Birthday in a Bag
The Children’s Foundation of America strives to provide an opportunity for every person to help children heal, learn and thrive. That is why we were so excited to hear from Michelle Panos, who learned about Birthday in a Bag, and made it a reality for foster youth.
Michelle got the idea after visiting the Family-To-Family website, a nonprofit focused on hunger and poverty relief for families. She decided to take on the project in her own way to support children in foster care.
Being a school teacher, she sees the impact of coming from a lower income situation can make. Because of this, she was looking for an organization to get involved with that supports children in need.
“When I found out that the Children’s Foundation of America works with foster children, I was ecstatic,” she said. “I have had several children that were in foster care in my classes over the last few years so I thought that this was perfect.”
The Birthday in a Bag donation will be given to resource parents at Michelle’s local foster care office: Trinity Youth Services, Rancho Cucamonga. The donation comes at the perfect time when we are showing our appreciation for local foster parents during National Foster Care Month. Every little thing helps a resource family do everything possible to help a child cope from trauma experienced before entering foster care. We celebrate foster parents for opening their heart and their home to care for a child in need and we are so grateful for people like Michelle who want to help make a foster parent’s role a little easier.
What’s in the Bag?
Each bag includes birthday party supplies such as a poster, streamers, balloons, candles, cake mix, frosting, a present and a book! Michelle is an elementary school teacher and we are so glad she included a book for each child to read.
How to Help
There are many ways to help children in need! Some donate time by volunteering, some donate funds for scholarships or yearbooks and some have the desire to find a unique way that suits them best. All these efforts help make a difference in the lives of children who need to be shown a little compassion.
Carrie Palmer, Development Specialist
Carrie oversees the day-to-day operations and staffing of the Foundation. Among her many tasks, she is responsible for seeking out and applying to grants for the Foundation as well as overseeing fundraising events and donations. Above all, Carrie’s focus is to identify and access resources in order to help children heal, learn and thrive. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of San Diego in 2001 and a master’s degree in public administration at Cal Poly Pomona in 2005. Carrie enjoys spending much of her time with her family and, when given the opportunity, jumps at the chance to travel the world with her mother and daughter.
The Children’s Foundation of America will be supporting Trinity Youth Services at a speakers series hosted by Claremont Craft Ales. Trinity Chief Administrative Officer, Cher Ofstedahl, will talk about foster care on Wednesday, March 22 at 6:30 p.m.
Cher leads Trinity Youth Services’ business operations teams, which include human resources, payroll, accounting and development. We call our business offices “Mission Support,” because everything we do supports the programs and people that provide direct services to the children and youth in Trinity’s care. Cher has been with Trinity Youth Services for nearly two decades and prior to that, she worked in the music industry and as a professional actress. Among her many academic degrees and certificates, Cher holds a BA in organizational management from Ashford University and post-graduate certifications from Cornell University and Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is scheduled to complete her master’s degree in ethical leadership from Claremont Lincoln University in 2017. Cher is also a member of the first graduating cohort in a National Human Services Assembly (NHSA) nonprofit executive leadership program; a collaboration with Arizona State University, Indiana University and the Lilly School of Philanthropy. Cher has served on a variety of nonprofit boards and currently serves on the board of directors at the dA Center for the Arts, is on the membership committee for the California Alliance for Children and Families, and is chair of the Inland Empire Alliance for Children and Families. In her spare time, Cher performs stand-up comedy professionally.
Volunteer Spotlight: Joanne Sanchez
This month’s volunteer spotlight is Joanne Sanchez of Chino, CA. We assigned her to serve as volunteer administrative assistant at Trinity Youth Services’ Rancho Cucamonga office.
What are your favorite pastimes?
My favorite pastimes are creating art, working out and spending time with my three dogs.
Where did you go to school and what was your major?
I currently attend Irvine Valley College where I will be receiving my AA in Economics, but I will also be transferring this year to Cal Poly Pomona.
What activities do you participate in at Trinity Youth Services?
I assist the social workers with improving organization, helping them locate information and assisting them with filing to ensure everything is up to date.
What inspired you to volunteer at Trinity Youth Services?
I was inspired by the work the employees do to give back to the community and ensure the safety of the children.
What do you find most rewarding about volunteering?
I find the knowledge of how I am making a difference very rewarding and encouraging.
What’s your favorite memory from volunteering at Trinity Youth Services?
My favorite memories are the individual looks of appreciation I receive from those I help all around the office.
Why would you encourage others to volunteer?
I would encourage others to volunteer if they are looking for an activity or opportunity to be of service to those who both may need and deserve it. This is a rewarding way to also gain experience for different career fields.
Is there anything else you would like to share with your fellow volunteers?
Even though you’re a volunteer, give it the best you’ve got and treat it like any other job opportunity. The hardworking employees will thank you.
Aaron Henry, Community Outreach Associate
Aaron’s role is keeping the day-to-day functions of the Foundation office running efficiently by answering phone calls and emails, taking in and recording donations, coordinating volunteer activities and assisting with outreach and events. Aaron is a musician and an art enthusiast. On weekends, Aaron instructs music at the Claremont Community School of Music and assists at the nonprofit’s office.
Tel: 1-800-543-7730 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Holiday Heroes Gift Drive a Major Success
At the end of each year, the Children’s Foundation of America focuses on making children’s holiday wishes come true through our annual Holiday Heroes campaign. The initiative features a toy drive, gift wrapping fundraiser and the involvement of several volunteers and partners.
The Children’s Foundation of America’s Holiday Heroes gift drive was a resounding success. The Foundation was able to fulfill the wishes of nearly 400 children in Trinity Youth Services foster care and residential treatment programs. Children submitted three wishes and the Foundation was able to grant them all. For younger children, the wishes were mainly toys and games and the older children requested gift cards for retailers, entertainment and restaurants. The Foundation is proud to support the children of Trinity, all of whom have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or other traumatic circumstance. The Foundation was also able to provide toys and other items to the Benjamin E. Jones Community Resource Center for their “Sweet Little Angels” gift giveaway program, benefiting children of families living in poverty.
The Gift Wrapping booth at the Plaza West Covina mall, which was staffed by volunteers who contributed 501 hours of time, brought in nearly $9,000. “Giving Tree” wishes, granted by shoppers, brought in gifts for children totaling $1,544. Our sincerest thanks to Laura Gonzales and the management of the Plaza West Covina for their support.
Fenceworks of Riverside contributed an overwhelmingly generous supply of gift cards for teens and toys, bikes, helmets and jackets for children of all ages. Holiday Heroes Toy Box Sponsors included West Coast Dermatology Billers, Toshiba, Advantage Resourcing, Mijac Alarm, JCM Engineering, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Special thanks to Foundation Trustee, Carla Kingsbury, for encouraging Wells Fargo to increase their level of giving every year for the past five years.
Image Source USA raised the bar on both a personal and corporate level. Trustee Judith Jarvis, Vice President of Sales for Image Source, personally made a significant contribution, then challenged Image Source President, Brad Craft, to match her gift. She then gathered an additional donation from her sales team with their Branch Manager, Jordan Craft, leading the way. The total gift from the company totaled more than $7,000 and was used to fulfill individual children’s wishes and larger shared gifts such as sports equipment and new library books for youth living in residential placement settings.
Girl Scout Troop #1455 donated toiletries for teen girls and the Saddleback Kiwanis Club donated Therapy Dolls. The Today Show Charitable Foundation donated stuffed animals. These are just a few of the examples of generosity from some of the Foundation’s treasured partners.
“Giving Trees” were sponsored by the Claremont Chamber of Commerce and Tapestry Church Claremont. Heirloom Claremont hosted a “Make ‘N Take” ornament fundraiser and The Colony at Loft 204 gallery collected donations by selling Christmas cards designed by foster children. Several guests to the Claremont events Giving Tuesday and Holiday Promenade collected wishes from the Foundation’s “Giving Tree” and dropped off toys to the office throughout November and December.
The Board of Trustees and staff of the Children’s Foundation of America want to thank all of the donors and volunteers for making this year such a tremendous success. You have truly put the “Merry” in “Merry Christmas” for children who need it most. You are all truly Holiday Heroes!
Rebecca Ustrell, Community Outreach Coordinator
Becky acts as liaison for Children’s Foundation of America. On any given day she could be meeting with potential donors, coordinating a fundraising event, recruiting volunteers and forming partnerships with other nonprofits that can benefit from the help of our Foundation. Becky is currently studying sociology as well as fine art and helps organize the Claremont Art Walk. You will most likely find Becky working on freelance illustrations, playing the cello, mingling at a chamber of commerce event or volunteering in the community.
800-543-7730 | email@example.com