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Modeling a runway to recovery

Posted: June 24, 2009 8:19 p.m.
Updated: June 25, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Fadila Chediak strikes a pose after she finished her stroll down the catwalk. "It feels so good," she said.

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Strutting down a fashion runway has its challenges, but models overcame more obstacles than met the eye at the Child & Family Center’s second annual Finishing Touches Makeover Show.

Held at the center’s offices in Canyon Country, the afternoon makeover show was sponsored by the Child & Family Center and Shannon Hair Salon of Valencia. The show was designed to raise funds and rally community support for the nonprofit organization’s various rehabilitative programs.

Featured in the show were 10 female clients who have benefited from the various counseling, guidance and support services for children and families in need provided by the Child & Family Center. As part of their therapy clients turned into models for the day.

“I feel good about myself,” said Fadila Chediak, a center client for the past three years and a model in the show. “Modeling today helped me see how far I’ve come. I started off at zero and now I feel like a 10.”

Chediak modeled her progress in the makeover show along with other clients who have benefited from the center’s Adult Services Department. Also participating in the show were models Kathy Goranson, Elizabeth Nunez, Jennifer Jordan, Tina Gonzales, Veronica Lusica, Stina Garbis, Flora Jimenez, Sheila Jackman and Kathylane Hess.

Founded more than 30 years ago in the Santa Clarita Valley the Child & Family Center provides mental health, behavioral and educational services to children, adults and families.

The Adult Services Department offers trained staff and social workers to help rehabilitate adult parents and their families by providing individual, family and group therapy as well as helping to find gainful employment and places to live.

“Without the help from this center I wouldn’t be standing here today,” said Chediak.

Standing led to posing, as recovering clients were given runway coaching by the Santa Clarita School of Performing Arts and theatrical and commercial agents Christine Williams and Sky Sigue from Peak Models & Talent.

After learning to strike a pose, models were fitted for clothes provided by SteinMart and given a new look for their locks with services provided by Ashlee Norman and fellow stylists from Shannon Hair Salon in Valencia.

“There are a lot of reasons why this kind of event is important,” said Sally Ibarra, Child & Family Center senior case manager, of the confidence-inspiring fashion show. “It can help these women feel empowered, giving them the tools they need to believe in themselves.”

Ibarra provides social work services as well as a range of therapeutic techniques to the clients at the center and has worked closely with each of the models in the show.

Along with the center’s case manager, Ann Kendricks, Ibarra worked with the models for three months to prepare them for the show — both physically and emotionally.

“It is so inspiring to work with each woman and help them take the next step,” said Kendricks, of her assistance in building the models’ strength and confidence. “It goes to show that no matter where you are in life, there is always hope if you work towards it.”

Some models in the show had their own comments about hope.

“Never give up,” said Sheila Jackman, a client of the center for the past six years and a grateful recipient of services provided to herself and her children through the center. “It is such a privilege to be here and see other women who are getting their lives back.

This center has helped me put my family and myself back together again and we are working on being stronger everyday.”

A special guest speaker to the afternoon affair also knew a thing or two about messages of hope.

Hope Craig is a past recipient of the center’s services and was invited by the organization to speak about her story.

Suffering from severe emotional disorders which hindered her ability to take care of her two children, Craig was treated for two-and-a-half years by the center and found a path to recovery.

“I know that the wonderful people of this center helped save my life,” said Craig of the assistance she received physically, behaviorally and emotionally. “Live every day with hope for tomorrow. I believe that all of my mess carried this message with it.”

The center works under the “recovery model,” a set of four distinct stages in the recovery process used to help individuals who face an emotionally challenging set of circumstances, realize their potential for recovery.

“Hope is the first place to start,” said Ibarra, who watches the stages develop in the individuals she counsels.

Following hope are the stages of empowerment, self-responsibility and finally, a sense of belonging, which involves community involvement and participation in the individual’s own life.

“We strive to help people discover their own potential,” said Larry Schallert, director of the center’s Adult, Education and Outreach Services Department.

For the past 10 years, Schallert, along with assistant director, Larry Resendez, have managed various adult services including, CalWORKS Mental Health Program, Cal WORKS Domestic Violence Program, Field Capable Clinical Services, Aspergers Services and Family Links.

“Every one of these programs within the department is specifically tailored to work with an individual or family need,” said Resendez.

“We hope to continue to encourage growth by helping people discover it inside of themselves.”

Schallert said he was inspired by what he saw at the fashion show, of each model’s journey through the recovery process.

“After coming here demoralized and stripped of confidence, they have regained a sense of self,” he said.

Schallert compared the women’s formative journey to watching that of a butterfly’s.

Lois Bauccio, Child & Family Center Foundation president and executive director, with her foundation team members, Cheryl Jones, Foundation vice president, Qiana Staral Foundation development associate and Janice Biebel, executive administrative assistant worked to make the afternoon event a community affair.

Bauccio said she is working to bring community awareness to the center, one event at a time.

“The work these women do at the center is about overcoming obstacles in life so that they can become more responsible, skilled and comfortable parents who are also capable of entering the workplace,” said Bauccio, who hopes to strengthen the connection between the center and the community.

“It is such a special opportunity to watch women blossom and grow,” said Christine Miller, of the Zonta Club of SCV. “It is special to our club, but also to the community as a whole.”

The SCV Zonta Club has awarded grants to the center for programs that benefit girls and women for the past three years.

“We want to encourage support and also hope to make some new friends,” said Bauccio.

Organizers hope to present the annual makeover show next year.

“I loved doing this show,” said Jackman. “It makes you see and feel how beautiful you really are.”

For information about Child & Family Center Adult Services, or other programs visit or call (661) 259-9439.



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