Providing an opportunity for every person
to help children heal, learn and thrive.

Volunteer Spotlight: Megan Hakopian

Megan Hakopian

Megan Hakopian is a high school student who loves to volunteer. When she discovered Children’s Foundation of America on VolunteerMatch, she searched our organization online to learn more. “I saw that it aligned with my interests and values,” she said. “So I signed up right away!”

Her first and favorite volunteer memory with the Foundation was helping at our Claremont Earth Day booth. “I didn’t know anyone and Marie welcomed me with such a warm heart,” she said. “I felt right at home.” For her first time volunteering with us, Megan did an excellent job engaging with booth visitors and collecting donations with our spin wheel game.

Since then, Megan has volunteered at our CREAM Ontario fundraiser, helped cut event flyers at our office, inventoried in our warehouse and assembled spring goodie baskets.

She loves that volunteering allows people to develop new skills, especially with nonprofit charities like CFA. “Unlike other organizations, charitable organizations are happy to give positions to passionate, though inexperienced individuals,” she said. “Individuals who desire to help others and benefit the community.”

Outside of volunteering with CFA, Megan is active in her church, is part of Model United Nations, Girl Scouts, fencing, Claremont Canopy and occasionally plays the piano. “I don’t volunteer for the glory or the awards,” Megan said, “but because I love seeing others smile. It makes me really appreciate what I have and warms my heart.”

Megan highly encourages others to volunteer with CFA and even got her mom involved in the organization. Her advice for potential CFA volunteers and donors: “Pour your whole heart into it,” she said. “This is such an amazing organization and each time I volunteer I can only imagine how many children are impacted by one small act.”

The Children’s Foundation of America relies on volunteers like Megan to Be the Difference in the lives of children in need. Click here to learn more about how you can get involved too!


Marie MaghuyopCommunications & Volunteer Relations Specialist
Marie creates content for social media, writes blogs and coordinates volunteer opportunities and events. She enjoys connecting with volunteers of diverse backgrounds and getting to know their unique stories. She has earned two associate’s degrees from San Bernardino Valley College and a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from California State University, Fullerton. In her free time, Marie loves going to Disneyland, writing, playing ukulele and board games, and dancing.

CFA Relaunches Birthday in a Bag Campaign

In January, the Children’s Foundation of America relaunched our Birthday in a Bag campaign to make birthdays extra special for foster youth.

Birthday in a Bag started out as a project by a few volunteers to provide birthday bags to our partner organization Trinity Youth Services. The bags were distributed to foster youth at Trinity’s location in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. With so many volunteers and donors participating in Birthday in a Bag, it has been expanded to an ongoing campaign supporting five of the foster care and residential sites at Trinity Youth Services, across San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.

Each month, volunteers arrive at our Upland warehouse to assemble the bags for the following month’s birthdays. We recently recruited Matthew Chavez to be our Birthday in a Bag Volunteer Captain, after having volunteered for the activity every month since January.

“I love gift giving,” Matthew said. “It’s a fun experience to pick a gift and create a bag for the kids.”

Volunteers are provided a list of foster youth, their ages and their interests to pull items from our inventory of donated goodies. Volunteers fill birthday bags with cake mix, frosting, decorations, handmade card and a gift. Since the campaign began in January, 13 volunteers have helped assemble birthday bags for 40 foster youth ranging from infants to teenagers.

How You Can Help

The Foundation is collecting birthday items all year round including:

  • Large party bags
  • Cake mix
  • Frosting
  • Candles
  • Birthday decorations
  • Balloons
  • Plates
  • Cups
  • Napkins
  • Utensils

Birthday in a Bag items can be dropped off at our office Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 175 N. Indian Hill Blvd. Ste. B-200, Claremont, CA 91711. As an alternative, a $20 donation made through our website can also provide a complete Birthday in a Bag for a foster youth. Please consider making a monthly donation to help provide birthdays for foster youth throughout the year!


Marie MaghuyopCommunications & Volunteer Relations Specialist
Marie creates content for social media, writes blogs and coordinates volunteer opportunities and events. She enjoys connecting with volunteers of diverse backgrounds and getting to know their unique stories. She has earned two associate’s degrees from San Bernardino Valley College and a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from California State University, Fullerton. In her free time, Marie loves going to Disneyland, writing, playing ukulele and board games, and dancing.

Volunteer Spotlight: Linh Trieu

Linh Trieu is an invaluable and frequent volunteer with the Children’s Foundation of America. She is also an employee of our partner organization, Trinity Youth Services. She has worked there for 15 years as the Controller in the finance department.

At the Foundation, Linh has volunteered doing gift wrapping for our Holiday Heroes campaign, is a volunteer captain at our annual golf tournament, and has passed out Halloween candy at Claremont’s Spooktacular annual event. At our “Valenteer” Party she received the 2018 “Triniteer of the Year” award for accumulating the most volunteer hours among the many Trinity staff volunteers.

Because her position at Trinity does not always allow for direct involvement with the various Foundation campaigns, Linh makes it a point to volunteer outside of work whenever she can.

“What I do here at the office is support the Foundation to do their job,” she explained. “They help more directly with the kids than I can, so whenever I can help and volunteer, I do it because I’m putting a little bit of myself towards making their future brighter or making a new reality for them. It’s making a difference.”

Outside of her job and work with CFA she and her family frequently volunteer at the Santa Ana Armory to feed the homeless. She is also involved with the volunteer groups her church organizes, where they often make hot meals for the needy. Cooking meals was Linh’s first volunteer experience.

“It was eye opening. We didn’t realize how many people were out there that needed help. There are so many people in need,” she said.

Empathy and Volunteering

Upon arriving in the United States, Linh says her early experiences in the county motivate her to make a difference. “I came here from Vietnam,” she said, “And went through hard times when we first got here so I understand the hardship. I feel like I’m able to connect with others.”

Linh views volunteering as a way to get her kids involved and increase the awareness of issues in the community. “When we brought the kids to volunteer, they heard about it, but had never seen a place with hundreds of people in need. When we go to the shelter you can see kids – little ones – that need help. It’s a big problem. You don’t realize it until you’re out there volunteering.”

Linh uses volunteering as a way to instill empathy and instruct important values within her family. “My kids volunteer at Trinity. They’ve come with me to work and helped out since they were little. They’ve learned to give back and share. You have to give back, be open, and love others,” Linh said.

For those who are considering volunteering, Linh says, “Definitely get involved. It helps you not just feel good, but your body, mind, and spirit benefit too.” In all things, Linh takes a holistic approach. She loves to spend time with her family and exercise. To stay active, she visits the gym, goes on hikes with her family or volunteers!

The Children’s Foundation of America is supported by great volunteers like Linh. Click here to learn more about getting involved!


Jose Rojas, CFA Intern
Jose is an English literature major at California State University San Bernardino. As a CFA intern, Jose attends and photographs events and writes for our blog. He has previously volunteered with The Prison Library Project. In his free time, you can catch him playing tennis or cramming for his next exam.

CFA Raises Funds at Pie Festival

On March 23 local pie lovers united for Claremont’s annual Pie Festival – a gathering dedicated to great food, supporting local businesses, and good causes. Among the many festivities were celebrity bakers, pie-making demonstrations, live music, vendors, food trucks, a pie eating contest and a classic car show. Residents filled the streets to partake  in the festivities. The festival ended with a large pie tasting buffet for everyone to join.

Nestled between rows of food and local artwork, The Children’s Foundation of America had their own booth dedicated to raising funds to support foster youth. For just a $1 donation we invited attendees to test their skills with a bean-bag toss to win stickers and prizes! We also sold tickets to our upcoming comedy show, Funny 4 a Reason, and supplied information on how to become a volunteer.

With the help of our volunteers, the Foundation was able to raise over $200 to aid us in our mission to help children heal, learn and thrive! Our Lion’s Heart Service volunteers helped to pass out flyers, raise money and spread awareness. On volunteering with the Foundation, group chaperone Sylvia Tam says, “CFA is great because it’s helping kids that are at a turning point in their lives, where they can go forward or not. Anyone can donate, whether that be with money or time.”

The Children’s Foundation of America is supported by great volunteers and donors who aid us in our mission. Get involved today! For more information on upcoming events and opportunities to donate, click here!


Jose Rojas, CFA Intern
Jose is an English literature major at California State University San Bernardino. As a CFA intern, Jose attends and photographs events and writes for our blog. He has previously volunteered with The Prison Library Project. In his free time, you can catch him playing tennis or cramming for his next exam.

CFA Thanks Volunteers with 3rd Annual “Valenteer” Party

The Children’s Foundation of America would be nothing without the volunteers that support us in our mission to help children heal, learn and thrive. The aid of our amazing volunteers makes the work we do possible. To show our appreciation, the Foundation hosted their third annual “Valenteer” Party on February 23 to highlight the achievements of our volunteers and award those who stood out as invaluable members of the community.

A Year in Review

2018 stands as a year of many accomplishments. 596 individual volunteers supported the Foundation for a total of 1,645 volunteer hours. That’s 196 more volunteers and 245 more hours than the previous year!

The items we’ve collected from donation drives allowed us to support foster youth in a multitude of ways. We were able to grant a total of $55,000 in scholarships and provide basic necessities like contact lenses and blankets. Through funding we were able provide a sense of normalcy for several foster youth. We purchased a prom suit and interview clothes for a young man in a group home, provided the opportunity to take college preparatory classes, supplied a therapist with weighted vests for children dealing with trauma, and much more. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of volunteers donating their valuable time to make a difference.

Activities and Fun

Volunteers were treated to a variety of food, from cookies and cupcakes to chips and sandwiches. All of this thanks to our generous donors Stater Bros., Von’s, Espiau’sI Like Pie Bakeshop, Trader Joe’s and Super King.

Attendees were given raffle tickets to win a variety of prizes, ranging from free tickets to our annual Funny 4 a Reason comedy show to Jamba Juice and 21 Choices gift cards. Additional raffle tickets were given for donating to our Birthday in a Bag campaign, which collected $250 worth of birthday items for foster youth. One of our lead volunteers, Vicki Rensch, donated 6 birthday bags and won a Starbucks gift card and a Palm Desert Jeep Tour voucher!

We also had an activity board where volunteers described their favorite part of volunteering. Volunteer Chrissy Cruz wrote, “My heart is happiest when I’m able to help others in need. I’m so thankful for the Children’s Foundation and the beautiful work they do!”

Recognizing achievement

Communications and Volunteer Relations Specialist, Marie Maghuyop and Community Outreach and Donor Relations Coordinator, Amber Thorneycroft passed out special certificates, plaques and trophies to recognize the time and dedication of our volunteers.

Among the unique awards presented, were “Volunteer Superhero” trophies, awarded to Jim Athey and Vicki Rensch for accumulating the most amount of volunteer hours in 2018. Volunteer Linh Trieu received the “Triniteer of the Year” plaque for serving the most volunteer hours as a Trinity Youth Services employee. Zayda Cruz was presented the “Peer-to-Peer Volunteer” award for her outstanding work in conducting book drives and raising funds for a literacy scholarship. As part of the Zayda Literacy Fund foster children at Trinity Youth Services are eligible for up to three $500 scholarships and book packages. Although unable to attend the event, the Etiwanda High School Key Club received the “Superhero Squad” award for serving the most volunteer hours as a group. Dania Aguilar, a previous intern and long-term volunteer, received the “Most Valuable Volunteer” award for going above and beyond. She continued to volunteer after her internship, helped raise awareness of our organization and brought in more volunteers.

Thank you to all of our amazing volunteers for making 2018 another successful year for CFA! We look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in 2019. If you would like to know more about getting involved, click here!


Jose Rojas, CFA Intern
Jose is an English literature major at California State University San Bernardino. As a CFA intern, Jose attends and photographs events and writes for our blog. He has previously volunteered with The Prison Library Project. In his free time, you can catch him playing tennis or cramming for his next exam.

Volunteer

Our 3rd Annual “Valenteer” Party!

Volunteer

 

We LOVE Our Volunteers!

You are cordially invited to our 3rd annual volunteer appreciation reception on Saturday, February 23 to recognize our amazing volunteers, celebrate our successes and find out what’s in store for 2019! Whether you’re a current volunteer or interested in getting involved, join us at our office to meet the Foundation staff, members of the board of trustees and other volunteers. Enjoy refreshments, goodie bags, raffle prizes and awards!

 

Enter our raffle!

1 ticket for attending

1 ticket per completed birthday bag donated: Must include gift bag, cake mix, frosting & any 3 of the following: birthday decorations, streamers, candles, plates, cups, napkins, utensils.

 

Learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities:

  • Events: Help us at fundraisers
  • Event Preparation: Help prepare materials for events
  • Awareness Campaigns: Assist with the preparation of materials and outreach
  • Informational tables and booths: Help disseminate information
  • Holiday Heroes Gift Wrapping Booth: Assist with gift wrapping for fundraising purposes
  • Care Package Assembly: Assist with assembling packages of items for children

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Vicki Rensch

Vicki Rensch is an artist, teacher and longtime volunteer with the Children’s Foundation of America. Vicki got involved with the Foundation when her daughter, CFA Development Specialist Jenelle Phillips, recruited her for her expertise.

Vicki has a long and passionate history with volunteering. Her earliest memory of being active in her community is helping her mom pass out pamphlets and buttons in support of John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign.

In the 1990’s, her place of work allowed Vicki to volunteer full-time with United Way, an organization dedicated to fundraising and benefiting in need communities. Vicki chose to support the San Bernardino Child Advocacy Group and organized an ongoing toy drive with a goal of 100% participation from the department she was working on loan from. They met that goal in the two years she was involved in the campaign and the department continued the toy drive in the years after Vicki established it.

“When I was running the campaign, I brought speakers in to talk about volunteering to help employees realize that making the time to volunteer was so important. I made speeches about the services and research United Way benefits. Many of the employees said that their loved ones had benefited from these services and some shared that they were raised in foster care and understood how they have been impacted by many of the things that United Way supported,” she said.

She later volunteered with the Girl Scouts of the USA. Beginning in 1993, she started as a troop leader and had became a council trainer for Daisy troop leaders in the early 2000’s. She helped Senior Girl Scouts become Gold Award recipients, provided support for girls interviewing into the Rose Parade Tournament Troop and organized a trip for girls to travel to Savannah, GA to visit the birthplace of Girl Scouts Founder, Juliette Gordon Low.

At the Foundation, Vicki is a Volunteer Lead for appeal mailing, directing volunteers in mailing our constituents and is a support volunteer at many of our events. Her and her husband can also be seen at our various fundraisers supporting the cause.

A True Holiday Hero

Her favorite event is the Holiday Heroes gift wrapping booth. “Even though I have many favorite events, this one is the most fun to do.” Vicki loves being able to put her love for gift wrapping to work for a good cause. “It always puts me in the Christmas spirit every year,” Vicki said. “I learned it is important to volunteer for that which you already love to do.”

Responsibility to Community

Vicki holds passionate beliefs about having a responsibility to help her community. She makes it a habit to go wherever she is needed. “As a kid, I wasn’t aware of everything that goes into our community opportunities. It’s my turn to give back,” she says. “My parents instilled a belief in me that if there is a need, we have the responsibility to help fill that need whenever possible. So I volunteer.”

Vicki views volunteering as something that allows her to explore what life has to offer. “My favorite thing about being a volunteer is going to places I’ve never been, meeting people I may otherwise never meet and doing things I have never thought about doing”, she said. “Volunteering, for me, is an enriching experience with the very pleasant side effect of helping others.”

Vicki’s hobbies include creating art, photography and visiting historic landmarks. However, her favorite and most fulfilling pastime of all is volunteering. “When my hobbies allow me a chance to also take part in volunteering I am at my most complete.” For example, Vicki volunteered 20 years in a row as a photographer for Grandparent’s Day at a local elementary school. “It brings me great joy to know someone has grown up cherishing that special bond of family though a picture I took,” she said.

Vicki’s Advice for Getting Involved

For those that are considering volunteering, Vicki has a few useful steps to help get yourself started. “First,” she said, “Make the initial contact. Find something you love to do. Volunteer to do that something. Attend the event with a happy heart. Lastly, feel good about yourself and volunteer often.”

Vicki stepped up as a CFA Volunteer Leader because, “I was needed,” she said. “CFA is a quality, well established organization for children and I saw a need that I could fill. They are a well organized group whose mission is to help children by making volunteering fun and easy. The staff is very friendly, gracious and helpful and everybody makes you feel like a valued member of the team,” she said.

The Children’s Foundation of America is supported by great volunteers like Vicki. Click here to learn more about getting involved!


Jose Rojas, CFA Intern
Jose is an English literature major at California State University San Bernardino. As a CFA intern, Jose attends and photographs events and writes for our blog. He has previously volunteered with The Prison Library Project. In his free time, you can catch him playing tennis or cramming for his next exam.

Volunteer Spotlight: Lion’s Heart Service

Lion’s Heart Service is a nonprofit group that curates, creates, and encourages opportunities for teens and children to get involved in their community. Their Upland chapter rigorously donates their time to making a difference, accumulating a total of 77 volunteer hours with the Children’s Foundation of America since their chapter was founded in 2017. They’ve volunteered at rescue centers, senior homes, local food banks, churches and various other organizations.

With the Foundation, Lion’s Heart has assisted in our Back-to-School drive and our Holiday Heroes campaign.

Chapter Coordinator Sylvia Tam, is dedicated to creating a culture of giving in both her community and family. “I have to have a leadership mind set, so I can create a community of helpers,” she said. Through Lion’s Heart, Sylvia’s children and group “don’t have to think twice about volunteering. Our group goes wherever needed.”

Sylvia’s daughter, Vanessa Wong, founded their chapter to encourage the people around her to get involved. “Friendship is her priority and she wanted to do something as a team. Volunteering is always on her mind,” Sylvia said.

In 2018, the Upland City Council recognized Lion’s Heart members Vanessa Wong, Alyssa Mao and Karis Yoon with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for accumulating 75-100 volunteer hours. Benjamin Wong, Sylvia’s son and frequent Lion’s Heart volunteer, also received an award from the Kiwanis Club.

Creating a culture of giving

Lion’s Heart holds leadership and gratitude as their core values. Teaching youth to volunteer in their free time is invaluable to Lion’s Heart. Sylvia’s hope is to spread awareness about the many volunteer opportunities. “I tell the adults you have to get your kids out there and do this,” she said. “There are so many parents who want to get their families involved in volunteering and don’t know where and how.” Lion’s Heart and the Children’s Foundation of America can help!

Sylvia believes there are some real benefits to volunteering, saying, “It is a form of therapy, to zoom out of the business world and find some happiness in what we’re doing in the moment.” She said working with the Foundation is “is great, because it’s helping kids that are at a turning point in their lives, where they can go forward.” She stressed that volunteering benefits everyone involved, boosting needed skills that transfer to all areas of work and life.

Syvlia’s Lion’s Heart group is passionate about being involved, and the children “choose volunteering as their top priority.” CFA is supported by great volunteers like Sylvia and Lion’s Heart. If you would like to know more about getting your service group involved, click here!


Jose Rojas, CFA Intern
Jose is an English literature major at California State University San Bernardino. As a CFA intern, Jose attends and photographs events and writes for our blog. He has previously volunteered with The Prison Library Project. In his free time, you can catch him playing tennis or cramming for his next exam.

CFA Spreads Holiday Cheer with Gift Wrapping for a Cause

As part of our ongoing “Holiday Heroes” campaign, The Children’s Foundation of America’s gift wrapping station has made several more appearances to spread joy, hope, and the opportunity to be involved in a good cause.

Hauser & Wirth

CFA was invited to participate in Hauser & Wirth’s annual Holiday Market, allowing us to extend our work into the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. Among a wide array of hand-crafted goods, artisan products and food, CFA was there to wrap gifts for donations. In addition to wrapping gifts, our volunteers sold holiday cards designed by kids at Trinity Youth Services and raised awareness about foster youth. All wrapping supplies were generously donated by Hauser & Wirth.

Montclair Place

At Montclair Place in the Inland Empire, CFA has a storefront dedicated to gift wrapping. Shoppers are encouraged to stop by and have their freshly bought gifts wrapped for donations to support foster youth. The gift wrapping supplies donated by Hauser & Wirth and The Helpful Honda People were instrumental in helping us raise funds! In a time of giving, it is paramount to support those without access to regular commodities to ensure everyone can have a happy holiday season. CFA is there to help bridge that gap and provide an a opportunity for every person to help children heal, learn, and thrive.

Thank you to all our volunteers and fellow organizations that provided donations, assistance and support to benefit children in need. Our Montclair wrapping station will be open December 14-24 during regular mall hours to provide stress-free holiday shopping, last-minute wrapping and the opportunity to volunteer, support and get involved!

Become a Holiday Hero! Contact us at 1-800-KIDS-730 or email volunteer@trinityys.org.


Story and photos by Jose Rojas
Jose is an English literature major at California State University San Bernardino. As a CFA intern, Jose  primarily attends and photographs events, and writes for our blog. He has previously volunteered with The Prison Library Project. In his free time you can catch him playing tennis or cramming for his next exam.

Volunteer Spotlight: Lillian Sibrian

Lillian Sibrian is an undergraduate student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Her first volunteer experience was cleaning a community park with her school’s National Society of Leadership and Success.

With the Children’s Foundation of America, she has participated in events like our Back-to-School drive, Halloween Outreach Prep, Village Venture tabling and the Holiday Promenade photo booth. Although Lillian is kept busy because of her studies, she’s decided that volunteering is a necessary and important way to spend what little free time she has.

“I came to the decision that a portion of the free time I do have should be spent not only helping others, but helping myself become a better person,” she said.

Lillian first learned of the Foundation through a friend and former CFA intern. She first volunteered in August 2018 and continued volunteering on a regular basis. Her favorite CFA event has been the Claremont Holiday Promenade, where she and a friend helped run the photo booth sponsored by Lyks! Creatives.

Lillian greatly values her time spent with CFA. “I have learned the value of being true to one’s word and following through on promises,” she said. “Volunteering with CFA could be one of the most gratifying experiences of your life if you are willing to put in the time and work.”

When she is not volunteering, Lillian can be found visiting Disneyland, reading, baking, or watching criminal documentaries on Netflix.

CFA is supported by great volunteers like Lillian. If you would like to know more about getting involved, click here.

 


Jose Rojas, CFA Intern
Jose is an English literature major at California State University San Bernardino. As a CFA intern, Jose attends and photographs events and writes for our blog. He has previously volunteered with The Prison Library Project. In his free time, you can catch him playing tennis or cramming for his next exam.