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I’m not sure why, but I had a hard time writing this blog. I started in one direction, and I’ve since re-written it about four different times with four different topics. Then I watched the series finale of one of my favorite shows (RIP, Parks & Rec) and what I wanted to share with you became slightly more clear.

In general, when people hear that I work for a nonprofit, their immediate response is, “Wow, that must be so rewarding,” or “You must love working there.” Don’t get me wrong, it is rewarding and I do love working here. This place is indescribably special. The work we do makes a difference to thousands upon thousands of people, and that’s not something I take lightly.

But in all honesty? Sometimes I find myself frustrated and exhausted with my work, forgetful of why I’m doing it in the first place. Too often I get bogged down in paperwork and dealing with a copier jam and ordering supplies — the word “administration” is in my title, after all — and it is difficult to remember the big picture of what we’re doing and why it’s important.

Enter Leslie Knope. She’s said a lot of quotable things in the tenure of Parks & Rec, but her reason for why she loves public service rang true to me:

“We do it because we get the chance to work hard at work worth doing, alongside a team of people we love.”

Leave it to me to take inspiration from a television show, but there it is. Work hard at work worth doing, with people you love. That’s Giving Children Hope in a nutshell.

The work we do can be difficult. Sometimes it’s physical, sometimes it’s mental, it’s always emotional, and it’s 100% worth doing. Sending cleaning and medical supplies to people fighting Ebola, or clothing to refugees in Lebanon who have nothing, or providing food to a family struggling to make ends meet inspires me. But when I’m up here in the office, sometimes I lose sight of that.

What helps me get through the days when all I see are frustrations are the people working right alongside me — our staff, board, and volunteers. Their dedication and their hearts of love and compassion for the people we serve heals my heart when it’s been worn thin by the mundane.

So even when I’m feeling burnt out or I’m just plain tired of un-jamming the copier, their presence is rejuvenating. Their service to the children and families we serve inspires me and reminds me why I’m here.

You are my team, and it is worth doing this work right alongside you.

Written by: Jessica Rickerts, Director of Administration

Jessica is pictured on the right.

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The Hope Times


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GCHope’s 21st Year of Service

We had just finished unloading boxes of food at a makeshift refugee camp in Lebanon, filled with refugees who had fled Syria, when a little boy stuck out his hand to ask for the empty roll of shipping tape in my hand. I handed it over to him and instantly this circle of trash became a make-believe steering wheel as the young boy drove off on an adventure. dsds The Hope Times It’s these moments of unplanned joy that remind me of what a pleasure it is to be on the frontlines of bringing hope to families in crisis. In 2013-2014, we delivered over $60 million in nutritional food, medical resources and basic need items to those in need both across the street and around the world. Our desire is that each container, pallet, and box of temporary relief supplies become a stepping stone to sustainable hope. IMG 03891 The Hope Times

This past year we sent supplies to over a dozen countries. Following Typhoon Haiyan, we immediately responded with shipments of food and air freight deliveries of water purification systems to our network of partners in the Philippines. Since the typhoon struck in November 2013, we have sent a total of 16 containers of supplies. I was able to visit the Philippines and see the impact in these people’s lives while overseeing distributions of the supplies we sent.

Another emergency response that has evolved into a long-term commitment has been the plight of Syrian refugees. Over the last three years we’ve sent 18 40–foot shipping containers of relief supplies to the Middle East for Syrian refugees! I’ve seen first-hand the impact these containers filled with food, clothes, blankets, medical resources and hygiene products has on the families. Their struggle is survival, and these items bring practical hope to their dire situation. Sadly, the Syrian refugee crisis has no end in sight and we remain committed to serving these families.

While the scope of our service is large, our prayer as a staff is that with every project we do and every item we send, we would be aware of the fact that there is a real person in need, like the boy I met in Lebanon, receiving our support. As we begin our 22nd year of service, we thank you for being part of the continuing journey of providing wellness to vulnerable children and families.

Serving together,

Sean Lawrence
Executive Director

Ebola Response

IMG 0965 The Hope Times Since August, GCHope has prayerfully and strategically worked to support those treating Ebola patients in Liberia. The World Health Organization reports that the virus has tragically taken over 8,000 lives, with 10% of those deaths being health care providers who contracted the virus while treating those with Ebola.

Thus far GCHope’s response team has partnered with four incredible nonprofit partners – Kids Around the World, Africa Mercy Partners, Containers of Hope and Global Med Farm – to get six 40-foot containers with sanitation and other medical supplies to those in need. gfds The Hope Times One container went to a clinic in Paynesville, Monrovia where Dr. Martha Zarway runs a clinic. Zarway described one major difference between living through the Liberian civil war and the Ebola outbreak. “During the war, we could hug each other and give some comfort,” she says. “But now, with Ebola, you have to be careful. You have to stay distance apart.” Two containers were sent with our valued partner, Containers of Hope. The food, clothing, and medical and school supplies in the containers are being distributed by Containers of Hope throughout the county of Bonga and to multiple orphanages in Monrovia, Liberia.

Website Hacked by Cyber Terrorists

One Monday morning in early January, our staff came to work and found the GCHope website had been hacked. No personal or donor information was compromised; all personal information is stored elsewhere for security measures. The hacker group, self-identifying as Syrian rebel sympathizers in Algeria, took over the homepage, turning it into a black screen with the words, “I love ISIS” in red text. GCHope staff immediately took down the site but was able to get it back up and running within a few hours. The FBI says there is no way to know for sure if our website was targeted because of our Syrian refugee relief work or if it was just by chance. GCHope is accepting donations to help us update our website and security to prevent this from happening again.

To donate go to gchope.org/website or mail a check to Giving Children Hope, 8332 Commonwealth Ave., Buena Park, CA 90621.

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IMG 6923 Volunteering to Better the Lives of Others

Jenny Lozano has attended GCHope’s Wrapping Parties every Christmas for the last few years, but this year she stepped it up big time. She stopped by the GCHope facility in December to drop off a haul of Christmas presents and met Christine Sanchez, Director of Community Programs. Christine gave Jenny and her son a more in-depth tour of our facility and programs. Jenny seemed amazed at all the GCHope does and mentioned that she would love to be more involved. Jenny owns a bookkeeping business and has offered her services, pro bono, to other nonprofits, without any takers. A light bulb went off in Christine’s head — GCHope’s partner US Bank is working with us to provide financial literacy classes for WGYB families. Jenny’s expertise could be a great addition to making this dream a reality.

Volunteering to better the lives of others takes on many different forms; for Jenny, it started with donating toys and may turn into teaching a valuable skill to families in need. What does volunteering look like for you? Whatever way you are able to give – if you have a special skill, time to pack backpacks, or able to donate financially – you are a valuable member of the GCHope team. Together we are helping the lives of children across the street and around the world.

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IMG 0836 Thrivent Volunteered

Thanks to the seventy Thrivent Members that came by this Saturday to volunteer!

Helping out in our We’ve Got Your Back & Giving For Living programs, they helped get us ahead of schedule for these two programs this week. They helped us by packing over 250 backpacks and sorting through 9 pallets of basic needs inventory. All of these resources will be getting into the hands of vulnerable children and families here in Southern California over the next weeks and months. Thank you so much for supporting these children!!

We had a great time hosting you and hope to see you all again soon.

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I have had the privilege and honor of representing Giving Children Hope on a medical mission to Vietnam to provide care to the poor people in some of the most remote villages of the country. This is my 3rd year with GCHope but my 12th year overall of traveling to Vietnam with The Good Samaritan Medical Dental Ministry (GSMDM).  The Good Samaritans are a Christian non-profit organization who has been in existence for 15 years providing care for the people of Vietnam.

Our mission team is made up of volunteer doctors, nurses, technicians, interpreters, and various people who just want to help in some way to lessen the burden of these wonderful people. A primary care team visits villages each day treating between 250-450 patients.

Last year, for the third time we returned to Cao Bang in the extreme northern part of Vietnam on the Chinese border. It is considered the most poor and needy province in all of Vietnam.  In a 2-week period the 2 teams combined to treat around 1,650 patients. There were 65 people that received surgical procedures that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to have.

For the first time, we brought a construction team to to help make improvements wherever they could in the town. We decided to refurbish an abandoned soccer stadium for a soccer tournament that we sponsored. It became a great communal event when the local townspeople joined us in the process. The soccer tournament was a huge success in the newly renovated stadium. We provided new uniforms and shoes for all the teams participating as well as cooking hot dogs and hamburgers for everyone who came to watch the games. What an awesome endeavor and event it was. The construction team plans to revisit Cao Bang with hopes of building a school or church.

Another new endeavor this year was the start of ESL (English as a second language) classes in the city of Cao Bang. The future goal is to have year-round ESL training for many people.

We hope and believe that by returning year after year to Cao Bang, a community we love deeply, a long-lasting sustainable impact will be made on in this community. We are gearing up and planning our next upcoming trip to Cao Bang this July.

Written by: Bob Brauchler

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GCHope exists because of Volunteers.  I know its hard for me to sound sincere about this while writing a blog on GCHope’s website, but it’s 100% accurate. Just think for a second about the 1,100+ backpacks that get filled with 20 pounds of food every single week.  It would take half of our 18 staff members working just on that every week to make sure it gets done right.  Thanks to our weekly 50-60 volunteers who help with this process, our staff can spend our energy on delivering the backpacks, coordinating with families and schools, fundraising and administration, not to mention the other two programs we run every week that demand equal portions of our time.

There is simply no way we could do it all without our volunteers.  Over the past four years, it has been my privilege to work with, coordinate and meet many of the 3,000 volunteers that serve alongside us each year.  During this time, I have learned several things about how volunteers really can make a significant impact for the vulnerable children and families we serve.  All our volunteers are wonderful, but every once in a while a volunteer goes well above the call of duty to serve children in need.

Here are a few things you can do to be a volunteer that makes a difference:

1. Ask Questions

Our staff are neck deep in the tasks they need to do every day/week/month and sometimes we forget that you can’t see all the details we do.  Be intentionally curious about why you are doing what you are doing.  The more you know about our programs, how they function and where you fit in that process, the more we can rely on you to do your job effectively.

2. Look for ways to take Ownership

Though it may seem like a simple thing, volunteers that can be relied on to own a particular task make a huge difference in our ability to serve. For example, when you become a leader for other volunteers, teaching them what needs to be done, you are making it easier to reach more kids with our program.  I can’t emphasize this enough!  We want you to see the volunteer-staff relationship as peer-to-peer, not employee-supervisor.  You are a part of the team and we want you to own that!  Ask for responsibilities.  Look for opportunities to be trained as a volunteer leader.

3. Speak your Mind

We can’t expect you to be part of the team without good communication.  You are in the middle of the work and your feedback is extremely valuable.  There may even be times when we have different opinions about things, but your point of view can only help make our programs stronger.

4. Connect your circles to the Mission

When you hear that we have a need for a web developer and you know your cousin would be willing to donate some of her expertise, reach out to her for us.  If we ask her, it simply won’t mean as much.  Is your office looking to help out during the holidays? Make sure they know about our toy drive.  You are the best ambassador to your networks.  If you believe in the mission, they may want to as well.

An actively engaged and deeply integrated volunteer force is one of GCHope’s most valuable assets.  Every week they make it possible for us to reach 4,000 kids with nutritious and stable food supplies.  If you haven’t joined this team yet, we need you!  Sign up to be a volunteer today and remind these children that is a whole army of people who care about them and want to see them live and eat healthy.

 Written by: Drew Bryson, Development Director
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This week GCHope got to meet some new friends from Chili’s! A group of General Managers came to volunteer as part of their management meeting. We didn’t have much time with them, but my goodness, were they able to accomplish a lot. This group of 26 volunteers packed over 200 backpacks of food for vulnerable children in Orange County. In addition to packing backpacks, they packed 280 bags of vegetables, 100 bags of fruit, and cleaned 280 backpacks to be ready for the next group to pack! WGYB Coordinator America Tapia said, “They were an amazing group! They did so much valuable work.” GCHope is always encouraged to see more great companies taking part in our mission to serve vulnerable children and families. Thanks Chili’s for your passion to make this world a better place!

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Betting on Hope


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Normally GCHope wouldn’t see Fantasy Football as something important to our mission. In fact, in its Wikipedia article you’ll find a subsection entitled “Wasted Productivity” and there’s already not enough time in our days to do everything we want to accomplish! But each day is full of it’s own surprises when you combine working at GCHope and serving God. A group of friends at one of GCHope’s church partners, Wilshire Avenue Community Church, pooled their money for the winner of their Fantasy Football league. It is common to bet money in these games but this league added a twist to winning. Instead of keeping the money, the winner got to choose what charity they wanted to donate their winnings to. How cool is that? It’s amazing to see people seeking inventive ways throughout their daily life to serve and love others. All this to say, GCHope was the recipient chosen by the league’s winner and ONLY female participant, Kim Plake!

Congrats Kim and thank you for choosing GCHope!

(And a special thanks to her Quarterback, Philip Rivers.)

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IMG 7264 Meet GCHope Staff Member, Mikaela BuchananDriving on the freeway one Saturday morning I eagerly pointed to the trucks with large heavy containers rumbling beside us. “Look, babe!” I exclaimed to my husband, “That is a 40’ High Cube container. I wonder where it is going and what’s inside?” A new excitement grips me now every time I see a container. Is it coming? Is it going? Did it just get picked up from the port?

These are the questions I ask myself whenever I see a container these days, something I would never have even given a second thought about before coming to Giving Children Hope. And I love it. It’s fascinating to know more about how goods travel around the world.

It’s my job to guide the containers we send out of Giving Children Hope. I help manage the project from start to finish. It begins with seeking out the needs in the field, verifying we have what the partner needs, all the paperwork involved with shipping a container the size of an elephant, and verifying it gets to those in need. Being involved with GCHope’s shipment of containers has so much significance attached because of where the supplies are going and the lives they are going to change.

We recently sent a container to Cape Verde, a country off the side of West Africa, I never even knew existed. Right now one of their many islands is experiencing lava flow from an active volcano that has displaced many of its residents. Along with Cape Verdean American Community Development, GCHope sent a container of medical supplies and equipment which will now serve some of Cape Verde’s population who fled their homes for their safety.

Another container was sent to Liberia with Containers of Hope, to aid the churches, clinics, and schools that have been responding to the people of Liberia during one of the deadliest Ebola Outbreaks ever.

Yet another container went to Cambodia with our partner, Warm Blankets International. We sent 12 tons of Vitameal, a nutrient-packed rice and lentil meal,  to them and they were able to distribute it to many in need including an orphanage of disabled children who are otherwise thought cursed and disregarded by others.

These are just some of the countless stories of lives impacted by receiving containers of much needed relief. So when I get excited about the containers we pass on the freeway it is warranted. Because it reminds me of how I have been able to be just one small part of helping get supplies to those in need. It’s a blessing to know the tasks I do each day will play a part in helping another persons life on the other side of the world.

IMG 6112 Meet GCHope Staff Member, Mikaela Buchanan

Project Gratitude


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One of the many benefits of working at GCHope is getting to meet the incredible people behind companies we all know and love. This year in celebration of their 60th anniversary, Whittier Hearing Center wanted to celebrate in a unique way. Instead of throwing themselves a party to commemorate the event, they are investing back into the future of community that has nurtured them for so many wonderful years. They are calling their campaign, Project Gratitude.

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In search for causes that are making their community a healthier and happier place, former GCHope staff member Elizabeth Saldana, who is now the Practicing Manager at Whittier Hearing Center, suggested GCHope’s program We’ve Got Your Back.

On January 28th, GCHope and Whittier Hearing Center staff gathered at Las Positas Elementary school to present a $2,000 check. The money will fund an entire year of food for the families in WGYB at Las Positas Elementary. Whittier Hearing Center Doctor Mary Ann Gilbert said she loves that WGYB is providing a healthy change for struggling families. In addition to sponsoring the school, many of the doctors were at the school to meet and hand out the backpacks to the kids. This is an impressively generous gift and GCHope is grateful to work in a community that cares and loves its residents.

Thank you Whittier Hearing Center!

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