Prayer Breakfast Brings CV Community Together for Youth

Photos by Mary O’KEEFE
The Prayer Breakfast committee is composed of (from left) Arick Gevorkain, Mary O’Keefe, Jo Ann Stupakis, Mariam Barnes, Harry Leon, Jodi Gunski, Danette Erickson and Dena Blood.


On May 12, the 7th Annual Crescenta Valley Prayer Breakfast was an example of unity and, when people have the same goal, how all can work together regardless of individual backgrounds.

Since its conception, the prayer breakfast has been grounded in supporting the youth of the community.

“We do this to support our youth activities in the community, such as Prom Plus, [and provide] scholarships and [meet] others’ needs,” said Harry Leon, president of the Crescenta Valley Town Council and prayer breakfast organizer. “We want to encourage them and help them be part of our community.”

Before the keynote speaker, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger took the mic, leaders from those faiths represented at the breakfast took the mic to lead the audience in prayer. In addition, the graceful Korean fan dancers took the stage to perform for the crowd. The Crescenta Valley High School a capella group, the Charismatics, performed selections from the second story of Sadler Hall.

Korean fan dancers performed during the Prayer Breakfast.

Barger then approached the podium. She began by praising the event that invited all faiths and denominations to the table.

“This truly is what is great, not only in this community, but living in the United States,” she said.

She spoke of having God in one’s life and how many rely on Him for inspiration.

“But that’s not enough; reliance is good but action is better,” she said. “We need to recommit to the actions needed to do His will each and every day.”

Barger spoke of the world that youth live in with the prevalence of technology, bullying, sexual issues, drug and alcohol and violence in schools.

“Today young people face challenges that many of us will never know,” she said. She added, those in foster care have to deal with what other children have to face in addition to oftentimes being neglected and abused by those who are supposed to love and protect them. She spoke of children in foster care who age out at 18 years old and are thrown into the world without the skills needed to survive.

“When I turned 18, I had a home I could go to and parents who would foster and love me,” she said emphasizing how foster children do not have that safety net. “So we, the community, have to be their safety net.”

Many of the children that are “aged out” of the system become statistics of homelessness, drug abuse, incarceration and worse, she said.

“Right now in Los Angeles County there are 36,000 children who have experienced some sort of child abuse or neglect and are in the Dept. of Children Services,” Barger said. “One third are under the age of 5, which is the fastest growing group of children suffering from abuse.”

She encouraged those in the room to become mentors or offer internships at their companies to the youth of their community and beyond. One of the things the board of supervisors has done to help foster children is to make certain they are not moved to other schools.

“Past practice was that if someone was moved they would have to move to another school. Imagine being thrust into a new school every year,” she said.

She promised that these kids would not be moved from school to school, thereby establishing some stability in their lives. Barger also spoke of her strong support for the School Resource Officer program. The LA County provides some funding for SROs at schools, but recently the board had been looking as to whether they need to continue supporting this program. Barger supports the program and said she realizes the value of having officers on campus, not just for safety from violence but as mentors for students.

This year, the prayer breakfast was held at St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church, the stone church at the corner of Rosemont Avenue and Foothill Boulevard. The historical church can trace its heritage to the early 1920s when artist Seymour Thomas, wanting an Episcopal Church in his community, was able to have the owner of the land, Madame Louise Janvier, donate the plot. He then went across the street and began to paint the church he wanted to build. The cornerstone was laid for the building of St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church on Easter 1924. The chimes originally donated in 1926 have been repaired and ring as they did over 90 years ago.

The CV Prayer Breakfast committee donated the proceeds from the event to several youth organizations including Prom Plus, Fire House youth center and CVHS JROTC.

As this year’s prayer breakfast concluded, the prayer breakfast committee, composed of community members from different faiths and backgrounds, began planning the 2019 CV Prayer Breakfast event.