La Mesa News Briefs – Sept. 23, 2016

The La Mesa Chamber launches annual senior project 

The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce (LMCC) is beginning to gather items for the seniors that the chamber adopts each year during the holidays.

It is the goal of the chamber to collect, purchase and assemble items and place them in large gift baskets. These gift baskets are delivered along with a hot turkey dinner, with all of the trimmings to the selected seniors by the La Mesa Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol.

This year, the number of seniors that need assistance has been increased to 24. Due to delivery scheduling, the deadline to receive the gifts for our seniors is Monday, Nov. 28. This will allow time to wrap all of the items, prepare all of the gift baskets and purchase any remaining items needed.

Suggested items to donate to this year’s gift baskets: 24 canned soups, 24 canned vegetables, 24 canned fruits, 24 packets of crackers, 24 packets of pasta or macaroni n’ cheese, 20 slipper socks for women, 24 pairs of men’s socks, 24 bars of soaps, 24 tubes of tooth paste, 24 packs of tissues, 24 bottles of hand soaps, 24 bottles of hand sanitizer, 24 pens and pads of paper.

Also, gift cards in any denomination from the following locations:Wal-Mart,Target,oranygrocerystore.

Donations are not limited to this list.

“If you have [other items] you believe will put a smile on their faces, by all means, drop them off,” said LMCC president Mary England in a press statement. “We want to make this again, a memorable holiday for our homebound seniors.”

All donated items must be received by Monday, Nov. 28 to be included in the senior gift baskets. They may be delivered to the La Mesa Chamber office at 8080 La Mesa Blvd., Suite 212 in La Mesa on Monday, Wednesday or Friday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.; or contact England at 619-251-7730 and she can coordinate picking up the items from you.

Cuyamaca’s new Pathway Acadamy

Hispanic students at Cuyamaca College will soon see a significant boost in efforts aimed at guiding them toward obtaining certificates and degrees and transferring to four-year colleges and universities, thanks to a nearly $2.6-million, five-year federal grant.

The grant is funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program, a program assisting Hispanic Serving Institutions such as Cuyamaca College to expand educational opportunities and improve academic achievement.

Hispanic Serving Institutions are colleges or universities where Hispanics make up at least 25 percent of the school’s students and that have adopted strategies to help first-generation, low-income Latino students. Nearly one in three of the about 9,000 students at Cuyamaca College is Latino.

“It is exciting for the college to implement this kind of grant and these kind of programs that will greatly benefit our students,” said Scott Thayer, Cuyamaca College’s vice president of student services in a press statement.

The grant will fund a new program dubbed The Pathway Academy, a student success effort containing the following strategies:

  • Minimizing the time students spend in remedial classes that are known among academics as basic skills or developmental courses. Studies have shown that every added basic skills class a student is required to take reduces his or her chances of graduating.
  • Expanding student support services for Hispanic students, including creating clear road maps detailing what a student must do to complete his or her educational goals.
  • Professional development for all faculty and staff, including workshops and training that provide instructors with the latest research on best practices in student success strategies.

The Pathway Academy hopes to close the achievement gap between Hispanic students and other groups. The rate at which Hispanic students complete their courses at Cuyamaca College is 38.7 percent, 10 percent lower than the completion rate of other students.

The effectiveness of the program will be measured through increased persistence, course completion, remedial progress rates and the numbers of students earning degrees and certificates and transferring to four-year colleges and universities.

$7 million renovation, new general manager in store for Oakdale

WESTliving, a senior living provider, has appointed general manager Joey Collado, a former Hilton executive, to oversee major renovations at its Oakdale of La Mesa community.

Collado will oversee a $7 million renovation to the 180-unit assisted-living and memory care community at 5740 Lake Murray Blvd. that was acquired by WESTliving in 2015.

Oakdale of La Mesa provides independent, assisted living and memory care services at its location in the heart of La Mesa. Built in 1978 and originally operated as a hotel, Collado will transform the facility inside and out. Renovations have begun on the lobby, swimming pool and other areas and will continue with new dining room, kitchen, social and recreational spaces as well as room renovations for residents.

Collado brings many years of operational experience and leadership in senior housing having started with the WESTliving organization in various leadership positions in 2011. He also has over 10 years of director-level experience in the hospitality industry, primarily with Hilton Hotels. Most recently, Collado was general manager of The Reserve at Thousand Oaks, an independent and assisted-living community also owned and operated by WESTliving.

“I look forward to applying my hospitality background to the resident experience at Oakdale of La Mesa and bringing the WESTclass service philosophy and other exciting WESTliving programs to life there,” said Collado in a press statement. “I will be focusing on building a strong sense of community at Oakdale and creating many opportunities for residents to be mentally, physically and socially engaged.”

To learn more about Oakdale of La Mesa, visit

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