He loved my shoes. The ones with the leopard print. When he spotted me wearing them, he would always throw a compliment my way along with that huge smile of his. It was a contagious joy that Mark possessed. Although only a child, he had a way with words and a personality that literally lit up the room. Everyone who knew Mark and Jacob experienced the exuberant zest for life that they both possessed.

Mark was a natural leader. I remember a day at school, packing lunches for the local food bank, when Mark took the lead and proclaimed himself the “quality control officer.” He would check each bag before loading it into the bin to make sure it had everything it needed. I chuckled that a third grader knew what a quality control officer did, and then allowed him to take on the task. Of course, he knew what he was doing. Not only was he a natural leader, but he also used his sparkling personality to entertain the other kids as they worked.

His younger brother Jacob also left a mark on my heart. I remember vividly his performance of Mother Theresa’s words, recited by heart at a speech contest. It was so touching to hear his little voice remind us that, “People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.” 

Many of us remember September 29, 2020- a day of unthinkable tragedy for the Iskander family, and the entire community. It was the day these two sweet boys were out on a walk with their family and fatally hit by a car in the crosswalk. In the aftermath, I have watched with amazement as the Iskander family has prioritized acts of kindness despite their grief and ongoing court battles stemming from the incident. They have chosen to focus on love and work to do good through their pain. Now they are asking us, their community members, to do the same. Often, we feel so helpless in situations like these, but now we have an opportunity to continue the love and kindness Mark and Jacob showed the world by extending our own.

The Iskander Family launched the Mark and Jacob Iskander Foundation in partnership with the Good Shepherd Foster Family Services Agency. This new agency will be located in Westlake Village and seeks to serve foster families of Ventura County by providing critical resources and helping our Ventura County children find loving and safe homes to grow up in. The mission on their website states, “With your support, Mark’s and Jacob’s light will travel to the darkest places and illuminate countless young lives both at home and abroad, through projects for orphans, impoverished youth, and foster children.”

When I heard that the family was putting together a walk for Mark and Jacob to promote safe driving on our roads and fundraise for the new foster agency, I knew I had to be there. I can’t change what happened, or lessen the grief that the Iskanders feel, but I can support their efforts to use their heartbreak to spread love in our community. We can ALL help by signing up and participating in this important event.

In addition to helping underprivileged youth in our community, the Iskander family has organized a community walk on September 29, 2023. The walk will honor the lives of Mark and Jacob on the third-year anniversary of their passing, and the family is inviting the community to participate in this event. The “Walk for Mark and Jacob Iskander”, which is a call to “Slow Down- Save Lives” promotes safe and responsible driving in our neighborhoods. The walk will begin at Three Springs Park in Westlake Village, pause at the crash site and return to the park to end in a peaceful community prayer.

All members of our community are invited to participate by joining in the upcoming walk and/or donating to the Mark and Jacob Foundation in support of the new foster care agency. To complete your free registration for the walk and learn more about donation opportunities please visit: https://justiceformarkandjacob.com All merchandise purchases and donations will support the new foster family agency.

I hope to see you there!

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Tamara Nowlin
Tamara was born and raised in Southern California. She obtained her B.A. in Political Science & Sociology from Pepperdine and after undergrad attended Southern Methodist University Law School in Dallas, Texas. Tamara has resided in Ventura County for the last 14 years where she lives with her two teenage children. In her career she has enjoyed many roles from attorney to school admissions to marketing & legal communications. She is the founder of a local writing services business called Yellow Daisy Writers. She offers writing help for small businesses and job seekers as well as special event writing for weddings and other milestones. Tamara loves to travel, write, go to the beach, eat at fun restaurants, and hang out with her kids. On an average day you will find her with her nose in a book or doing yoga. Tamara is excited to join Ventura Mom’s Collective and contribute to her community in a new way!


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