Press Release: Women Wonder Writers Partners with Community Foundation in Give BIG San Bernardino’s 24 Hour On-Line Fundraiser

Press Release
Women Wonder Writers Partners with Community Foundation 
in Give BIG San Bernardino’s 24 Hour On-Line Fundraiser

San Bernardino, Calif. – Give Big San Bernardino County is on October 30, 2018. For those unfamiliar, it’s a 24 hour on-line fundraising web-a-thon with hundreds of nonprofits throughout our County participating.  This is the fifth year that Give Big SB County has been held, helping raise over $1.3 million during that time.  The event is hosted by The Community Foundation and is supported by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

Nonprofits in our county are greatly challenged to provide for the needs of the disadvantaged.  There are many difficult issues our people face such as extended economic crisis, unemployment, high housingcosts, natural disasters and social instability.  There are over 36,000 homeless students. One in four children live in poverty.  Every day thousands of people look to a nonprofit for assistance.

Give Big SB County is not just about raising funds, it is also about raising awareness.  Nonprofits are making a difference in people’s lives and this work needs support.  With over 5,000 nonprofits in our county, imagine our society if they did not exist?

The fundraising web-a-thon is the day before Halloween, a day where we could make a choice to support a worthy cause that would be good for all of us.  Imagine being able to help all those in need? This would be a better place for all our us to live.

Women Wonder Writers invites you to support us, or a nonprofit of your choice, on Friday, October 30, 2018.  You can visit our Give BIG page for more information or to schedule your donation early.  Donation of all sizes are welcome!

Social & Emotional Learning is Necessary to Rescue Youth From the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Building youth resiliency relies on making sure they have two things: 1) the “development of strong and trusting relationships with key adults in their lives, particularly in schools;” and 2) “the formation of positive attitudes towards fairness and justice.” (Advancement Project & C.R. Project, Harv. Univ., Opportunities Suspended: The Devastating Consequences of Zero Tolerance & School Prison Discipline 15 (2000)). Our approach at The Write of Your L!fe™ stresses the importance of promoting self-esteem and efficacy in our youth, as well as healthy relationships within and outside of schools. Additionally, our approach helps youth find their voice and express empathy, two critical skills in fairness and justice.

We are committed to helping youth build resilience and believe social-emotional learning (SEL) is a critical component in rescuing youth from the school-to-prison pipeline and preparing them to face adversities. SEL is particularly important for the youth we serve because they are among our most vulnerable, including being incarcerated, homeless, foster youth, kids of color, special needs, or low-income. They experience a greater likelihood of falling behind in school and are at greater risk for being impacted by the school-to-prison pipeline, “the cascade of effects that occur when children are pushed out of schools and into the juvenile justice system. This pipeline exacerbates existing racial and economic disparities in the education and justice systems.” (In School + On Track 2015 California Attorney General’s Report on California’s Elementary School Truancy & Absenteeism Crisis).

How does SEL manifest in our programs? This is one example. A youth is invited into our 12-week program facilitated by a caring, positive, consistent mentor-instructor and joins our group-mentoring experience discussing historical women who have overcome adversity, social injustices, relationships and learning to advocate for not only themselves but for others, such as those who have been exposed to trauma. The mentor-instructor facilitates restorative justice modeled talking-circles and listens to the youth as they share stories, ask questions and express a range of emotions. Our guest-poets visit the workshop to work alongside the mentor-instructor and facilitate poetry readings and writing sessions. By the conclusion of the program, each youth has published their own writing in a group anthology. The teacher-mentor helps the youth critically think about ways to use their skills, consider alternatives to past choices, visualize their future and ways to avoid risky behavior, break unhealthy cycles, such as in drug and alcohol abuse and violence, and consider different perspectives about family, school and community dynamics.

We approach SEL focusing on the types of values, mission, social advocacy, and skills that are important to the youth, which help them break cycles of victimization and abuse. Youth feel inspired, hopeful, supported, empathetic, worthy, expressive and empowered to make a change in the world. They are more confident and critically think about social issues in the world, prepared to address conflict, and ready to share their ideas and asks questions. The youth learn to express, grow and overcome in a peer-supported environment. Our current logic-model design allows The Write of Your L!fe,™ to measure the impact of SEL and shows it does indeed play a critical role in building youth resilience.

Not only do SEL skills convert to higher levels of self-esteem, hope, perseverance, self-worth, leadership, social responsibility and self-regulation, but educating youth with SEL also improves school attendance and academic performance. Additionally, cultural-arts based education has been shown to have a tremendous effect on student motivation and achievement, as well as brain development. Building creative skills can also lead to greater resilience and independence.

At The Write of Your L!fe,™ we are committed to SEL access to youth and collaboration with their micro and exo-systems including peers, family, community, education, legal and social welfare systems, and thus help reduce poverty. SEL plays an important role in our society in the achievement of peace and prosperity for everyone.

This SEL approach to building resiliency provides youth a foundation to build healthy relationships within and outside school as well as themselves. Helping youth succeed and rescuing them from the school-to-prison pipeline is our most proud accomplishment.

Blog contributor Debra Máres is a Latina writer, teacher and speaker.  Growing up with addiction and violence trauma, she followed her dreams and encourages youth to do the same.  An attorney and founder of a successful nonprofit, her TEDx Talk has inspired countless lives and her trauma-informed, social-emotional curriculum instills confidence in youth through journaling, cultural arts and restorative justice.  Learn more at and

Women Wonder Writers Founder Addresses Local Leaders on Juvenile Justice Reform

TEMECULA—Women Wonder Writers’ Founder Debra Mares delivered a message of resilience, emphasizing the two primary development goals of The Write of Your L!fe, “the development of strong and trusting relationships with group mentors” and “the formation of positive attitudes towards fairness and justice,” to local nonprofit and education leaders at the Lunch & Learn on Friday, August 24, 2018 in Temecula. The luncheon, catered by La Cocina Grill and sponsored by Collaborative Learning Solutions, began with a restorative circle facilitated by Dr. Debbie Sacks, an Educational Consultant at Collaborative Learning Solutions.

According to WWW Founder & Creator of The Write of Your L!fe Debra Máres, “just seven miles from the luncheon, there are girls sitting in a classroom inside juvenile hall. Research tells us before becoming locked up, these girls on average have been exposed to six traumatic experiences, including being exposed to domestic violence, sexual or physical abuse, trafficking, incarcerated parents, drug abuse, and mental health hurdles.”  Ms. Mares, who also works as a county prosecutor, encouraged the attendees to become part of The Write of Your L!fe movement, which gives all girls access, especially those incarcerated, to mentors and a sense of justice.

At the luncheon, guests participated in a giveaway of key components of The Write of Your L!fe.  Deputy District Attorney Evelyn Essengwanger, a Gang Awareness Mentoring Empowerment leader and founder of a girls literacy and empowerment program in juvenile hall won a restorative justice consultation from Collaborative Learning Solutions and stated, “I think I’m going to use it in juvenile hall.” Jorge De Leon, a Community Coordinator Presenter with Riverside Area Rape Crisis (RARC), won a guest-writing and poetry anthology package. He stated it would give his “My Strength” and “Be Strong” students the opportunity to publish their own anthology. The remaining luncheon attendees won items from Women Wonder Writers’ Growth Kit, which is distributed to girls faced with trauma emphasizing their value, worth, resilience and beauty.

Women Wonder Writers’ next Lunch & Learn is set for Wednesday, September 27, 2018 in the High Desert.  Sponsors and venue are being sought for the next event in the Apple Valley and Hesperia Areas.  For information on sponsorships or venue, call Terry (909) 838-9117 or

Women Wonder Writers™ (WWW) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to break the cycle of abuse and victimization through education, empathy and expression.  WWW helps build resiliency in girls, families, schools and communities through its cultural arts events and programs, including The Write of Your L!fe,™ a proven, trauma-informed, resiliency-building curriculum designed to help girls express, overcome and grow. In 2011, WWW was founded by 3 female professionals working in the criminal justice system (2 prosecutors and a paralegal) and has grown from a single-site program to a collaborative network of partners around Southern California.

L-R Debbie Sacks, Collaborative Learning Solutions; Deputy DA Evelyn Essengwanger; WWW Founder Debra Mares

L-R: Dr. Debbie Sacks (Collaborative Learning Solutions); Deputy District Attorney Evelyn Essenwanger; WWW Founder Debra Mares

Restorative Circle 8.24.18 Lunch and Learn

Lunch and Learn attendees in Restorative Circle lead by Dr. Debbie Sacks, Collaborative Learning Solutions

Lunch and Learn Guests 8.24.18

Guests at Lunch and Learn, Aug. 24, 2018 at La Cocina Grill, Temecula, CA.

Women Wonder Writers Joins California’s Forgotten Children to Host Child Sex-Trafficking Awareness Film & Panel Discussion at United State of Women Summit

Press Release

Los Angeles- Women Wonder Writers  (WWW), a girls mentoring nonprofit grown out of the Inland Empire by women in the criminal justice system, has partnered with The United State of Women Summit and California’s Forgotten Children to moderate a discussion panel following a screening of a documentary film shining light on and combatting child sex-trafficking. The screening and panel discussion is set to take place this Sunday, May 6, 2018 at Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles from 2:30-4:00 p.m. in the Rose Hills Auditorium.

About Film & Panel Discussion

California’s Forgotten Children is a feature award-winning documentary about child sex-trafficking, recounting true stories of girls and boys who were commercially sexually exploited in California and are now survivors and courageous leaders fighting for the rights of victims worldwide. The film is a call to action, leaving viewers with knowledge and tools to combat child sex-trafficking.  This Los Angeles screening follows screenings at the Newport Beach Film Festival and Riverside International Film Festival last month, where Women Wonder Writers moderated the film discussion also.

Following the film screening of California’s Forgotten Children, a panel discussion will take place moderated by Debra Máres, a veteran prosecutor, Co-Founder of Women Wonder Writers and Co-Creator of The Write of Your L!fe, a proven, trauma-informed and resiliency-building curriculum for teen girls. Ms. Màres is also the author of The Mamacita Murders, a legal thriller tackling domestic violence and child sex-trafficking.

Discussion panelists include Rachel Thomas, the Co-Founder of Sowers Education Group promoting survivor empowerment, Kay Buck, the Executive Director of Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), Nola Brantley, CEO of Nola Brantley Speaks!, a survivor consultancy empowering women and girls, Amber Davies, the Director of Clinical Programs at Saving Innocence and Melody Miller, the film director of California’s Forgotten Children.

WWW Co-Founder Executive Director Debra Máres stated, “We’re thrilled to team up with Director Melody Miller, California’s Forgotten Children Movement, The United State of Women Summit and our Panelists.  WWW’s focus is building resiliency in girls and this film speaks to us as so many of our students are foster youth, impacted by trauma or incarcerated, factors which make them among our most vulnerable.  It’s important to stand united as champions for children within their micro and macro systems, including media, government, health, family, community, and education, so these children will be protected, not forgotten.”

About United State of Women Summit

The 2018 United State of Women Summit is a two-day gathering in Los Angeles, which featured at the opening ceremonies today Special Guests including Former First Lady Michelle Obama, California Senator Kamala Harris, Actor and Activist Jane Fonda, Farmworker, Laborer and Children’s Activist Dolores Huerta, Founder of the #MeToo Movement Tarana Burke and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Today Saturday, May 5th, women, girls and allies were hosted at The Shrine Auditorium, inspired by mainstage sessions followed by issue-breakouts, opportunities to connect with leading fellow changemakers, and an interactive center with organizations and women-owned businesses.

On Sunday, May 6th, attendees will fan out across Los Angeles to attend skills-based trainings and community teach-in’s hosted by a range of organizations focused on gender equity in Los Angeles. More information about The United State of Women Summit and tickets can be found at Eventbrite.

The first Summit of its kind took place in 2016 in Washington D.C. with Special Guest Past President Barack Obama and addressed topics including economic empowerment, equal pay for equal work, women’s health, women’s education, violence against women, entrepreneurship and civic engagement.

About Attending the Film Screening

The film screening of California’s Forgotten Children followed by a panel discussion is set to take place Sunday, May 6, 2018 at Mount St. Mary’s College located at 10 Chester Pl., Los Angeles, CA 90007 in Los Angeles from 2:30-4:00 p.m.  The event is FREE and open to the public and media.  Seats can be reserved by visiting EVENTBRITE.

L-R Rachel Thomas, Kay Buck, Nola Brantley, Amber Davies, Melody Miller, Panelists for Panel Discussion set May 6, 2018 following California’s Forgotten Children Film Screening at The United State of Women.
WWW Cofounding Executive Director Debra Mares, Panel Moderator.
California’s Forgotten Children Promotional card featuring Julianne Collins, Activist, Martial Arts Blackbelt and Actress, playing young Carissa Phelps.
L-R Debra Mares (WWW Exec. Director & Panel Moderator), Melody Miller (California’s Forgotten Children Director) and Genice Jacobs (Associate Producer) taken at Riverside International Film Festival Gala April 21, 2018.

Film Director Melody Miller on stage of Fox Theater for Film Screening at Riverside International Film Festival April 17, 2018.

Panelists on stage of Fox Theater for Discussion following Film Screening at Riverside International Film Festival April 17, 2018. Panelists included Melody Miller, California’s Forgotten Children Film Director; Niki Barnes, Junior League of Riverside State Public Affairs Committee; Debbie Martis, Rebirth Homes; Norma Vasquez, Operation SafeHouse; Pastor Daniel Bishop, The Grove Community Church; Krista Langford, Inspire Life Skills; Opal Singleton, Million Kids; Terry Boykins, CEO Street Positive and WWW Marketing Director; Allison Donahoe-Beggs, Riverside Department of Public Social Services; Genice Jacobs, Abolitionist Mom, Julianne Collins, Activist, Martial Arts Blackbelt and Actress, playing young Carissa Phelps.


RIVERSIDE – During Riverside Arts Walk, HALT THE ASSAULT took place on the lawn of the Riverside Public Library on April 5th, marking the first Thursday of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  HALT THE ASSAULT featured male poets addressing sexual assault against girls and women, an event hosted by Women Wonder Writers, a local youth mentoring nonprofit, in partnership with Daughters Lives MatterInlandia Institute and Mosaic Art & Literary Journal.  Over 75 people were in attendance, including Ward 6 Councilman Jim Perry, leaving standing room only.  MC Nikia Chaney, Inlandia Institute’s Poet Laureate, polled the audience as to how many were survivors or knew someone who had been sexually assaulted.  With nearly all hands raised, it sent a chilling reminder how prevalent the issue is.

Male spoken word poets included Eric DeVaughnn, who goes by T.R.U.E, a local poet who moved the audience with his seven minute spoken word testimony how becoming a new father changing his perspective.  T.R.U.E expressed his biggest fear for his daughter, which stemmed from his own male species and the danger of men sexually assaulting girls.  Another male performer, Joey Romero, who is a local community supporter and past board president of Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center, husband and father of a daughter, en couraged the audience to “teach boys about consent.  We must teach them consent.”  Dr. Ahmses Maat, a martial arts Hall of Fame inductee and fifth degree black belt, demonstrated self-defense techniques during two brief intervals through the event.

“Giving men a social space to address this issue is crucial to combatting sexual assault against our girls and women.  Men are protectors by nature and can speak candidly to other men about about consent, chivalry, and sexual assault. Many fathers are absent from the home for a variety of reasons, and cannot model or communicate gender equity and healthy relationships for their sons.  That’s where our schools, community and media come in.  We all have a responsibility.  We recognize the male perspective as part of the solution and don’t want them to feel left in the shadow. Their voices matter,” stated Debra Mares, WWW Executive Director who kicked off the event.

Stephanie Shatkin of Mosaic Art & Literary Journal announced contest winners of The Write of Your L!fe Poetry Contest, which concluded the event. A three judge panel evaluated the poems based on a scoring rubric that included four categories: Passion, Positive Message, Presentation, and Relevance Addressing the Prompt.  The contest was open to entrants living or attending school in the Inland Empire and who were between the ages of 14-22. First Place award of $200 in the 18-22 yrs. old category was awarded to 19-year-old Chantel Hung for her poem Surviving Sexual Assault. Chantel, a first year student at UC Riverside planning to major in Public Policy and attend medical school to become a physician, enjoys spending time with friends, and family, as well as meeting and getting to know different types of people. She says “I am passionate about Halt the Assault, because it is an active movement to spur change, and empower others, including myself.”

Second Place award of $100 in the 18-22 yrs. old category was awarded to 19-year-old Alondra Gonzalez for her poem The Evil Curse. Alondra who graduated from Centennial High School and is currently attending University of California at  Riverside identifies as a Latina student & mentor pursuing to make the world a little more habitable for all of humanity one verse at a time. First Place winner of $200 for the 14-17 yrs. old category was awarded to Marina Garcia for her poem You can’t have me and Second Place in the 14-17 yrs. old category for $100 was awarded  to Madison Allred for her poem The Toughest Thing.  Madison is on the varsity tennis team at Etiwanda High School and the oldest out of five siblings. She says, “I enjoy listening to music, reading, and am working towards my next karate belt. I also love to learn languages. Ever since last school year, I have been writing poetry in order to get out my thoughts and feelings, especially after my own experience with being sexually assaulted. It is now one of my very favorite things to do.”

Halt the Assault Anthologies featuring youth poetry contest submissions were released at the event and can still be purchased online at Amazon.  All proceeds benefit Women Wonder Writers.

Events bringing awareness to sexual assault continue around the county through April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month including at Riverside International Film Festival,which kicks off today with California’s Forgotten Children, a documentary film shining light and combatting child sex trafficking, premiering this evening at 6pm at Fox Performing Art Center located at 3801 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501.  The premier, which is sponsored by the Junior League of Riverside and The Grove Community Church is open to the public free of cost.  It will be followed by a panel discussion featuring local experts including Niki Barnes of Junior League of Riverside, Pastor Daniel Bishop of Grove Community church, Terry Boykins of Women Wonder Writers and Daughters Lives Matter, Nola Brantley of Nola Brantley Speaks!, Allison Donahoe-Beggs of Department of Public Social Services, Genice Jacobs of Abolitionist Mom, Krista Langford of Inspire Life Skills, Debbie Martis of Rebirth Homes, Opal Singleton of Million Kids, Norma Vazquez of Operation SafeHouse and film creator and director Melody C. Miller.  The discussion will be moderated by Women Wonder Writers‘ Executive Director Debra Mares.

For more information about WWW, please visit Women Wonder Writers website at

Halt the Assault, Apr. 5, 2018, Riverside Public Library

L-R: Rathyna Gomer, Daniela Aponte, Monica Martin, Maria Torres, Debra Mares. Back row L-R: Terry Boykins, T.R.U.E aka Eric DeVaughnn, Daughters Lives Matter representative, Dr. Ahmses Maat, Stephanie Shatkin, Members of Mosaic, far right: Cati Porter, Inlandia Institute Executive Director

L-R: Dr. Ahmses Maat, Spoken Word Poet, Terry Boykins, Joey Romero
Halt the Assault MC Nikia Chaney, Inlandia Institute Poet Laureate

Poetry Contest Winners L-R: Alondra Gonzalez, Chantel Hung, and Madison Allread.

Fathers & Daughters Attend Record Paint Date Addressing Victimization & Abuse

News Release
RIVERSIDE – Over 100 people attended Art of Fatherhood: Daddy/Daughter Paint Date & Expo held at Flabob Airport in Jurupa Valley, CA, on Saturday April 29, 2017, one of the largest of its kind in the region. The fundraising event was a collaboration among Women Wonder WritersDaughters Lives Matter, a national collaboration for “healthy” father/daughter relationships, and Street Positive, a nationally recognized award-winning social impact organization focused on the emotional, physical, and economic well-being of youth and young adults to bring awareness to victimization and abuse, and the importance of fathers in their daughters’ lives.

Art of Fatherhood focused on the significant role fathers play in affirming daughters. With up to 300,000 Americans under 18 lured into the commercial sex trade every year, these bonding activities are critical to the self-esteem, personal safety, peer selection, and relationship choices of daughters from childhood to adulthood. “When a daughter reaches for her father’s hand, words cannot express the confidence she feels when she knows ‘daddy’s got me’ and everything is going to be alright,” said Terry Boykins, Executive Director of Street Positive.

Musical artist and producer T. Lopez opened the event by singing the National Anthem followed by a preview of her new tribute song addressing healthy father-daughter relationships, which will come out on Father’s Day. Supported by her father and daughter, Lopez said, “I am one of four [daughters] and I know how important the relationship with a father is.”

Debra Postil, executive director and cofounder of Women Wonder Writers, announced the winners of the Daddy-Daughter Essay Contest. All girls who live in the Inland Empire and their dads were invited to write a 500-word essay with prompts such as how their relationship has shaped their life and what values are important to their relationship. Julio E. Sanchez, father of a 15-year-old daughter, was awarded first place in the parent category. Sanchez wrote, “A man or father does not need to be loved for what he is but for the way he acts with those around him. Each and every one of us deserve our respect and place.” Prizes were awarded for first, second, and third place.

The event also featured women who discussed their unusual career choices. Postil said, “There’s a need for influential women as role models to send a powerful message.” Raythna Gomez, a graphic designer at Women Wonder Writers and a drift car racer, showcased her race car and answered questions on her career choice as well as offered photo opportunities for the girls with her car. Other professionals included firefighter and paramedic Lovie Jung. “It’s pretty awesome to have an event with women in these careers,” Jung said. “I chose firefighting because no two days are the same and every day brings new challenges.” An air force jet pilot, a nurse, women in trucking, and Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, representing California’s 60th Assembly District, also attended the event.

Fathers and daughters sat side-by-side as Dixie Roybal, local artist and owner of The Perfect Palette, instructed them in creating their painted masterpieces called “Swing Tree.” Roybal said, “Growing up, my dad wasn’t super involved and it’s nice seeing events out there like this.” During the “seventh-inning stretch,” Mike Sherbakov, from The Greatness Foundation in San Diego, led the group in relaxing, stretching, and breathing exercises, including the familiar “airplane” yoga pose, which was modified to use the support of a partner.  Sherbakov who analogized  the modified pose to life’s circumstances becoming easier when done with the help of supportive people, drew laughter from the crowd given the setting in Hangar 24.

All proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit Women Wonder Writers youth mentoring and intervention programs such as The Write of Your L!fe,™ implemented for girls ages 14-17. Women Wonder Writers (WWW) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to break the cycle of abuse and victimization through education, empathy, and expression. WWW implements cultural arts and restorative justice programs and believes that no matter one’s past or hardships, resilience is possible. For more information, to bring a program or paint date to your region or site, visit or contact Kathy Ediss at (951) 532-3280.
Art of Fatherhood daughter and father attendees painting “Swing Tree.”
Singer, Songwriter, Producer T. Lopez (R) with her father and daughter.
(L-R) Tamara Williams (Daughters Lives Matter), Kathy Ediss (WWW), Essay Contest Winner Natalie Rosado, Lovie Jung (Riverside Fire Dept.), Rathyna Gomer (Pro-Am Series Drifter), Jessica Garcia-Watkins (Daughters Lives Matter, Cheyenne English (Women Who Hide/Daughters Lives Matter), Monica Martin (Daughters Lives Matter).
Rathyna Gomer, Pro-Am Drifter, with Father & Daughter Attendees.
Attendees of Art of Fatherhood in Hangar 24 Flabob Airport.