A Moving Experience
pretty cramped. We wanted to start small, which we did, but we seemed to be growing faster than we could keep up with.” As a greater number of people began volunteering and there were more and more families to help, “It became more of a caravan, going from house to house with a large group of people,” Angie describes. Although they were helping people, providing personalized gifts to brighten the spirits of these families, there was one thing they couldn’t shake. “It still felt like these families were almost embarrassed for us to walk into their homes. That’s when we decided to rent a spot in a park and pay for everything that has to do with a picnic — park rental, music, entertainment, and Santa visits. We thought that if these families came to us instead of us going from house to house, we’d make it a much more enjoyable time for everyone.” One aspect of Santa’s Helpers that might be odd to a lot of people is that it isn’t a nonprofit. “It’s something I get asked all the time,” Angie says. “If it was a nonprofit, the number of donations would be so much bigger and would require a board; it would become a whole other element. Santa’s Helpers’ intent is to help those who aren’t being helped by other organizations.” The difference is that Santa’s Helpers doesn’t revolve around generic gifts. All their efforts are poured into giving the family something that they need or specifically ask for. As Angie explains, “This is a very personal experience for them. We don’t want to focus on giving girls ‘girl toys’ or boys ‘boy toys.’ When I was growing up, I wanted to pick out the gifts I would receive from Santa. These children and their parents deserve the same amount of care and attention with each of their gifts.”
For a while now, Melissa and I have been involved with an organization called Santa’s Helpers. I have never experienced such a driven group of people who aim to brighten the world for families each year. Many people take Christmas and what it means to receive gifts for granted. For families who struggle to get by on a daily basis, opening a gift that holds a brand-new pair of socks or a football can mean everything. Santa’s Helpers strives to give back to people and help those who are less fortunate. Their mission started 16 years ago when a group of St. Brendan alumni began looking for ways to help families in need. “One of the great things about going to Catholic school is that a social responsibility to give back to people is drilled into you,” says Angie D. Medina, director of culture and patient experience at one of the largest hospitals in town and one of the organizers of Santa’s Helpers. “When you go to college, that feeling diminishes, but we fought it, because we still wanted to help people.” Once they had their mission in sight, the alumni turned to the church to see how they could reach out to the families they wanted to help. “We told them that we’d like to help children and families who were less fortunate and asked if there was anything that we could do. The church then gave us the contact information of two families, and we started working right away,” Angie explains. So the group of volunteers, after learning what they could about these families, began visiting their homes. However, they could see a small drawback. “What started happening was that we were outnumbering the people in the family, and it felt like we were invading their homes,” Angie says. “We had more help than those who needed help. We would come with clothes and toys, and things would become
Melissa (and JD), with Angie Medina and Naomi Valle
I have been in this program for a few years now, and the experience has genuinely affected me. Melissa first introduced me to Santa’s Helpers and their goal. I was more than willing to do my fair share to help these people, but experiencing it was on a whole other level. When you see the difference you’re making for the families involved, it’s more than moving. All I had to do was go to their event once, and I completely understood how important and amazing Santa’s Helpers truly is. I’ve watched Santa’s Helpers grow throughout the few years I’ve been with them. It’s still a fairly small organization, but there are always many individuals who are there to help in any way possible. They’re a very tightknit community. Melissa and I have had both jobs within the program; sometimes, we help rebuild people’s lives, and other times, we do our best to
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FAKE DISCOUNTS AND ANGRY SHOPPERS
A Massive Black Friday Lawsuit
Most retailers offer discounts around the holidays to encourage shoppers to come into their stores or visit their websites. Promotions and sales are great tools in any business’s arsenal, provided they aren’t out to mislead customers. Big-box stores may try to manipulate innocent people, and it’s up to aggrieved customers to hold those corporations accountable. Nearly every year, you’ll read about a class-action lawsuit that develops in response to the shady tactics of businesses eager to secure those holiday shopping dollars. Are there great bargains to be had on Black Friday? Of course. But if something sounds too good to be true, it very well might be. Keep your eyes peeled and don’t let retailers trick you into a purchase you wouldn’t make otherwise. Helpers is an exceptional organization, and I want to do as much as I can for them, even when it’s not the holidays. Going forward, Izquierdo Law Firm will pledge to make donations to Santa’s Helpers throughout the year. Creating these special moments for these families is important, and I want to do anything that I can to help. I recognize how blessed I am to do what I do, and if I can share some of that success and help others in our community then, count me in! If you’re interested in contributing to Santa’s Helpers and making a difference in local lives, there are a few things you can do. Go to the following page and click on the link to make a money donation: www.izlegal. com/library/santas-helpers.cfm. Or if you want to send a gift card instead, you can coordinate with our office, and we’ll get them over to Angie. If you’d like to be more personally involved and sponsor a family, you can get in touch with Angie, who will take you through the next steps in getting to know a family and figuring out what it takes to bring Christmas to them this year.
Shoppers flock to retailers every Black Friday in hopes of securing the best deals on the year’s hottest products. There are many nasty aspects of Black Friday — the long lines, the overzealous shoppers, the limited stock of items — but phony pricing and fake sales shouldn’t be among them. But that’s exactly what happened to folks in Los Angeles during the 2016 holiday season, leading to the biggest Black Friday lawsuit in history.
Duping your customers is a bad business practice, but what makes it illegal? Well, California law requires that retailers post a retail price no higher than what the product was sold at within three months prior to the ad. “Families today … are striving to get the very most they can get from an extremely hard-earned holiday shopping dollar,” said LA City Attorney Mike Feuer. “They deserve to make an informed decision.” After the suit was brought against them, the retailers all quickly moved to settle, promising to never engage in false reference pricing again. different than me shook me to my core. This man and woman were bright — brighter than me. By talking with each other, we bonded over common ground, both professionally and through our backgrounds. I remember I got into the car with Melissa and asked her, “What do you think tomorrow would be like if we were suddenly in France?” No one would care if I was walking around with a Bar card in my pocket. No one would care that I went to an American college or that I have an American law degree. This realization put the family’s struggle into perspective. The day arrived when we gave the Venezuelan family their gifts, including plenty of toys for their kids and gasoline gift cards for the father. We sat down with their family and handed the gifts out to each of them. Words can’t really express how touching the exchange was. When you see a kid’s face light up as you hand them a gift and their parents are in tears because their son or daughter got a soccer ball or brand-new shoes, it leaves you in tears — or you’re doing a lot of work to hold them back. It’s a really powerful experience.
In December of 2016, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office sued J.C. Penney, Sears, Macy’s, and Kohl’s for a practice called “false reference pricing,” a nefarious tactic whereby retailers lie about the original price of an item to make a discount appear bigger than it actually is. For example, Sears sold a Kenmore washing machine at a “sale price” of $999.99, compared to a “regular price” of $1,179.99. The problem was the so-called sale price was actually the price that product was offered at every day. Therefore, it wasn’t actually on sale.
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bring the Christmas experience to children in need. It all goes back to the main focus of this program — to make Christmas special for each family by personalizing the individual gifts.
A few years ago, we sponsored a family
who had recently arrived from Venezuela. The mother and father were attorneys from that country, and the father had been a professor of law at some point in his life. They hadn’t been here very long but had come to America to try and make a better life for themselves and their family. The father was driving Uber and Lyft, which was not enough to make ends meet but was barely sufficient to make it to the next day. Given my work and experience as a teacher, to meet someone in a situation where they’ve had all the education in the world and to see that they are no
There are few things that bring me as much joy as when I’m helping these families each year. Santa’s
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LOSING YOUR CASE Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Case
When you’re headed into court after an accident, it’s important to know that certain factors can cause you to lose your case. Here are two things to look out for when preparing for your claim. IF A LAWYER REFERS YOU TO A DOCTOR OR CHIROPRACTOR Some local judges call this service provided by some lawyers the “kiss of death” claim. Jurors are highly suspicious of lawyers and doctors who have a referral relationship. A client may not know how many of that lawyer’s clients he or she referred to a particular doctor, but you can bet that the insurance company knows or will do their best to find out. That being said, there are exceptions to this rule. A person may have a particular need for a doctor in a specific field of medicine. In this case, it’s legitimate for the attorney to suggest or recommend someone for their client. However, if the attorney refers every client
to the same chiropractor or the same orthopedist, it becomes a serious problem.
IF YOU HIDE PAST ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES Upon entering a case, the opposing side will be interested in how many accidents you’ve had prior to this one. In many cases, they’ll already know or have easy access to acquire that information. The only reason they’re asking is to discern if you’ll answer honestly. It’s vital that you are completely transparent with your lawyer about past accidents. Telling your lawyer about the number of injuries you sustained during or after the accident is crucial to winning your case. If you saw a doctor or another healthcare provider afterward, then there will be a record proving that you did, which the insurance company will find. If you’re dishonest about your injuries and past accidents, then your case is over.
If you’ve been in an accident and are planning to go to court, call our offices today using the number below. The attorneys at Izquierdo Law Firm are ready and willing to help you and your case.
Laugh Out Loud
Holiday Roast Prime Rib Looking for an easy holiday roast that still feels elegant enough for the occasion? Look no further than this delicious prime rib flavored with garlic, thyme, and red wine. Ingredients
4 cups beef stock
1 bone-in prime rib (6–7 pounds)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups red wine
5. To make au jus, place roasting pan with drippings from roast over 2 burners on high. Add wine and scrape pan as liquid reduces. Add beef stock and cook until reduced by half. Finally, sprinkle in thyme. 6. Slice roast and serve topped with au jus.
1. 30 minutes before cooking, remove roast from fridge and let sit until it reaches room temperature. 2. Heat oven to 350 F. 3. Make small slits in prime rib and stuff with slices of garlic. Liberally season with salt and pepper. 4. Place a rack inside a roasting pan and roast prime rib for 2 hours, until medium-rare.
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INSIDE this issue
Helping Families in Their Time of Need
The Biggest Black Friday Lawsuit in History
Steer Clear of These Mistakes Holiday Roast Prime Rib
Hurricane Pet Hero
HowOneManSavedHundreds of Animals HURRICANE HERO TONY ALSUP In the wake of destruction, it’s easy to focus on
last year, to save animals in Texas and Florida as Hurricane Harvey pounded the Gulf Coast. When he finished there, his mission shifted to helping animals in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island. It’s said that character is defined by the way someone acts when no one is watching. Many people heard of Alsup’s bravery after the devastation of Florence, but as news stories turned to sports, politics, and business, America slowly moved on. Victims of the hurricane who lacked supplies received less national attention, but more than a month later, Alsup’s commitment to the cause was as strong as ever. Living out of the back of the bus for weeks, he drove pets out of the persistent flooding and convoyed shipments of desperately needed supplies to the coastal Carolina towns. You can follow Tony’s commitment on Facebook. He’s not asking for money or fame; he’s just a person with a heart to serve, using social media to promote
self-preservation. After all, fight-or-flight instincts are hard-wired into our brains so that we can survive dangerous situations. But while fear drives the actions of many in times of chaos, there are a few who find greater strength in compassion. Tony Alsup considered the potential devastation of Hurricane Florence as he sat comfortably in his home in Greeneville, Tennessee. Rather than sit back and watch, the truck driver by trade packed up an out- of-commission school bus he’d bought and set off to South Carolina with one goal in mind: to save as many animals as possible. Stopping by every shelter he found along the coast, Alsup rescued over 60 cats and dogs in both North and South Carolina and took them to Foley, Alabama. The heroic efforts of Alsup saved the lives of many animals, but it wasn’t the first time he’d rushed into danger for a good cause. He’d originally purchased the school bus, which he turned into Noah’s Ark
awareness about those who desperately need our help. If you’re wondering what drives such a person, you can find it written at the bottom of every update he posts: “Love y’all, mean it.”
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