Updates: ‘Orange County’
Our desire for each WGYB family is that they would become a stronger and healthier family unit. We hope that one day our families no longer need the assistance that we provide. Today we get the honor of reporting to you one of these success stories.
The Lopez family lived in 3-bedroom apartment with 14 people. Leticia Lopez and her husband lived in one of the rooms with their three children. The other rooms are occupied by Leticia’s mom and siblings, each of whom have children. Leticia says it’s exhausting to live with 14 people. “There is no privacy,” she said. “You feel like you never stop cooking or cleaning.”
Leticia’s husband, Rafael is a mechanic and works long and late hours to make ends meet. Since they moved in with their family two years ago their main priority has been saving to afford their own place. Leticia dreamed of beds for each of her children and a place to call home. When asked how the We’ve Got Your Back food program helped her family, Leticia looked me straight in the eye and said, “I felt like I was able to help provide for my kids.” Her kids love getting the fresh fruit in the backpacks. The Lopez family has a blast watching a movie together when there is popcorn in the backpack. They feel like they’re out at the movies.
Leticia is an extraordinary mother and that’s not all she’s good at. She has been taking classes since 2013 to become a licensed vocational nurse. While we were chatting she pulled out a certificate with “Valedictorian” printed on it. There was such pride and honor in her smile as she shared how much she loves school.
The Lopez family’s time has finally come. Just a few weeks ago they moved into their first home. Leticia joyously shared how the kids couldn’t wait to have their own rooms and a backyard to play in. Rafael is planning on commuting daily to his job in Orange County until one day he can find something closer, but for now they are just thankful to have a home. For a family moving from one room to three, it requires a lot of furniture, housewares, and kitchen supplies. GCHope gladly gave as much as Leticia could carry in one trip to get them started but we are accepting donations of beds, couches and any other furnishings needed to fill the Lopez home.
When asked how the GCHope family can be praying for her, Leticia replied, “Pray that we are able to keep up with the bills. This is a big step for us.” Thank you to all our donors for believing in GCHope so that families like the Lopezes can one day accomplish and attain goals they never thought possible.
GCHope will continue to support Leticia and her family. If you or anyone you know is interested in donating please call 714-523-4454 or email email@example.com.
Leticia with her GCHope supplies to start off her new home!
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.
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.
Contact: Carly Visbal
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orange County Nonprofit Website Hacked By Cyber Terrorists
Buena Park, Calif. — Giving Children Hope’s website was hacked into on Monday, January 5. No personal or donor information was compromised.The hacker group, self-identifying as a Syrian rebel sympathizers, took over the homepage, turning it into a black screen with red text reading, “I love ISIS”. Giving Children Hope’s staff immediately took down the site to address the problem. Within a few hours, Giving Children Hope’s website was back up and running. All online donations and personal information is not stored on the website and is secure.
Giving Children Hope is one of the few Orange County nonprofits sending relief supplies to displaced Syrian refugees. The organization has sent 18 container loads to refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. Giving Children Hope’s Executive Director, Sean Lawrence, visited Lebanon to oversee distribution in September 2014.
There are 3 million registered Syrian refugees with millions more still in Syria in need of humanitarian aid. Giving Children Hope will continue to support the Syrian people living in refugee ghettos and camps desperate for safety for themselves and their families.
To donate to Giving Children Hope’s Syrian refugee work visit www.gchope.org/donate, call 714-523-4454, or mail a check to Giving Children Hope, 8332 Commonwealth Ave., Buena Park, CA 90621.
Giving Children Hope is a faith-based partner providing sustainable hope through wellness programs and disaster response in collaboration with local and global communities. We do this through the gathering and giving of Medical Resources, Nutritional Foods, and Basic Needs.
We are very thankful to have had Best Buy stop buy to volunteer this past Wednesday! Our volunteers help us so much, especially during the holidays. With Christmas approaching in just one week, you could imagine how thankful we are to have a team of enthusiastic volunteers. These excited volunteers were more than ready to help. Their energy and holiday spirit lifted the office. We loved having Best Buy participate in our mission of serving vulnerable children and families across the street and around the world. Thanks Best Buy!
It all began when a GCHope volunteer suggested that her kid’s martial arts studio do a toy drive for GCHope during December. This small idea grew to be a contagious movement throughout the community and turned into a toy, food, and cash drive for the vulnerable children GCHope serves. In one month the American Martial Arts Academy in Fullerton raised $1,600 and around $300 worth of toys and food for underprivileged children. GCHope is so grateful to the couple hundred families that showed up in a big way for families in need this Christmas. This is an incredible amount and we can’t believe how one martial arts academy could be behind all this. Thank you American Martial Arts Academy and all those who participated!
We love seeing how enthusiastic children can be about giving back to the community. When a group of Camp Fire girls came into GCHope, we were stunned by what they did. A group of 12 Camp Fire girls came together to created an amazing food drive in their own community of Long Beach. This group of young girls had brown bags donated from Fresh and Easy. They attached a flyer to each bag asking for donations of canned or boxed food and left these empty bags on the porches of houses in their community. When the girls returned at the end of the week to collect the donations, they had an overwhelming amount of support from their neighbors. Together, the Camp Fire girls collected over 188 pounds of food for homeless children in Orange County! Thank you, Camp Fire girls for participating in our mission of serving vulnerable children and families. We cannot wait to have you come back!
We love our volunteer groups! Just last week, we had a group of wonderful volunteers from Experian. This group of volunteers went above and beyond what was asked of them. Besides volunteering here at GCHope, the 27 volunteers collectively donated $500 from their own pockets for GCHope! Amazing work, Experian. Thank you for participating in our mission of serving vulnerable children and families across the street and around the world.
On a street in Buena Park, within the scope of 2 football fields, hope grows. A homeless family walked into our office today needing shelter. Dad has work lined up, but in the interim they pan handle for a warm place to sleep. They came to Giving Children Hope, looking for…hope. We do not offer hotel vouchers, but we do have a few friends that understand what we do and happily help when they can. At the far end of Commonwealth is the Jain Center, and that is where I know my friend Prafulla. She paid for the family’s stay at the hotel just 100 yards down the block from her church. When I left to pay for the room, I told a staff person where I was going. She was once homeless; she went to her purse and pulled out 2 Target gift cards she insisted I take to the family. I drove the distance of a football field to the hotel, which sits smack in between our organization and the Jain Center. I met the appreciative family and the hotel clerk handed mom the keys. When I explained the two gift cards were a gift from a staff friend, she looked at me as if I gave her the winning powerball ticket. She asked me to thank the generous donor who helped them in their journey.
It’s days like this, when we do what we normally don’t do, that true meaning and purpose fill every bit of our soul.
Written by: Giving Children Hope’s Director of Community Programs Christine Sanchez
The family with their Target gift cards.
There were 316 wonderful guests who attended GCHope’s annual gala, Delivering Hope, this Saturday at the Hyatt Regency of Orange County. GCHope staff is so incredibly blessed by our family of supporters that truly care about making a difference in the lives of so many children. “It was amazing having so many of our GCHope family members in one room showing their passion for the cause,” said Executive Director Sean Lawrence. “It was an exceptionally successful event.”
The 19 40’s themed evening entailed a silent auction, live music, a live auction, dinner and dancing with special musical guests, the Los Angeles Muses. Sean Lawrence spoke about GCHope’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis, sending more than 17 containers of needed items for those in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. He narrated the tragic stories of refugees he met and prayed with on his most recent trip to Lebanon. Director of Community Programs, Christine Sanchez, shared about GCHope’s food distributions both locally in Orange County and internationally in the Philippines, and board member Dr. Vance Gardner shared about our medical resources changing lives around the world. Those who attended heard real life success stories from those that are being fed, loved, and supported by GCHope.
The total amount raised at the gala was $92,000!!!!! Thank you to everyone that helped us raise that incredible amount. All donations will go to support GCHope’s food distributions both locally and internationally.
GCHope’s gala was sponsored this year by Thrivent Financial, Nutrilite, Shelly BMW, Lee & Perrin Real Estate, Southern California Gas Company, Buena Park Downtown, US Bank, and Esquivel Shoes.