Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Aspiranet Invites You to Watch "A Home for the Holidays"

Foster care adoption can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences. During this holiday season we would like to celebrate all foster and adoptive parents by inviting you to watch “A Home for the Holidays,” presented by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, on Wednesday, December 22nd, at 8 pm on CBS. 

Our hope is that through the inspirational stories about foster care adoption presented by popular celebrities, you will be inspired to begin the process of becoming a foster parent, or to refer a loving family who may be ready to begin the journey. Your commitment will make a lifelong connection with a child. By sharing your love, parenting skills and support, children can have a better life.

During this holiday season, we would like to thank our foster and adoptive families for sharing love, parenting skills and support so that children can have a lifelong connection through the power of family.

The need for foster families is great.

Nearly sixty thousand children from infants to teens are in foster care in California. Foster families help children reach for their dreams by providing a home, a family, love, laughter and a positive, stable role model. This holiday season, give a child, teen or sibling set the gift of finding their inner hero, and give them a place to call home by becoming a foster parent.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent or to refer a loving family
go to:, 1-877-380-HERO
Aspiranet wishes you and your family a happy holiday season.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mt. Diablo Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.s) Annual Toy Drive for Foster Youth

The Greater Bay Area District office of Aspiranet would like to announce The Mt. Diablo Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.s) Annual Toy Drive for our foster youth this holiday season. The "Hog Run" is coordinated by the Mt. Diablo HOG's Director Kevin Navin and Assistant Director Carrie Korinek. It is an opportunity to experience the exciting sights and sounds of Harley motorcycles and their riders as they drop off toys for our foster youth. The event is being held this Saturday December 11, 2010 at 3727 Sunset Lane, Antioch, CA 94509 from 9:30-10:30 a.m.

All the staff of our Greater Bay Area District office would like to sincerely thank the Mt. Diable H.O.G.s and all their Harley owners/riders for their generosity and assistance in helping us bring smiles to our foster children this holiday season.

Gift Drive at the Pointe Cafe in South San Francisco

The Greater Bay Area District office of Aspiranet would like to announce that David Araj, owner of The Pointe Cafe located inside 400 Oyster Point Blvd, S. SF, CA 94080 is sponsoring a Christmas toy drive for our foster youth this holiday season.

The toy drive will run from 12/1/10 to 12/17/10. Patrons of The Pointe Cafe can obtain a christmas decoration from a display which has a child's name, age, and gift request on it. The unwrapped gift purchase is then returned to the Pointe Cafe Christmas Toy Drive display container. The gifts will be wrapped and presented to each foster child in our Greater Bay Area district before the Christmas holiday.

All the staff of our Greater Bay Area District office would like to sincerely thank owner David Araj and his staff at the Pointe Cafe for their generosity and assistance in helping us bring smiles to our foster children this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Experience Corps Fundraiser a Success

Guests Arriving
Guests Arriving
This past Saturday, November 20th, Experience Corps Bay Area held its first-ever fundraising event. Held in a private home on a steep hill in Mill Valley, up a harrowing one-lane road, the event was sponsored by Savory Thymes, an organization formed to support arts, cultural and other non-profits through hosting fundraising and networking events.
With an Honorary Committee consisting of the Superintendents of Schools of Oakland, San Francisco and San Rafael, and a Host Committee of community leaders from throughout Northern California, the event was key to both raising funds and furthering awareness of our program and the impact it has on both seniors and children. The organizing committee of David Moren, Michael Lynch, Susan Kraemer, Eunice Nichols and Paul Olsen did the heavy lifting required for such a successful event.
Almost 80 supporters of Experience Corps Bay Area – volunteers, staff, teachers, principals, donors and friends – braved the weather for a tasty locally produced lunch and a program featuring volunteers from Marin and Oakland, Principal Wendi Caporucci from Emerson Elementary School in Oakland, and Eunice Nichols, the former Experience Corps Bay Area Director who presided over its expansion from San Francisco to the 3 cities it serves today.
Paul Olsen
Paul Olsen
Highlights included the acknowledgement of Aspiranet CEO Vernon Brown, who had raced from a speaking engagement on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento in order to participate; his counterpart Barbara Hood, the CEO of Northern California Presbyterian Homes and Services, the organization that sponsors the Marin operation; Roy Earnest, who runs the Northern California field office of the Corporation for National and Community Service; and School Board members from the cities in which we serve. Other dignitaries at the event included Michael Funk, who brought Experience Corps to California, and remains actively engaged in its success.
Ali Ghiorse of Savory Thymes welcomed the guests and thanked them for their support of Experience Corps. Paul Olsen, Director of Experience Corps Bay Area, acted as emcee, seamlessly weaving together the speakers and their remarks with observations over the short but intensive time he has been with the organization. Susan Kraemer concluded the program by holding the free raffle for the Hawaiian vacation, along with Marin Experience Corps member Ron Benjamin, who donated the raffle prize.
Elsa Kessler
Elsa Kessler
The heart of the program, in many ways, was hearing from the speakers and the stories they told about how Experience Corps has changed their lives, and the lives of the children in the schools where we serve. Elsa Kessler, from Marin, kicked off the speakers with a touching story about the effect her student had on her, and wondering if she had had an effect as great on him, stating, “While it can be difficult to measure the impact of my presence on Daniel, I can say that Daniel has definitely impacted my life.”
She was followed by Principal Caporicci, who made it clear that Experience Corps members have a huge impact on the children they work with, pointing out that her school has gone from a score of 500 to a score of 737, and attributing the partnership of Experience Corps members and a caring staff to that growth.
Susann Calkins
Susann Calkins
Susann Calkins of Oakland followed up by describing her search to find a program that would support her in doing the work she wanted to after retiring. Susann noted that “It was more difficult than I thought to find a volunteer literacy program with the components I felt helped struggling readers learn best:
  • Training
  • Team support- coordinators who served as trouble shooters and liaisons with school leaders, fellow volunteers who continued to learn
  • Time – ongoing relationship with individual students (in my mind at least 2 sessions/week) and a program that continually evaluated its effectiveness” and urging those in the audience to help get out the word about Experience Corps.
Eunice Nichols
Eunice Nichols
Finally, Eunice Nichols linked each of the stories to the research data proving our impact, to the dozens of people in the room whose lives have been changed by their involvement in Experience Corps Bay Area, and to the real need the program has for sustainable funding.
Eunice noted that through the underwriting of the event by Savory Thymes, and individual donations from friends and family, the event had raised almost $15,000 and a private donor had contributed an additional $15,000 to underwrite some program expenses as well. Eunice challenged those attending to offer further financial support to the program with a call for supporters of Experience Corps Bay Area to match the previous gifts with an additional $15,000 as part of the year-end campaign.
This is the perfect time of year to offer thanks to all who participated in making this event a success, and to all who continue to make the work of Experience Corps Bay Area successful. I am thankful for the opportunity to be, along with you, a part of such an inspiring organization.
Paul Olsen, Director
Experience Corps Bay Area

Monday, November 22, 2010


Check out the newly redesigned Aspiranet website!

We have made it easier for our communities to access the different areas of Aspiranet. Some of the newest features include:

  • Stories of how we change lives in our day-to-day work 
  • How people can get involved through volunteering, parenting, careers, donations or partnerships
  • Overview of the counties, corporations, foundations and community-based organizations whose support allows us to work toward our vision
  • Ongoing updates on Aspiranet news and events
  • Agency background information and leadership profiles 
  • Ability to explore our network of diverse, statewide services by category, name and location

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Adoption for Monterey County Parents

 Thanks to KION Central Coast News for raising awareness of the need for foster and adoptive families at last night's Question Center.  Check out last night's story of adoption in Monterey County

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Aspiranet featured on KION46 News

Aspiranet will be featured on the evening news on KION46 TV tonight speaking about National Adoption Month and answering adoption questions from callers.  If you are in the area tune in to the 5:00 and 6:00 Central Coast news in Monterey, Salinas and Santa Cruz to watch live.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Help a teen find her inner [Hero]

Over the next month look for Aspiranet ads online at:   
Listen for ads on the radio at:  

Look for Aspiranet newspaper ads in: 
If you know anyone who is interested in becoming a foster parent or adopting a child through foster care visit or call 877-380-HERO.

Friday, November 12, 2010

National Adoption Day at State Capitol

National Adoption Day will culminate the month-long effort to promote awareness of foster children and youth in search of permanent families. Join AspiraNet, EMQ FamiliesFirst, Lilliput Children’s Services and Sierra Forever Families for a dawn to dusk event featuring a candlelight vigil, community adoption information fair, pancake breakfast, foster child awareness walk around the Capitol, adoptive family of the year presentations, fun children's activities and calling out of names.

View Flyer (PDF) >

Date:  Saturday, November 20th

Time:  6am-6pm

Location:  California State Capitol West Steps, 10th Street, Sacramento


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Feet for Families Fun Run Walk this Sunday in Oxnard, CA

Bring out your inner hero: Aspiranet invites the Ventura community, families, friends, athletes in training, students, and seniors to celebrate our 35 years of service to children and families at Aspiranet Feet For Families Ventura Run.

Benefitting local Aspiranet programs that serve siblings in foster care, youth in/or emancipating from foster care, and various other programs that promote safety, stability, and permanency for children in communities across Ventura County.

Featuring: A fast and flat 5k course that will be out and back through the Mandalay Colony and Hollywood Beach neighborhoods along Sunset Lane. The turnaround will be near Channel Islands Harbor.

Where: Oxnard Beach Park, 1601 So. Harbor Blvd.

Sunday, October 24, 2010
Day of event registration begins at 7:00am
Race starts at 8:00 am

Registration Fee: $ 25.00 per participant includes t-shirt, and gift bag. Children under 12 are free.

Awards: Overall awards for the top 3 male and female finishers
For more information, please call Aspiranet at 805.289.0120.

Can't attend but would like to contribute? Click here for our donation form.

For sponsorship information or to volunteer, please call 805.289.0120 or 714.788.3507.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Paws for Families Fun Run Walk this Saturday in Turlock, CA

Aspiranet’s Feet for Families and Paws for Families invite you to bring your family and friends to a Family Fun Dog Event!  Help Aspiranet celebrate our 35 years of service to children and families throughout California at Aspiranet Paws for Families! Adults, kids and dogs all welcome! With over 25 years serving Stanislaus County and the community of Turlock, we are looking forward to your joining us for this special event.

Enjoy beautiful fun family- and pet-friendly events as well as lunch, vendor booths and demonstrations from local community agencies. Fun for everyone!

Benefitting three signature programs of Aspiranet’s Central Valley location: the newly created service dog program at the Excell Center, emergency needs for local families in crisis at the Turlock Family Resource Center, and scholarships for foster youth through the Turlock Aspiranet office.  

Fun walk around the park, dog agility event, doggy costume contest and much more.

Donnelly Park, Turlock

Saturday, October 23, 2010
10am - 2pm

Registration Fee:
$15-$40 (see registration form for details); includes event t-shirt and lunch

For more information please call Aspiranet at 209.669.2582, ext. 2312.
Can't attend but would like to contribute? Click here for our donation form.

Download Event Flyer or Postcard


Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center to host ‘Lights On Afterschool’

Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco, to join celebration of afterschool program’s recognition as national finalist for the MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award

(SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.) The Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center (SNBC), which offers a safe and educational place to go afterschool for more than 700 elementary, middle and high school students each day, was recently recognized as one of the country’s best afterschool programs by the Afterschool Alliance and MetLife Foundation.

SNBC is a program of Aspiranet, which offers a statewide network of services through a variety of creative community partnerships.  SNBC, one of just a few MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award finalists from across the country, provides daily afterschool programming at five middle and elementary schools and a recreation clubhouse in the Sunset District of San Francisco.

The MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award recognizes afterschool programs that provide students with multiple benefits, promote health and wellness, and prepare students for college and careers. SNBC offers children and teens a variety of educational and enrichment-based afterschool programming that includes the MOUSE Squad, a program providing youth access to technology education, Urban Dance, Cartoon and Anime Art, Peer Resources, and much more.

SNBC will celebrate their recognition on October 21 by hosting a Lights On Afterschool event.  Launched in October 2000 by the Afterschool Alliance, Lights On Afterschool is celebrated nationwide to call attention to the importance of afterschool programs for America’s children, families, and communities. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco, will announce SNBC’s recognition as a finalist for the MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award. SNBC’s Lights On Afterschool celebration will also include a demonstrations and highlights of SNBC afterschool clubs and programs, as well as live music provided by the SNBC Urban Music Program, youth performances, raffle prizes, and refreshments.

The Lights On Afterschool event will take place from 6:30 - 8:00 pm on Thursday, October 21, at A.P. Giannini Middle School, 3151 Ortega Street at 38th Avenue, San Francisco, California.

For more information about SNBC and the Light On Afterschool Celebration, visit

About Aspiranet

Aspiranet, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charity, supports foster children, siblings, families, and the community with 35 core programs offering specialized services through 44 satellite centers within California.

Founded more than 30 years ago as a six-bed group home for young boys in Moss Beach, California, Aspiranet is one of the most diverse nonprofit social service agencies in the state. With a statewide network of innovative services, Aspiranet has touched the lives of over 10,000 families and children since its founding.

Aspiranet’s vision of bringing families together and helping foster children, siblings, and parents thrive is realized through six areas of expertise – Family Services, Foster Care, Adoption, Education, Afterschool Programs, and Community Partnerships. For more information, please visit

About Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center

SNBC was established in 1996 in an effort to provide community-based services for youth and families in the Sunset District of San Francisco. 

SNBC is committed to providing supports and opportunities to ensure the healthy development of children, youth, and adults in the Sunset community. SNBC’s purpose is to connect people to their passion, potential, and community.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Feet for Families Kicks Off Saturday


Tomorrow kicks off our October Feet for Families events in San Jose. Assemblyman Beall will be on hand to talk about foster care reform and AB12 whihch was signed by the Governor this week.  This morning's Mercury News mentioned the event and his attendance: 

Enjoy beautiful run/walk courses, live music featuring HIGH Risk, healthy snacks and drinks, door prizes, and arts and crafts. Fun for everyone!

All participants eligible for free gifts drawing on Oct 2. Restaurant gift certificates, ipod accessories, mp3 players, theater tickets and more.

Benefitting Aspiranet South Bay programs: Children with Developmental Disabilities, Foster Families and MOUSE Squad CA student tech.

5K, 2.5K, and 1 mile courses

Almaden Lake Park, Arroyo Picnic Area, San Jose

Saturday, October 2, 2010
9:00 am - 1:00 pm; day of event registration begins at 8:00 a.m.
 View Schedule >

Registration Fee:
$15-$25 (see registration form for details); includes event t-shirt and gift at course completion.
For more information please call Aspiranet at 408.229.0775.

Can't attend but would like to contribute? Click here for our donation form.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

COMING SOON: Register today for a Feet for Families Family Fun Event!

Aspiranet invites you to help us celebrate 35 years of service to children and families by participating in our October Feet For Families and Paws for Families Fun Walk/Run events. Join us for a family-fun events hosted in San Jose, Fresno, Ventura and Turlock and designed to raise awareness of and funding for area foster children, teens and families. To register and/or learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please visit


Super Hero Sponsors:Cupertino Electric -

Xilinx -
Los Angeles Family Magazine -

Medalist Sponsors:
Ian Moore

* Hobee's California Restaurants -
* San Jose Improv -
* Balloonatics -
* Photography by Wehaveus -
* High Risk - band

Aspiranet is seeking more sponsors as well as community support in the form of donors, volunteers and participants. For more information, contact Aspiranet at 408.229.0775 or go to:

Volunteer Outreach Council/page/MOUSE Squad to the Rescue

By Susan Fisher and Doug DeFrees, members of the IBM Volunteer Outreach Council (IVOC)

Picked up from IBM's Volunteer Outreach Council Site

When Doug DeFrees, Research Software Engineer at IBM Research-Almaden, became a MOUSE Squad volunteer at Los Arboles Elementary School and Sylvandale Middle School, both in San Jose’s Franklin-McKinley School District, he knew he had the skills to share his technical knowledge to help teach youngsters how to use, repair, and troubleshoot computers. There were unexpected rewards to come. “It’s a great feeling when students and teachers share with me the good effect that our MOUSE Squad has had on them,” says DeFrees, a father of two and an enthusiastic pilot. He and his wife have worked with children in various volunteer capacities for more than 20 years. “The positive feedback makes it all worthwhile,” says DeFrees, who feels that MOUSE Squad is a win-win for all involved – students, teachers, schools…and volunteers.

A bevy of MOUSE Squad students at Los Arboles receive instruction from teacher and Mouse Squad Advisor Ian McCray on the value of technology
Gary Waters, math and science teacher at Sylvandale, agrees with DeFrees. “MOUSE Squad has been operative at Sylvandale for only one year, but I can see an impact on the students who have participated that will go far beyond their years in middle school,” says Waters, who is the school’s MOUSE Squad Advisor. “The students have gained many new skills that will aid them in their future lives both professionally and socially. They have learned how to take on more responsibility and to communicate more effectively with adults. They have been inspired to learn more about technology, math and science.”

Leslie and Selene, 5th graders in the Los Arboles MOUSE Squad, told DeFrees about the time they took action to prevent a real showstopper. While waiting for the start of the fundraiser "Movie Night," a glitch stopped the whole show and 150 kids were getting restless in the school cafeteria. The teacher in charge called for help from MOUSE Squad.
 Fortunately, Leslie and Serene were working in the school lab helping with the evening class for parents. The two girls ran quickly to the cafeteria. A few minutes later after they initiated a reboot, the movie started and the whole room cheered. Selene said, "We felt like celebrities." “Yeah,” Leslie agreed. "That was cool!" One might even say Oscarworthy – Best Performance for Can-Do Spirit and Technical Skills by 5th Graders!

With MOUSE Squads generating effective results like these, no wonder Ira Dearing, an IBM retiree who worked for Storage Device Division and Software Group for 35 years and now runs her own successful clothing design business, was eager to volunteer and help set up a new MOUSE Squad group at East Palo Alto Boys and Girls Club. “I enjoy working with these young people and sharing the skills I’ve learned over my years with IBM,” says Dearing. “It’s a very positive experience to help students understand and successfully use technology as they develop leadership skills.”

What is a MOUSE Squad?

So what are MOUSE Squads all about? MOUSE Squad of California (MSCA) is the Student Tech Leadership program of Aspiranet, a nonprofit human services agency providing school-based and after school programs, community technology centers and children and family services throughout California. MOUSE Squad, helps schools and other groups teach kids how computers and software work. MOUSE Squad members then provide tech support to end users who need more help than the ‘help key’ provides. The kids learn technical skills they can use in real life, not only immediately but as a springboard to technical careers. They learn the value of math and science, provide a great service to their organizations by keeping systems up and running, and are recognized as ‘subject matter experts’ not only by their peers but by teachers, administrators, and most importantly, their families.

“Today there are more than 80 MOUSE Squad programs in California, almost half of them in Silicon Valley,” comments Program Director Jan Half. More than 1,600 students are enrolled and the number grows every month. Learn more from Jan about MOUSE Squads by viewing a video and view the full list of MOUSE Squad schools and organizations.

MOUSE Squads are up and running in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools and at organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs in East Palo Alto where Dearing volunteers and in San Jose where Merilee Germano, retired from Storage and Technology Group after 34 years with IBM, is a MOUSE Squad volunteer. “Working with the MOUSE Squad is a great way to give back some of the skills I learned at IBM,” says Germano. “It’s wonderful to see the enthusiasm for learning and sharing knowledge that takes place among the kids in my group. The kids are very engaged and excited to learn and then to apply what they have learned."

Dustin Chan, Levin Technology Director at Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley in San Jose, says that the MOUSE Squad curriculum, which MSCA licenses in partnership with MOUSE (Making Opportunities for Upgrading Schools & Education), a New York City-based nonprofit organization, has taken his program to a new level. “The program results can be seen in our everyday operations, where the MOUSE Squad youth have become the leaders in the computer lab,” comments Chan. “Being a non-profit, we cannot afford many luxuries. Training staff to run labs is out of the question. However, MOUSE Squad has made it possible for us to train our youth to step up to that challenge. Our computers are outdated and run into many issues. But the youth are always eager to find a fix. I have made this program like a job and every member of the squad has set goals to pursue an education for a career in the computer industry. We appreciate IBM’s investment in our future, our youth, through MOUSE Squad.”

MOUSE Squads: a winning combination for students, teachers, volunteers, and technology through IBM funding

To get a MOUSE Squad in place takes a little time from a willing volunteer working with an enthusiastic teacher or staff member, and a bit of funding. That’s where the IBM Volunteer Outreach Council (IVOC) plays a role. IVOC, a group of IBM employees and retirees that includes DeFrees and Dearing in its membership, reviews grant proposals received from IBM volunteers working at local schools and nonprofit organizations in Silicon Valley and ecommends the proposals to IBM for funding.

“Supporting MOUSE Squads is an important initiative for IBM,” says Jennifer Hernandez, Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs manager for Silicon Valley and also an IVOC member. “The Silicon Valley Community Action Council (SVCAC) as well as IVOC feels that this organization mirrors IBM’s values in training young people in technical and leadership skills.” Over the past three years, IBM has contributed more than $14,000 to the growth of MOUSE Squads at several schools and nonprofit organizations in Silicon Valley. In addition, the Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs organization provided a $15,000 sponsorship to help extend the MOUSE Squad program across California. The payback comes in many ways: kids learn the value of helping others by sharing their technical skills; they provide great value to schools without the budget for in-house tech support and ‘just in time’ troubleshooting; they have a new path to higher education and career opportunities.

Best of all, says Los Arboles principal Carla Haakma, “are the rewards we get when children receive that little extra help from outside the community that encourages them to succeed. Opportunities like the ones IBM and MOUSE Squad have helped them to experience enable our dream of building upon our school’s focus on Technology and Communication in Society.” At a time when Los Arboles is facing budget reductions in both personnel and programs, Haakma adds that “contributions such as this one (from IBM IVOC) make it possible for us to continue to support technology programs that benefit our students, staff and community.”

There are many schools in Silicon Valley that could benefit from having a MOUSE Squad on board or need assistance with a Squad already in place. If you are interested in becoming a MOUSE Squad volunteer and would like to know how to get started at a school in your area, contact Kathleen Lynn, MSCA Corporate Connections/Volunteer Coordinator, for more information.

The IBM Volunteer Outreach Council (IVOC) invites you to learn how you can become involved in the council’s activities. Visit the IVOC website for more information and to find out how to submit a grant proposal for an organization at which you currently volunteer. Also see all the organizations that have received IBM grants through IVOC that were facilitated by IBM volunteers.

For more information concerning this article, please contact Doug DeFrees at

Read the article on IBM's site.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Daddy & Me Dino Dig

On Saturday August 28, the Delta First 5 Center in Brentwood, CA hosted its first “Daddy & Me Dino Dig” from 10 am - 12 pm. This free event was designed to encourage more father participation at the Center, which regularly provides a place for families with infants and young children ages 0-5 to collectively receive services and support. Fathers were encouraged to dig for fossils and create “dino” inspired art projects with their children. Mothers also visited the Center with their children, and were encouraged to participate in this event. Rhea Hodges, Delta First 5 Center Program Assistant, played a key role in designing the “Daddy & Me Dino Dig” event.
Since first opening in 2004, the Delta First 5 Center has offered programs, support groups, parent participation classes, and activities that promote Early Literacy and Learning, as well as Parent Education, Prenatal/Postpartum and Transition to Kindergarten Support.

Families that visit the center live primarily in the Brentwood, Oakley, Antioch, Discovery Bay and outlying areas. First 5 recognizes that children learn and grown more during the first 5 years than at any other time in their lives. In partnership with parents, caregivers, and public and private organizations, the center supports a comprehensive integrated set of sustainable programs, services and activities designed to improve the health and well-being of children, prenatal to five years of age; advance their potential to succeed in school; and strengthen the ability of their families and caregivers to provide for their physical, mental and emotional growth.

In addition to providing an opportunity specifically for fathers to engage with their children, the “Daddy & Me Dino Dig” event gave families and children, new to the Center, a chance to enjoy its warm staff, family-centered atmosphere and early learning focus, firsthand. In attendance were a total of 12 families with 25 children. Three new families registered to begin receiving regular services, including enrollment in early learning classes with their children.

The event had multiple positive outcomes. Children enjoyed the benefits of self-directed play while digging for fossils in a toddler pool filled with sand; exercising both problem solving and interpreting skills. Many parents expressed their delight at having the opportunity to spend quality time with their children on the weekend. Families unfamiliar with the Center were registered to begin participating in upcoming classes and activities, and fathers realized that the Center is a place where they can come with their children to participate in numerous age appropriate activities.

The Center looks forward to providing fathers with future opportunities to engage in making a difference in their children’s lives. Fathers at the event now realize that the Center is a place where classes, support and encouragement are offered to help them grow with their children.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Join Aspirnanet for Paws for Families, October 23 in Turlock

Aspiranet's Feet for Families and Paws for Families invite you to bring your family and friends to a Family Fun Dog Event! Help Aspiranet celebrate our 35 years of service to children and families throughout California at Aspiranet Paws for Families! Adults, kids and dogs all welcome! With over 25 years serving Stanislaus County and the community of Turlock, we are looking forward to your joining us for this special event.

Enjoy beautiful fun family- and pet-friendly events as well as lunch, vendor booths and demonstrations from local community agencies. Fun for everyone!

Benefitting three signature programs of Aspiranet’s Central Valley location: the newly created service dog program at the Excell Center, emergency needs for local families in crisis at the Turlock Family Resource Center, and scholarships for foster youth through the Turlock Aspiranet office.
Featuring: Fun walk around the park, dog agility event, doggy costume contest and much more.
Where: Donnelly Park, Turlock
When: Saturday, October 23, 2010, 10am - 2pm
Registration Fee: $15-$40 (see online registration form for details); includes event t-shirt and lunch

For more information or to register:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

SNBC Honored as Finalist for National Afterschool Award

SNBC's afterschool program at A.P. Giannini Middle School is one of only a handful of finalists for a MetLife Afterschool Innovator Award, a highly prestigious and competitive national award in conjunction with the Afterschool Alliance. More than 300 afterschool programs serving middle school youth from across the country applied, and SNBC's program was identified as one of the best examples of an afterschool program that brings multiple benefits to the unique needs of middle school students.

Though SNBC has learned that we are not the ultimate winner of the award, we are honored to have our innovative work recognized in this way. SNBC's program has also been highlighted in an issue brief produced by the Afterschool Alliance. Check it out here.

We're privileged to have made it this far in the selection process. Becoming a finalist for this national award is further evidence that SNBC is a national model right here in the Sunset District!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Join Aspiranet at a Feet for Families Fun Walk/Run Near You!

Aspiranet invites you to help us celebrate 35 years of service to children and families by participating in our October Feet For Families Fun Walk/Run. Races will be hosted in San Jose, Fresno, Ventura and Turlock and are designed to raise awareness of and funding for area foster children, teens and families.

“There are over 60,000 children and teens in foster care in California,” said Vernon Brown, CEO of Aspiranet. “Feet for Families is a fun, family-friendly way to support foster children and their families. The funding will go a long way toward ensuring that our foster kids are safe, stable and supported throughout the year.”

Proceeds from the races will benefit families, children and various programs, further extending Aspiranet’s innovative solutions to strengthen communities in need.

Walkers and runners, of every age and ability level, are invited to choose from several varied length Feet for Families courses. Participants will enjoy a fun run/walk and the opportunity to support local foster care programs. Every step runners and walkers take is a step closer to providing loving homes to foster children, teens and siblings. Register to participate in a Feet for Families near you by visiting


Superhero Sponsors
Cupertino Electric
Los Angeles Family Magazine
Hero Sponsor

Champion Sponsor
Kiwanis Club
Medalist Sponsors
Ian Moore


* Hobee's California Restaurants -
* San Jose Improv -
* Balloonatics -
* Photography by Wehaveus -

* High Risk - band
*Whole Foods -

Aspiranet is seeking sponsors for each race event as well as community support in the form of donors, volunteers and participants. For more information, contact Aspiranet at 800.439.1905 or go to:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Foster families desperately needed

August 06, 2010 10:00 AM

Strathmore resident Bea McGuire and her husband, Frank, have been opening their home to unofficial foster children for more than 12 years. Three years ago, the McGuires joined Aspiranet Foster Families and now have one of only a handful of foster homes in the Strathmore/Lindsay area......Read more at

Monday, August 9, 2010

ASPIRATIONS Fall 2010 Issue, Now Available!

Check out the Fall 2010 Newsletter!

- Fostering Success in School

- Wounded Children, Healing Homes: Understanding Foster Adoptive Child Crisis
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Friday, July 30, 2010

Atwater man working with at-risk teens: A strong back and ear to lend

Friday, Jul. 30, 2010,


TURLOCK -- Eddie Perez, an Atwater resident who works as a house supervisor with at-risk teens in Turlock, sat down for dinner one night last week.

He was interrupted by a phone call.

It was a former resident of the Excell Center, the foster home where Perez works. He had called to catch up with Perez, a man he considers a close friend and mentor.

After hanging up, Perez continued with dinner, only to be interrupted by a second, and later a third phone call from other former center members who wanted to chat with him.

Perez finally got a chance to eat after the third call. He said he didn't mind the interruptions at all. He's glad to know he's made an impact on so many lives.

Perez, along with others at the Excell Center, part of San Francisco-based Aspiranet, takes pride in jump-starting the lives of at-risk teens who need guidance, and they're experts at finding innovative ways to do it.

The center is based in Turlock, but many of its employees and the young men it tries to help hail from Merced County.

The center just finished its latest project -- painting buildings around the facility.

It may sound like a mundane task, but for the young men at the Excell Center it was an exciting chance to learn a new trade, said Art Chaparro, development director for Aspiranet.

"Most of them found their niche -- what they like, what they want to do," he said.

About 425 gallons of paint was donated by Lawrence Eleyh, owner of Mirage Painting in Turlock. He was also one of the contractors helping to teach the young men various painting techniques.

When the contractors arrived at the Excell Center to help with the painting, the residents were fascinated by the process, Chaparro said.

Opening the residents up to various trades broadens their idea of what's available to them, he said.

Chaparro hopes to start more programs like it. Plans could include plant care and carpeting work, assuming someone in the community is willing to partner with the Excell Center as Eleyh did.

The center has also enjoyed success with two other programs aimed at teaching the residents new trades and skills, said Ted Ayres, assistant regional director for Aspiranet.

One program involves training dogs for the blind and for hospital visits. Another involves growing fruit, vegetables and raising various animals including chickens and goats, he said.

These programs don't only benefit the residents of the Excell Center, they benefit the community, Ayres said.

Programs the Excell Center provides help the troubled teens with better social and intellectual skills, said Shamerin Shamoon, a clinical social worker at the facility.

"There's quite a bit of research that suggests when you allow the children to learn skills, they use those skills to contribute to their home, to their community," she said. "They feel better about themselves, they feel worthy, so it increases their confidence, and they feel they can be successful in other areas."

A lot of the troubled teens living at the Excell Center were raised in environments that didn't give them a good shot at success, Shamoon said.

"The level of abuse and neglect that these children have gone through is heartbreaking," Shamoon said. "What we teach them here is you cannot change the past, but your future is within your control. I've had several youths that I've actually enrolled in college."

Many of the residents at the Excell Center arrive with poor social skills and emotional issues, she said. But because of the structured environment and programs the facility offers, they leave with confidence and opportunity.

One resident even received a summer-job offer from one of the contractors, Shamoon said.

"Do you know what that does to a 17-year-old's confidence? He was valued, he's important," she said.

Life changes like those make working at the Excell Center less of a job and more of a way of life, Perez said. He started working there for the paycheck, but stayed for the camaraderie.

As long as he's able to make changes in the lives of at-risk teens, he said he'll continue to make the long commute from Atwater.

There are kids within the Aspiranet system who need foster homes. To inquire about serving as a foster parent, call (877) 380-4376.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or

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