Birthday Book Club: New program a
perfect pairing for Club Kids

June 13, 2014
Santa Paula News

Birthdays and books are the perfect pairing at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley, which this year launched a monthly Birthday Book Club.

Club supporter Connie Tushla was behind the concept that each month utilizes an array of sponsors to throw the monthly birthday party at the “Positive Place for Kids”.

At the May Birthday Book Club celebration club Executive Director Jan Marholin said there were 11 members being recognized at the party drawing “about 60” club kids.

“Connie is the ‘mother’ of the program... she tied it with literacy,” part of a larger club books program.

Working with Tushla on the program is Sandra Luizzi, who said Marholin, “Built up our whole club library,” which last year garnered the Santa Paula woman a Volunteer of the Year honor at the annual Breakfast of Champions event.

The May Birthday Book Club celebration was sponsored by Police Chief Steve McLean, a club board director, with help from SPPD Cadet Martha Reynolds-Brown of the Citizens Patrol and Explorers, among others.

Ari Larson of Fillmore, also a B&GCSCV Board Director, noted how detailed the gift bags were “Inside and out!” for each birthday recipient. 

Books were the main gift but the bags also included other goodies provided by generous sponsors. 

“All May birthdays are special,” Club Branch Director Maricela Soriano told the crowd, “today and all year long... “ 

Aside from cake and ice cream, those attending the celebration got an extra special treat: an appearance by K9 Zak and his partner SPPD Senior Officer Larry Johnson.

Johnson said the approximately 7-year-old K9 Zak is a top cop trained to detect “narcotics and bad guys” as well as being a valuable tool in locating lost children and adults.

But it was an exercise in restraining Officer Daniel Gosslin, the dog’s teeth biting down on a special sleeve that really thrilled club kids.

The crowd of youngsters watched as Gosslin twirled Zak around in the air to show the dog’s determination to not let go.

But once he was called off by Johnson, the good natured Zak, like other SPPD K9s trained with treats - whether food or toy - and who considers work play, was more than happy to visit with the Club Kids.

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