The holidays are here and as our thoughts turn to family, parties and presents, it also turns to giving back. We recently connected with some of our favorite Westchester/Playa area nonprofit leaders to learn more about their organizations and find out how people can get involved to support these worthwhile causes. Below are our Q&As with the executive directors or board presidents of 7 groups that are passionate about their missions and supporting the community.
Welcome to our seventh annual Spotlight on Schools edition!
The HomeTown News is proud to support local education, and every year we invite our Westchester/Playa schools to share with us what’s going on at their campuses.
Check out our October edition for articles submitted by parents, teachers, principals and community members who are passionate about letting the community know what makes their schools special. Every year we learn that all our schools are full of success stories–new STEM curriculum is being added, eco-friendly initiatives are being introduced and social-emotional skills are being taught–so we hope the information provided helps give our readers a sneak peak on what’s going right on local campuses and a new prospective on local education. We often are asked, “Is that a good school?” and our answer is always, “Yes,” because every school has something magical to offer its students.
Visit our October onlineedition HERE at issuu.com.
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.”
Sign-ups are now open for the Second Annual Rock Roll & Run for Education presented by the LAX Coastal Education Foundation in partnership with Loyola Marymount University. The event will take place on Saturday, March 9 starting at 8 a.m. on the campus of LMU.
This timed fun run (with a music theme) brings together 21 local schools for a festive day of friendly-competition with the proceeds benefiting education. Last year, $60,000 was raised and organizers are hoping to surpass this number in 2019. More than just a race, the community event also features a race expo with community booths, free food,giveaways, live music, a costume contest and more. Organizers also say there are a few new additions and surprises for the 2019 race.Continue reading →
The LAX Coastal Education Foundation is offering its first round of grants to help support arts and beautification efforts at local schools! The grants are intended to help enhance all forms of arts education and/or the beautification of campuses, classrooms, etc. Grants are in support of specific activities, projects and programs for the school year, including but not limited to: materials, new or ongoing curriculum, supplies and instruction.