Adaptable, adventurous and not afraid to get out of their comfort zone, the Holts are on the same page when it comes to spontaneity. This has led to great vacations, unusual experiences and serendipitous job opportunities. Martha, Zach and their three children relocated here from the Pacific Northwest three years ago and have fit in seamlessly.
“It was painful for us to leave our neighborhood in Seattle for many reasons, but one of them was missing the families that we had connected with up there that made up our community. I had resolved that I wouldn’t find that again when we moved to L.A. and had made peace with it,” Martha said. “However, we hadn’t been in Westchester six months when I found myself with a new group of moms to call friends and put on the emergency contact list.”
The Holts loved their new community so much, Martha decided to run for Neighborhood Council earlier this year.
Public service is what Sylvia Wilson was born to do. She just didn’t know how or what that would mean for her personally, but she knew that was what she was aiming for since she got her first taste at age 8 as a precinct captain for her local Congressmember in her hometown of Modesto.
“Growing up, my parents were very politically active and always having events at our home to raise money for different activities within our community. Plus, my mom was an educator and a guidance counselor who spent hours outside of work helping her students, so I got to see firsthand how rewarding it is to be of service,” said Sylvia. “Dad also helped in his job as superintendent of juvenile hall for 25 years.”
These days, with the full support of husband, Allen, and their three kids, Sylvia is doing what she was meant to do: supporting moms and families in Westchester and Los Angeles County. Recently elected to the Neighborhood Council, Sylvia is thrilled to represent North Kentwood.
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.”