Rialto restaurants support bright stars
By Naima Ford

Helping children is the motivation behind local Rialto businesses raising funds for the Brightest Star program, a program that works to motivate and uplift children living in group homes. In honor of National Foster Care Month two restaurants, Johnny Shrimp Boat and George’s Burgers are hosting the Brightest Star fundraiser. Restaurant patrons buy a “star” for a dollar which is donated to the work of the program.

Rialto Mayor Grace Vargas,who is a big supporter of Brightest Star, went to both restaurants to buy her star in support.
“No matter how much time you have to give, you can do something positive that will make a difference for a young person in foster care,” said Vargas.

National Foster Care Month began in 1988 at the urging of the National Foster Parent Association. President George
H.W. Bush issued the proclamation naming May National Foster Care Month and since then association has used it as a platform to discuss the plight of children in foster and group homes, especially older children.

Brightest Star works with those children to help them to thrive in foster care. The program was started by Lea Cash, an entertainment journalist who always had a heart for abused and abandoned children. She began working with the McKinley Children’s Center over 20 years ago and three years ago created the Brightest Star which now works with McKinley, the David and Margaret Home and the Leroy Haynes Center.

Combining her two passions, entertainment journalism and children, she brought the celebrities she met to talk one on one with children in the foster care system. The goal is to raise the children’s self esteem and build their self worth by engaging them in intimate conversations about themselves. They also host self esteem workshops and other events.

According to Cash, she has seen how a child with no self worth will not be able to function normally and often act out.

“I think it is the secret ingredient that is missing,” said Cash. The foster care system is aware that lack of self esteem and self worth is the major problem preventing the children from succeeding in foster homes or in the world after they turn 18 and leave the system. But, according to Cash, still little has been done to reverse the self destructive tendencies that have built up in many of the children.

The program is created to address that gap in the system by showing someone cares and letting them know that someone like them can succeed.

“This is about getting in the trenches, looking them eyeball to eyeball and talking to them heart to heart,” stated Cash.
For more information on The Brightest Star go to www.thebrighteststar.org.

The participating restaurants are George’s Burgers at 605 S. Riverside Ave and Johnny Shrimp Boat, located at 334 S. Riverside Ave.