Everyone Needs A Safe Home….
On a charming country road halfway between the Pacific Ocean and the hills of Camarillo there lies a world not unlike that of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan…a world of orphans from newborn to teenagers where displacement is a way of life. A place called Casa Pacifica –www.casapacifica.org, a residential ‘Safe House’ that is the light at the end of the tunnel or at least a glimmer, for children in crisis who have been removed by Child Protective Services from their homes due to extreme parental neglect, abuse, incarceration and/or all three. It was here that I would have the opportunity to join the first woman president of the “Amigos” (an extraordinary group of volunteers who help support programs and provide positive role models for the children) on my first visit to this very special place.
Made by the hands of the residents – from newborns to teenagers.
I was first asked by president of the ‘Amigos’ of Casa Pacifica, Deanne Rollins, a passionate advocate for all children and director of her own highly regarded preschool –www.malibupreschool.com, months ago, if I would volunteer to help teach the basics of healthy eating, cooking and nutrition to the children, incorporating ingredients from their newly planted garden provided by the teaching garden– www.takepart.com/teachinggarden and donated by Real Estate tycoon as well as health and longevity pioneer, David Murdock –www.Dole.com. My answer was absolutely!
The wonderful Deanne Rollins and husband Everett
Walking onto the Casa Pacifica campus I was immediately taken by the beauty of the surroundings – once I met the children I was taken aback by the sadness and desperation for love in their eyes…I was not prepared for the tears that sprang to my own so quickly I barely had time to hide them. I took a quick look at Deanne, who met my eyes with an “I know what you’re feeling” look – I pulled myself together realizing that the last thing these kids needed was my pity. I was there to give them hope, fun and tools to make healthy eating decisions – unhealthy and careless eating habits are an urgent and growing issue in these safe houses as many of the children are accustomed to emotional eating, comforting themselves with and abusing foods that are long term health threats.
After a tour, lead by the children, of the campus’ teaching garden, which one of the boys expressed had become a precious place of peace and solace and was vigilantly protected – I began my cooking demonstration with the hope that if I could touch just ONE child, if I could find a way to break through their harsh reality, if some of my words could possibly stick – then maybe I could inspire him or her to value themselves enough to make healthy decisions that will forever shape their life and well being…
A tour of the precious Teaching Garden
The cooking lesson began…Deanne and I were thrilled with the immediate enthusiasm and excitement of the children. They participated, interacted and digested every moment – we saw the light of joy in their eyes as they devoured each morsel of nutritious food we prepared, coming back over and over for seconds and thirds… there were even a few who proclaimed they wanted to be chefs!
Everyone got a menu with recipes to try on their own!
We were amazed by the children’s enthusiasm!
Here is what we cooked:
-Deanne’s Healthy Hummes
-15 second CHAMPAGNE & SHALLOT VINAIGRETTE
-Bonnie’s “ZUMA BEACH BARS”
Bonnie’s delicious “Zuma Beach Bars” made by Deanne
The day was unforgettably touching and rewarding…
There is no greater joy than giving.
If you are interested in participating in any of these extraordinary programs or know someone who would, please feel free to explore the sites and/or forward this page!
XO ~ L