Hercules Business of the Year: Little Munchkins Academy

Hercules Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Newsletter
235 LINUS PAULING DRIVE, SUITE B • HERCULES, CA 94547 • T (510) 741-7945 • F (510) 741-8965 • WWW.HERCULESCHAMBER.COM
Director’s Dialogue
Sylvia Villa-Serrano
2010 is in full swing, and at the Hercules Chamber of Commerce we’re
enjoying the fresh start it brings.
We have settled into our new office
at 235 #B Linus Pauling Drive in
Hercules North Shore Business Park.
Our staffing at the Chamber of Commerce office is also going through a
transition. Shirley Gotelli who served
many years as our Executive Director
has retired from the Chamber. The
Chamber of Commerce and directors
would like to thank Shirley for her
many years of service, dedication and
value that she brought to the Chamber.
The Chamber of Commerce would like
to welcome Deanna Million as its new
Executive Director. Deanna and I will
be working in partnership to reach our
2010 goals.
One of our top objectives for 2010
is to determine how to better serve our
business community. Even though we
have our own ideas, the Chamber of
Commerce would like your input. If
you are an owner, employee, or local
resident, we would like to hear from
you. Please feel free to contact the
Chamber, myself or any of our Board
Members listed on page 2.
On January 1st, we launched our
new web site with advanced search
features giving better exposure to our
members, while making it easier for the
general public to find the businesses
and services they are interested in. It is
our goal to make the Hercules Chamber of Commerce the “First Choice
Resource” for our residents.
Thank you for supporting the
Hercules Chamber of Commerce.
We look forward to your feedback. n
Q1: February 2010
Business of the Year: Little Munchkins Academy
“Sing, play, learn and grow!” In 1991,
Sarah Kazmi obtained her license to run
a child care out of her home in Hercules
and created this as her business logo. A
single mother of three herself (her girls
are now in high school and her eldest
attends UC Berkeley), Ms. Kazmi has
materialized her passion for nurturing
and teaching young children into a quality preschool and haven for learning.
In 2008, she was awarded national
accreditation by the NAFCC as Little
Munchkins Academy exceeded national
standards in the following key areas of
quality: relationships, environment, activities, developmental learning goals, safety
and health, and professional business
practices. The longest licensed facility in
Hercules, Little Munchkins guarantees
children engage in activities designed to
promote their individual development.
Meanwhile, parents enjoy open communication through an open-door policy,
daily discussion with staff , and a careful system of notes sent home regarding
children’s needs and accomplishments.
Visiting the immaculate facility is a
delight: the children happily interact in a
spacious, colorful play room, in which all
toys and learning materials are arranged
neatly by category. A variety of multicultural, non stereotyping materials and
activities are offered to celebrate sociocultural diversity and to foster each child’s
self concept and self-esteem. “We use our
training and experience to carefully plan
activities that enable children at different
ages and developmental levels to participate with equal success,” says Ms. Kazmi.
The children excel by being in a noncrowded, comfortable environment with
a low adult/child ratio. Ms. Kazmi says,
“Studies have shown that children mimic
each other to learn new words, self-help
skills and appropriate social behavior.”
Academic learning isn’t the only focus,
also taught are basic manners, good citizenship, and respect for self and others.
Further, Little Munchkins recognizes that language development is the
key to success in all other subjects. The
children are provided with a “print-rich
environment” and thus develop a love of
books early. The enviable vocabulary of
the littlest munchkins is the result of consistent verbal communication between
the staff and the children. Parent testimonials attest to the eagerness their children
show for learning, as well as the skills they
acquire in how to be inquisitive students.
Throughout the day, Ms. Kazmi and
her staff actively discuss the children’s
progress and ways to strengthen their
teaching methods.
Ms. Kazmi minimizes staff turnover
by maintaining staff who have a genu(See Munchkins on Page 10)
E-mails: Before You Click the “Send” Button
by Jojo Soriano, Realtor
Victor Kerenyi
Hercules Wellness Center
Deborah Morris
Coldwell Banker Bartels Realtors
Robert Polacchi
Gigi Reloj
The Powder Keg Pub
Michael Sailor
Conoco Phillips
Have you ever received an e-mail from
a friend asking you
for emergency funds,
or e-mails asking you
to forward it to your
friends to help out
a heart-wrenching
cause? Chances are, these e-mails are
mere hoaxes. Once in awhile, I receive
suspicious e-mails, some with attachments most likely containing a virus. So
before I open or forward it to my sphere,
I habitually check the legitimacy of these
suspicious e-mails. Here’s how: simply
google it and add the word “Hoax” at the
end of the word or phrase that describes
the e-mail, and instantly web pages pop
up with warnings not to open it, to discard it and let you know that the e-mail is
indeed just another hoax. So do yourself
a favor, check before you open or forward
that e-mail, AND don’t forget to back-up
all your files regularly! n
Featured Chamber Ambassadors
Michelle Harrington
“Chief Ambassador”
City of Hercules
Sylvia Villa-Serrano
Elegant Memories
Cheri Soriano-Escalante
D’Lorenza Florals & Events
A Muse Muzick
Victor Kerenyi
Hercules Wellness Center
Viktor Manrique
Realty World Regency
Deborah Morris
Coldwell Banker Bartels Realtors
Christopher Myers
Todd Risby
Lori Risby & Associates, CPA
Sylvia Villa-Serrano
Marketing Director
Deanna Million
Executive Director
Jojo Soriano
Creative Director
Deborah Morris has
been a Hercules Chamber Ambassador since
2008 and was installed
as a Chamber Director
in March 2009. She is
a certified Realtor and
proud business owner of
Deborah Morris Homes. Her husband of 26
years, Darren Morris is the VP of International
Sales for a Los Angeles based marketing and
consulting company. She also has one daughter
and a 13-month old granddaughter, who is the
love of her life.
Prior to becoming a Realtor, she was
the Program Director for a non-profit that
sponsored the CryBabies Program in seven
school districts. The three things she says she is
most passionate about are real estate, interior
design and world traveling. “At the end of every
journey, I have always returned to the Bay Area
convinced that this is the best place in the world
to live.” Her and her husband love the area so
much, that they purchased their third home in
Hercules, just one year ago.
Deborah has found the Chamber to be an
excellent way for her to give back to the Hercules community and promote her business. “It
also enables me to stay informed on the progress
of the ongoing development in Hercules.” Over
the next year, she looks forward to seeing more
get involved and realize the wonderful benefits
of the Hercules Chamber. n
Michelle Harrington
began working with the
Hercules Chamber of
Commerce in 2008 and
currently serves as the
Hercules Chamber of
Commerce Chief Ambassador. Her role as a
City employee gives her a unique perspective
when it comes to working with the Chamber.
Before moving to her current position of
Community Relations Officer in 2008, she
worked in the City’s Finance Department for
four years.
Michelle enjoys meeting local business
owners and learning about their issues and
concerns. “Talking with local leaders is so
important in my job and really challenges me
to do my best.” She also loves collaborating
with other Ambassadors. “They are creative, committed, and really care about our
community.” Thru her connections with the
Chamber and local leaders, she has helped
implement the Annual Photo Contest and
One Warm Coat Drive.
When she is not busy at work, Michelle
enjoys spending time with her family and reading classic literature. Michelle has one dog and
one cat and lives in Rodeo with her husband of
four years. She can’t wait to see more businesses
(and restaurants) come to Hercules and join the
Chamber as they learn about the many benefits
of our community. n
Jazz Appreciation Month Coming to Hercules
This coming April, the City of Hercules and Hercules Rotary Club will be
co-hosting JAM in Tha’ Park, an annual
event to celebrate Jazz Appreciation
Month. JAM in Tha’ Park will feature jazz
music of all types, every Saturday in April
from 4:00PM to dusk at Refugio Valley
Park under the Gazebo.
The entire community is invited to
this unique event. Whether you are a jazz
aficionado or just looking for a relaxing
evening in the park, this event is for you.
Enjoy the sounds of elegant jazz disc
jockey programming while you picnic,
barbecue, play games or simply kick back.
Bring the family, friends, or that special
someone and we will provide the sound
track for your enjoyment.
“JAM in Tha’ Park is going to
become a main stay for Hercules and
West County,” says Michelle Harrington,
Community Relations Officer for the
City of Hercules. “We will continue to
grow the event every year and hope to
keep building on every year’s success.”
Music programming will be provided
by A Muze Music which specializes in
bringing upscale event music to businesses and individuals. “I am dedicated
to exposing new generations to the jazz
experience, its history and the influences
the genre has on today’s popular music
and the JAM in Tha’ Park event is one opportunity for me to do just that,” adds b
jAXON, Director and Executive Master
Programmer of A Muze Music.
Each Saturday in April (the 3rd,
10th, 17th and 24th), weather permitting,
come join us at the park for great Jazz!.
For more information, please visit www.
ci.hercules.ca.us or call 510-799-8200.
If you are a business owner and interested in learning how you can be a part of
JAM in Tha’ Park, please visit:
www.muzikproductions.com. n
Hercules Welcomes New Businesses: Grand Openings
Dynamic City Skate Shop Grand Opening: Mayor Kris
Valstad and council memberJoanne Ward, Hercules
Chamber Representatives Todd Risby & Bob Polacchi
with owners Nathaniel, Danielle & Dominic Serrano.
Lori A. Risby CPA and Associates Grand Opening:
Council Members Don Kuehne, Mayor Kris Valstad, Joe
Eddy McDonald, Hercules Chamber Representatives
Todd Risby & Michael Sailor with owner Lori Risby.
17th Annual Awards Dinner
March 27th • 6 p.m.
Hercules Senior Center • 111 Civic Dr. • $35
Tickets (510) 741-7945 or e-mail [email protected] .com
Carolyn Willing
Myrna De Vera
Little Munchkins Academy
Carla Bernal
Tracy Chan
Janet Headington
Q1: February 2010
Tiera Yoga Grand Opening: Council Member Don
Kuehne, Hercules Chamber Representatives Sylvia
Villa-Serrano, Viktor Manrique and Bob Polacchi with
owner Ilia Jimenez.
Welcome New Members
A Muse Muzick
AAA Travel Agency
Aloha Health & Fitness
Bella Vista @ Hilltop
Dynamic City Skate Shop
Fil-Ams of Hercules
44 Sports Lounge
Lori A. Risby CPA & Associates
Massage by Michelle
Maximum Security Alarm
Shaw’s Texas Style BBQ
Tierra Yoga
New Sudio
your life
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your mind
our potential
San Vacial
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Enjoy y lass
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New Studio
offering daily classes
Yoga - Pilates - Tai Chi
Creekside Center 1581 Sycamore Ave Hercules CA 94547
• Personable, professional and passionate
about Real Estate
• Committed to getting the HIGHEST price
for your home
• Proven Short Sale Negotiator
• New Hercules office
• Director, Hercules Chamber of Commerce
Q1: February 2010
visit us @
510.758.7001 / 510.517.7150
Providing ”Quality Service and Attention to Detail” since 1979
A Bay Area Green Business
900 San Pablo Avenue, Pinole, CA. 94564
510.741.9001 www.crockettspremierautobody.com
Q1: February 2010
Hercules Chamber’s New Marketing Campaign
As part of the Hercules Chamber of
Commerce’s enhanced marketing
effort, it will introduce a new marketing campaign: “Hercules Chamber of
Commerce- A First Choice Resource:
www.herculeschamber.com.” You will
start to see this theme in nearterm advertising.
The Chamber is upgrading its
website, and this theme will ask resi-
dents of the area to visit the site when
they need to find businesses or services
that are not in their day to day routine.
One goal of the theme is to educate the
public that the Chamber is an excellent
resource to find these businesses.
In the Fall edition of the Herculean, the first article that mentioned
this theme, was published. The
article cited a few examples: a notary,
a dentist, a smog check, and a heater
repair. There are numerous other examples: child care, catering, insurance
agents, real estate agents, etc.
This new theme will also give our
home-based businesses a cost effective method to advertise their business or service and will allow resi-
dents to learn about these businesses.
In other cities, you may see “Shop
Hercules-type” advertising. The
Chamber has chosen not to be too
specific, mainly because we have
members in Rodeo, Crockett, Pinole,
and other cities. Thus a regional approach better serves our total membership. However, the endpoint goal
is the same.
As was stated in the Herculean
article; Businesses need residents;
residents want local businesses.
To all of the residents of the
area…you are invited to visit:
www.herculeschamber.com and
learn about your local businesses
and services. n
Chamber and Journalism Class Partnership
Over the last few years, the Hercules
Chamber of Commerce and the Hercules
High School Journalism Class have been
working together diligently on creating
a partnership.
Three years ago, Chamber member
Bob Polacchi and Journalism teacher,
John Brown began this partnership. Polacchi developed and gave a presentation
to Brown’s classes on “An Introduction to
the Resume”. Last year, this program was
expanded to include a second presentation on “An Introduction to Interviewing”. A Mock Interview Program was
developed and during the last school year,
over 40 students practiced interviewing,
with Chamber members and friends serving as the interviewers.
In June 2009, John Brown retired and
Natalie Wojinski took over the journalism classes. The resume and interview
programs are continuing. In addition,
the Chamber has asked that journalism
students, under Wojinski’s supervision,
begin to write articles for the Chamber’s
newsletters. This will allow some of the
students to have their work published in
an offsite media and help them gain valuable journalism experience. The first of
these articles appears in this edition.
In the future, you will see additional
articles from these students. One theme
will highlight excellence at the high school,
and another will address Chamber items.
Welcome to the Hercules High School
Journalism classes and its students. n
Seven Ways
1. Gather your records in advance.
Make sure you have all the records
you need, including W-2s and
1099s. Don’t forget to save a copy
for your files.
2. Get the right forms. They’re available around the clock on the IRS
Web site, www.IRS.gov.
3. Take your time. Don’t forget to leave
room for a coffee break when filling
out your tax return as rushing can
mean making a mistake.
4. Double-check your math and verify
all Social Security numbers. These
to Get a Jump Start on Your Taxes
Earlier is better when it comes to working on your taxes. You are encouraged to get a head start on tax preparation, especially since early
filers avoid the last minute rush and get their refunds sooner.
Here are seven easy ways to get a good jump on your taxes long
before the April deadline is here:
are among the most common errors
found on tax returns. Taking care will
reduce your chance of hearing from
the IRS and speed up your refund.
5. E-filing is easy. E-filing catches
math errors and provides confirmation your return has been received
and gives you a faster refund.
6. Get the fastest refund. When you efile file early, you receive your refund
faster. When you choose direct deposit, you receive your refund sooner
than waiting for a check. This year,
electronic filing options will speed
the payment of refunds to millions
of taxpayers. Taxpayers who e-file
and choose direct deposit for their
refunds, for example, will get their
refunds in as few as 10 days. That
compares to approximately six weeks
for people who file a paper return and
get a traditional paper check.
7. Don’t panic. If you have a problem
or a question, call us. Also, remember the IRS is there to help. Try the
IRS Web site at www.IRS.gov or
call the IRS customer service number at 800-829-1040. n
For more information please contact Lori A. Risby, Risby CPA & Associates at (510) 343-5160
Q1: February 2010
Ivy League Returns to Hercules with Strong Start
By Darlena Chiem, Hercules High School Journalism student
Hercules High is making the big league
- the Ivy League, that is.
As of Dec. 16, eight HHS students
have been chosen for the Ivy League
Connection, a program of the West
Contra Costa Unified School District
funded by generous sponsors of the
community. It allows qualified students
to participate in enrichment programs
at Ivy League institutions.
Juniors Christopher Habash, Jacqueline Lares, and sophomore Beilul
Naizghi will fly to Ithaca, New York
and participate in Cornell University’s
Hotel Operations and Management
course, while juniors Stephanie Chan
and Andrew Gabriel will take part in
Brown University’s Economics program
in Providence, Rhode Island.
Junior Yueming Wang has been invited
to apply for the “Government: from
George Washington to Barack Obama”
course at Columbia University in New
York. Also, sophomore Terilyn Chen
has been invited to apply for the “Management and Technology” course at the
University of Pennsylvania. All of these
students will be attending their respec-
tive institutions in the summer of 2010.
“At first, I was a little overwhelmed,”
Lares said. “I really didn’t expect to be
accepted into the program, so when they
announced the names, I was in a partial
state of shock. It’s hard to believe I’ll really be leaving to go to Cornell over the
summer. I think it won’t actually hit me
until our departure date is closer.”
Applicants for both schools had to
submit an essay stating why they were
eligible to attend the program. A handful of students were then selected to be
interviewed the following week.
The students applying for both Cornell
and Brown were interviewed by a panel
of three or four people varying from a
Brown alumnus to former Hercules mayor Herman Blackmon and former HHS
assistant principal Cheryl Lilhanand.
“Of course I was feeling a bit nervous,
but overall I went [into the interview]
calm and prepared,” Chan said. “I was
the first among the six to be interviewed, so I knew that it was my chance
to give a good first impression.”
Interview questions varied from ones
about the program itself to the individual’s
opinion on specific current events. After
the interviews and about half an hour of
deliberation, the students were called into
the library to hear the final decision.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for
everyone, whether they tried or were
selected,” Terri Ishmael, HHS assistant
vice principal said. “Looking at everything, these students are taking advantage of a program that amounts
to a $7000 scholarship.”
Those in the ILC have the chance to
meet students from across the globe,
test their skills in rigorous classes and
experience life on a college campus.
“I was able to experience college in all
of its aspects,” senior Ramiah Davis, who
attended Cornell’s Freedom and Justice
program last summer for three weeks,
said. “It was up to me to do the homework, to go to office hours if I was struggling and to study with my classmates.”
The five students must now wait for
further details from district board
member Charles Ramsey, co-founder
of the ILC.
Essay prompts for Yale University are
to be announced. n
Munchkins (Con’t from Pg. 1)
ine interest in young children. “I am
fortunate to work with such a unique
group of children,” says Ms. Saeteurn,
who has been with the Academy
for over three years. “Circle time is
especially rewarding – even the very
youngest is able to participate!” Ms.
Piperdi adds, “Being a teacher at Little Munchkins has definitely taught
me that giving children a head start
is vital in these early years.” Having
obtained their B.A.’s, both teachers
are continuing to further their education in early childhood education.
Ms. Kazmi shares her expertise
by being a Peer Mentor for the Child
Care Council and an accreditation
observer for the NAFCC. For
facilities of all stages seeking to set up
environments, develop professional
business practices and procedures,
and/or create contracts, Ms. Kazmi
also offers individual
consulting services.
Besides being a
demonstration site,
Little Munchkins
is also now participating in Preschool
Makes a Difference,
a new First 5, Contra Costa program
which offers scholarships to children
to attend highquality preschools.
The little munchkins are very
honored to accept this award and
invite their fellow Herculeans to be
the future of America with them. n
Q1: February 2010
Citizen of the Year: Carolyn J. Willing
Carolyn J. Willing is
being recognized as
the Hercules Chamber
of Commerce 2010
Citizen of the Year for
her dedicated volunteer service at Ohlone
Elementary School
and then at Hercules Middle High
School. Carolyn has been an active volunteer for over 15 years and has worked
“under the radar” to accomplish a great
deal of good at both schools. Her activities have greatly benefited the schools
and the students who have attended
these schools.
Carolyn and her husband, Michael,
moved to Hercules in 1992. Shortly after
her arrival, Carolyn started to volunteer at
Ohlone Elementary School. She has held
numerous positions in the Ohlone PTA
and has served as President, Vice President,
Secretary, and Fund-raising Chair. She
served as the coordinator of Hot Dog Day
for many years. She coordinated, shopped,
and ran the Christmas Boutique for the
students for several years. She assisted with
the newsletter, The Drumbeat, by running
off copies and distributing it to the teachers
and students.
After Hercules Middle High School
opened in 2001, Carolyn joined the
Hercules Community Partnership, and
over the years she has held numerous
board positions such as President, Vice
President and many others. Through the
HCP, she has helped the school staff coordinate and organize the annual walk thru
registration. She has assisted with student
and teacher recognitions. As a member
of the school safety committee, she helps
coordinate and organize the food for volunteers, local police and fire departments
for the “Every 15 Minutes Program,”
which is presented every other year. She
helps produce the Hercules Community
Partnership newsletter. As a member
of HCP she participates in community
events such as the Annual Cultural Faire
and the Hercules Clean Up Day.
In 2008, Carolyn was honored as the
“Outstanding Public Education Advocate”
by the Contra Costa College and the West
Contra Costa Branch of the American
Association of University Women at their
Annual CCC National Women’s History
Month Program.
Michael and Carolyn have three children. Two have completed their 12 years
of local schooling, and the youngest is still
attending the local high school.
Please join the Chamber in extending a
big “Thank you” to Carolyn for her years of
service to the community! n
Events Line-Up
Networking Business Mixer
The Dental Center of Hercules
844 Willow Avenue, Hercules
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
March 27
Awards Dinner
Join the Hercules Chamber of
Commerce in honoring the
Business of the Year,
Citizen of the Year and
other awardees.
Hercules Senior Center
6:00 p.m.
111 Civic Drive
Ticket information 510.741.7945
April 3,10,17 and 24
JAM in Tha’ Park
Refugio Valley Park, Hercules
4:00 p.m. to dusk
April 22
Hercules Chamber Luncheon
Guest Speaker: Nelson Oliva
11:30 a.m – 1:00 p.m.
La Strada Restaurant
2215 Church Lane, San Pablo
$15/$20 for non-members
R.S.V.P. (510) 741-7945, or e-mail:
[email protected]
May 1
Powder Keg Pub
1st Annual Golf Tournament
Proceeds to benefit
Breast Cancer Research
For player and sponsorship
information, call
(510) 741-7945
May 5
Networking Business Mixer
D’Lorenza Floral & Event Décor
First Year Anniversary
2138 Railroad Avenue, Hercules
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Visit our web site to view our
2010 Event Calendar