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Thursday, Sep 21, 2023

Kids Get Help From Maria’s Chain

Kids Get Help From Maria’s Chain Companies Best Sponsor (Small/Medium): Maria’s Italian Kitchen By Brad Smith Staff Reporter Madelyn Alfano started out just wanting to build on the example her mother Maria had given her when the first of what has become the 10restaurant Maria’s Italian Kitchen chain was opened. Tasty, healthy food at a good price and with a dedication to customers and the neighborhood. Today, even with restaurants from Santa Barbara to Pasadena, the Van Nuys-based family-owned business is one of the most active medium-sized companies in the region when it comes to local causes and events. From free catering to financial support, organizations as widespread as the National Association of Women Business Owners to Cure Autism Now have benefited from Alfano’s support. “It’s a combination of things it’s a giving back to the community generally, but a large part of it, given the type of charities we work with and their missions, is because Madelyn’s first son was disabled,” said James Alderete, who manages the company’s philanthropic efforts. “She’s focused a lot on charities that benefit the disabled.” Alfano formed the Max Reitzen Memorial Fund, named after her late son, who died at the age of 12. The fund benefits the Enrichment Foundation for Handicapped Children, which provides specialized arts, music, and computer technology programs for children in special education classes. “A percentage of any Web purchase would go to that and she also has a Brownie business, and a percentage of that goes to the foundation,” Alderete said. “And it is as equally important to donate time and effort as money, and we donate a lot of time and effort.” Through the restaurant and the associated catering and specialty foods businesses, she also provides direct financial support for: -The Children Uniting Nations child advocacy program; -The Nicole Parker Foundation for Children, an anti-child abuse project named for an 8-year-old Tarzana girl murdered by a neighbor in 1993; -The National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children; -Childrens Hospital Los Angeles; -Shane’s Inspiration, which builds handicapped-accessible playgrounds for children in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley; -Hollywood-based Cure Autism Now, and; -The Encino-based Familial Dysautonomia Foundation, which provides health education for families susceptible to that condition, a debilitating and often fatal disease that destroys the nervous system. The FD Foundation’s southern California chapter, based in Encino, was organized in 2004 by Anne Rainer. Rainer, an Encino resident whose son suffers from the condition, met Alfano through her husband David, a banker who knew Alfano on a business basis. The two women, both mothers of children born with potentially fatal disabilities, immediately bonded. “Madelyn, being the incredible person that she is, became my friend and then sort of a business mentor to help us get the southern California chapter formed and promote an awareness campaign,” Rainer said. In May, when the foundation held a fundraiser at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles, Alfano closed the Van Nuys office and brought her employees to staff the event. “So 500 guests were taken care, and that was very helpful to my small grassroots organization,” Rainer said. ” because we did not know how to do it.”

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