Santa Clarita resident, musician aims to give back to the community

Rodica Isabella Shalda and Ron Whitaker are working to produce a food drive to benefit the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry. Austin Dave/The Signal
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Ron Whitaker didn’t want to just be a veteran rock drummer for his entire life.

The passionate musician, a Santa Clarita resident, has played with members of bands like Guns ‘n Roses, Def Leppard, Quiet Riot and Cherie Currie of The Runaways.

But when he formed a new band, The Babys, with his fiance Rodica Isabella Shaldan, Whitaker knew what his focus wanted to be.

“It’s time we let people know we want to give back,” he said.

In 2014, The Babys played a benefit concert at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills. Now he wants to bring the music world and the nonprofit world together even further.

Whitaker and Shaldan are partnering with The Canyon Santa Clarita for the month of December and January to collect canned foods for the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry.

They picked the nonprofit to make sure to give back beyond the holidays.

“So many people think, ‘Let’s give back throughout December,’ but we want to make this a year-round thing,” he said. “Just because it’s January, February, March doesn’t mean there aren’t people in need.”

There will be a box at the venue by the Westfield Valencia Town Center on the couple’s behalf, encouraging concert-goers to come play.

Whitaker grew up in Simi Valley, but looked to his parents, who hosted 160 foster children over the years, as examples of people who did great works.

Although he has enjoyed much success in his music career — Whitaker has played in two rock bands, Voodoo Church and Zombie Legion — his heart is for helping.

Shaldan, who is from Romania and is an actress and model, has volunteered with Whitaker at homeless shelters throughout Southern California as well.

She said the two have received multiple awards for humanitarian work, such as the Lifetime Humanitarian Award from the Artists in Music Awards. The couple, who reside in Canyon Country, want to make sure everyone gets into the giving back spirit.

Lance Sterling, owner of Sterling Venue Ventures, which operates the multiple Canyon Club venues, said he considers Whitaker a generous spirit.

“Ron is a good friend and he has a big heart for his community,” Sterling said. “We do a lot of charity work here at The Canyon, and we’re interested in anything we can do to help the people with the food bank.

“As long as people can bring stuff in, we’re carrying this drive as far beyond the holidays as we can,” he said. “So bring all your leftover food from the holidays.”

Whitaker said he and Shaldan plan to collect the goods every other evening to give back.

In between working on movies, such as upcoming titles, “In 3 Dragon,” and “The Limo Driver,” the pair still enjoys playing music and looks forward to other bands joining and raising awareness with each concert.

“Let’s make this a great place for all of our community,” he said. “Whatever we can do for the homeless, the needy, the veterans, let’s do it.”

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