By ROBERT MANNIELLO | Orange County Register
April 23, 2014 at 9:00 am
It appears that over the years, I’ve been pretty adept at spotting angels. That is, local angels in the form of individuals and organizations carrying out noble work.
In fact, our community’s hidden treasures never cease to amaze me. One is CREER Comunidad y Familia.
Its mission is focused on empowering and inspiring at-risk youths and families in San Juan Capistrano and the surrounding area. The caring spirit and family-centered priorities are highlighted in the organization’s vision to create unique programs that transform lives and generations through education, culture, athletics and community involvement.
Conceived in 2005 with initial educational efforts for youths starting in neighborhood parks, transitioning to a homeowner’s garage and finally to designated classrooms, the community sensitivity to children’s needs blossomed by untiring networking efforts. The critical challenge: assuring a uniform approach to help low-income Latino families and their children in educational quests and triumphs.
Volunteers, the backbone of this nurturing pledge to children in kindergarten through 12th grade, have eagerly answered the call to action. Name any professional category and it’s almost certain that a representative has or will offer a helping hand to teach our at-risk children practical aspects of CREER’s academic and artistic courses. Business liaisons (Capistrano Unified School District, Southern California Edison, OC Health Care Agency, Mission Hospital and Healthy Smiles) complement educational pursuits by bridging the information gap.
Recent discussions with CREER Executive Director Angeles Ceballos and her sister Rosario Rowell, director of education, revealed that they both started as volunteers. Love of children underscores the dynamic duo’s devotion to creating and implementing indispensable programs. Just seeing their faces light up when they speak of their plans warms the heart.
Innovative courses include summer programs (six weeks at three elementary schools), Homework Club (25 to 30 students offered financial grants to allay costs), Atlas Capistrano Soccer (400 to 500 students yearly attend this gang-prevention program), Corazones Alegres Ballet Folklorico and CREER Youth Group (the yearly Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop Conference at Saddleback College stimulates higher education and community leadership).
CREER’s signature event, Día del Niño (Day of the Child), honors children of all cultures, adapting time-honored aspects of the Universal Day of the Child and Mexico’s Children’s Day to San Juan Capistrano and surrounding communities.
Plan on attending this seventh annual celebration of the child on Saturday at Stonefield Park. This annual fun-filled family event attracted 6,000 visitors last year.
Please consider sponsoring, donating financially, volunteering or supporting a child-centered entertainment booth at this year’s event. Help spread the word that our community holds all children as a priority deserving every available educational and health opportunity.
The angels will be watching.
·By Capo Dispatch
July 16, 2015
CREER Comunidad y Familia provides year-round educational, recreational opportunities for underprivileged youth
Students enjoy outdoor recess time during their first week of CREER’s summer program. Photo: Allison Jarrell
By Allison Jarrell
“Creer” means to believe. And whether or not you knew that translation, it’s not hard to see the core values of local nonprofit CREER Comunidad y Familia in the smiling faces of their volunteers and the children they serve—belief in the power of the human spirit, belief in the power of community and belief that all goals and dreams are achievable.
These are the values being instilled in students and volunteers alike each day this summer during CREER’s summer programs, taking place in borrowed classrooms at San Juan Elementary and Kinoshita Elementary, thanks to the support of the Capistrano Unified School District. Angeles Ceballos, Executive Director of CREER, said she believes its programs like these that keep students focused, motivated and on track for future success.
“The most important part is that the kids are actually learning and closing some of the (educational) gaps that most of them have because they’re trying to learn two languages at the same time,” Ceballos said. “There are no summer programs available at (public) schools right now, so our kids were going to be out on the streets, and they needed somewhere to go to have fun. This also prevents them getting involved in gangs or trouble.”
While CREER was founded in 2004, the summer program was first proposed by Ceballos in 2012 as a pilot program. Nine summer classes were implemented that year with 159 children enrolled from across south Orange County. The program has grown exponentially ever since, with 356 children in 2013 and 659 students last summer. This year, Ceballos said roughly 70 volunteers—including her sister Rosario Roswell, who now serves as CREER’s director of education—are working to accommodate about 800 students between the two schools. Each year involves a lengthy wait list due to CREER’s lack of resources and volunteer tutors—classes are limited to 15 students each.
Ceballos said the program gives students a safe, supportive environment to learn and have fun over the course of six weeks during the summer. Students can partake in classes such as math, reading comprehension and writing, as well as activities like music, dance, drawing, folklore, arts and crafts and piñata making. While the program’s focus is on educational value—like building vocabulary and structuring sentences correctly—Ceballos said each class incorporates creativity and hands-on teaching techniques implemented by passionate, knowledgeable retired teachers or college students looking to gain experience in education.
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Students get ready to participate in a theater class during their first week of CREER’s summer program. Photo: Allison Jarrell
One such student, Will Reeder from Capo Beach, recently graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in choral music education. He heard about CREER through a friend, and on a recent Tuesday morning, he was teaching young children to clap out a rhythm to an uplifting children’s song.
“It’s a great opportunity for the community and a good alternative to summer school,” Reeder said. “Especially with music, the more exposure you get to music as a kid and the more positive experiences you get, the more you enjoy it.”
It’s also been a learning experience for the young teacher, too.
“I’m used to working with older students—they’re a very energetic bunch here.” Reeder grinned after his lesson. “I tend to be more animated around them.”
Last year, Ceballos estimates that 60 percent of their summer students received partial or full scholarships, as each class costs $40 per child. Ninety percent of the families CREER caters to, Ceballos added, live below the poverty line, many in San Juan and neighboring cities.
“We have kids coming from all over South County,” Ceballos said. “We try to take as many as we can until we run out of room. We’ve had students from Mission Viejo, Santa Ana and even Sacramento.”
Because CREER is a nonprofit, much of the group’s funding comes from grants, which were scarce this year, in addition to community and corporate donations. This year, in addition to lending the space to CREER, Ceballos said CUSD trustees and Superintendent Kirsten Vital also offered to provide lunches for all of the students this summer.
Ceballos said “every penny helps,” when it comes to purchasing new materials and books for the students year-round. She said the generosity of San Juan residents and businesses is astounding, especially supporters like Tokyomods motorcycle shop in San Juan; Jeffrey Singer, board member of Angels for the Arts at Saddleback College; and Ricardo and Rosa Beas of Ricardo’s Place restaurant in San Juan.
Singer, as well as Ricardo and Rosa, can often be found promoting CREER, and Singer is quick to tell you about the impact the group has on the youth of San Juan.
Nearly 800 students from across south Orange County are participating in CREER’s summer camp program this year, which runs for six weeks at a time and offers a variety of classes. Photo: Allison Jarrell
“I’ve seen the expression on these kids’ faces when they get up to give a speech, thanking their instructors or playing guitar or dancing in front of an audience,” Singer said. “These young students, kindergarten to eighth grade, are excelling because the volunteer assistants and teachers reach these kids. They connect on a level that is hard to explain.”
Singer said his theory is that the kids are succeeding because they want to learn in a safe, friendly environment with passionate, caring staff members who believe in them and want them to succeed.
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“People succeed because they have a desire to learn and pick up on the fact that the volunteers are there because they, too, want to be there,” Singer said. “These kids want to learn. When they learn a new topic they can help others—this is key to happiness, and these kids get it.”
For those interested in seeing what the students have learned and created over the summer, CREER’s closing ceremony takes place Saturday, Aug. 15 at the Historic Town Center Park in downtown San Juan. Ceballos estimates between 400 and 600 people will show up to view the children’s artwork, see them dance and hear them perform.
For more information on getting involved with CREER, follow Creer San Juan Capistrano on Facebook, call Ceballos at 714.788.8339, or visit their office at the Stonefield Park, located between Camino Capistrano and La Zanja Street.
CREER Fundraiser Set for July 16
On July 16, CREER Comunidad y Familia is hosting a festive fundraiser benefiting the local nonprofit’s summer and afterschool programs. The event begins at 7 p.m. at the San Juan Hills Golf Course in San Juan Capistrano and includes live music performed by Tuscon-based Latin rock group Tesoro. The concert will benefit CREER, with all donations going to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
The concert provides funds needed for the children attending CREER’s summer school and afterschool programs, allowing them to receive much-needed assistance in reading, writing, math, science, music, dance and folk culture. A $20 donation is requested for admission. Lawrence, the 19th Hole bar manager, is buying a Cadillac margarita for anyone who attends and donates a minimum of $40 and has a July birthday. Tickets can be purchased at the event or prior to the event by calling CREER Executive Director Angeles Ceballos or visiting Ricardo’s Place, located 32082 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano.
Those interested in volunteering as an instructor or an assistant with CREER should also contact Angeles Ceballos
CREER Comunidad y Familia celebrated the conclusion of its annual summer program for youth at the Historic Town Center Park on Aug. 6. Photo: Allison Jarrell
By Allison Jarrell
Local nonprofit CREER Comunidad y Familia celebrated the conclusion of its annual summer program for youth at the Historic Town Center Park on Saturday, Aug. 6. Children danced, sang and showed off their writing, pottery and painting, while proud parents gathered around to take photos of their children’s big moment.
In order to raise funds for their annual summer program, CREER is hosting “A Night of Music & Food with Slim Man” from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18.
The fundraiser will benefit the local nonprofit’s summer and afterschool programs, which serve hundreds of area youth annually. Jazz singer, writer and cook Slim Man will perform live at 19 Sports Bar & Grill, and will also teach guests how to make his Hail Caesar! Salad. His famous pesto sauce will be featured at the restaurant’s pasta bar.
Tickets are $35 for the show, $50 for the show and pasta bar or $100 VIP. Tickets can be purchased on Slim Man’s website or via www.facebook.com/anightwithslimman. All proceeds go to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
19 Sports Bar & Grill at San Juan Hills Golf Club is located at 32120 San Juan Creek Road. For more information, visit
19 sports bar & grillA Night of Music & Food with Slim ManCREERCREER Comunidad y FamiliaDana PointHistoric Town Center ParkOrange CountySan ClementeSan Juan CapistranoSan Juan Hills Golf Club Slim man...
Guests pause for “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the beginning of CREER Comunidad y Familia's seventh annual Dia del Nino festival at Stonefield Park in San Juan Capistrano.
The seventh annual Día del Niño (Day of the Child), the signature event of local family and youth service organization CREER Comunidad y Familia, filled Stonefield Park in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday to honor children of all cultures. The free six-hour event featured dancers, music, food and sports.
The Capistrano Dispatch
San Juan Capistrano-based nonprofit CREER Comunidad y Familia is set to host its seventh annual winter gala fundraiser at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center on Saturday, Nov. 4, from 6-10 p.m. The evening will include dinner, dancing and live music by The Slim Man Band.VIP tickets are $120, and general admission is $75. The VIP reception begins at 5 p.m. and general admission starts at 6 p.m. All proceeds go toward funding CREER’s academic and recreational programs for local underserved youth.To purchase tickets, visit www.creer_gala_2017.eventbrite.com, or call CREER executive director Angeles Ceballos at 714.788.8339. For more information on the event, visit www.facebook.com/anightwithslimman.The San Juan Capistrano Community Center is located at 25925 Camino del Avion.
angeles ceballosCREERCREER Comunidad y FamiliaEducationFeaturedfundraisergalanonprofitOrange Countyrecreation programsSan Juan CapistranoSouth Orange CountyThe Slim Man Bandunderserved youthwinter galawinter gala fundraiser
Annie Reyes and her brother, Tanner Reyes, left, take turns at a microphone to talk about how mentorship through the nonprofit CREER has helped them get better at reading, writing and math, during a gala fundraiser at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center on Saturday, November 4, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)
In Spanish, Creer means “to believe.”
In San Juan Capistrano, CREER Comunidad y Familia aims to make believers of underprivileged children so they overcome what the nonprofit describes as “academic and cultural gaps that poverty creates.”
Founded in 2004, CREER empowers children and families through programs in education, culture, athletics and civic leadership.
Previous Supporters came together in the San Juan Capistrano Community Center on Nov. 4 to raise money at CREER’s seventh annual winter gala.
The event featured dinner and dancing to Slim Man and his Band. Proceeds will help CREER provide after-school and summer school progrms for children from pre-kindergarten through the ninth grade.
Casandra Flores, and other dancers from Corazones Alegres, one of the programs managed by nonprofit CREER, perform at a fundraising gala for CREER at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center on Saturday, November 4, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)
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“It was a wonderful event,” said Angeles Ceballos, executive director of CREER. “We had some generous contributors.”
CREER’s programs include mathematics, reading, writing, science, language, drawing, music, guitar, dance, theater, ceramic mosaics and arts and crafts.
The current six-week session of after-school programs is helping 47 students, with another 30 students participating in a Homework Club.
“It’s one of the hidden gems of San Juan, serving the greater south county community,” CREER volunteer Jeff Singer said.
Area residents can learn more at creersjc.org.
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The Slim Man Band performs at the annual winter gala for the nonprofit CREER in the ballroom at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center on Saturday evening, November 4, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)
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Ricardo Beas, of San Juan Capistrano, owner of Ricardo’s Place Mexican restaurant, who donated the food for Saturday’s fundraising gala for the nonprofit CREER, and Sue Singer of San Juan Capistrano dance together to the music of The Slim Man Band on Saturday, November 4, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)
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Gala attendees check out pieces of artwork and other items available in a silent auction during Saturday’s fundraiser for the nonprofit CREER at the San Juan Capistrano Community Center on November 4, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)
Radio Interviews with CREER Comunidad y Familia.
COX OC Connections with Jessica Barbier - Interviews CREER Comunidad y Familia - Ms. Angeles Ceballos, Executive Director; Ms. Rosario Rowell, Director of Education and Daniel Muñoz, CREER Student.
Sign up to CREER to hear about upcoming registration dates, fundraisers, and special events or write to become a partner for the betterment of our children.