Helping Hands

Helping  Hands

Nearly two dozen Pasadena police officers who live in Santa Clarita found their homes in danger of being consumed by the Sand Fire.  

“One Pasadena police officer’s family has already been evacuated,” said Pasadena police spokesman Lt. Vasken Gourdikian. “Twenty others either were in the path of the fire or could be in the path depending on the elements. Right now, we are in communication with the families. Should they need assistance, we can use off-duty personnel to help them evacuate.”

Named for Sand Canyon in Santa Clarita, the Sand Fire has scorched more than 35,000 acres as of Tuesday, destroyed 18 homes and led to the death of at least one person. Families evacuated from 10,000 homes were allowed to return late Monday night. As of Tuesday, firefighters had contained 25 percent of the fire.

Santa Clarita is about 30 miles northwest of Pasadena. Real estate is cheaper in that area, making it ideal for people working in Pasadena and Los Angeles to buy a home there and commute to and from work.

Department heads at Pasadena City Hall were also monitoring the status of employees in their departments who live in that area. 

According to Assistant City Manager Julie Gutierrez, about a dozen additional employees live in Santa Clarita. She did not provide information about those situations when reached by the Pasadena Weekly. 

“We’ve reached out to all employees living in that area, just to extend a helping hand,” said Pasadena Public Information Officer William Boyer. “We are monitoring the heat, the air quality and everything else. 

The fire, which left homes, cars and lawns covered with ash, forced the cancellation of several local events.

“Air quality is still poor,” said Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian. “Compounded with the heat, we are still recommending people with health problems stay indoors. Over the weekend we closed down pools and canceled a concert at the Levitt Pavilion. A youth soccer game and archery lessons were also canceled.”

According to Derderian, eight local firefighters in two fire engines have traveled to the area to help fight the blaze by defending local structures. The firefighters will be there for an undetermined amount of time, according to Derderian. Pasadena has also donated a water tanker to help battle the blaze. 

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, whose district includes Santa Clarita, said he wanted a state of emergency declared in the area, but Gov. Jerry Brown had not done so by Tuesday morning.

Antonovich also called on residents to follow evacuation orders and claimed that people refusing to evacuate were holding up firefighters who were trying to put out the blaze.

A California Highway Patrol spokesperson said several officers had nearly been struck by people attempting to return to their homes. 

Fire officials still don’t know the cause of the blaze, which started as a small brush fire on Friday and quickly grew in size due to sweltering triple-digit temperatures that reached 110 degrees.

All told, 1,700 firefighters were fighting the blaze on the ground and 26 helicopters were attacking from the air. Water-dropping efforts were temporarily halted on Sunday due to several flybys by drones that forced firefighters to ground the copters.

“We had a couple incursions in our airspace, which is already a very dynamic and very busy time for our aircraft during the firefight as the fire comes down to the neighborhoods,” Angeles National Forest Fire Chief Rob Garcia said at a news conference. “If you fly, we can’t, and that does have an impact on our aerial assault.”

Throughout the week officials were worried that weather conditions could further whip up the flames, as 30-mph winds blowing from the southwest were forecast. Such an event could drive the quick-moving fire deeper into dry areas brought on by the recent drought. There has not been a fire in the area since 2009 which left a great deal of fuel for the Sand Fire to feed on.

“It looks like a war zone down there. Everything looks brown it looks like a sand storm,” said Larissa De La Cruz, an employee with the city of San Gabriel.

“I am west of the 14 Freeway and I am not in the path unless it jumps the freeway,” said De La Cruz. “The air quality has been horrible in my neighborhood and the access to get in and out of town has been bad.”

Fighting the fire has been difficult because of rugged terrain and high winds which have been blowing the fire toward populated areas. On Sunday the fire jumped into nearby Placentia Canyon and began burning north, creating another set of problems for firefighters, 

“It’s been touch and go,” said actor and Santa Clarita resident Kevin Linell.  “It’s a scary thing. But we’re all calm. Saturday it went away from us during the night, but Sunday it turned and came back. Today [Monday], it’s standing still but still nearby.”

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the fire destroyed film sets on the Sable Ranch, which has been the site for several TV and feature film shoots, including “The A-Team,” “24,” “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” and “Maverick.”

“Unfortunately, you could only do so much when it was a horrific fire storm,” ranch owner Derek Hunt told NBC news. “I guess you can say as it came down there on us. But at some point you know you’re defeated and you have to step back and save what you can.”

The fire also forced the evacuation of 400 animals from the Shambala Preserve, a nonprofit sanctuary for exotic creatures founded in 1983 by actress Tippi Hedren. The sanctuary was threatened seven years ago by the Station Fire, which burned 16,577 acres, destroyed 209 structures, including 89 homes, and led to the deaths of two firefighters.

Gourdikian said he hopes firefighters make quick progress in putting out the blaze and said the Police Department will do everything possible to help city workers living there.

“Our peer support unit is here for employees that need support and someone to lean on,” Gourdikian said. “Even if it is just talking them through the situation or listening to them, we are keeping the channels of communication open as much as we can.” 

Helping Hands

Helping Hands

One of the basic tenants of Christianity is that it is better to give than to receive, and there are many charities in Pasadena that are in need of the gift of your time or donation this Christmas to help those less fortunate. 


In these tough times, with many charities grappling with shrinking budgets, the people around us need our help more than ever. Needs are so great that it isn’t hard to find a place to lend a hand.


If you desire to give a gift that will impact the needy and downtrodden or just support a cause, Pasadena has a number of charities that are always in need of help.


The Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA is the perfect place to visit to adopt a pet and give to a child on Christmas Day. Many seniors are also looking for that companionship the right dog or cat can provide.


Besides pet adoption services, the Pasadena Humane Society cares for more than 10,000 animals annually and also provides animal training and humane education. If you can’t adopt, you can always donate. 


Medical treatment for critically or terminally ill children suffering from cancer and other debilitating diseases can put a significant amount of stress on a family. In addition, many families must travel great distances looking for treatments and answers not found near their home. That’s where the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House comes into play. The charity provides a “home away from home” for the families of terminally ill children while their loved one receives medical care in Pasadena. 


In 1987, concerned community leaders reacting to a growing drug epidemic in Pasadena and Altadena came together to advocate for effective, high quality and culturally sensitive public health education and intervention. Almost 30 years later Day One is still going strong in its anti-drug, anti-violence, pro-youth message.


The Door of Hope provides transitional housing for homeless families making a real effort to get off the streets. The organization places families in housing while helping their kids stay in school. People also receive counseling and training in the following areas: anger management, parenting and finance, job skills training, spiritual care, individual and marital counseling and one on one case management. 


Five Acres helps kids who are victims of abuse through a range of community-based and residential programs, including mental health services, foster care, adoptions and domestic violence prevention. While monetary donations are always welcome, Five Acres also welcomes people to volunteer with their programs. A visit to their website ( also features lists of specific toys that kids at the center request. 


The Lake Avenue Community Foundation works with 170 low-income students in Pasadena, cultivating greater hope in the lives of these students and their families. It also partners with local churches and other organizations to provide housing and other resources to low-income residents.

The LACF has four key goals, to help students excel academically and attend college, to teach problem-solving skills that will help students meet daily challenges, give students the tools that will enable them to become economically responsible stable adult, and help students attain a thriving relationship with God.


They are always looking for volunteers and donations. Visit for more information.


The Mothers Club Family Learning Center provides a two-generation program that assists families living in isolation and poverty to succeed in school and life. Children and parents are onsite working in the programs which increase literacy and emotional well being.


Young and Healthy works to provide access to high-quality health care for uninsured and underserved children and families and to improve the quality of life for children in Pasadena through prevention, education and enhanced health care services. 


Children are referred to Young and Healthy, which sends them to one of their volunteer doctors, where they are treated at no cost. You can make a difference by purchasing a prescription for a child, or by buying eyeglasses a child need. 

Helping Hands

Helping Hands

While the damage caused by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake was extreme in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city, smaller communities located along the base of the Himalayan Mountains suffered equally terrible or worse devastation.

For instance, in some places such as the Gorkha district, the quake’s epicenter just less than 90 miles from Kathmandu, the terrific damage to structures is so extensive that rescue efforts are difficult or impossible, said Kapil Adhikari, owner of Himalayan Café and Himalayan Collection in Old Pasadena.

Adhikari, a native of Gorkha, has launched a relief campaign to help his fellow countrymen and women recover from the worst earthquake to hit Nepal since 1934.

“It’s terrible,” said Adhikari, who came to the United States from Gorkha 10 years ago. Adhikari has started a nonprofit organization in order to raise funds to help with relief efforts.

“All of my family lived there. Everybody lost their homes,” he said. “Nothing is left.”

Adhikari has registered a nonprofit under the name Himalayan Helping Hand. Email him at or call, (626) 676-3550.

The quake is responsible for more than 7,000 deaths and has left tens of thousands of people homeless. Entire villages have been flattened, according to several news reports. Centuries-old buildings were destroyed in Kathmandu. Geophysicists and other experts had warned for decades that Nepal was vulnerable to a deadly earthquake.

For its part in assisting in the catastrophe, Pasadena has sent three firefighters to join with 57 LA County Fire Department personnel in rescue and relief efforts currently under way.

Presently, at least 14,000 people have been injured, CNN and other agencies have reported. Casualties were also reported in India, China, and Bangladesh.

The earthquake triggered an avalanche that killed at least 19 people — the highest one-day death toll on Mount. Everest. The quake triggered another avalanche in nearby Langtang Valley, where 250 people were reported missing.

Helping hands

Helping hands

Dear Patti,

Six months ago my girlfriend Joel and I moved in together. Joel is beautiful, sexy, intelligent and truly a good, sweet person. I’m very much in love with her and hope to marry her one day. However, Patti, no matter how hard we both try to keep it from happening, Joel keeps falling into a dark, sad mood. She becomes miserable and very fatigued.

Joel recently had a medical exam and is physically healthy but is suffering from depression, more specifically, dysthymia.

Her doctor prescribed psychotherapy and an anti-depressant medication.
What exactly is dysthymia? I feel helpless. How can I best support Joel? Whatever I need to do to help, be it financially or emotionally, I’m down with it. She’d do the same for me.
— Trent


Dear Trent,


It’s heartwarming to witness your wholehearted commitment to Joel. Supportive loved ones are an essential key to recovery.

The disorder the two of you are dealing with is a chronic form of depression. Dysthymia is less extreme and less intense than major depressive disorder; its symptoms, however, are similar. While major depression often occurs in episodes, dysthymia is less debilitating but can last for long periods and, like major depression, can cause individuals to have a downcast mood and loss of energy. Joel may also lose interest in things she used to find pleasurable, have difficulty concentrating, be indecisive, negative, and have a poor opinion of herself. Her appetite and weight may have increased or decreased, too, and she may sleep too much or have trouble sleeping. 

People suffering from depression often have an inner voice that is harsh and demands that they be perfectionists. To counteract these negative thoughts, they need empathy, acceptance, respect and love from their loved ones. Help Joel to replace this punitive voice with a loving one by gently reminding her to be warm and kind to herself.

Listen in a non-judgmental way but let her take the lead. If she shares her thoughts and feelings, give your full attention. When she’s in pain and despair, you don’t have to do anything special; just be there for her, truly present. You should also avoid expressing too much distress, having a dismissive attitude, making the problem about you instead of her, and confusing “controlling” behavior with “concerned” behavior.

Offering to help with housecleaning — or hiring a housekeeper — can be wonderful support. Having a dirty or messy home, though, is apt to make Joel feel more worthless and discouraged. With a clean living space, she’ll have less to worry about. Encourage her to delegate tasks to loved ones and to set reasonable standards for herself.

Without becoming overly parental, support her in maintaining good eating and sleeping habits as these are important components in managing mood stability. Fatigue and hopelessness make it easy to procrastinate, but putting things off will eventually cause anxiety and guilt which increases depression. Encourage and coach Joel to follow through on important actions.

If needed, paying for part of her psychotherapy expenses may help relieve any financial burden. Psychodynamic, insight-oriented or interpersonal psychotherapy can enable her to sort out the feelings that are behind her symptoms and to explore those feelings, no matter how painful.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is also helpful in the treatment of depression as it examines and corrects many of the self-critical thought patterns and views that persons with mood disorders typically experience. It’s important that Joel be encouraged to communicate freely with her therapist. She might also want to join a support group and learn stress reduction techniques.  
Since this is a difficult time for you, too, you might consider professional counseling for yourself. Often through the challenging experience of protecting and nourishing your partner, an even deeper love can develop.  


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