquez; Marquita Bolts; Olga Duarte; Meylin Artola; Tara-Caprice Broadwater; Jeanne Tidwell; Stephanie Heckman; Leslie Peterson; Stan & Claudia Cudia; Jerry Ghirardo; Amie Ghirardo; Barb Curtice; Samantha Tradelius; Rabbi Elana Rosen-Brown; Dickey, Jigme & Nima Tso; Arjia Rinpoche & Chunpay.
Two teenage girls have been in the spotlight for their service to NovatoSpirit: Rowena Gonzalez and Claire Weber. Rowena, a San Marin High student, has helped spread the word far and wide about our mission while participating in Miss Marin County’s Outstanding Teen Pageant. Elegant and well spoken, Rowena also possesses a beauty that shines from within.
Also beautiful and talented is Claire Weber, who founded a charitable club at San Marin High called “Youth 2 Youth,” which helps nonprofits serving children in need, like NovatoSpirit. Claire recently starred in the Love2Dance performance at the Civic Center, where she danced alongside our girls.
Claire explained why she cherishes our program: “I have been fortunate enough to have been a dancer my entire life at Love2Dance Studio and the things I have gained from it are irreplaceable. I’ve made best friends, role models, learned life lessons, and developed a love for dance itself. NovatoSpirit, and its mission for helping provide sports scholarships for local youth, is so special to me knowing that it can provide a child with these same wonderful things I have been given. I am the person I am today because of dance and being able to give those same opportunities to other children feels amazing.”
With summer, our NovatoSpirit children are excited and busy with their sports activities. A few will participate in the Novato Fire District’s "Fire Squirts” Camp, and several will continue participating in the Novato Police Department’s outstanding Police Explorers Program.