This blog post was contributed by our Director of Community Programs, Christine Sanchez.
I got a phone call from our receptionist. She tried paging Paul and America but neither were available. There was a woman in our lobby inquiring about our We’ve Got Your Back weekly food distribution program. She has eight children at home, though five are in college. Of her school aged children, one is in high school, one a 6th grader and one 3rd grader who is severely autistic, thus home schooled.
Her husband just found a job after several months of unemployment. His income is $3000 per month – but with 8 children. She does not want her college students to work; she understands the value of a college degree and knows that is the only way out of poverty. Half of her husband’s income goes to rent, and the other half pays the bills. What little is left goes to food. She’d love to work to help her family but is forced to stay home to care and educate her autistic child.
I gave her a tour of our WGYB packing area and explained that we are currently struggling to maintain weekly food distribution to the 47 schools we are currently committed to. She saw for herself that many of our food shelves were bare. I gave her information on two local food banks that might be able to help her make ends meet on a more regular basis. She was grateful for the information.
Yet, I could not let her walk away. The Lord sees our necessities on a daily basis. Could He have sent her to us? Perhaps. At GCH, we often work under that premise. So, before she left, I gathered some items, ones which were too big for our backpacks, that I knew would help her large family. America and I pulled together the 6 lb cans we could find: tomato sauce, peaches, baked beans and green beans. We found a 10 lb bag of pinto beans, a gallon of apple juice and a gallon of apple cider. Since we cannot put glass items in the backpacks, we gave her two cans of pasta sauce and some pasta. All in all, we donated a retail value of groceries of $87.92. She was overwhelmed with gratitude.
Today, I am grateful we were able to help this family in some small way.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11).
This blog entry was written by Cathy Baek, GCH’s Communications Coordinator.
Next month will be a year since I’ve joined the GCHope’s team and I can’t believe how time has flown by! It seems like yesterday when our Director of Administration, Jessica Rickerts, went around introducing me to the staff. While settling in at GCH, I was in the midst of starting another chapter in my life – getting married! And, this summer, my husband and I will be welcoming a new addition, a baby girl, to our family! Indeed, a lot has happened during the past year, and it makes me reflect on all the things I’ve learned.
Working at GCH has taught me a valuable lesson: how to serve others. Serving others is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I didn’t know how or where to begin. I was involved with many community service activities in college, but picking up trash at beaches and planting trees wasn’t fulfilling enough. There was always a thought lurking in the back of my mind telling me someday, I will be called to do more. I truly believe that’s how I ended up at Giving Children Hope. Everyday, I am moved emotionally and mentally with the accomplishments our team carries out. As cheesy as it may sound, I believe that’s what serving others must feel like – to sense a warm and fuzzy feeling after realizing how you’ve helped them.
I witnessed firsthand how GCHope was serving others around June last year. Our Director of Community Programs, Christine Sanchez, asked me to go with her to take pictures of us delivering household items/basic needs to a low-income family in Anaheim. Their unfurnished apartment was much too small for two adults and four children to be living there. We provided them with a dining table, pillows, blankets, soaps and some clothes for the children. One of the children was ecstatic to see a purple loofah, a body sponge, saying it was her favorite color. The fact that something simple like a loofah can make a little girl so happy made my heart melt. The mom expressed much delight and gratitude, getting choked up and teary eyed every time she told us how much this meant to her and her family. When we left, I felt the warm, fuzzy feeling and was motivated to continue to find more ways to assist others.
Every week, our staff diligently works together to help those in need, whether it’s a small or huge task; assisting with basic needs/household goods to underprivileged families; feeding more than 1,500 homeless students and their families; providing medical/pharmaceutical supplies for medical mission trips; shipping containers of clothing and medical supplies to Syrian refugees and much more. The list will grow longer, as this is our 20th year of serving those in need. Thus, we have a huge task ahead of us this year. Our goal is to create 20 healthy communities and this will give us tremendous opportunities to reach out to many more people.
I now understand what it means to serve others and realize even the smallest tasks can make a huge difference. During the past year, I’ve been able to experience the fuzzy feeling several times and I am grateful to be a part of an organization that makes an impact on so many lives.
This blog post was contributed by our Volunteer/Development Coordinator, Drew Bryson.
My family and I have moved twice in the last year and a half, most recently last weekend. So when it came time to get the word out to friends and family asking for help moving boxes and furniture, I felt a little guilty asking for help again so soon. I think the unspoken rule is, if they come and help you, then you owe them dinner. But if they come and help you and bring their truck, then you owe them dinner and free babysitting. Thankfully, I have many IOU’s out to a lot of great friends who showed up for us this weekend.
So Saturday morning rolled around and my wife and I were as packed as we could be without wrapping ourselves in newspaper. I did the math in my head and was thinking that with a half hour lunch break we would probably be done around 2pm. We got the truck at 9am and 2 guys showed up. I thought, “Okay, maybe more like 4pm.” But then the rest of them started rolling in and we started picking up the pace, loading multiple vehicles at once. We finished loading around 10:30am and I regretfully broke the news that our new place was an upstairs unit. Amidst groans and protests, we made our way over. But even more help trickled in and we conquered the unloading faster! Pizza arrived at 12pm and we said goodbye to everyone at 12:30! It is great to have amazing friends who show up to make necessary tasks a little bit more enjoyable.
I’ve been at GCH for 2 1/2 years now and I am honored to be working with such a great team! When an event comes along that would take one of us months to plan, we rally around one another and make the details happen. Not only do we do things more efficiently together, it’s just a lot more fun! When there is a new project that we need to tackle, everyone comes with their own creative perspective and together we figure it out. The people and problems that we confront as an organization are not slight. They can be overwhelming and at times, impossibly huge. We would not be able to survive, emotionally, as a staff if we didn’t stop to make each other laugh as often as possible.
It is a joy to come to work each day. From our Executive Director to our newest volunteer, I am so grateful to be serving alongside the men and women of Giving Children Hope.
This blog was contributed by our Executive Director, Sean Lawrence.
Last year I turned 45 and for the most part I have no gripes about getting older, with the exception of one thing – my declining sight. I’ve had 20/20 vision my whole life; I had it at 10, I had it at 20, I had it at 44, but something happened at 45. For the first time in my life I don’t have perfect vision.
My morning newspaper now has to be held in direct light for me to know what’s going on in the world. My iPhone continues to deliver all the information I need anytime I want it, but unfortunately I can’t see it without my glasses, and even then I look scarily like my father holding it closer to my face than it was designed to be held. I own a very convenient small print Bible that fits nicely into my back pocket but I can no longer read it because the “youthfully small” font is nothing but a holy blur!
But while my eyesight is no longer 20/20, the vision I have for Giving Children Hope remains clear and this year we are kicking off a campaign to highlight this vision. To celebrate our 20th year of service we are launching an ambitious program to create 20 healthy communities in 2013. Once fulfilled, this vision will provide backpacks full of food to schools that we’re not yet serving, provide medical clinics to communities that don’t have access to healthcare, and medicines to villages struggling with treatable ailments.
As we as a staff meet and strategize about how we can best reach these goals, we move forward in the confidence of knowing that we are part of a larger community of servants committed to bringing health to kids in crisis. We hope you’ll join us in this year in whatever capacity you can – volunteer, advocate, donate – to help us reach our goal of 20 healthy communities in 2013.
This entry was contributed by our Communications Intern, Jenn Yap.
“Before, they saw [a pushcart] as a symbol of poverty, but now they see a pushcart as a symbol of hope and education.” – Efren Penaflorida
Stocked with pens, books, notebooks, few chairs, a small black board and other learning supplies that could fit in a pushcart, Efren Penaflorida and his team of volunteers gaits the streets of Manila, Philippines. Stopping at every corner, gathering street children and teaching them how to read, all through the novel idea of a pop up classroom.
Efren Penaflorida, a former street child, was voted as CNN hero of the year in 2009. Amidst of the hopelessness and obscurity of living on the streets, Efren did not lose hope. He channeled all his energy in improving his life and dreamed that one day he could help other street children as well. He pioneered the pushcart learning system, an alternative learning system, which aims to educate street children.
For the past twelve years, using a pushcart as a classroom, Efren’s team has taught basic reading and writing to homeless children and have successfully guided former gang members, addicts and dropouts to dream higher and have a better life.
As of today, the pushcart classroom model has been adopted by different organizations, institutions, provinces and regions across the Philippines in order to bring education closer to low income families and other depressed areas.
Similarly, homelessness is a major concern in the United States. Currently, there are 1.6 million homeless children in the United States (NY Times). In Orange County, there are nearly 28,000 homeless children identified under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (OCDE 2011).
We found Efren’s story truly inspiring and moving. It motivates us to add more students to our “We’ve Got Your Back” program, which serves over 1,100 homeless children in Orange County’s school districts. The program provides these children and their families with backpacks filled with food that can last over the weekend. The backpacks also contain nutrition worksheets that are filled out by the students in order to educate them about healthy eating habits. WGYB school liaisons have reported that better nutrition and food helped students improve their overall scores and grades.
Just before Thanksgiving, GCHope’s staff cleaned our warehouse in time for the holidays. We divided into different teams to cover more grounds. One group rearranged office equipment and furniture, another cleaned the patio and hallways, and the third team trimmed some of the long dangling vines from outside of our building, which gives our building a refreshed, cleaner look.
Now, we are in full holiday mode! Holiday decorations are up and we’re ready for the wrapping parties set to begin next week!
Check out the before and after pictures below:
What does Thanksgiving mean to you? At GCHope, we are grateful for many things, including everything we were able to provide this past year. Our staff works hard everyday to serve the people in our community and around the world. Here is what Thanksgiving means to our staff and the things we are thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving!
“Thanksgiving means being very intentional of all the things we are thankful for. I’m thankful for my family and friends, being a part of an organization like GCHope that do great work, and all the blessings.” – Janet Valencia, Logistics Coordinator
“Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it does not require you to buy gifts. Just spend time with your family and acknowledge our gratitude together. I’m thankful for our (my family and me) good health.” – Sheena Innocente, Intern
“Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful for what you have and acknowledge every blessing in your family and life. I’m thankful for where we live, for having all the essentials, and for having family and friends who support me.” – Jacquie Lopez, Intern
“Thanksgiving is getting together with your family and friends, and counting your blessings together. I’m thankful that I still have a home, I have healthy children and parents, I have good friends, and I have two wonderful dogs, Chloe and Buddy.” – Barbara Berg, Bookkeeper
“Thanksgiving is a good reminder that amidst of all the disasters and stresses in life, joy is easy to find. You just need to go home and be with your family. I am thankful for having a job, family, good friends, break from homework, and how the season smells.” – Gina Centanni, Receptionist
“My wife and I currently have two foster kids. We have a family of five for the next two weeks. So, this thanksgiving is a fun and exciting time. It is a time to be thankful for having family and friends who supports us and believe in the same cause, helping those who are in need. I am thankful for the opportunity to work for a great organization like GCHope. We are a great team. I’m looking forward how this year turns out.” – Drew Bryson, Development/Volunteer Coordinator
“This Thanksgiving especially means a lot to me because I have so much to be thankful for, including joining GCH’s team and getting married. Thanksgiving always makes me so happy because we get to spend it with our loved ones over grrreat food! It’s a time to share all the blessings we have.” – Cathy Baek, Communications Coordinator
“I’m thankful for having good health, a job, family, and food at the table everyday.” – America Tapia, We’ve Got Your Back Warehouse Manager
“I think thanksgiving is knowing what we know living here, going beyond being thankful. We should be able to realize what we can do and be more open to trying to serve. The way to go beyond being thankful is to have the commitment of giving. I’m thankful for having good health because it allows us to do our commitment. I’m also thankful for having healthy and thriving children.” – Christine Sanchez, Director of Community Programs
“Thanksgiving means sharing time with family and saying thanks together. I’m thankful for living and good health.” – Rosa Rueda, Giving For Living Coordinator
“Thanksgiving means lots of delicious food and time for family. I’m thankful for having good health, my family, friends, and Joseph Gordon Levitt.” – Cathy Cruz, Intern
“To me, Thanksgiving means a time to sit down with family and friends to eat and enjoy each other’s company and celebrate all our blessings! This year, I’m thankful for family and friends who stick by me through thick and thin.” – Jessica Rickerts, Executive Assistant/Special Events Coordinator
“I’m thankful for Thanksgiving – that we have a time where we can reflect and look back to recount all the blessings that have poured onto us. We’re often so busy with our lives and rarely have the chance to slow down to reflect, so I am thankful that we have a day set aside to count all the blessings.” – John Ditty, Founder & Chairman of the Board
This entry was contributed by Bette Palovchik, who is with one of our partner organizations, ShuarHands. She shares about her medical mission trip in Guatemala.
Another day completed…and I am exhausted, as usual.
We arrived at the Governor’s palace to pick-up a vehicle, but the attendant was not there so we did not have access to the parking structure. We treated 97 children on Sunday in an indigenous community called Sachucum Dolores. This village is located about an hour, on rough road, from San Pedro…of course that is part of the adventure. The community was very welcoming. Within an hour of our arrival, a woman arrived with a 7-hour old newborn in tremendous distress…pulse, 80 vs. 140, oxygen, 65 vs. 85+…we could not record a temperature. No oxygen was available in the small clinic, so the doctor urged her to go to the National Hospital. The baby was placed skin-to-skin to the aunt. We checked yesterday, the newborn survived the trek to the hospital, and entered intensive care, but only for a few hours. The parent had such a fear of the National Hospital, they removed the newborn later in the afternoon.
On Monday, we went to Comitancillo to meet a dental team. They had an extremely efficient process…about 6 dentists and dental students from the US, Canada, Guatemala and other places. Since we will soon have two donated dental units, which are in customs in Guatemala City, we are hopeful to look for guidance from them. We treated 48 patients. We checked the children prior to their dental appointments. One patient was on chemo, they discovered, so they consulted with our pediatrician regarding antibiotics. What a great coordinated effort!
Yesterday, we went to San Pedro Petz, another rural indigenous area located in the mountains and attended to 79. The majority of concerns are: pneumonia, parasites and other infections.
We are using some medications that were donated by the doctor, and some from a ShuarHands, Inc. purchased through Giving Children Hope (also through a donation), I will pick up any additional cost of medicines.
Today, we are working in the Policlinica. Luis and I have an appointment with the governor, a government official and health minister, to coordinate our visitors in December (microbiologist, artist and author).
And Thursday, we begin our return to Guatemala City, stopping to visit the ophthalmologist who will be doing the two corneal transplant cases. Maybe some time for shopping in Xela…
Friday I’m home….
In 2000, President Clinton proclaimed October 8th as National Children’s Day to express our love, appreciation, and commitment for children, and to promote safe, nurturing and conducive communities for children to live in. He believes that both family and the community have great influence in shaping the lives of children.
Similarly, Giving Children Hope aims to help build strong families and communities that will provide a stable environment for children. Through the unending support of our donors, partners, staff and volunteers, we continuously strengthen our commitment in giving children better and comfortable lives.
In celebration of National Children’s Day, spend a day of quality time with your children. Here are some fun outdoor and indoor activities you can do with your children:
1. Visit downtown Buena Park for dining and shopping.
2. Go to an amusement park such as Adventure City, Knott’s Berry Farm and or Medieval Times.
3. Go to a nearby community park such as Peak Park, George Bellis Park, etc. for picnic, barbecues and outdoor games.
4. You can also have a refreshing day at the community pool.
Another great way of spending quality time with your children is to visit Giving Children Hope’s office to volunteer or come in for a tour. Let us show you our commitment and passion in building a strong community. By helping other children, your children will understand and experience how special they are.
Happy National Children’s Day!
On August 19, 2003, the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad suffered a terrorist attack, killing 22 people. This heartbreaking event paved the way for the United Nations to designate August 19th as World Humanitarian Day, to honor those who lost their lives in humanitarian service, and those who bravely continue such service.
Through this celebration, the United Nations also wants to highlight the existing humanitarian needs worldwide caused by natural disasters, conflicts and other emergencies that threaten the lives of millions of people, and how international cooperation plays an important role in fulfilling these needs.
We often hear the term “humanitarian” especially when describing a person or a group of people that provides help or aid to those who are in need. Its dictionary definition ranges from “a person promoting human welfare and social reform,” “a philanthropist,” to “(a person who is) involve in or concerned with improving people’s lives and reducing suffering.”
Mother Teresa, who was a devoted missionary, believed helping others should not focus on how much and how many times we have given. Rather, being a humanitarian is about the intent or motive of performing the act; the individual’s purpose in extending a helping hand makes the entire process and experience more meaningful and worthwhile.
At Giving Children Hope, we have a sincere desire of alleviating other people’s sufferings. GCHope embodies the sincerity, love and passion to provide assistance and improve the lives of the needy. With the help of eager, sincere, and passionate staff, partners, and volunteers, GCHope successfully implements different domestic and international humanitarian aid programs.
Giving Children Hope salutes those who bravely, sincerely and passionately commits in fulfilling the humanitarian needs worldwide — Happy Humanitarian Day everyone!