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!”
Do you know a Super Mom? We bet you know at least a few because we encounter these inspiring women every day in our community! Being a mom isn’t always easy, but somehow these women make it look effortless–juggling demanding careers, running their own businesses and friendships with homework help, sports schedules, school spirit week outfits and keeping the household running with clean laundry, warm meals and love.
This is the fifth year that we’ve asked our readers to nominate moms that are making a difference in the community through their dedication to their families, careers, volunteer work and education, and we always love reading the nominations that land in our inbox from supportive friends, husbands, kids and colleagues. With such a great pool to choose from, it’s hard to narrow down our honorees to just four each year!
Below are our 2019 Super Mom honorees, their original nominations and their “Super Mom Stats.” We hope you enjoy reading a little bit more about four awesome women in the community that all embody what it means to be a Super Mom!
A special thank you to Playa del Rey’s Ballerini Cooley Studios for partnering with us on our Super Moms’ issue and providing our honorees with a fabulous family photo shoot!
Relationships are what it’s all about for the Chereck family. Whether you’re talking about family, community or even sports, the most important thing is the connection between people. Andrew and Meghan Chereck nurture these relationships and have created a huge extended family in their adopted neighborhood of Westchester.
Meghan grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida and attended college in Boston, where she became a loyal Red Sox fan. She double-majored in business and sociology at Emmanuel College, which was invaluable for her career.
“I love the clarity that business provides and sociology helps me understand demographics, people and their behavior and apply that to the business world,” she said. She works as Director of Major Gifts for St. John’s Health Center Foundation in nearby Santa Monica.
Andrew is originally from Dallas, Texas and attended the University of Texas at Austin for undergrad and Southern Methodist University for law school.
“Growing up in Texas, football is king and we’re huge Texas Longhorn fans. It’s a big part of our family, and we try to catch at least one game a year in person,” he said.
A senior attorney at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, an international law firm with offices in Santa Monica, Andrew’s practice focuses on franchise and distribution law and corporate transactions.
“My group focuses on building brands. We help large existing brands stay on top, as well as helping start-up companies,” he said.
Andrew always dreamed of living in Southern California, so when it came time to look for a job after law school, he only interviewed with large firms that had offices in the Los Angeles area. He started at a Texas-based firm with a local office, and then transitioned to Bryan Cave.
The couple met in 2007 while playing in an adult kickball league. They were on opposite teams and friendly banter quickly turned to flirting and ended with phone numbers being exchanged at Marina del Rey’s Brennan’s Pub following the game. They’ve been inseparable ever since and married two years later.
While the Cherecks enjoyed living in Santa Monica initially, they began looking for a good community to raise a family and put down roots. Their friend, Ryan Gales, who grew up locally, suggested they check out Westchester.
“We were driving through this neighborhood and falling in love with it, when we saw a family walking their dog and said that could be us! It turns out they live four houses down and their daughter has become one of our babysitters. It’s such a lovely small town community here,” Meghan said.
“One of the challenges of being a young family in a city where neither one of you grew up, is not having that family base,” said Andrew. “Not to sound corny, but that is why we love Westchester and the surrounding area. We have our support and our family-away-from-home out here.”
Meghan added, “Our friends are as close to family as you can get.”
The Cherecks have two children: Rylan, 6 and Emma, 4. Rylan attends kindergarten at St. Anastasia Catholic School and Emma is in preschool at First Flight Child Development Center. She will be joining her brother at St. Anastasia in the fall. Meghan grew up Catholic and heard about St. Anastasia from a friend, so the family began going to church there and looked into the school for Rylan.
“The more we got to know them, the better fit they seemed for us. It’s very much a community school. The vast majority of the kids live in the area. They do a great job educating our kids,” Andrew said.
“Through St. A’s we have met so many amazing families,” Meghan added.
Both kids are involved in various pursuits. Rylan plays AYSO soccer, Westchester Lacrosse and Del Rey American Little League.
Meghan said that since the family loves the Boston Red Sox baseball team and the local Dodgers, Rylan was in quite a quandary when the teams met last year in the World Series.
“It stressed him out so much because he didn’t know who to root for! He ended up in tears,” said Meghan.
Emma also plays AYSO soccer and takes dance classes at So Fly Kids.
The family enjoys lots of activities together as well.
“We have a power boat in the Marina and spend a lot of time at the California Yacht Club, where we have a group of other boating families,” said Meghan. “When we have time, we like to do weekends in Catalina. Emma says Catalina is a magical island.”
They are also a big skiing family and both kids are learning the sport.
“I took a year off before law school to be a ski bum in Colorado,” says Andrew. “I loved it! And we try to get back there every year during ski season.”
They also visit both sides of the family in Florida and Texas when they can, to give their own parents a “grandparent fix.”
The Cherecks believe strongly in giving back to this community that has given them so much. Meghan is on the board at St. Anastasia and Andrew was recently named the President of the LAX Coastal Education Foundation.
“My immediate goal is getting our message out to the community,” Andrew said. “The other main goal is to show tangible improvement and support for all our local schools. We want to be able to point to concrete examples of things we’ve improved and how we’ve literally changed children’s lives or at least improved their schooling.”
Andrew is also on the LAX Coastal Chamber board and executive committee.
“We love this area and it’s important to us that we’re invested in the community. We want to help nurture what it has been over the years and help it grow,” Meghan said. “That’s why we’re so involved in neighborhood activities we’re passionate about, including the ed foundation and local schools. We love being a part of this community and helping add to it.”
“What’s important to us is our family and our community,” said Andrew. “Those are the two biggest parts of our lives.”
Fall is here, and October is gearing up to be the best month of the year for community events and activities for the whole family. Whether you’re looking to hop on some classic carnival rides while enjoying cotton candy or to be scared by undead pirates on a haunted ship, there’s an activity for you to enjoy this month! Not into thrills and chills? There’s also plenty of opportunities to paint pumpkins and win prizes at game booths!Continue reading →
When Gabrielle D’Addario, an outgoing, energetic mother of two, moved from Playa del Rey to Playa Vista, she was eager to join an organization that would bring together families from all over the area for social events and activities. When she encountered many groups that were specifically for Playa Vista residents only, however, D’Addario got to work creating a community group that would bring families from neighboring communities within the Silicon Beach area, including Playa del Rey, El Segundo, Culver City, Westchester, Venice and Santa Monica, together with families in her new Playa Vista neighborhood. D’Addario approached Playa Vista Community Services, pointing out the potential growth the community could see by interacting more closely with other local neighborhoods through engaging family events. She says Playa Vista was extremely receptive to her vision, allowing her to experiment with different ideas. The result was the creation of the Silicon Beach Parents’ Group (and Facebook page), a community organization designed to unite families in the Silicon Beach area through entertaining events, exchanging of invaluable resources and giving back to community members in need. Continue reading →
Now in its 18th year, the LAX Coastal Fourth of July Parade has become a community tradition that draws thousands of local residents, visitors and families to Loyola Blvd. to celebrate. Continue reading →
Look no further for fun fall and Halloween-themed events in the neighborhood. Here’s a list of our top October picks:
• Saturday, October 15, Boo Fest at Playa Vista Elementary School (PVES) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bring the whole family down to PVES for games, prizes, a haunted house, bake sale, food and more! PVES is located at 3150 Bluff Creek Dr. in Playa Vista
• Friday, October 21, LMU Children Center’s Fall Festival, 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. Join the LMU Children Center for its annual Fall Festival. Activities include live entertainment, petting zoo, bounce house, games, rides, prizes and more. Admission is $25 presale and $30 at the door. Children under 12 have free admission with adult. Admission includes dinner, a drink and desert. Children also receive five complimentary game/ride tickets.
The event will take place on Hannon Field on the campus of LMU, located at 1 LMU Drive in Westchester. For more information, please call (310) 258-8900 or visit facebook.com/lmucc.
• Saturday, October 29, Harvest Fest at Concert Park in Playa Vista from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guests can enjoy a costume contest, music, food trucks and activities for the whole family.
Concert Park is located at Concert Park Drive and Seabluff Drive in Playa Vista.
• Saturday, October 29 and Sunday, October 30, Harvest Days & Haunted Nights, times vary. Head to the Marina for a family-friendly harvest celebration by day, but be prepared if you stick around too long the event transforms into a spooky Haunted Nights event recommended for those ages 13 and up. At Harvest Days from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., visitors to Burton Chace Park can enjoy a pumpkin patch, face painting, train ride, food, games and a costume contest.
Haunted Night guests can enjoy haunted pirate ship tours, hay maze, zombie pirates, food, a master pumpkin carver and more. Haunted Nights run Friday, October 28 from 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, October 29 from 6 to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, October 30 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Get ready to celebrate! This year marks the 75th anniversary of the first foundations being poured in the little piece of paradise we call Westchester. From bean fields and farmland, Westchester has grown into a thriving neighborhood with a world-class airport, prestigious universities and a sense of community unrivaled by even the smallest close-knit towns. Whether you’re lucky enough to live here, work here or own a business here, it’s easy to fall in love with this community whose unofficial motto is “a small town feel within a big city,” where everyone knows their neighbor and is working together for the greater good. Continue reading →
4/08/16 Update: IN CASE OF RAIN
If the weather does not cooperate on Saturday, shuttles will take participants back to Otis’ Main campus on Lincoln Blvd. where kite workshops will still take place. Stay tuned on Otis’ Facebook and Twitter for day-of updates.
Thousands of art enthusiasts, families and students will flock toSanta Monica Beach on Saturday, April 9 for Otis College of Art and Design’s Fifth Annual Kite Festival, created by the college’s Creative Action Program. Continue reading →