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California Assoc. of American Mothers, Inc. Honors Local Mothers
by Bev Nelson, President
Friday Apr 12th, 2013 7:43 PM
Honorees include: Robina Suwol, Renee Evans Starr, Stephanie Lynn McKnight,and Janice Rutherford-Lim

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE,CA - On Saturday, March 23rd the California Association of American Mothers,Inc. held their annual celebration honoring outstanding mothers.The festive,well attended event which included a beautiful luncheon, was held at the picturesque La Cañada Flintridge Country Club.

American Mothers, Inc., is an interfaith, non-political, no-profit organization that recognizes the important role of motherhood through educational programs and community outreach. It is also the organization responsible for annually selecting the National Mother of the Year and is the official sponsor of Mother’s Day.

Honorees included: Robina Suwol of Sherman Oaks who received the 2013 Francis Eleanor Smith, “Helping the Helpless Children” award ; Renee Evans Starr, of Covina, 2013 California Mother of the Year; Stephanie Lynn McKnight, of Ramona, 2013 California Young Mother of the Year, and Janice Rutherford-Lim, of Rancho Cucamonga, 2013 California Mother of Achievement.

Robina Suwol, the first recipient of the Francis Eleanor Smith Award , was celebrated for her service to children. Francis Eleanor Smith was honored in 1936 as the California Mother of the Year and went on to be named the National Mother of the Year. Because of this distinction, friends and neighbors were so elated that they raised funds to start a rehabilitation center for crippled children in her honor. In 1938 in Chino, Califorinia, Casa Colina (she refused to let them name the center for her) opened its doors. Francis worked full time at the Center without salary until her death in 1952.

UTNE Magazine named Suwol one of “Fifty Visionaries Who Are Changing the World.” For decades she has spearheaded efforts to protect our most vulnerable population, including founding California Safe Schools (CSS), a children’s environmental health and justice non-profit in 1998. She achieved national prominence by spearheading the Los Angeles Unified Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Policy, the most stringent pesticide policy in the nation for K-12 public schools, and the first to embrace the “Precautionary Principle” & “Right to Know.” The success of the policy led to California’s Healthy Schools Act.

Today the LA Unified IPM policy serves as an international model for school districts and communities. In 2005 Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 406 (Montanez) sponsored by Robina & CSS. This bill bans experimental pesticides from California K-12 public schools if their health effects are unknown. As a result more than 6 million California children and hundreds of thousands of school children are protected from experimental chemicals.

Under Robina’s leadership CSS has facilitated changes at the policy level as well as at the grassroots which creates a lasting institutional protection.Robina is the proud mother of two sons, Brandon and Nicholas.

Kathy Ward, representing Casa Colina presented Suwol with the award.

Renee Evans Starr, 2013 California Mother of the Year and her husband, Jonathan, have six children, fourteen grandchildren, and helped raise seven other children both in and out of the Foster Care program.

She is a licensed real estate agent, has volunteered extensively in the community, schools and her church, but her real passion is singing ,and performing which began as a young child performing throughout southern California with her sisters.

She is now the lead singer for the “Sentimental Sisters with Jay C. Munns,” and has shared her talents recreating the sounds of the Andrews Sisters with tens of thousands of people for the past 18 years.

Stephanie Lynn McKnight, 2013 California Young Mother of the Year is married to Mitch McKnight, is a young mother of three children and a stay-at-home mom. She graduated with honors from California State University, San Bernardino in 2008 ,and completed an Education Specialist Clear Teaching Credential and a Master’s of Education in Moderate to Severe Special Education.She taught at risk youth and students with moderate to severe disabilities and now home schools her own children.

Renee Evans Starr and Stephanie Lynn McKnight will represent California at the national convention In New York.

Janice Rutherford-Lim , 2013 Mother of Achievement, serves as the 2nd District Supervisor for San Bernardino County, and the president of the San Bernardino County Associated Governments.She also serves on several boards, including: The Boys & Girls Club, Junior Statesmen and Chaffey College Foundations.She earned a BA from UC Riverside and a M.A. from Claremont Graduate University. She is married to Steve Lim and they are the parents of two sons.

For further information:

California Association of American Mothers, Inc.
Bev Nelson, President
bevnelson2772 [at]
Phone: 909.450.7314

American Mothers, Inc.:

Casa Colina: