Friday, May 14, 2021

For Immediate Release: Valley Teens Celebrate Giving Back!

Finishing Strong: The National League of Young Men Mid-Valley Chapter Focused on the Positive Throughout the Pandemic  


Strengthening bonds with the community, peers and between mothers and sons, the “NLYM” encourages Leadership, Philanthropy, Culture and Protocol in young men grades 9-12; the organization is wrapping up the 2020-2021 year with two live events, and a new membership drive for young men running through July 15, 2021.  

NLYM Mid-Valley teen and mother unloading food donations from truck

STUDIO CITY, CA -- The NLYM Mid-Valley Chapter is celebrating a strong finish to this challenging year, having just completed their elections for the coming 2021-2022 year. By getting creative about events and embracing Zoom for their monthly meetings, the organization’s young men continued to organize and contribute to charitable efforts in their immediate communities and beyond.  

This weekend, mothers and sons are reconnecting with fellow NLYM members for the organization's annual all-grade level Compass Brunch, a socially-distanced picnic style affair on Sunday May 16th. The Chapter’s 4th annual Senior Tribute Dinner took place in an outside setting at the Mulholland Tennis Club in Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, April 25, 2021; it was a formal event, where the Mid Valley senior class young men were celebrated with commemorative dedication speeches by their fathers, a childhood pictorial montage slideshow, and each given a Compass embossed carrying case as a gift. In total, the Mid Valley senior classman volunteered more than 400 hours in philanthropic achievements during an unprecedented challenging year.  


The mission behind NLYM is to provide a unique program of leadership, service, culture and protocol opportunities, for the young men grades 9-12 in their community, while at same time strengthening the mother-son relationship as they mature into young men. Ventura Blvd Magazine featured the organization two years ago. 


Beginning last August, the Mid-Valley Chapter successfully pivoted to holding online Zoom meetings across all grade levels this year, for both the young men and their mothers. The young men’s meetings included guest speakers such as actor Michael Ian Black and retired Fire Captain Fred Lopez;  an online cooking lesson by  Dr. JJ Levenstein; planning sessions for cultural events and philanthropy activities; protocol lessons such as resume writing; the presentation of committee reports, and organizational coaching by volunteer grade level mothers. The member “Mother’s Meetings” included speakers on both fun and helpful topics such as wellness, self-care, and raising teens; in March, author and Certified Holistic Nutritionist Julie Hefner shared healthy insights from her book Nourishing Your Body & Soul for a More Radiant You. 

Volunteerism is a major tentpole of the nationwide organization, and young men at each of the four grade levels were tasked with generating safe and socially-distanced ideas for giving back to communities across the San Fernando Valley and beyond despite the pandemic.  In September 2020, each grade level group decided to embrace Zoom calls for their monthly meetings, and continued organizing charitable efforts in their immediate communities and beyond. Although they felt disconnected at time, and it was sometimes disheartening to find a place to contribute, the young men managed many good deeds and have a lot to celebrate as they wind up this year.

Some of the philanthropic activities successfully completed as an organization and individually include: 
  • The Book Truck: NLYM donated 549 brand-new books, the most impactful single book drive any group has put together for The Book Truck, which delivers “Lit Boxes” filled with books and literacy materials to foster care, homeless, and low-income service organizations across LA County. 
  • Covenant House: NLYM compiled and donated over 1000 snack packs for teens. 
  • Soles4Souls: NLYM young men gathered 1200 pairs of gently-used athletic shoes for the nonprofit, which keeps the shoes from going to waste and puts them to good use for those in need. 
  • Tutoring for Speak UP: NLYM young men are contributing tutoring services to  Speak UP, which aids approximately 300 underserved students in LA. 
  • My Stuff: The NLYM Mid-Valley class of 2022 made fleece blankets for My Stuff Bags Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps children who are removed from dangerous living situations such as households with domestic violence, homelessness, etc. 
  • North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry - NLYM members purchased, packed and donated 330 Hygiene Kits (approx. 1320 products) to The North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry, a coalition of Jewish and Christian congregations working to address the problem of hunger in the community.  NLYM members also unloaded trucks of canned goods and beverages donated to the pantry. 
These young men, guided by their mothers, will be acknowledged and celebrated by their community this weekend.  In addition to their philanthropy, the young men shared cultural events, guest speakers, and training in life skills. 

Developing a well-rounded appreciation of cultural activities is another goal for the young men. This year, it was achieved by attending online holiday concerts, virtually touring The Peterson Auto Museum, and watching and discussing films online, including “The Social Dilemma” and the Billie Eilish film “The World’s a Little Blurry.” 


The young men learned that leadership is not easy, especially in a pandemic, but the enthusiasm exhibited in last week’s round of elections for the year 2021-22 have shown that things will only get better in the coming year.   


The Mid-Valley Chapter is launching a membership drive to invite new young men to apply to the organization through July 15, 2021, welcoming applications from young men who live or go to school in the communities of Encino, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Toluca Lake and Burbank, CA.  There are membership opportunities for young men and mothers in our rising freshmen class (Class of 2025) and rising sophomore class (Class of 2024) and limited space in the Class of 2023. Visit the website to access the membership information form:  



National League of Young Men, Inc. (NLYM), initially named Beach City Service League, was founded in 2007 in Newport Beach, California by Diane Edmonton and Mary Pat Lucas. Their goal was to provide a unique program of leadership, service, culture and protocol opportunities for the young men in their community, while at the same time strengthening the mother-son relationship. Today there are twenty chapters with over 2,000 Mothers, Young Men and Sustainers as members of the National League of Young Men, Inc. NLYM is committed to providing a quality program for young men in grades 9-12 and developing long-term partnerships that will provide benefits to not only the young men but also their surrounding communities. National League of Young Men, Inc. aspires to offer gratifying experiences for their young men and to help them learn that the greatest joy in life truly comes from serving others and discovering the confidence and courage to do so. 


For more information:  

NLYM Mid-Valley President: Stephanie Walter, smwalter(dot)mail(at)gmail(dot)com

NLYM Mid Valley Chapter Media Contact: Shelly Greenfield at shelly(at)reddoorhome(dot)net 


Instagram: @nlyminc 

Twitter: @nlyminc 

National website:  

National Mailing address: PO Box 3403, Newport Beach, CA  92659-8403 

Image of books in the book truck

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Shunia means "Stillness of Power"

Introducing Shunia: The duo with a global sound!

The pundits say the music of Shunia will transport you, which would certainly fulfill a wish for many in these challenging times. Watching the latest video “Sa Re Sa Sa” shows how right they are!

The duo – Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson – has created two albums of genre-defying new age/global music to date. Their first album, Ascend was produced with the renowned Thomas Barquee. On their new self-titled album, Shunia, they collaborated with Tony Award®-winning producer Jamshied Sharifi, lauded for his work on Snatam Kaur’s GRAMMY®-nominated album, Beloved.

SHUNIA did a soft launch on January 15, but the full album is just now releasing to radio programmers. It features the fusion of classical instruments from different countries, multiple styles of vocals, and the focusing energy of ancient chants, to bring feelings of joy, hope, and awareness to Western culture at a crucial moment in time.

Moroccan artist Hassan Hakmoun joins Shunia on the new album that blends Sanskrit chants, Latin prayer, ancient poertry by Rumi, exquisite vocals (both artists are operatic sensations), and orchestration into a sound that feels both new and timeless.

The duo previewed SHUNIA at last year’s ShaktiFest Reunion November 13-15, which celebrates the devotional paths of yoga, Kirtan (sacred music), and meditation and launched the album on January 15, 2021.  They've since been featured in Eden Magazine, Global Heart, Seek the Joy, LA Yoga, Tones and Drones, and on national radio shows such as Echoes.

Enjoy the uplifting single “Sa Re Sa Sa” featuring Hassan Hakmoun on your favorite platform:

Or, enjoy the high-energy Sa Re Sa Sa video:

About the duo:

Shunia is a duo that combines addictive melodies, ancient chants and polycultural rhythms into a sound that feels both new and timeless. Their music captures and conveys deep energies and spirit. The state of “shunia” means stillness, receptivity. Shunia’s members, Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson both performed with the Washington National Opera for 20 years before finding continued success in their solo careers. Coming together as Shunia, they combined their influences, inspirations and experiences to create genre-defying music with the power to transform and to connect you to the energy within and around you. It can put you in touch with something as simple as your five senses or as mysterious as the infinite. 

Additional videos:



"Breeze at Dawn" 

“Wah Yantee” (from their first album, Ascend)

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

MUSIC REVIEW: The Silence of Grace

New Sounds by Music Pioneers Deborah Martin & Jill Haley 

Electronic and acoustic instrumental music of inspirational calm and great beauty. The Silence of Grace combines the electronic music of Deborah Martin with Jill Haley’s oboe and English horn. There’s something very magical about the serenity of nature, and Jill has connected her music with the spirit of the wilderness. Deborah Martin’s passion is to visualize and create music that takes each listener on a journey through time and space. Each track contains the synergy of the woodwinds and electronics, interpreting the peace that can be experienced in natural settings, such as forests, parks and by waterways. 

This flowing and beautiful soundscape is filled with opportunities for adventure. The music I hear on this album represents to me the adoration of the Earth, seeking an  understanding of natural phenomena, and finding commonalities between all living things, things that are best studied as a whole. Seeking to understand how the world and universe around us works. This laboratory is alive. Jill brings the light while Deborah brings the love of mystery, and the combination of these two amazing musicians (stargazers, ambassadors from another time) is magical to behold.

Grace has confidence. Nature sometimes has a way of slowing life down, presenting a complicated system of causes, allowing the inquisitive to discover common patterns. Mother Earth has her own agenda, perhaps seen in the beautiful nighttime and early morning light. "The Silence of Grace" (6:54) is filled with passion, dreams, and magic, recalling spacious skies and mountain majesties, expressing theories of divine natural forms, there is almost nothing to compare to it.

Hues change by time of day and season, wrinkles in the earth’s crust are actually mountains that wear the dawn like "Indian Heaven" (6:52), revealing an immensely intense feeling of a state of love, peace and joy, celestial electronics and deep confident cadences, hand percussion and a quiet reverence for the mysteries of life and death.

Rugged and remote, "Verdant Sanctuary" (5:01) invites the listener to meander further into the wilderness, to discover ancient trees and dramatic cave formations which appear with mirage-like effects. I hear chimes and swirling electronics joined with an oboe to create a tone poem, describing a forest filled with life, a vast roadless wilderness. Hidden seeds contain future forms, which are responsible for the reproduction and growth of succeeding life forms, listen to the tiny DNA ribbons of color. Our sacred earth sometimes begets butterflies!

The wild character of these sound regions is due, in part, to their sheer size. The water continues to flow, solitude is one of the many assets held in the woodlands. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by the greenest mountains, and the flora and fauna found in the ground and the water, a gaunt beauty and place of profound quiet. "The Stillness of Forest Bathing" (6:20) is expressed with the sound of cosmic radiation that gives way to the calm glory of solitary interaction with nature, providing the spirits of the land a chance to shine their light directly on you.

Fog lies like a soft white blanket on the indescribable ghostliness, hundreds of miles of pure snow-covered rocks and virgin lakes and high timber. Find yourself in a stunning place, a place buffered from change, and give yourself a reminder that you are a part of this magical world. "Fountains" (6:06) bring tingling droplets of water in motion lifted by complex layers of weaving instruments and air, filled with cascading melodic breezes.

The beauty that surrounds the Earth is both grand and subtle, come to the edge and look outward, explore with your ears a different walking path today, seek out that rugged vista, the river and its tributaries, and the wind calling, feeling as if you have found the very edge of the world, embarking on adventures that no one has before. "Earth Stone Water Sky" (4:06) evokes the beauty of the calm water, the light on the mountains, and mysterious elements containing light, whispers, and time.

The whole valley, as far as the eye can reach, is full of trails of smoke, curling up from its fissured floor. What I hear is a hot pulsing didgeridoo, a primitive dancing engine, joined by hand percussion as the woodwind breezes swirl overhead, electronics flow throughout until they transform into ascending spirits that trickle down as gentle droplets, almost like rain. It seems as if time has dropped away a million years and we are back in a primordial world, in the pouring rain, "From Fire Into Water" (6:36).

Time is a river flowing beyond the reach of the quietus, preserving the wild beauty and deep history that extends over the reach of humans, with perpetual cycles of precipitation, evaporation, run off, and infiltration. Water is like many mobile beings, bodies in motion, rising into the air to peacefully soar on the wind in a frolic. "Water Flows of Clouds and Thunder" (7:32) depicts dark winds gathering power, and then becomes a sparkling celebration of motion, as a delicate harp emerges to join the airborne dance. What I hear gives me an indescribable sense of a mysterious elsewhere, a vivid glow that illuminates the clouds and its plume, revealing a cloud-cloaked landscape, hanging pinnacled in midheaven, sometimes you can’t really see it clearly while you are there. The beauty is, in its starkness, something that seems worlds away. Humans and nature have lived together for thousands and thousands of years. Each natural object was carefully placed as if Mother Nature had a specific outcome in mind. A safe place is where someone can feel relaxed and find peace. 

Deborah Martin is known for her mastery of subtlety and the essence of understatement, creating richly textured and highly emotive musical sojourns that always takes the listener on a journey. Some of her recent works include Hemispherica Portalis (a collaboration with Dean De Benedictis); Eye Of The Wizard; Under The Moon; Deep Roots, Hidden Water; Between Worlds (a collaboration with Erik Wøllo); Anno Domini (a collaboration with J. Arif Verner); Tibet (a collaboration with Madhavi Devi); and Ancient Power (a collaboration with Steve Gordon).

Jill Haley is an oboist, English horn player, pianist and composer who visits National Parks in the United States, often as an Artist in Residence, and composes music about the Park while living there. Some of these parks include Montana’s Glacier National Park; Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado; Badlands National Park, South Dakota; Wrangell/St. Elias National Park, Alaska; Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico; and Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida. Her catalog includes The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier, The Winds of Badlands, Zion and Bryce Canyon Soundscapes, Glacier Soundscapes, The Waters of Glacier, Mesa Verde Soundscapes, and National Park Soundscapes

Being outdoors and connecting with Mother Nature is probably as close to heaven as you can possibly get on this Earth. Find the place that you are surrounded by, the place which makes you feel most alive. Treat yourself to a musical nature walk. The views for your ears are spectacular! Experience the surreal musical tranquility of The Silence of Grace. Just sit and take it in with your headphones and observe the beauty.  
1 The Silence of Grace
2 Indian Heaven
3 Verdant Sanctuary
4 The Stillness of Forest Bathing
5 Fountains
6 Earth Stone Water Sky
7 From Fire Into Water
8 Water Flows of Clouds and Thunder



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