2016-02-19 / Family

Teens awarded for act of kindness

By Hector Gonzalez


CERTIFICATES OF EXCELLENCE—The Simi Valley school board recognized six students from Simi Valley High School on Feb. 9 who helped an elderly woman get back on her feet after she fell in front of her home in December. Pictured from left are Simi Valley high school students Cody Watson, Mario Jimenez, Jon Foreman, Michael Mamagonian, Brittany Cardilino and Brett Rietveld, and school board member Scott Blough. 
Courtesy of Jake Finch/SVUSD CERTIFICATES OF EXCELLENCE—The Simi Valley school board recognized six students from Simi Valley High School on Feb. 9 who helped an elderly woman get back on her feet after she fell in front of her home in December. Pictured from left are Simi Valley high school students Cody Watson, Mario Jimenez, Jon Foreman, Michael Mamagonian, Brittany Cardilino and Brett Rietveld, and school board member Scott Blough. Courtesy of Jake Finch/SVUSD They’re the kind of teens who are usually on the go, but on this particular night they stopped what they were doing to help someone in need.

For Elaine Ambrosini, the act of kindness performed by the six teenagers—they came to the aid of her elderly mother the night she became disoriented, wandered outside and fell in the street—restored her faith in young people, the Cape Code resident told the Simi Valley Acorn in a phone interview last week.

“It’s just wonderful what they did, just wonderful,” she said. “I mean, you never hear about teenagers doing good things like this, only the bad. And they were so tender with her. It’s amazing. They stayed with her all the way through, until the paramedics put her into the ambulance.”

Clea Ambrosini, 84, has mild dementia and has a caretaker with her eight hours a day. But on the evening of Dec. 22, she got confused and walked outside by herself without her cane or walker, her daughter said.

“She lost her balance and grabbed on to the mailbox,” Elaine said. “It’s one of those old-fashioned cast-iron types. It wasn’t anchored down.”

The 40-pound mailbox toppled over, hitting Clea in the left part of her chest. She fractured her arm in the fall and suffered several cuts and bruises.

Until that night, Elaine said, her mother’s dementia hadn’t seemed so bad that she couldn’t be left alone. Now Elaine is making full-time assisted-living arrangements for her mother.

“I just think . . . if those kids hadn’t come along when they did,” she said.

Teens step in

On Dec. 22, Simi Valley High School senior Brittany Cardilino, 18, was at home watching TV when she heard screaming coming from outside.

“I look out my window and I see a lady just lying in the street,” Brittany said. “The mailbox was completely torn apart and it was lying next to her. My first instinct was just to help her.”

As she began checking over the woman, who was face down in the dark, Brittany recognized her as the neighbor she’d known since the teen’s family moved to Simi Valley 12 years ago. As a kid, bouncing on a trampoline in her yard, Brittany would often see Clea over the fence working in her garden and would wave hello.

“I asked her if anything hurt,” Brittany said.

Just then a group of young men, Simi Valley High School track team members Cody Watson and Jon Foreman, both seniors, junior team member Mario Jimenez, as well as former track teammates and 2015 graduates Brett Rietveld and Michael Mamagonian, were driving by. After spotting Brittany and Clea, they stopped the car and got out to help.

Brittany knew most of them from last year, when she was on the girls’ track team.

One of the boys called 911 and together the six teenagers carefully lifted Clea from the street.

“We picked her up and sat her on the curb,” Brittany said.

By then, several neighbors had come out, and within a few minutes an ambulance arrived and took Clea to a hospital.

When SVHS Principal Dean May returned from the holiday break in January and read through his emails, he found one from Elaine Ambrosini, describing what had happened to her mother.

She asked that the teens’ “kind and caring deeds not go unnoticed,” May said, reading from the email at the Simi Valley school board’s Feb. 9 meeting.

As the teens’ parents snapped photos, board members presented the six current and former students with certificates of Excellent Citizenship and Community Service.

Elaine went even further.

“We decided to send each one a check for $50,” she said by phone last week.

For Brittany, the experience had nothing to do with awards, rewards or pats on the back.

“It just felt nice to help someone,” she said.

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