For Wendy, Daniel and Nathan Chouinard, the world is a feast for the senses. They experience it through the heavenly smells of the international cuisines being cooked by their neighbors, by listening to uplifting music in several languages, creating art and nurturing plants with their hands, savoring the flavor of their favorite foods and appreciating the beauty of the world around them.
“We’re a very hands-on family!” said Wendy.
A lot of this is because the trio is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), despite none of them being deaf.
Wendy works at the Helen Keller National Center as a placement specialist for the area from Bakersfield to the Mexico border. Her duties include finding jobs for deaf and blind clients, as well as providing vocational assessments and job prep.
It’s hard not to notice the Westerfield family in Westchester. First off, they have four children, which is a bit unusual these days. Then there’s the fact that all four of the children are within 37 months of each other in age. Oh, and they have twin girls adopted from Ethiopia.
“We’re obviously a family that stands out,” Carey Westerfield laughed.
The family has lived in Westchester since 2015, but in some ways, Carey said it’s like they’ve lived here forever.
“It feels like a cohesive community. Yes, there are different neighborhoods within the community, but we’re all so connected. It’s true what they say that we’re a small town in a big city,” she said.
The family relocated to Westchester after living in the Rancho Park area for 13 years.
“We knew we didn’t want to live there forever. It definitely felt like we lived in a big city, and we didn’t know our neighbors. Since we moved here, we’ve been very lucky to have met some wonderful people,” Carey said.
Traditions are very important to the Mininskys, and the family has a way of making them refreshing and infectious; before you know it, everyone is joining in on the fun! Allison and Mike, who got married in 2005, have two boys, Sean, 11, and Colin, 7, and live in the Loyola Village part of Westchester. Allison works as a children and family therapist at Providence Saint John’s Child & Family Development Center in Santa Monica. She also supervises graduate students who are getting their masters in social work. Mike is the General Manager for El Cholo restaurant in Santa Monica.
While Mike was growing up in a small town in Long Island, his father owned two eateries in New York, so he became quite comfortable around restaurants and decided to continue in the family tradition.
“I grew up in a very sociable, welcoming family, always hosting parties, so it was a natural move for me to be in charge of an operation like El Cholo and get paid for it,” he said.
The Farmers knew they wanted to live in Westchester since they were students at Loyola Marymount University.
“I knew this was a neighborhood that was turning over. There were a lot of long-time residents that were selling, and I knew it was going to be the place for young families,” Tim said. “This was before we even started thinking about having kids, in 2003.”
So the Farmers started looking for a fixer-upper that they could make their own.
“I actually found my sister her house first. She lives near us in Westport Heights,” Tim said. “When I saw that house, I told my family that if I don’t buy it, someone in the family should. It was perfect for her.”
On the surface, Mary and Stephen De La Rosa don’t appear to be that similar. They have different backgrounds and were raised in different Christian faiths. But where it matters most, the high school sweethearts agree completely. They are working together to make the world a better place through education, starting with their family and jobs.
They both grew up locally and their families are still in the area; hers in Westchester and his in Marina del Rey. They met at Venice High School in Spanish class.
“He was a junior and I was a sophomore and the teacher sat him next to me,” Mary said. “I thank his mom for not teaching him Spanish at home, because if she did, then we never would have met!”