Friends of San Pasqual Academy volunteers make the holidays special for foster teens

A Holiday Party was hosted by Friends of San Pasqual Academy
A Holiday Party was hosted by Friends of San Pasqual Academy for the foster teens, which was very festive and enjoyed by all. Volunteers are displaying a few of the gifts each foster student received, made possible by the supporters of Friends of San Pasqual Academy. Pictured are (l-r): Kathy Lathrum, Vickey Minteer, Lauren Pickard, Julie Pierce, Jennifer Dunn, Joan Scott, Kim Giardina, Andrea Reynolds, Rick Shea and Ellie Cunningham.
(Photo by Debby Syverson

When we think of holidays, we think of our families and loved ones and being able to spend precious time with them, during this meaningful season. Holidays are particularly stressful for foster kids, who are constantly reminded of not being able to be in a traditional setting with family members. They have been placed under protective custody by the court for various reasons. Abuse, neglect and negative memories have been part of their lives. At San Pasqual Academy, many of these foster teens are able to overcome this cycle of abuse and become productive adults. A special “San Pasqual Academy family” is created: one that provides stability, support, love and guidance. The volunteers of Friends of San Pasqual Academy are a key part of this support system. For over 20 years the volunteers have been dedicated to providing positive experiences to these foster students. Many lives have been changed as a result of these efforts. The foster teens of San Pasqual Academy celebrated the start of the holidays with many exciting activities. A festive party for the students was held at the unique school, which is also home for the foster teens of San Diego County. Many individuals and organizations donated items and, most importantly, their time and resources to make this holiday special.

The French Gourmet catered a traditional holiday feast dinner
The French Gourmet catered a traditional holiday feast dinner at the Holiday Party that the foster teens greatly enjoyed. Serving the foster students were volunteers Kathy Lathrum, Julie Pierce, Santa, Ellie Cunningham and Patty Brutten.
(Photo by Debby Syverson)

The party began with each student receiving a special, hand-sewn, personalized Christmas stocking, created by Ocean Hills Sewing Club, that had each student’s name on them. These beautiful stockings were filled to the brim with wonderful items that were purchased by Friends of San Pasqual Academy. Rancho Santa Fe Community Center members stuffed all the stocking for the foster teens. This was coordinated by Teri Summerhays.

National Charity League members of San Diego Del Norte Chapter, Mary Djavaherian and other individuals collected pajama pants for the foster students. Each foster teen was given other much-desired gifts from their “Wish List” and an American Express Gift card, which were also purchased by Friends of San Pasqual supporters. And, of course, Santa arrived and gleefully presented each teen with their special presents.

Each year Patty and Marc Brutten
Each year Patty and Marc Brutten purchase a special gift for all the foster teens. This year the gift was cordless headphones and the foster teens were delighted to receive this wonderful item. Ellie Cunningham, Santa and Patty Brutten are displaying this gift that was inside a beautiful, festive Holiday Bag.
(Photo by Debby Syverson)

As they do every year, Marc and Patty Brutten purchased a special item for all the foster teens, which this year were headphones. They personally presented them to each grateful and very happy student and saw first-hand how much their labor of love meant to each foster teen.

The auditorium was transformed with spectacular Holiday decorations, including a beautiful Christmas tree, full of ornaments and lights, and unique holiday table decorations filled the room. The students were served a delicious traditional holiday dinner, catered by The French Gourmet, that included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, a traditional Yule Log and other delicious desserts.

The Holiday Party was hosted by Friends of San Pasqual Academy Board members Teri Summerhays, Lois Jones, Dagmar Helgager, Kathy Lathrum, Andrea Reynolds, Debby Syverson, Bob Syverson and Joan Scott. For over 20 years, the Friends board and their many supporters have been caring for the foster students and graduates of San Pasqual Academy.

The foster students expressed their gratitude and appreciation to all who made this Holiday Party possible. It will be a holiday celebration they will always remember and treasure. Most importantly, the foster teens expressed their gratitude for so many people caring about them and conveyed to the volunteers that their gift of time and love was the most important gift they receive throughout the year.

For more information on Friends of San Pasqual Academy, which is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization, visit or call 858-759- 3298. Donations can be sent to Friends of San Pasqual Academy, PO Box 8202, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067.

Friends of San Pasqual Academy provides college scholarships, transitional housing, athletic and academic programs, agricultural, art and music programs and more to the graduates and current foster students of San Pasqual Academy. Currently, over 40 graduates are furthering their education, whether it be in trade schools, community colleges, four-year universities and graduate school. UCLA, Cal State San Marcos, UC Davis, San Diego State, San Francisco State, San Jose State, Humbolt State, Long Beach State and Sacramento State are just some of the colleges that the foster graduates attend.

Thank you to the many supporters who help care for these grateful foster teens. Many lives are changed due to their dedication and support. On behalf of the foster teens of San Pasqual Academy, “Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas to All and a Happy New Year”! — Friends of San Pasqual Academy