• May 2024

    Overcoming Tragedy By Helping Others

    Mother’s Day is about celebrating the sacrifices in which moms throughout the community make every day for their children. Few parents have made more sacrifices than 40-year-old Amy Ramsey, who, in April 2020, lost her 5-year-old son Jett after a year-long fight with brain cancer. “It’s like losing a limb and trying to find it all the time,” Ramsey said. “You always kind of feel like a part of you is missing. But I would say that our hope comes from God and that’s what has gotten our family through.” Ramsey is the owner of Jett&Rose – a home decor and gift shop in Corralitos – and loves working every…

  • May 2023

    Turning Nightmares into Bliss

    This morning, Jaime McFaden’s 6-year-old daughter Sofia came into her room in tears after having a nightmare. Her dream – that her mom was taken onto a pirate ship and killed by pirates. “I think the greatest legacy that I can leave my daughter is that every moment of every day is a gift,” said Jaime, 37, who lives in Capitola. This is a conclusion that Jaime came to after her father died of alcoholism when she was just 18 years old.The death of her father caused a mindset shift in Jaime, after watching him be seemingly unable to control the decisions that made him sick in the first place.…

  • March 2023

    Harraher is the Chief of Neurosurgery at Dominican Hospital

    Dr. Ciara Harraher is running around her front yard on a cool Saturday afternoon in January with 20 nine-year-old boys at her son, Finn’s, birthday party. Directing a nerf war is no easy task. “Wrangling the boys was like getting an operating room in check! That was so much fun. Finn envisioned doing his nerf war, so I had to come through with it,” said Harraher. Dr. Harraher’s professional resume is remarkable. She is the Chief of Neurosurgery at Dominican Hospital and heads the Stanford Neurosurgery Outreach Clinic. She also teaches Principles of Medicine to Stanford MD students. She received her medical degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, a…

  • January 2023

    Long-Time Journalist Reflects on Career

    Local mom and well-known broadcast reporter, Amy Larson, sat at a roundtable discussion with a group of journalism students at Cabrillo College early December as they picked her brain regarding her colorful journalism career and the paths that she’d taken to get to where she is. “I guess I was 21 years old when I began my career,” said Larson, who is now 38. Larson started working at Watsonville’s Register-Pajaronian newspaper after graduating from Occidental College in L.A. with a degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs. “I took the job and ran with it,” she said. After one year of loving chasing stories, Larson decided to study journalism, so she…

  • October 2022

    Doula Profile Beth Lillienthal

    Beth Lillienthal, Mama Extraordinaire by Carmen Clark Beth has been to a lot of one-year-old parties, and often when she leaves her job, people have tears in their eyes, tears of gratitude, and tears of sadness. They don’t want her to go. As a post-partum doula, Beth is a professional nurturer. She explains that doulas have areas of expertise or strengths that help mothers and the whole family get used to a new baby in the house. Beth offers breastfeeding counseling and is a lactation consultant. She visits the home as a support to the family, whether for an hour at a time or a full day; she’ll counsel on…

  • September 2022

    Sarah Greathouse

    New Job Means More Time with Family by Carmen Clark Sarah Greathouse has always been a party planner. In 6th grade, her teacher gave everyone a certificate for their strengths, and Sarah was Organizational Guru, always volunteering to take on the class party. Despite not being into clubs or groups or cliques in high school, Sarah found a home in leadership, where they planned all the high school events, including prom. Sarah was about to enter a teaching credentialing program when she was hired to work at a local resort, where she fell into the wedding coordination world. When she got laid off due to the crash of 2008, she…

  • August 2022

    Learning by Immersion

    Lisset Orozco: Plants Seeds in Spanish by suki wessling She has to believe in immersion to do her job. Lisset runs Spanish Nature Club, which offers preschool, afterschool, summer, and adult programs. The concept is simple: get out in nature, speak Spanish. Teaching Spanish to children in Santa Cruz was possibly the last place Lisset Orozco thought she’d end up. With her degree in political science and work in rural Mexico on literacy, Lisset planned to go to Italy for graduate school.But then she fell in love surfing in Puerto Escondido with a man from Santa Cruz, a town she couldn’t even find on the map. When she arrived, she…

  • June 2022

    Erin Buchla

    Cruising to a New Career Suki Wessling Erin Buchla, like anyone who worked with small children for many years, is good at problem-solving in the moment. Faced with a devastated customer, a boy who had lost his Pokémon cards after leaving them on top of the car, she got to work. “I invited all these parents to come out with their kids and bring a couple Pokémon cards,” Erin recalls. “We put them out on this 14-foot table and the kids all shared a couple cards with the boy that lost them and he was just so happy.” Erin owns Cruise Coffee Cafe in Scotts Valley—a drive-through and a full…

  • May 2022

    Sierra Ryan

    Sierra Ryan: Saving Water for Our Children’s Future Suki Wessling ’m lucky that I feel like some of the work that I do is really for her, so sometimes when I feel like, ‘Oh, I’m working again,’ [I tell myself] I’m doing it for Faye and for her future here. “You need a bit of a reminder on the rough days,” admits Sierra Ryan, Water Resources Manager for the County and mom to 3-year-old Faye, about being a full-time working mom. “Like, why are you doing this? How does this fit into your life?”Like many working moms, Sierra has to balance her commitment to her career with her commitment to…

  • April 2022

    Social Justice Warrior

    Mom, Principal, Social Justice Warrior Suki Wessling Welcome back to our monthly feature of moms who give back to our community while also raising their children. Research shows that even in families where both spouses are involved, women face more obstacles while attempting to juggle parenting and work. We love to celebrate you, moms! When Jen Ra’anan and her husband arrived in Santa Cruz nine years ago, she was seven months pregnant. Not a good time to look for a job as a teacher.  “It was great,” Jen remembers of the unplanned time off. “It was also really necessary—I didn’t sleep for the first, I would say, nine months! I…

  • February 2022

    Yvette Brooks

    Yvette Brooks, Mom and Problem-Solver Suki Wessling Welcome back to our monthly feature of moms who give back to our community while also raising their children. Research shows that even in families where both spouses are involved, women face more obstacles while attempting to juggle parenting and work. We love to celebrate you, moms! Before the start of the pandemic, Yvette Lopez Brooks “had it all.” Not only was she married and mom of a kindergartener, but she worked for the County Office of Education, had successfully run for Capitola City Council, and was starting her term as Mayor. Suddenly adding teacher and full-time caregiver to her list of duties…

  • January 2022

    January 2022’s Mom

    Carmen Clark Teaches Art for Life Suki Wessling Welcome back to our monthly feature of moms who give back to our community while also raising their children. Research shows that even in families where both spouses are involved, women face more obstacles while attempting to juggle parenting and work. We love to celebrate you, moms! You know it’s serious when they devote a whole room to art. When Carmen Clark, 42, a classroom aide and owner of Crooked Beauty in Felton, moved into a new home with her husband, Aaron Clark, co-owner of Bro Prints, she had one firm request: their dining room would be dedicated to making art. Her…

  • December 2021

    Mrs Victory

    Mrs. Victory, Kinder Superhero Suki Wessling Welcome back to our monthly feature of moms who have faced the task of pandemic parenting while also continuing their work in our community. Research has shown that women have suffered greater economic and personal fallout from the pandemic, losing jobs or having to work while also caring for children. Robin Victory is one of the rare teachers in Santa Cruz County who shepherded three of her own children through the school where she teaches.“I wanted to be here at Rio del Mar Elementary with my kids,” she explains. “I live in the community and I got [the job teaching kindergarten] when my oldest…

  • November 2021

    Vanessa Silver Linings

    Vanessa Garcia Seeks Silver Linings Suki Wessling Welcome back to our monthly feature of moms who have faced the task of pandemic parenting while also continuing their work in our community. Research has shown that women have suffered greater economic and personal fallout from the pandemic, losing jobs or having to work while also caring for children. Avid readers of Growing Up might remember Vanessa from last month’s article, “Pandemic-era Birth Stories: Unknowns, Rainbows, and Hard Choices.” About two minutes into the interview about her difficult Covid-era pregnancy, I knew I needed to feature her as our next Mom Who Makes a Difference. But this article is different because until…

  • October 2021

    Dana Ramsey

    Dana Ramsey Finds Fertile Ground in Santa Cruz Suki Wessling Welcome back to our monthly feature of moms who have faced the task of pandemic parenting while also continuing their work in our community. Research has shown that women have suffered greater economic and personal fallout from the pandemic, losing jobs or having to work while also caring for children. When she opened her new business two-and-a-half months before Covid-19 hit Santa Cruz, Dana Ramsey remembers feeling her stress level dive. “It was life-changing to go from practicing full-scope midwifery for the past 15 years to a much slower-paced, patient-focused practice,” Dana remembers. “It gave me flexibility to pick my…

  • September 2021

    Hallie Green

    For Hallie Greene, It’s All About Community Suki Wessling Welcome back to our monthly feature of moms who have faced the task of pandemic parenting while also continuing their work in our community. Research has shown that women have suffered greater economic and personal fallout from the pandemic, losing jobs or having to work while also caring for children. Many people lost homes in last year’s CZU Lightning Complex Fires. Hallie Green lost three. On neighboring Boulder Creek properties, the fire took the home she was living in, her childhood home over the ridge that her parents lived in, and the home nearby where her two daughters’ dad lived. Their…

  • August 2021

    Mariah Roberts

    Suki Wessling Unlike other local organizations, which are just now waking up after over a year of closures and online approximations of their services, County Park Friends got busy implementing plans that had been pre-pandemic pipe dreams. Mariah Roberts, Executive Director of County Park Friends, has a unique view from her corner of the pandemic. As someone who ‘activates’ outdoor programs, she suddenly found her organization front and center when other organizations were shut down. “What we’re tasked with doing, and got funding to do, was to activate parks through health and wellness and focus on communities that haven’t been able to access existing resources historically,” she explains. “Because we…

  • July 2021

    Jenny Putt

    Physical Therapist Jenny Putt Finds Covid Silver Linings by suki wessling Welcome back to our monthly feature of moms who have faced the task of pandemic parenting while also continuing their work in our community. Research has shown that women have suffered greater economic and personal fallout from the pandemic, losing jobs or having to work while also caring for children. “It’s easy to miss so much of your child’s growth and development when you are a working parent, especially self-employed,” says physical therapist Jenny Putt, mom to three-year-old Peyton. “I had no idea what I was missing by working all the time.”That’s Jenny putting a positive spin on the…

  • June 2021

    Kate Pavao

    Kate Pavao of the Live Like Coco Foundation by suki wessling Welcome back to our monthly feature of moms who have faced the task of pandemic parenting while also continuing their work in our community. Research has shown that women have suffered greater economic and personal fallout from the pandemic, losing jobs or having to work while also caring for children. When local mom, writer, and community volunteer Kate Pavao talks about ‘Marie Kondo-ing’ her life, she’s not referring to physical stuff. She’s working on focusing on what’s important, especially at a time when so many people need so much. “I used to manage a freelance writing/editing business as well…