Foster Teens express their appreciation at ‘Celebration of Friends’ event


The “Celebration of Friends” event was recently held at the beautiful home of Ellie and Michael Cunningham to acknowledge the many successes of Friends of San Pasqual Academy. They provided wonderful food, beverages, valet service and a welcoming, spectacular setting for over 130 supporters of Friends who attended. Friends of San Pasqual Academy is a volunteer organization that was started by a small group of individuals in 2002 to support the foster teens of San Pasqual Academy. For the past nine years, numerous caring individuals and organizations have since joined efforts in caring for these foster teens and many successes have been realized.

The greatest achievement of Friends of San Pasqual Academy is the close relationship that has been cultivated between the volunteers of Friends and the foster teens. Respect, trust and appreciation are apparent. The foster teens greatly appreciate the volunteer’s efforts, time and attention given to them.

Recognition was given to supporters of Friends of San Pasqual Academy that have been a key part of Friend’s success. Joan Scott recognized the board members for all their hard work and dedication throughout the year, which includes Teri Summerhays, Kathy Lathrum, Lois Jones, Dagmar Helgager, Debby Syverson and Ann Boon. Norma Wiberg of Wells Fargo Mortgage and Carole Markstein serve on the Board of Governors. Awards were presented to the chapters of National Charity League for their continuous dedication to the foster teens. These Chapters include San Diego del Norte Chapter, with Liaisons Teri Summerhays and Joan Kaestner, San Dieguito Chapter, with Liaison Pat Hughes, Del Sol Chapter, with Liaison Molly Gumner and Poway Chapter Liaison, with Liaison Tina Lewis. Ellie and Tressa Cunningham are members of the San Dieguito Chapter.

The Senior Class Project for the San Diego del Norte Chapter was to refurbish a cottage for seven girls. The name of this project was “Warm a Heart, Warm a Home.” This included outfitting seven bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen. These young women designed and transformed a cottage into a beautiful home. They worked over the summer on this project raising funds, collecting and creating items. It was finished in August and is a place full of wonderful, personalized touches. Julia and Craig Schloss assisted in the purchase of the furniture for this project through the law firm of Morrison Foerster.

The focus of the evening was hearing first-hand from two former graduates of San Pasqual Academy. The main speaker was “Sarah,” who graduated three years ago from the Academy. She currently is attending California State University San Marcos full time, while also working full time. Sarah is a confident young woman, but one would not know of the horrific struggles that she experienced in the past. According to Sarah, “ It is so wonderful how much Friends of San Pasqual Academy does for us and that they really do care. They have been such a positive force in my life. Many people do not realize that many foster kids have never had a birthday cake for their birthday. Friends make sure that Holidays are positive experiences, including our birthdays. They provide a birthday cake, a gift card and even Birthday paper plates for us to share this experience with others. I am grateful for all the time and attention Friends gives us. They do so much for us, but it is not about the “stuff.”

It is about them coming out to San Pasqual, spending time with us, talking with us and caring about us. I am able to attend college due to their support. I have no one and the volunteers of Friends are the stabilizing force in my life. For that, I am grateful.”

Friends of San Pasqual Academy is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. Please visit their website at

or call 858-759- 3298 for more information. Donations can be sent to PO Box 8202, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067.