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Volunteer Spotlight: Ann Houseal, Lauri Rivetti, and Andrea Roschke


Holiday Homes Tour here we come! Our extraordinary Chairs (L-R): Andrea Roschke, Lauri Rivetti and Ann Houseal.

It is our pleasure to highlight the commitment of the 2013 Holiday Homes Tour Co-Chairs: Ann Houseal, Lauri Rivetti, and Andrea Roschke. This “dynamic trio” has dedicated countless hours, tons of energy, and an abundance of enthusiasm to this important fundraising event.

This is Ann Houseal‘s second year co-chairing Holiday Homes Tour and her sixth year as a volunteer. After losing her mother to cancer, Ann read about CSCVVSB in the newspaper and felt compelled to help. The most rewarding moment for her was when a Holiday Homes Tour patron stopped her to thank her for raising money for cancer support programs. It turns out that this patron was a CSCVVSB participant who understood firsthand why the programs are so important.

“I do this to honor all of the loved ones I have lost and to hopefully make life a little easier for those currently fighting this horrendous disease,” says Ann. “I would encourage anyone with a few hours to spare to join their community in this delightful and rewarding event. They’ll meet new people, get to see some incredible homes and hopefully create some memories of their own.”

Andrea Roschke is a 2008 Celebration of Life Gala Honoree, and has been volunteering for ten years. This is Andrea’s second year co-chairing Holiday Homes Tour. Andrea and her husband Mark found hope and support with the Brain Tumor Support Group after Mark was diagnosed in 2003. “Mark was told he had two years to live. Thanks to good medicine and the Cancer Support Community he lived for another eight years,” says Andrea. “I truly believe the Cancer Support Community gave us a gift we would not have had otherwise, so I am always happy to give back.”

One of Andrea’s favorite things about the Holiday Homes Tour is the festive mood that everyone is in. “It’s the perfect kick-off to the holiday season and an excellent opportunity to peek behind the gates at some of the most spectacular homes in the area.  You might get ideas for decorating your own homes!  The holidays are a tough time for families who are fighting cancer, or who have lost a loved one to the beast, so it’s a fun and easy way to give back to such an amazing organization.”

This is Lauri Rivetti‘s second year co-chairing the Holiday Homes Tour, and her fifth year as a volunteer. Lauri was inspired to help the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara after witnessing her husband and her sister’s battles with cancer. Lauri’s favorite part about being involved with the Holiday Homes Tour is the inspiration she gets from talking to people who have cancer themselves. “To have them thank me for the work I’m doing, that’s my favorite part. It makes me feel good,” says Lauri.

Lauri enjoys seeing how much fun everyone has at the Holiday Homes Tour. “It seems like the word has really spread, and people get excited about it every year,” she says. “For a lot of women, this is their annual get together. Besides having a great time, they know it’s for a good cause.”


Holiday Boutique Vendor Preview

Don’t miss our annual Holiday Boutique on Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8, 2013, from 9am to 4pm at the Baxter facility, One Baxter Way, Westlake Villlage, CA. The event is part of our 22nd Annual Holiday Homes Tour. Click here for tour details.

HHT 2013 LogoWith a great variety of vendors offering one-of-a-kind items, you’ll find that special something for all the special someones on your list.

And with a portion of the proceeds going towards the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara, you can feel even better about doing your shopping at this boutique.

Here is a list of this year’s fantastic vendors:

Knotty Knitters – This longtime group meets at the Cancer Support Community every week for camaraderie and, of course, knitting! Their beautiful knitted scarves will be for sale at the boutique.

Sawitz Fine Arts – Handmade necklaces, bracelets, and earrings made from mixed metals, silk thread, leather, and gemstones

Write From the Heart – Art treasure boxes, baskets, purse accessories, small purses, hand knits, flower pens, scarves, and trays

N. Hay Scarves – Gorgeous cashmere scarves

Jackeez & Nicole – Women’s clothing, including sweaters, t-shirts, jeans, jackets, cardigans, ponchos, capes, dresses, and boots

Posh Sox – Decorated hair accessories and fascinators

Cute and Flirty Jewelry – Women’s jewelry, boxes, and ornaments

Accessories for Divas – Exquisite jewelery from France and Turkey; Handmade Evening bags from India

Phoenix Trading – Holiday and greeting cards, calendars, notecards, stationery from England

Pearls and Panache – Pearl and costume jewelry, silk scarves, small purses

Dreams by Arlene – One-of-a-kind fans and florals

Michele – Doll clothes and accessories for  American Girl and other 18″ dolls

RhoDesigns – One-of-a-kind handmade jewelery, scarves, fashion, boxes, bags (purses, wallets), calligraphy brushes

Joan Ashton Accessories – Jewelry, wallets, and glasses

Painted Silks – Custom hand-painted silk scarves and wraps

Gourmet Blends – Premium balsamic and olive oils

Pure Necessities Skincare & Candles – Lotions, cremes, gift sets, candles

Gerie’s Fashion Closet – Sister’s sweater, ally lace bandeaus, lace duster skirts, dresses, sportswear

Naomi and Lavender – Home and garden décor and gifts

Frame A Memory – 9 x 11 magnetic photo frames

Lemon Tree Gifts – Holiday décor

L6 Design (Coobie Bras) – Wireless sports bras and tank tops

Hostess Gifts to Go – Serving pieces

Terry’s Stylish Pet Supplies – Hand towels, collars, leashes, pet jewelry, etc.

Upton Lane – Antique and vintage jewelry

Remember Me – Women’s hats and accessories

Country Joy – Hand-painted glassware, salt & pepper shakers, hairbows, piggy banks

Elegant Accents – Handcrafted jewelry and accessories

Case Kraze – Personalized cases and colorful accessories for all mobile devices

Origami Owl – Customizable jewelery featuring lockets and handpainted charms

Strut-This – Fitness clothing for woman

Dustin and Daisy – Tutus, wands, wigs, aprons, necklaces, hair clips

Cotton Baby – Women’s clothing and accessories

AromaComa – Body scrubs and sprays, essential oils, lotions, cuticle balms, gift baskets & bags

Keikico – Luxury throws, spa robes & wraps sets, neck warmers, travel sets, stroller gift sets

Fabrinique – Table runners, placemats, pillows and fabric wall art.

Lilac and Thistle – Ornaments, clothing, wooden signs, all with a vintage flair

UCLA Health, Buena Vista Hospice Care, and Conejo Deals will have informational tables

Homespun – Succulent pots, cork creations, crocheted baskets, photographs

Nothing Bundt Cakes – Scrumptious bundlets and buntinis

Cocoa Luxe Chocolatier – Gourmet Chocolates

Devin Krista Jewelry – Custom handmade Jewelry, personalized jewelry

Five Tips for Handling Holiday Stress

Thanks to VP of Programs Jody Tompkins, MA, LMFT for providing this post!

holidaystress2Here we go: the 2013 holiday season is in full swing! Although this is an exciting time, festive with decorations, celebrations and family time, we all have experienced our share of holiday stress! With all the fun come high expectations for the perfect gathering, the best gift, connections to important people around us and such. Especially when our lives are different this year from what we may have planned for, we can find ourselves feeling unwanted emotions during this season: anxiety, sadness, frustration, fatigue and apathy, to name a few.

Rather than getting stuck in the thick of it all, here are a few tips to make it through the holidays and experience joy and peace as well!

  • positivity3Stress isn’t just in your head. When you’re stressed, your body responds.  Stress and depression can adversely affect your holidays and compromise your health.  “Being realistic, planning ahead and seeking support can help ward off stress and depression,” according to this Mayo Clinic article, which offers practical tips about dealing with stress.
  • Remember that although the holidays may leave you feeling “out of balance,” acknowledging what you feel in the moment and preparing for upcoming events can help you gain a sense of control.
  • positivitylist2Give yourself specific information about what to do when you talk to yourself! Example: instead of “I don’t want to feel overwhelmed,” say to yourself “I’m handling this hectic time with balance and purpose.” Then you focus on what you DO WANT, and your capability to make it happen! Your brain has no filter…it will follow suit!
  • With the holidays upon us, I notice myself searching for motivation to stay on track taking care of myself, balancing all the “extras” of the season with my “routine”… So I go back to basics: focus on being POSITIVE in my outlook, and the rest will fall in place.

Finally, I like to collect inspirational quotes to keep me motivated. Here are a few bits of sage advice to get you started:

  • positivity2“Remember that stress doesn’t come from what’s going on in your life. It comes from your thoughts about what’s going on in your life.” ~Andres Bernstein
  • “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~William James
  • “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” ~John Wooden

jodytompkinsJody Tompkins, MA, LMFT is the Vice President of Programs at Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/ Santa Barbara (CSCVVSB). Jody has more than 20 years of experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Her specialties include Family Systems, Anger Management, Anxiety and Depression, Couples Therapy, Grief Work, Art and Play Therapy for Children. Jody received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from California State University, Northridge, and a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

As VP of Programs for CSCVVSB, Jody oversees a comprehensive slate of programs to address the psychosocial needs of cancer survivors and their families. This year, more than 3,000 adults, children, and teens will benefit from CSCVVSB’s free programs, which include professionally-facilitated support groups, expert-led seminars, mind/body courses, expressive arts groups, and an award-winning Latino outreach program. Jody supervises a clinical staff of 15 licensed psychotherapists with over 300 years combined experience working in the field of psychosocial support and cancer related issues. CSCVVSB has been a vital cancer support resource in the community for 22 years so that no one faces cancer alone.

Participant Profile: Ann Coons


This photo was taken during a trip to Paris that Ann took in September with her sister. “Cancer made us quit just talking about going on that trip – a good lesson for me,” says Ann.

In July 2012, almost a year into retirement from a corporate law job, I was diagnosed with stage 1 invasive breast cancer.  After years of routine and normal annual mammograms, I naively thought that I had eluded breast cancer.  Appointments with my surgeon, radiologist and oncologist followed quickly after the diagnosis and treatment decisions were made, with second-guessing as I read books and blogs, searched cancer websites and listened to other women’s experiences with breast cancer.  My doctors and family were kind and helpful throughout treatment, and I managed well until radiation was almost complete.

Sitting alone in the kitchen one morning, I felt that I could not simply close the door on cancer and proceed as usual “pre-diagnosis.”  I would have a reminder of cancer when I swallowed a pill each morning for the next five years to complete treatment.

I had read a copy of the Cancer Support Community’s monthly calendar of events in the radiologist’s waiting room and remembered driving by The Wellness Community on Hampshire Road many times before it was renamed the Cancer Support Community.  “Sharing the Traditions” 2001 Holiday Homes Tour Cookbook that I bought on the tour when my husband and I first moved to Westlake Village sits on my kitchen shelf as a reminder. I decided to call the Center for an appointment to explore support groups and soon joined Anne Gessert’s Thursday morning support group.

AnnCoons1The calendar offers an array of classes, lectures and gatherings to appeal to everyone, and I chose a few, including Susan Speer’s helpful nutrition cooking demonstrations and Dance for Wellness, where my husband and I rediscovered our two left feet. I now attend the recently formed drop-in support group for stage 1 and 2 breast cancer facilitated by Marty Nason and Kayo Matsumoto.

The support groups have been the key to help me resume where I left off when I was diagnosed with cancer and to gain some perspective on the disease.  For anyone who has just been diagnosed and is hesitant about joining a support group, I’d encourage them to call or visit the Cancer Support Community and talk to one of the facilitators, who are all professionally trained, and explore whether a group might be helpful.

I’ve found the support groups welcoming and warm, with members ready to support each other as their physical and emotional needs change from week to week.  I’ve been able to listen and talk in the Center’s warm living room settings to others who understand first hand the lasting effects of a cancer diagnosis. I’ve also experienced sadness in the groups, but it has been far outweighed by hope, persistence, insight, acceptance, candor and humor.  I’ve met exceptional men and women who quickly lost their stranger status because of a common diagnosis.

The Cancer Support Community has helped me regain equilibrium to enjoy family and friends, volunteer, putter in the garden, “renovate” my 1950’s dollhouse, travel and go to movies or art museums or wherever the spirit moves.  I take comfort that the resources of the Cancer Support Community have been and will be there for me, and I am grateful for all of the staff, professionals, volunteers and other cancer patients who make the Center a treasure in our community.

Holiday Homes Tour Showcase

Kick off the holidays in style with the 22nd Annual Holiday Homes Tour, Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8! Proceeds benefit the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara.  Click here for tickets, and enjoy this preview of the stunning homes that are opening their doors to hope.

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A Christmas Spectacular – Dr. Alex and Khatereh Abbassi

Abbassi PCV_2333

This lovely home on the main channel of Westlake Island has something special to offer whether you are inside or out. A relaxing boat ride in the lake is steps away, while the interior offers a dazzling collection of antiques, handmade rugs, and paintings from around the world.

Dr. Alex, his wife Khatereh, and their twin 15-year-old daughters share this comfortable home with rescue dogs Duke, Princess, and Bugsy. The family has been busy adorning the four gorgeous trees in the home with their collection of ornaments from across the globe.

A French Country Christmas – Steve and Adrienne Jacob

Jacob PCV_2368The Jacob Family invites you to celebrate a Joyeux Noël in their 5,060-square-foot French-style estate in Agoura Hills. With two sons, one daughter, one grandson, four dogs and three horses, the family has created an abundance of cherished memories in this elegantly rustic home.Renowned interior designer Adrienne Jacob put lots of love and attention into every detail of her home, which she calls her “dream come true.”

Believe in the Magic of the Season – Linda and Jerry Kovach

Kovach PCV_2354Twenty-six years of love and care have gone into this enchanting French Country-style home in Westlake Village. With their two sons, daughter-in-law, and two grandsons, Linda and Jerry Kovach love creating holiday memories here. Linda and Jerry’s incredible holiday décor collection will truly make you believe in the magic of Christmas. The antique French furnishings give the home a classic elegance, and Linda’s expert touch as an interior designer gives it that special je ne sais quoi that really makes a home stand out.

Celebrating Christmas Lakeside – Hugh and Keets Cassar

Celebrating Christmas Lakeside

This 8,500 square-foot home on Westlake Island offers breathtaking vistas of Westlake Lake, one of the country’s premier sailing lakes. From the moment you step into the atrium you are transported into another world of calm beauty provided by lakeside living.  As you cross the bridge notice the “stream” of black granite flowing through the atrium and the mirrors reflecting the garden’s peace and serenity. This feeling continues as you enter the house and gaze through the glass doors and arched windows to the patio running the length of the house and the rippling lake beyond shimmering in the sunshine.

Oak Tree Manor – Rick and Michelle Serino

Serino PCV_2301Welcome to Oak Tree Manor, a 7,500-square-foot colonial-style home set on three acres in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. With five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, and an in-house elevator, this elegant estate offers plenty of space for three generations of the Serino family to create wonderful holiday memories together.

The family Christmas tree in the living room is decorated with precious Lladró ornaments from Spain. Additional must-see features include a Thomas the Tank Engine retreat for grandchildren, and a limited-edition hand-blown work of art by renowned sculptor Stephen Schlanser.

Photos by Peter Christiansen Valli.