Updates: ‘Orange County’
Disney is always willing to lend a helping hand. This week, a group of about 15 volunteers from different departments of Disney came to GCHope to help in our mission to serve vulnerable children and families. One Disney Cast Member was given this opportunity to volunteer on his first few days with Disney.This energetic group of VoluntEARS did so much while they were here. They packed a total of 55 backpacks for We’ve Got Your Back and sorted through 5 pallets of donated items for Giving for Living. If that was not already enough, they continued to work hard by sorting through medical supplies. Amazing! We always love having Disney stop by the GCHope facility and hope to see their smiling faces soon. Thanks Disney!
Who is red and white and loves to volunteer? You guessed right – Target! These wonderful volunteers did more than just the typical volunteer work. Besides packing backpacks for We’ve Got Your Back, they also sorted through items for Giving For Living. That is not all! Target worked fast and had time to sort through some medical supplies. Our Target volunteers are amazing and we are thrilled to have them dedicate their time here at GCHope. Thanks Target for helping us in our mission mission to help serve vulnerable children and families.
Every Monday two dedicated friends, Allison Luu and Victoria Tores, drive their children from Arcadia to Buena Park to volunteer at Giving Children Hope. These two families drive a distance of 30 miles, sometimes taking an hour to get to GCHope to serve needy families. The kids – Ethan (13), Zachary (11), Kyle (11), and Taylor (9) – are on summer vacation and have selflessly chosen to give back to the community during their time off from school.
The Luu and Tores families originally connected with GCHope for a school service project and haven’t stopped volunteering since. Allison Luu says she loves bringing the kids here to volunteer because they are learning that volunteering is about much more than getting praise and affirmation from others. She wants them to understand the heart of serving others and hopes it will be an integral part of their lives.
GCHope is so thankful for the Luu and Tores families’ dedication and love for serving vulnerable children and families across the street and around the world.
GCHope is proud to introduce our interns! Some are seasoned interns that love GCHope so much, they’ve stuck with us for months past their intended time. Others have newly discovered GCHope and are excited to begin their journey working with us. We are thrilled to see the passion they have for giving back to their community by interning here at GCHope. From special events to accounting, each of them are bringing new ideas we cannot wait to share with you. Let’s take a moment to meet them.
Chris has been interning with GCHope for five months while studying Business Administration at California State Fullerton. In 2011 and 2012, Chris went on two different mission trips: One to New Orleans to repair damaged houses that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and another to Mexico to build a home for a needy family. These trips deeply impacted Chris and encouraged him to seek out opportunities to serve people right here in Orange County. Chris loves the family-oriented culture of working at GCHope.
Our second accounting intern is Hung Sok. She started interning with us in April of 2014. She is a senior at California State University of Long Beach, studying Accounting. Hung has been influenced by a number of people to seek ways to serve others and she is happy to be given the chance to do that everyday at GCHope. Hung loves the people and she works with at GCHope and enjoys the friendly environment.
Kaitlyn Lum. She is the newest of three Accounting interns. Kaitlyn is a junior at California State University of Fullerton, majoring in accounting. Kaitlyn recently arrived back in the states after her two month journey studying abroad in Europe. She enjoys traveling so much, she wishes she could be a diplomat just to travel! Kaitlyn says she loves how she can come to GCHope and not be judged and how everyone is more than willing to lend a helping hand.
Meet our Communications and Social Media intern, Victoria Rios. Victoria started interning with GCHope this June. She is a senior at California State University of Fullerton studying Organizational Communication. Her dream is to create her own nonprofit organization to help young girls become leaders of the future. Victoria loves interning at GCHope, knowing she is making a difference in her community.
Community Programs Intern
Hayley Beetstra is our Community Programs Intern. Hayley joined the GCHope family this May. She is a Senior at Azusa Pacific University studying Interpersonal and Organizational Communication. Hayley loves meeting and interacting with the volunteers at GCHope. She is inspired by their willingness to give their time to help their community. Hayley admires the GCHope staff and their passion to help those in need.
Next is our Grant Writing intern, Angie Chang. She started interning at GCHope in January of 2014. Angie graduated from UCLA in 2013 with a degree in Psychology. She is planning to attend graduate school to obtain her Master’s degree in Social Work and eventually become a social worker. Angie says she is inspired by the GCHope staff when they meet to pray for the organization, people they serve, and for every container that goes out around the world.
Our Inventory Assistant intern is Christopher Garcia. Chris became part of the GCHope family in March of this year. He is a senior at California State University of Fullerton, studying accounting. Chris enjoys helping his community and hopes to still be involved in charity work throughout his life. Chris says the people he works with are his favorite part of working here. He loves everyone’s friendly and welcoming attitude.
Lastly, meet our Special Events intern, Diana Tran. Diana is studying Business Administration with a concentration in Finance at California State University of Fullerton. She started interning in May of 2014. Diana is interested in three different areas: the special events industry, entertainment industry, and entrepreneurship. She comes from a family of entrepreneurs, gaining exposure to the business world at a young age at her sisters coffee shop. In the future, Diana would like to run her own non-profit organization. Diana says she loves being able to contribute to a nonprofit while still exploring her creative side.
GCHope is so grateful for this amazing team of interns we have been blessed with this summer. We love getting to encourage and inspire these young minds to serve God’s children with the talents they have been given. We cannot wait to see what the future holds for them. From all of us at GCHope, thank you to our wonderful interns for all of your dedication and hard work!
GCHope was delighted to have Banana Republic from the Block in Orange take part in our mission to serve vulnerable children and families. There were 9 employees who took personal time off to make a difference in our community. This group of energetic volunteers were eager to get started. They accomplished a lot in their time here, packing 70 backpacks for the youth in our We Got Your Back program. GCHope was happy to see this group’s passion for giving back at such a young age. On behalf of the entire GCHope staff, we would like to thank Banana Republic for teaming up with GCHope. We cannot wait to see your smiling faces back at GCHope. Thanks Banana Republic!
GCHope is going green! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the rumors are true. GCHope is currently in the process of building an aquaponic garden on our campus. Our company was introduced to the idea by numerous partners in the community that have seen amazing results for their work and the community since building their own gardens.
GCHope wants to continually remain inventive in the methods in which we serve the families here, so when given the chance to extend our serving capacity, we welcomed the idea and jumped at the opportunity to build our own garden. With this garden, GCHope will potentially be able to produce 850 fish and 90 lbs. of produce every single month. This would be a great addition to the food we are currently providing 5,000 people with every week.
The garden is being built at our facility in Buena Park with five grow beds and a fish pond in partnership with a company called Renewable Farms. Renewable Farms is an incredible, socially-minded organization that ‘aims to bring life and resources to underserved environments.’ Renewable Farms has built many other local gardens, including one for the City of Anaheim.
An aquaponic garden is a completely sustainable system with zero waste left in the environment that will provide beautiful fresh produce and fish. For example, in a creek bed the trees surrounding the water grow very tall because of the nutrients provided through the animals in the water. GCHope’s garden will imitate this same interaction. In each grow bed there will be a vegetable or fruit seed growing in gravel and water. This mixture of gravel, water, and the plant will create a bacteria that when recycled into the fish pond, will give the water nutrients and help the fish grow. In return, the water the fish have been living in will supply natural fertilizer for the plants, similar to what they would normally receive in nature. It’s a beautiful cycle resulting in delicious food.
GCHope loves the idea that we will be able to personally ask the families we serve what their favorite fruits or veggies are and grow them in our own backyard! In addition to the food provision benefits, this garden also offers a new volunteer opportunity to those in our community. We are so grateful to Wilshire Avenue Community Church in Fullerton for their help with construction of the garden, as well as the continued support to maintain it. This is a project that GCHope staff alone could not accomplish. We are blessed by our volunteers and always thrilled to have new ones join the family. Stay tuned to see the finished product!
The courtyard before.
The courtyard under construction.
GCHope’s neighbor, Medieval Times in Buena Park, came to volunteer on Monday! A group of 8 Medieval employees shared their love and passion of giving back to their community by volunteering at GCHope. Medieval’s Knights helped GCHope prepare to build our new aquaponic garden that will help produce fruits and vegetables for the children in We’ve Got Your Back. Our warehouse staff was extremely appreciative to have so many young men around to help lift the heavy wooden beams that would be used to build the garden. The knights also prepared backpacks for our WGYB program! GCHope would like to give a big thank you to Medieval Times for volunteering here at GCHope. We appreciate all the hard work you did. Thanks Medieval Times!
I often hear people say “Giving Children Hope is amazing!” but that’s not entirely true. YOU, our partners, should really receive all the accolades and recognition because your partnership enables us to serve people in need.
An example of a successful partner is Nutrilite, who is one of our oldest community partners. Nutrilite has given GCHope their time, resources, and expertise. Their team has spent hundreds of hours in our facility and has blessed our organization with their wisdom and generosity. Their desire to help people in need is evident and is reflected by their actions. Jim Siewertsen, Nutrilite’s Vice-President of Operations, is an active GCHope board member and our organization is better because of him.
Shelly BMW is another partner that recently engaged with GCHope. Last month, Shelly BMW’s staff members volunteered in our facility to pack backpacks for our We’ve Got Your Back program. Their general manager, Marcelo Sandoval, has a heart for serving and has committed to a monthly volunteer event with his team.
Both groups have created a tangible impact in our community that can be seen in our facility. Last week I had the opportunity of seeing an older woman leaving our facility with bags full of nutritious food for her household. Later I found out that this woman has full custody of her three grandchildren and has been raising them by herself for the past eight years. Her humble demeanor and warm smile reflected the peace of mind and gratitude she had from receiving food for her grandchildren. Her smile is a direct result of the dozens of volunteers like Nutrilite and Shelly BMW who donate their time each week to make this possible.
The impact we have in our community has increased because of our successful partnerships. So when I hear “Giving Children Hope is amazing!” I think of YOU, our partners. The people who read our blogs, volunteer, donate funds, advocate on our behalf, and share our common goal of bettering our community.
Helping people across the street and around the world.
This guest blog was written by GCHope’s Community Development Director, Elizabeth Saldana.
“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.” Deuteronomy 10:18
Wilshire Avenue Church in Fullerton is one of GCHope’s treasured church partners. This year Wilshire Avenue adopted a local We’ve Got Your Back school, taking on the responsibility to distribute our backpacks. In addition to distributing backpacks, Wilshire Avenue will create opportunities to make the kids and families at that school feel loved and supported by this caring congregation who happen to be their neighbors. It is beautiful to watch a church come around those living next door and love their neighbors by “giving him food and clothing.”
Wilshire Avenue’s heart for others is reaching those in the city of Fullerton, but also touching lives in far away places like Guatemala. The other day El Roy Pankow, Associate Pastor at Wilshire Avenue, and Ann Yousling, a member of the church, visited GCHope in search for supplies for their upcoming trip to Zacapa, Guatemala. Wilshire Avenue has connected with a poor community in Northern Guatemala through an organization called Hope of Life International. Hope of Life International provides a series of different invaluable services for children struggling to survive harsh conditions in Zacapa and Wilshire Avenue has made it their mission to commit to this community for 15 years! A part of that commitment is taking two trips per year to support the programs at Hope of Life International. One of Hope of Life International’s main services is the search and rescue of starving and sick children who have parents seeking help for them, or who sometimes have been deserted because their parents cannot provide for them. It’s heartbreaking to hear about a need such as this, but this organization is doing an amazing thing and we are proud that one of our own church partners has made it their mission to support this effort.
The team from Wilshire Avenue left on June 21st and returns the 28th. Please pray for safety and for the lives they are interacting with, that they may they feel God’s love and acceptance. GCHope was able to supply the team going to Guatemala with prenatal vitamins, over-the-counter medicines and other items to give to the treatment facility caring for the found children.
Wilshire Avenue has an incredible heart for loving others. Wilshire Avenue is exemplifying what it looks like to ‘defend the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.” Amen to that.
To learn more about Hope of life International follow this link to the website.
To learn about upcoming events or service times at Wilshire Avenue Community Church follow this link to the website.
We are so excited to have Disney come back! Just over a week ago, Disney corporate employees were here at GCHope packing backpacks for our WGYB program. This last Wednesday, another 34 Disney Imagineering Procurement Department employees came to volunteer their time here at GCHope. Disney corporate donated various Disney toys for children and our VoluntEARS were more than eager to help sort through them and report the inventory. They did not stop there! They also packed 150 backpacks for our WGYB program. GCHope is so thankful to Disney for their amazing support and dedication to help children in need. Thanks Disney!