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The sweet sounds of charity

Ron Whitaker and Isabella Shaldan have found their passion in music and supporting many nonprofits

Posted: August 18, 2013 2:05 p.m.
Updated: August 18, 2013 2:05 p.m.

Ron Whitaker and Rodica Isabella Shaldan display the dozens of humanitarian awards and certificates of recognition they have received.

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The Canyon Club in Agoura was packed, it was standing room only when The Babys played a benefit concert on July 18 to benefit the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry.

However, The Babys weren’t the only draw. The evening also included Dilana Robinchaus and the Legends of Rock All Stars: Tim Bogert, Brian Auguer, Scotty Page, Lee Thornburg, Chas West, Alan Kreiger, "Wild" Bill McCombe, Chad Watson and Pam Loe.

It’s not often you see so much star power in one room, but for Ron Whitaker and Rodica Isabella Shaldan it has become a passion to bring the music world and the nonprofit world together.

Whitaker, a veteran rock drummer, has played with members of Guns ‘n Roses, Def Leppard, Quiet Riot and Cherie Currie of The Runaways. He also was named the Rock City News 2007 Outstanding Drummer of The Year.

"I get invited on stage to play with a lot of great people," he said. "It’s an honor.

He started with a punk rock band, Voodoo Church, and then moved on to Zombie Legion, in the 1970s.

"We made a lot of noise, a lot of screaming," he said. "I worked my way up. I went on the road and then worked in the studios."

He was born in Simi Valley and graduated from Simi Valley High School.

"My parents let me experiment with my music career, but they always emphasized that it was important to give back to the community around us," he said. "That’s what I’ve done ever since."

Whitaker’s parents were always a shining example of good works. They hosted more than 160 foster children over the years.

"When you’re a young child and you experience something like that, it teaches you a lot," he said. "I also learned a lot from the foster children. It inspired me to be thankful for what I have, not what I don’t have."

Whitaker said his parents’ influence also taught him to focus on his career and helped him avoid the rock ‘n roll drug scene.

"If I would get around that environment, I would just leave," he said.

Shaldan, from Romania, played trombone in an orchestra and then became a model. She is also a vocalist.

She moved to the United States in 1999 and speaks Hungarian and Romanian.

"I worked very hard to be here," she said.

Whitaker and Shaldan first met at a charity concert. They started dating after meeting again at a music club in the San Fernando Valley. They are engaged to be married.

"We love doing this charity work, to be able to help others," Shaldan said.

The couple have volunteered at homeless shelters throughout Southern California, including the SCV Bridge to Home shelter.

They worked the "Free Aide Life Concert" to launch the Simi Valley Free Dental Clinic, have produced music videos to benefit autistic children and are currently producing a charity CD.

Because of their commitment to nonprofits throughout Southern California the couple have received commendations and certificates of recognition from a host of nonprofits and government officials.

In 2012 Whitaker received the Rock ‘n Roll Humanitarian of the Year award at the 22nd annual Los Angeles Music Awards.

Earlier this year Whitaker and Shaldan were presented with the Lifetime Humanitarian Award from the Artists in Music Awards.

"It’s not about the awards," said Whitaker. "It’s about being able to help other people."

Whitaker said many of the musicians he has worked with throughout the years are "not only talented, but also enjoy giving back."

One of the couple’s recent projects include an appearance in a "rock opera" movie.

"We have two movie scripts to look over now," he said. "But our hearts are with the charities, so we have to decide if we want to take the time away from our humanitarian work."

The couple moved to Canyon Country from Simi Valley four years ago.

"We are slowly getting to know the community and see where we can help out," said Whitaker. "I’d rather be recognized for my humanitarian service over my music, because that is what means the most to me."

The couple enjoy living in the SCV.

"It’s peaceful here," said Whitaker. "You come out here and live a quiet life but still can go to Hollywood and have your fun and come back home."

Whitaker encourage residents to try volunteering.

"One of our most rewarding experiences was at the L.A. Mission," he said. "We got up early and drove down there and then helped prepare the food, cook the food and serve the food. When you have a homeless person tell you, ‘God bless you and thank you’ it makes a difference."

Whitaker is particularly compassionate towards homeless veterans.

"You shouldn’t serve your country and end up homeless," he said. "As a country we should be doing a better job with our veterans."

Their current charity project is a concert called "Hope for the Homeless." The couple is dreaming big.

"We’re hoping we can get this concert into the Staples Center and attract some major names to the project," said Whitaker.

The concert would benefit homeless centers across the country.

"We’re hoping some angels come aboard," Whitaker said. "What you do today can impact people for years to come."

mbuttelman@signalscv.com

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