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Isabelle Nastaskin, Cali Kids Speech Therapy

Every Word Counts for This Riviera Native

Isabelle Nastaskin teaches children to talk back. Their parents are thrilled. As a pediatric speech therapist, Isabelle helps children ages 1-18 do what most of us take for granted – communicate. Take the case of Tyler (not his real name), a four-year-old, non-speaking autistic boy. When Isabelle first started working with Tyler he had a vocabulary of five words that only his parents could understand. Isabelle taught him to use a speech-generating device that let him finally express himself to the world around him. “I’ll never forget the joy in the room the first time Tyler said ‘I love you mommy’ to his mother using the device,” says Isabelle. “Every child has the potential to communicate. It’s just a matter of properly diagnosing their challenges and then applying the right techniques to support their speech and language development. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.” Last fall, Isabelle opened a private practice — Cali Kids Speech Therapy — to provide one-on-one speech therapy services to children in the South Bay at their home, daycare, preschool, or online. Her approach to therapy is child-led and play-based so that treatment is tailored to the child’s unique interests and needs. “Many people imagine speech therapy as sitting at a table drilling flashcards, but there are more functional ways to make learning effective and fun,” Isabelle says. “More often than not, you’ll find me conducting therapy with kids while going down slides, dancing around the room, or laying on the floor reading a book together. Therapy works best when the child is engaged and doing activities that are meaningful to them.” Before opening her private practice, Isabelle treated children at Momentum Pediatric Therapy Network in Torrance and NAPA Center in Los Angeles. An alumni of Riviera Elementary, Richardson Middle School, and South High, Isabelle earned her bachelor’s degree at UCLA and her masters in Speech-Language Pathology at Boston University. To learn more about pediatric speech therapy, visit Cali Kids Speech Therapy at calikidsspeechtherapy.com or contact Isabelle at 310-461-8826 or info@calikidstherapy.com

Outstanding Teacher Recognized: A Tribute to Mrs. Matsubara’s Impact at Riviera Elementary

Igor’s Riviera Roundup:A message from Riviera Elementary Principal Christie Forshey Fifth-grade teacher Kathi Matsubara was surprised by the Helpful Honda Organization for her above-and-beyond service at Riviera Elementary School. During her 30 years at Riviera, Mrs. Matsubara has impacted students, families, colleagues, and community. In addition to being an exemplary teacher, Mrs. Matsubara helps lead the Riviera Chorus, the California Scholarship Federation tutoring program on campus and plans Alumni Day. On Alumni Day, SHS graduating seniors visited Riviera and talked to students about their plans for the future.  Mrs. Matsubara received $5000 in educational supplies from Helpful Honda, including new classroom chairs, a Chromebook cart, classroom books and a Cricut crafting tool.  Her hard work inspires us all! You can see more about Mrs. Matsubara and her award at here:

Riviera Resident Helps Others Dive into the Healing Power of Water Therapy

Looking for the fountain of youth? Look no further than the pool in your backyard or gym. So says Riviera resident Vince Newman, a physical therapist and certified aquatic therapist who has treated hundreds of cases where water therapy has done what land therapy could not. “Physical therapy in water allows for earlier initiation of treatment, heals injuries, reduces and often eliminates pain and transforms bodies from handicapped to fully functional and from flabby to fit,” says Vince.  “Land therapy is often too hard on the body for medically compromised patients and others.  I’ve seen time and again how water therapy improves not just the physical but the mental health of patients because they have hope for a full recovery.” Vince began his profession as a physical therapist specializing in water therapy in the 1970s after a knee injury put an end to his collegiate athletic career. He changed his major from art to medicine with an emphasis in physical therapy after expert guidance helped him quickly recover and return to an athletic lifestyle. After owning four of his own physical therapy clinics, he was introduced to aquatic therapy and began guiding extremely compromised patients to a full recovery. One patient was a 500-pound man with severe arthritis and heart disease who couldn’t walk upstairs due to excruciating pain. After a few months of aquatic therapy, he lost a significant amount of weight, eliminated his joint pain and was able to climb stairs again. Another patient, a well-known 103-year-old cardiologist, was able to put away his walker and cane after three months of water therapy. Vince even guided Esther Williams, the celebrated swimming champion and actress, with aquatic therapy when she broke three ribs. “I have seen far more miracles when treating patients in water verses on land, particularly for those who are elderly, overweight or medically compromised,” says Vince. “Nearly everyone over the age of 50 has some arthritis. The transformative powers of aquatic physical therapy let patients find solace, hope and healing within the gentle embrace of water.” Water’s buoyancy reduces the impact of weight-bearing on joints, ligaments and muscles, allowing individuals to exercise with less pain or discomfort. This can be particularly beneficial for people with arthritis, sports injuries, excess weight or even medical conditions such as Parkinson’s, strokes, head trauma and more. With its natural resistance to movement, water helps strengthen muscles and stabilize joints with less possibility of strains, sprains or falls. Patients can burn calories without the need for heavy weights or equipment, both of which are demanding on the joints, spine and the rest of the body.  The hydrostatic pressure exerted by water can also aid in improving blood flow and circulation, thereby helping to reduce swelling and promote healing. “Beyond the physical, water therapy also has profound psychological benefits,” says Vince.   “The calming nature of water can help reduce stress and anxiety during therapy sessions. If a patient is committed to their recovery, aquatic therapy can help them get their lives back.”  Though he sold his practice, Vince still does water therapy at private pools for clients.  He can be reached at: 310-980-9379 or vincenewman@yahoo.com. You can see client testimonials and a video of Vince’s aquatic therapy by typing in “Introduction to Water Physical Therapy Specialists” on YouTube.

Riviera Girl Scout Troop 9095 makes a difference by taking action!

By Riviera Elementary Principal Christie Forshey Riviera teaches Character Counts Pillars and plans monthly service projects that align with the following traits.  CC utilizes six “Pillars of Character”: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. Each pillar has a description, color, animal mascot, and mascot character name. With the addition of Riviera’s first Transitional Kindergarten Class this year…. Troop 9095 saw the need for a schoolwide TK value word, TK Character Counts color and TK Character!  The troop created an action plan to solve this problem and quickly got to work. The troop first identified 3-5 character trait options:  Friendship, Independent, Teamwork. Then the troop proposed animal mascots that aligned with the CC Program to represent the pillar trait. The troop spoke at flag assemblies to educate the student body on the topic and asked each class to vote on a new TK Pillar of Character! Ballots were cast, a selection was made by the student body and Troop 9095 has made a lasting impact on the Riviera Character Counts Program!  Now the troop plans to paint TK character murals on the TK/Kindergarten playground. Meet Finley the Fox, that represents the TK Pillar of FRIENDSHIP!  Light blue is the color of the pillar that TK students wear every Monday. All Riviera students learned that friendship means:          Now Riviera’s TK-5th Grade Character Counts Program is complete with the help of students that had a vision, created a plan and took action!  Thank you Troop 9095 for your leadership! 5th Grade- Trustworthiness: Camel “Charlotte” 4th Grade- Responsibility: Elephant “Eddy” 3rd Grade- Citizenship:Bear “Brooke” 2nd Grade- Respect:Lion “Logan” 1st Grade Caring:Kangaroo “Karina” Kindergarten- Fairness:Giraffe “Gus” TK- Friendship:Fox “Finley”

I Fight Back for Bella

Relay For Life Returns to South High School May 6 Like many of us, cancer has had a profound effect on my life.  When I was 19 years old, just four years after immigrating to the U.S. from Kiev with my mother, Bella, she developed abdominal pains.  What initially appeared to be gallstones was eventually revealed to be pancreatic cancer, and six months after her diagnosis she passed at the age of 57.   Up until that point, I didn’t know anyone with cancer.  I dropped out of college to be my mother’s full-time caregiver, administering morphine injections as her pain grew.  We were extremely close, having fled the hardships of the Soviet Union together, and this was a devastating experience for me. Had there been a cure for cancer maybe my mother would have seen me graduate from college and start a career.  Maybe she would have met my wife and seen her grandchildren. There are a lot of maybes and what-ifs when we lose someone we love.  And too many of us have lost someone to this horrible disease, or have been diagnosed ourselves. My personal heartache motivated me to get involved with Relay for Life 17 years ago when I became the captain of the Hollywood Riviera Sportsman’s Club team.  It’s been a very fulfilling experience, and to date, we have raised approximately $172,000 to support the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. The signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life is the world’s largest peer-to-peer fundraising event dedicated to saving lives from cancer. During Relay For Life, teams have at least one member walking on a track at all times, because cancer never sleeps.  Funds raised through Relay For Life directly support breakthrough research, 24/7 support for cancer patients, access to lifesaving screenings, and much more. Supporting Relay for Life is easy.  You can walk the track, or simply make a donation. The South High event will take place May 6 from 9am–10pm and will include a survivor /caregiver walk, hand-made Luminarias to remember those affected by cancer and performances by community groups. To sign up for the Hollywood Riviera Sportsman’s Club team (men and women are welcome), or donate funds to the American Cancer Society, please contact me at 310-892-6016 or inastaskin02@gmail.com. Your gift is tax-deductible as a charitable contribution to the fullest extent allowed by law. Let’s all fight back against cancer to give those we love more tomorrows.  For more information about the American Cancer Society’s support for survivors and patients, please call them 24/7 at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

Riviera Native Joyce Neu Used Negotiating Skills to Bring Peace to Countries in Conflict

A Peaceful Legacy: The Life and Work of Joyce Neu For those of us who remember the Bosnian war of the 1990s, the atrocities we saw on the news are seared in our brains.  Caused by the break up of Yugoslavia, the war between the Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs resulted in bitter fighting, ethnic cleansing, indiscriminate shelling and the rape of as many as 50,000 girls and women.   For Hollywood Riviera native Joyce Neu, the Bosnian war was more than just horrific images from a faraway country. As Associate Director of the Conflict Resolution Program at The Carter Center, the non-profit organization that advances democracy and human rights in more than 80 countries, Joyce was on the frontlines helping to negotiate an end to the fighting. Wearing a flack jacket as she flew into Sarajevo, Joyce recalls the pilot navigating the plane in circles as they descended to lessen the chances of being shot down. As part of her mediation efforts, Joyce met with Slobodan Milosevic, leader of the Republic of Serbia, and his henchman Radovan Karadzic – both of whom were ultimately charged by the International Criminal Tribunal with war crimes.  During the December 1994 trip to Bosnia, Joyce was present for the signing of several peace agreements.  The following year, as part of the Dayton Peace Accords, the presidents of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia, agreed to end the war. Five years later, Joyce traveled to the bushland of Central Africa to meet with Joseph Kony, leader of the terrorist group the Lord’s Resistance Army. One of central Africa’s cruelest and most enduring armed groups, the Lord’s Resistance Army abducted more than 67,000 youth, including 30,000 children for use as child soldiers and sex slaves.  Though Kony and his rebels refused to communicate with the government, they agreed to talk to Joyce about their preconditions for negotiations. Kony was indicted in 2005 for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. With a Ph.D. in linguistics, Joyce was the only linguist of the time doing conflict resolution at the international level. She served in Senegal as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the early 1970s, spent eight years as Executive Director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego, and was the team leader for the United Nations Standby Team of Mediation Experts. She helped mediate conflicts in more than two dozen countries, including Congo, Mali, Sudan and Uganda. Joyce was also a senior Fulbright scholar in Poland, a college professor, and has published numerous articles on conflict resolution, negotiations, and international war crimes tribunals.  “I’ve been fortunate to have a long and exciting career that I loved,” said Joyce, who retired in 2016. “Today, I enjoy simpler things, like walking my dog on the Esplanade, doing pottery, and being a citizen scientist for the grey whale migration census at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center.” Joyce’s father bought their family home on Camino de las Colinas in 1953 when it was newly built.   She was a student at Parkway School (now the site of the Riviera Beach Colony), and graduated from South High. Joyce never imagined growing up that one day she would play such an important role in bringing peace to foreign lands. We’re grateful this hometown hero put her skills to good use making this world a better place for us all.

Check it Out – El Retiro Library Re-Opens

Great news for our community El Retiro library is open and welcoming back patrons! The plumbing issues that caused the library’s year-long closure have been resolved and additional upgrades were made. The 64-year-old library has new carpeting and paint, new electrical outlets at every computer station, and modern, modular furniture that replaces the previous tables and chairs from the last remodel in the 1970s.  The mobile furniture provides an easy way to adapt the library space for guest speakers, children’s performers and study groups.  Starting in December, El Retiro will be the first library in the Torrance system to take part in a pilot study called Open+.  Funded by a State of California grant, the program allows patrons to enter the library even when it’s closed using a self-service system. Patrons will be pre-approved to use the service and will be able to access self-checkouts, computer usage, printing, WIFI and use of the space. El Retiro Library is located at 126 Vista Del Parque and is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 am to 2 pm, Tuesday and Thursday from 2 pm to 6 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm (310-375-0922). A message from Riviera Elementary Principal Christie Forshey Riviera’s 70th birthday party on September 9  happened to fall on a day of wild weather, but not even extreme heat, wind, rain and a power outage could stop the fun. Thousands of students, staff and neighbors past and present came together to celebrate seven decades of memories at Riviera Elementary. Food trucks offered tasty treats and historical photos and mementos were on display in the cafeteria. With the power out, a Jeep battery powered the band’s electric guitar and sound system and a real piano was rolled outside.  Guests danced in the rain until dark.

Riviera Couple Help Bring Dignity to the Destitute on Skid Row

A pair of shoes. A shirt. A warm blanket. Most of us take these everyday items for granted. But to the thousands of homeless living on Skid Row, a simple pair of shoes can mean the difference between dignity and despair. Marianne and Steve Rushton know this all too well. Every Sunday, the Hollywood Riviera couple packs up their car with approximately 450-500 pounds of clothing, blankets and toiletries and treks up the Harbor Freeway to downtown LA’s Skid Row.  Once there, they hand out the donations in the heart of Skid Row to those in need. They also deliver clothes to the Los Angeles Mission (mostly women’s work clothes and children’s items) twice a month. The couple has delivered more than 12 tons of donated items to Skid Row and the Mission over the past year. “We’re grateful to be able to help make a difference in the lives of people in need,” says Steve. “When I hand a barefoot man a pair of shoes and we chat, it seems like such a small act but it means so much to them. But we can’t make deliveries without donations, so we really appreciate all the people in our community who give what they no longer can use, those who put together toiletry bags, and those who spread the word to family and friends who then donate. We are all a part of a team with a greater purpose.” According to the Los Angeles Mission, nearly 64,000 people in Los Angeles county are homeless and 3 out of 4 of those are unsheltered. Steve and Marianne typically have as many as 200 Skid Row residents show up on Sundays to gather shoes, clothes and other necessities. The Rushtons were inspired to volunteer on Skid Row by their daughter, Michelle, who was working with a charity there to donate food. Both retired (Marianne was an educator and Steve was in sales), they also volunteer with Meals on Wheels. Originally from Canada, Steve and Marianne also have a son, a former Marine who served in Afghanistan. They moved to the Hollywood Riviera in 2003 for the schools. Steve and Marianne spend several days each week gathering donated items. On Tuesdays, they go to a local thrift store that donates bags of clothing that didn’t sell. On Saturdays, they visit garage sales in the area to ask if the seller is willing to donate clothes that don’t get sold. On both days, they drive to residents’ homes to pick up donations they’ve been alerted to. They also allow people to drop off donations at their home. In addition, the couple has purchased sleeping bags, tents, hats and other items to hand out. Marianne noted that most Skid Row residents are men, and warm items are specially needed. Every night, thousands of homeless people curl up to sleep on sidewalks, under bridges, in parks, cars and back alleys. Hypothermia has led to more deaths here than in colder regions because so many homeless people in Los Angeles live outdoors, more than anywhere else in the country. Although Los Angeles has a moderate climate, hypothermia can set in at temperatures as high as 50 degrees, experts say.  To schedule a pick-up or to drop off your donation for delivery to Skid Row and the Los Angeles Mission, text Steve and Marianne at 424-731-1449. What is Needed: Clothing, shoes, hats Blankets, sleeping bags, tents, backpacks, towels, purses, gym bags, suitcases Toiletries, adult diapers, bed pads, feminine hygiene products, canes, walkers Stuffed animals, children’s books Thank you Steve and Marianne for giving your time, money and love in service to others. And thank you to everyone who donates to those in need.