Judge Hal Cherness, In Memoriam


Our esteemed board member, Judge Hal Cherness, died March 10.

Hal and his wife, Carolyn, served on the Dollars for Scholars Board since its inception.

Hal grew up in Los Angeles and attended Jefferson High and later UCLA and USC where he earned his law degree. He served as a judge for 37 years, handling criminal and civil cases.

He wrote in our 2013 Newsletter how his long career on the bench had been immensely rewarding, earning him a Judge of the Year award and several other honors.

He will be missed by all who knew him, and especially at our yearly fiesta where he could be found surrounded by many friends, his children and devoted wife, Carolyn

Our Newest Board Member


Helen Madrid-Worthen is a native Angelino, who has lived over 70 years in Los Angeles.

After a 31-year career with The Gas Company, raising two sons, and being a stepmother to four adults, in retirement she enjoys activities that help improve our City and our communities.

Helen served for eight years in the City’s Cultural Heritage Commission. Currently she is a Board Member of El Proyecto Del Barrio, one of the premier non-profit organizations
in the San Fernando Valley offering health care services, youth school-to-career programs, and a 4-star Work Source Center in Sun Valley.

In 2000, California Assembly Speaker, Robert M. Hertzberg selected Helen as the 40th District’s Woman of the Year. In 2006 Helen was selected by the National Women’s Political
Caucus — San Fernando Valley, for their inaugural issue of their Women’s History Calendar, “Eleven Remarkable Women & One Good Guy”. Helen was honored by Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women as the 2007 Pioneer Women for the Third District of Los Angeles nominated by Councilman Dennis Zine.

For over 20 years Helen has volunteered in the Grandparents And Books (GAB) program for the City of Los Angeles Library system. She is a bilingual reader at the Canoga Park Branch in the West SFV where she shares her love of books with immigrant children who need help with the English language.

Another joy in retirement has been time for inter-cultural and inter-faith activities. Helen is one of the founding members of the Hispanic-Jewish Women’s Alliance. She is an active member of the Catholic-Jewish Women’s Annual Conference’s Steering Committee for the last 18 years.

Helen is also very happy to be on the Drew Silvern Dollars For Scholars Board of Directors. She particularly enjoys mentoring students who generally are the first in their family to attend college.

In March 1998, Helen’s son, a career firefighter/paramedic with the City of Los Angeles Fire Department, was killed in the line-of-duty. As a result of this tragedy Helen became involved with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, whose Mission is to Honor Fallen Firefighters from throughout the US and give support to the families they leave behind. Locally Helen is a Grief Support Facilitator in the San Fernando Valley through her Parish.

Together with her husband, Ken Worthen, they are the proud grandparents of ten grandchildren.

Our Amazing Mentors


Each scholarship recipient is assigned a Dollars for Scholars mentor. Mentors and students form connections that have an amazing impact on academic success.

In January, mentors and board members gathered for a pot luck dinner to celebrate their sense of fulfillment.

“Many of us feel that our mentees could mentor us. In terms of determination, gratitude, sheer will, and hard work, they are making a better life for themselves and their families,” says long time mentor Carol Stager.

Just read what they say:

• “I know my mentor supports me and is rooting for me.”

• “My mentor has really helped me stay focused on my goals and has been my support whenever I doubt myself.”

• “My mentor is providing me guidance toward a career.”

• “My mentor motivates me and enables me to do better than I did the year before.”

• “Having a mentor motivated me and reinforced my hunger for success.”

• “Knowing that someone other than my family cares about my success motivates me to perform my best in my classes.”

If you would like to join our mentor team, please contact: mrsjerroldg@yahoo.com

Heartfelt Thanks

Laura Leyva_a

Dear Scholarship Donor,

I am honored to have been given this opportunity to form part of the Drew Silvern Scholarship. Thank you for your generosity which has allowed me to further my education at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Thanks to you, I was able to buy my textbooks, live near by school, and pay off some loans. This has helped me stay focused in school rather than stressing about financial issues. Thank you once again.

I am very thankful for receiving your thoughtful gift.

Laura Leyva

A College Bound Workshop

DSCF7494A workshop was held Saturday, November 14, for high school seniors, participating in the Migrant Education Program (MEP) who are interested in attending college. The students met at Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School and information was provided by Jose Pimentel, Counselor to MEP secondary school students.

A group of 12th graders arrived by bus from several high schools. They listened attentively to the guest speakers, Lila Silvern and Heliberto Cano, who encouraged them to follow their dreams and take advantage of all scholarship opportunities available to them.

DSCF7501The students shared their hopes to be accepted into the University of California schools, Cal State University campuses and even colleges in other states. Their career aspirations ranged from Architecture to the Sciences. They were eager to get the best advice on the college application procedures.

Mr. Pimentel gave students computer tips on scholarship applications available through Dollars for Scholars and a list of other scholarships to be checked out on-line.


He also provided a Power Point presentation entitled “Writing Effective Personal Statements.” It included prompt themes, common writing problems, and information on how the essays are reviewed. He pointed out the importance of getting feedback on the essays before submitting them to the colleges.

This very special group of highly motivated students expressed appreciation in their evaluations of the day. Mr. Pimentel once again demonstrated his belief in their abilities and his dedication to helping them realize their dreams. Mr. Pimentel did a good job encouraging students to apply on-line to Dollars for Scholars.


The Board members, who met February 27 to select this year’s recipients, were impressed with the quality of their writing, the recommendations they received from their high school teachers, and their academic achievement.

The board was also affected emotionally by the challenges the young people dealt with and their determination to get the college education that would enable them to improve the lives of their families.

Mentors Make a Difference

It has taken several years to develop the mentoring component of the Drew Silvern Scholarship. In my early attempts at recruiting mentors I concentrated on finding college graduates whose careers matched the students’ goals.

I assembled a group of willing volunteers waiting for a guidance I wasn’t yet prepared to offer. I was still figuring out how to make the idea work.

Frances Goldstein was one mentor who persevered and led the way. She never gave up waiting for students to call her back. She came up with some new ideas for getting together with students. Her trips to museums and LA landmarks have encouraged others to be creative and inventive in enhancing educational experiences as well as offering opportunities to talk about college classes and personal lives.

Lucille Gechtman joined Frances on the all-day metro trip to the Norton Simon and even planned a follow-up meeting on Olvera Street with another mentee.

Jay and Lynda Hartman opened their home and office to their Cerritos sophmore, Ruben Herrera. New mentors Joan and Dan Lavery are excited about meeting Edgar Barboza.

Helen Worthen, Carol Stager, Carole Rosner, and Lizzie Aguilar have stayed in touch with their mentees and have provided encouragement, sound advice, writing assistance and an assurance that someone other than their family cares about their success and college life.

I arranged to meet with my mentee, Laura Leyva at the Skirball Museum and asked Dr. Sobel if he and M’Lou Guzman would like to join us. To round out the afternoon, Rosemary Rubin, was eager to meet My Gem Lee for the first time.

We had the opportunity to chat about college classes, summer vacation, and future plans over pizzas, sandwiches and salads. The highlight of the afternoon was not the expected tour of the Bill Graham Rock and Roll exhibit, but a visit to Noah’s Ark where our very capable students pulled on ropes, rang bells and had a wonderful time being kids.


Mentors lunch at Skirball with Rosemary Rubin and My Gem Lee Guzman
Mentors lunch at Skirball with Rosemary Rubin and My Gem Lee Guzman
My Gem and her brother M'lou Guzman
My Gem and her brother M’lou Guzman


Giordany, Young Man of Many Talents

Giordany OrrellanaI am a former Drew Silvern Dollars for Scholars scholarship recipient who graduated from USC in 2009. I went to UCLA for the screenwriting extension program for 9 months from Oct 2013 to June 2014.

In 2013, after I took a 9 month screenwriting class at UCLA, and in January 2014, I became disillusioned with film. I decided I needed to make a life change and began studying Objective-C programming to make apps for the iPhone. I developed a 3 year plan to teach myself programming, but in the meanwhile, I needed something to support myself and pay my bills while I pursue my new studies. I decided to create an online business. The idea came to me while I was driving on the freeway in June: I came upon the idea of selling personal leather bands for Apple Watches.

IMG_4345I knew three things: people pay a good price for high quality leather, people love to personalize their technology, people that can afford a luxury item like the apple watch can afford a high quality band. With those three things, I sought to produce high quality leather bands. However, the only problem is that I’ve never produced leather bands before, let alone even cut leather. So I went on a three month journey of teaching myself everything.

IMG_4350After 3 months, slowly but surely I started to see these bands on Etsy. Once a week, then once every few days. Now, I charge $65 and I get at least an order a day. Each band takes me several hours to produce, and if I mess up once, I usually have to start over. I try to produce each band as close to perfection as possible.

People are really loving the bands. You can see from the reviews that they really enjoy them. My dad is building die-cutting stamp that will reduce my production time in half. I am also looking into selling the bands on Amazon and other locations.

An employee from Apple has already purchased a band and is showing it off to all of his colleagues. People keep reporting that they constantly get compliments on their bands.

Here’s the link to my new products. I can be contacted at:

A Visit to the Norton Simon Museum

Suzeth Alonso small sizedIt was a fun adventure going to the Norton Simon Museum with my mentor, Mrs. Goldstein, Andrea Romero and her mentor, Mrs. Gechtman.

At the same time I was excited and scared because I had to meet Mrs. Goldstein at the Union Station and I didn’t know how to get there. Along the way I did ask people for help and I didn’t end up getting lost. I was happy when I saw my mentor because I had a lot to talk about. Especially since summer was coming to an end, I was excited to talk about my summer and my plans the upcoming school year.

I had never been to the Norton Simon Museum but I have to say I really enjoyed being there. There were so many paintings that I found interesting and caught my attention. One of the painting artists that I personally liked was Van Gogh. He had a unique way of painting with a brush and mixing the colors.

Not only was I in great company with Mrs. Goldstein but with the other mentor and the student that I met. I had a really good time spending time with Mrs. Goldstein and want to thank her for taking me on this trip. I also want to thank Mrs. Silvern for giving me the opportunity of being part of the Dollars for Scholars program and for giving me a mentor that has guided me.

Suzeth Alonso

Honoring Drew, 2015

We are posting this year’s Annual Fiesta speech by David Enzer, who was a long-time friend of Drew. If you did not have a chance to attend our event, please read David’s words which honor Drew and give insight to our mission atDrew Silvern Dollars For Scholars.



“A few words to start off: Welcome to all of you, so nice to see how successful this event has been over time– otherwise how could I end up being chosen as a speaker?

It is also nice to be able to speak on the topic of Drew. Many others have shared great stories at this event about his capabilities as well as his depth and courage during his short time here and thruout his personal battle. It means a lot to me to be able to share some of my impressions.

I met Drew in junior high at Millikan in Sherman Oaks — very close to here. I went there on permit since we didn’t live in the district. Many of his friends here today already knew him from elementary school at Dixie canyon, and had already experienced his loyalty and friendship, his exploits on the athletic filed and his success in the classroom.

At that age, I spent most of my free time on the court, as did Drew and a lot of his friends here today – whether it be basketball or football or tennis. Drew was a fierce competitor, but a gentleman on the court. Meeting Drew on the basketball court was a unique experience and I remember it quite clearly: floppy curly hair all over the place, a smile with braces sticking out, head cocked to the side slightly, and a stance that dared you to move successfully in any direction with the ball. He shot was like no other we had ever seen: I wondered how he could shoot a knuckleball so well.

Athlete and gentleman. Whereas all the other kids were aggressive in playing style and mouthing off at each other or cussing at each other, Drew was a silent warrior.

Drew did not lose his temper or complain at any time regardless of outcomes. Good day or bad day, he never changed. He played team ball and maintained composure. It was inspiring to be around the guy, he was mature and uniquely refined at an early age and I admired that a lot.

Drew set an example. Academically and socially drew was also very talented, took the challenging classes, played musical instruments, and he participated in clubs. O yea, and the cuter girls tended to follow him around. For that reason and so many others, you wanted to be around him.

Drew generated no friction. When he told jokes he did so quietly – he didn’t need to shout to be heard. When he had advice he gave it and expected you to listen. He wanted to set standards to live by and expected his friends to toe the line as well. His interest in john wooden helped him live a disciplined life where success was measured daily but he didn’t need broadcast his achievements.
Drew was a Giver. Drew gave of himself when most others would not have the will or strength.

I have read Drew’s journals where he details his quest to live an unpredictable life, yet try to enjoy his time here, asking the questions we all have about our place in the world and trying to make sense of it. I was inspired to learn he had devoted time to his elementary class reading programs and enjoyed that a lot, and stayed with it even during his own tough times. He wanted to make a contribution to others and didn’t let his condition take him off course. He was committed to friends and community and spiritual oneness.

Drew had strength to make very hard decisions. After high school, college and a few years of medical school pursuing a career as a doctor, drew pivoted 180 degrees to pursue a career in writing. So he knew that the economics he was walking away from would be far greater in likelihood than where he was heading.

It was a big sacrifice but he wanted to pursue the goal that inspired him not just the economic one. Writing his journal in the UT was a fulfillment of that decision and how he could tell his story to others. That took a lot of guts.

In closing I’d like to say thank you to all of the folks that make this program possible, lila silvern and others. And all the friends of Drew like me that are here to help celebrate his legacy. Those of you in the Scholars group hopefully find success ahead and remember some of the things you heard about Drew here today that hopefully inspire you, and take them with you on your own journey.”

Scholarship Fiesta 2015

On a warm sunny day in late May, we celebrated the Drew Silvern Dollars for Scholars Education Fund’s 11th annual Fiesta Celebration. More than 100 supporters attended to honor the life of Drew and raise funds for the scholarship created in his memory.

Volunteers, donors, board members, guests and scholarship recipients enjoyed a wonderful seafood buffet, refreshing homemade beverages, and delicious desserts. We were entertained by the music of Alicia Moran and Tomas Cardenas. Raffle prizes this year were top notch and included tickets to the Hollywood Bowl, fresh seafood home deliveries and restaurant gift certificates.

The gracious and appreciative speeches given by the Scholarship Recipients are always the most inspirational part of the Fiesta. It’s exciting to see these students mature and grow closer to earning a college degree.

We thank all the supporters who helped fund three new student scholarships, as well as scholarships for the 18 returning students this year. We thank all of our volunteers, supporters and donors, who continued hard work with dedication and love for this organization.