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It Takes A Village for The Jeffrey Foundation's Project 40

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The Jeffrey Foundation (, a non-profit Child Care/Resource Center offering educational services, childcare and counseling for special needs children, was founded by Alyce Morris Winston in 1972. 

Over the past 40 years, the Foundation, which strives to improve the quality of life for special needs children (ages 18 months through 18 years), serves children with such diseases as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome and autism.  Other children enrolled in their programs have a variety of physical impediments or are victims of abuse, neglect or in utero drug exposure.

At the Foundation, children and families are served through a variety of community-based therapeutic, recreational, educational and social programs including childcare, preschool, K-12 educational programming, speech therapy, occupational therapy, life skills, parenting education, after-school activities and social events. 

While the Foundation serves the greater Los Angeles area, Morris Winston is also involved in a national and international outreach program, Special Child USA.  Via Special Child, Morris Winston consults with other cities, states and even countries that are interested in developing similar childcare and resource centers.

"There are over 30,000 disabled youth in Los Angeles County that are in need of special interventions," said Morris Winston.  "Our Foundation is the only one of its kind in LA and we only have a capacity of only 124 children per day, and 40 families per month.  So the need is great -- not just in Los Angeles, but everywhere."

Morris Winston, whose adopted son Jeffrey, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was two, abandoned her career as a Max Factor model and began the Foundation after discovering that there was not enough appropriate child care, resources or support for families with special needs children.  What began in her living room is now housed in two professional buildings on West Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles.

"Most of The Jeffrey Foundation's students are referred by Child Protective Services or a Regional Center," said Morris Winston.  "Many of the families are headed by single mothers with multiple children.  In the Foundation's Parent Training program, over 85% of the children are in foster care and 10% are living with a parent who has lost custody at least once due to child abuse, neglect, maltreatment or abandonment."

The emphasis of the classes and programs, which are inclusive, aim to build core competencies such as cognitive skill building, language development, gross and fine motor skills and social and emotional development, as well as provide health and nutrition education. 

"We also strive to enrich our student's lives by giving them the opportunity to enjoy some recreation and special events.  We encourage them to learn and appreciate art, music and nature.  Our mission is to improve the quality of every aspect of their live as well as serve as a support for their families," said Morris Winston. 

The current economic climate, and cuts in federal and state funding, are severely impacting the Foundation's ability to keep some of their programs alive.  To offset some of the negative impact, Morris Winston recently came up with the creative idea of "Project 40" in honor of the Foundation's 40 years. 


Project 40 will be a series of 40 events and happenings to fight the economic turndown.  Last night, one of the Foundation's friends, Lladro Boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, hosted a kickoff reception and launch of the YES! Network (Executives for Special Needs Children and their Families).   The YES! group will spearhead many of the Project 40 programs which will take place in Southern California as well as nationally.

Morris Winston hopes that through the YES! Network, different members of the business community will also become engaged to network, cross promote, as well as lend their expertise and support in developing new programs and fundraisers to sponsor and boost the Foundation's needed programs.

 "We support the community, and we need assistance from those in the community and beyond," said Morris Winston.  It does take a village and we want to be around for the next 40 years!"

To find out more about The Jeffrey Foundation, Project 40 and the YES! Network, visit:

Images from the YES! Network Launch Party at Lladro Boutique in Beverly Hills on November 17.  Photography by Maxine Picard Photography.


LtoR:  Agnes Nicole Winter, Elaine DuPont Bernard, Mara New, 
Alyce Morris Winston & Maryann Ridini Spencer (YES! Network


LtoR:  Singer and Evening's Entertainment, Laurie Marchese,
Preity Uupala (Miss India International) and Alyce Morris Winston


LtoR:  Alyce Morris Winston and Nancy Jordan
(YES! Network Chairperson)


Izabelle Gooch


LtoR:  Barbara Berg Adams (Author "Ring Shui" and
Evening's Entertainment), George Adams and Alyce
Morris Winston

Let's Do Lunch at The Grove Artisan Kitchen, Miramonte Resort & Spa

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Photography by Maryann Ridini Spencer
Miramonte Resort & Spa, Indian Wells, Ca

ON THE ROAD:   In Indian Wells, CA

Recently, Chris Kandziora, the Director of Sales & Marketing at The Miramote Resort & Spa (Indian Wells, Ca), invited me to lunch at the resort's Grove Artisan Kitchen to sample the culinary "farm to table" masterpieces prepared by Executive Chef Robert Nyerick.

Chef Robert (pictured above), comes to Miramonte from Spencer's Restaurant in Palm Springs.  Prior to that, he served as the Executive Sous Chef at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel.  Other establishments that have enjoyed his delectable food include: Swiss Hotel Boston, Bellevue Palace Hotel in Bern, Switzerland and Swiss Grand Hotel in Seoul, South Korea.

As for my visit, Chef Robert delivered!

First, an informative tour of the herb gardens (above) located adjacent to The Well Spa (below) and the Miramonte pool area. I was so happy that I brought my camera to photograph the beautiful surroundings and the fantastic dishes!

On the walk, a treat was served -- Organic Golden Tomato Gazpacho with Heirloom Tomato and Basil Relish! It was so light, cool and refreshing!

Gazpacho.jpgFor lunch, a table with a view!  Wow!

tablewithview.jpgParadise? I think so! Just look at those gorgeous Santa Rosa Mountains!

Once I was seated, Chef Robert presented a meal fit for a Queen!

For STARTERS - Ahi Tuna Tartare with Miramonte Preserved Lemon Aioli, Avocado and Mild Chile Oil


capresesalad.jpgand a Caprese Salad with Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella,  Heirloom Tomatoes, Baby Arugula and Balsamic Glaze.


Dungeness Crab Cake with Heirloom Tomato and Leek Fondue, Petite Rainbow Greens

The Dungeness Crab was simply amazing.  I ate the entire dish knowing there probably were many more dishes were to follow.  However, born and raised in the East, I'm a lover of crab cakes and scallops (below).

scallops.jpgPan Seared Jumbo Scallops with Oven Tomatoes, Baby Artichokes, Organic Frisee and Saffron Essence


risotto.jpgMushroom Risotto - Mama Mia! YUMMY!!!

Fattoush Salad.jpg

Fattoush Salad with Romaine Lettuce, Feta Cheese, Red Onions, Olives (from the olive tree in the Miramonte garden), Pear Tomatoes, Pita Chips and Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette - Just divine!

BeetSalad.jpgSome Beet Salad -- How's your appetite so far?

CobbSalad.jpgFollowed by a Grove Cobb Salad with Organic Baby Greens, Kalamata Olives, Chopped Eggs, Blue Cheese, Artichoke Hearts, Roasted Peppers, Crispy Maple Peppered Bacon and Grilled Free Range Breast of Chicken.

To complete the meal, I want you to know Chef Robert offered any dessert on the menu.  Of course, as with most women, anything chocolate is my passion.  However, the only thing I dared to put to my lips (after this scrumptious lunch presented with such artistic flair and great conversation - I dined with the restaurant manager, Jesse Baeza, Chris, and my good friend Barb), is this yummy, refreshing Ruby Grapefruit Brûlée.  The acid in grapefruit does delete/burn up all the other calories consumed at this lunch now, doesn't it?


Ruby Grapefruit Brûlée

InsideattheGrove.jpgInside at The Grove Artisan Kitchen, Miramonte Resort & Spa
45000 Indian Wells Lane
Indian Wells, Ca 92210

VC Style
Maryann Ridini-Spencer produces video stories about environmentally friendly and healthy living in Ventura County.

She co-hosts "Sustainable Ventura" with Ray Olson on CAPS-TV's VTV, Channel 15 as well as "Simply Delicious Living with Maryann" on Time Warner Cable ON DEMAND.