‘Because You Loved Me’: Hands Across SP salutes parents, teachers, Evan
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: October 11, 2013
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
Parents, teachers and a popular K9 were celebrated at the 3rd Annual Hands Across Santa Paula/Remembering the Spirit of Kindness held September 29 at Veterans Memorial Park.
Founder Samantha Frady noted the park was decorated with many “Wonderful wishes” written on hand-shaped paper cutouts created by students at various elementary schools.
The focus on students also included entertainment by the Isbell Middle School Condor Chorus directed by Donna Nelson.
Mayor Ralph Fernandez, Councilman Martin Hernandez, Santa Paula Unified School Board Trustee Diana Ponce-Gomez and Police Chief Steve McLean were among the crowd. Also attending were Sharon and Wallace Hemminger whose 33-year-old daughter Kimberly, a SPPD Officer, was killed in a single vehicle crash in July 2012.
Although the Rev. Jenny Crosswhite offered the invocation she urged all to “Read the wishes the children have written, they’re beautiful and I feel we’ve already prayed.”
Hector Sanchez sang the National Anthem before Frady spoke of her desire to create the Hands Across Santa Paula events to not only celebrate the love children have for others but as a homage to her late son, a park ranger killed in the line of duty.
Fernandez noted that such events centered on pace are important to the community especially, “because of all the violence in Santa Paula.... “
Santa Paula Police Sgt. Jimmy Fogata complimented Frady on the event, noting “She does an awesome job.... these are tough times in Santa Paula right now and we have to come together, get involved,” and create Neighborhood Watch groups to help stem the violence.
Reserve Sgt. David Curran told the crowd about the Explorers program, an organization he has coordinated for eight years a program he said instills pride and respect in self and community.
“One or our goals,” is to keep youth from violence, drugs and gangs and “Our main goal,” is to encourage higher education among Explorers, who are 14 to 21 years old.
Curran noted he prefers recruits 14 to 17 because it’s a good age to point the youth “in the right direction.... “
Being an Explorer, said McLean, “Got me hooked on law enforcement.”
He thanked Frady for staging the Hands Across Santa Paula event “in honor of your beloved son,” and he thanked teachers present as, “You do so much,” including purchasing supplies for students.
Parents also came in for thanks and McLean noted his family consisted of six children each two years apart, a challenge for his mother and his father who worked three jobs to support the family.
He noted that many of the written wishes centered on hard-working mothers and to the men said “some have to kick it up a bit,” as fathers.
Hernandez said that “with all the violence we need to promote kindness more,” a goal of Frady’s.
Hernandez recounted his own experience accompanying a fatherless and motherless child to her school’s parents’ day, and noted, “A kind word for a child can change a life.”
As parent and community member, Ponce-Gomez said, “I am so proud to be a part of this event.”
Frady noted Sgt. Scott Varner and his K9 Chevy are well known crime fighters in the city and her own particular fondness for the K9s led to her volunteering at the SPPD.
The podium displayed a photograph of Evan, a SPPD K9 partnered with Fogata from 2002 to 2010, “A very dear friend of mine.... he was famous for bringing smiles and hugs,” wearing sunglasses, stealing food and hearts during his police career.
Said Frady, Evan, who passed away in August, will “long be remembered for taking down the bad guys,” as well as being an ambassador beloved by children and adults alike.
Bagpipers played “Danny Boy” in the great dog’s honor.
Frady noted that Sparky the Fire Dog and McGruff, the Crime-Fighting Dog were on hand to pose for photos with the children.