Volunteer Spotlight: Zayda Love
Zayda Love, founder of the Zayda Literacy Fund and volunteer of Children’s Foundation of America (CFA), is an amazing creative individual with many goals and hopes for the future. She has a passion for literacy and started the Zayda Literacy Fund as a grant to help foster youth fulfill their imaginative dreams. We want to highlight Zayda and show our appreciation of her involvement with CFA. Get to know Zayda below as she answers various questions about herself, her love for books and passion for helping others.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Zayda, but some people call me Z! I enjoy reading books, listening to soundtracks, roller-skating and, believe or not, I also really enjoy studying.
What are your favorite subjects in school?
English, history, and biology are the subjects I enjoy the most in school…not much of a math fan unfortunately—but I try my best!
What’s a fun fact about you?
A fun fact that is just a random fact really is: even though my dad is taller than me, my arms are longer. So, I can reach high places that he has trouble getting to.
What are your goals for the future?
I’ve always dreamed of traveling all around the world…
My ultimate goal is to someday attend Soka University and once I graduate—to open up a bookshop. Another goal I have is to hopefully expand The Zayda Literacy Fund into something greater and become a bigger advocate for promoting a love for literature.
Can you tell us about your Literacy Fund and why it was established?
Sure! This literacy fund was a result of our combined efforts to grant a scholarship to children in need. Along with my love for literature and the CFA’s immense assistance, our goal is to spread that love for books to the foster youth that may not have able access to literature. This literacy fund grants foster youth in California, under the age of 18, an opportunity to receive a $500 scholarship to encourage a passion for literacy among youth in need. It aims towards granting the right boost needed to achieve their goals and pursue their passions.
I believe that literature is a crucial element in a person’s life particularly to those who have encountered trauma. It serves as an escape, a safe place, as something you can always go to and rely on when times are tumultuous. They grant inspiration, encourage a flow of ideas, dreams, and provide a sense of security to those who need it. I’ve always turned to the books on my shelf whenever I was in doubt or feeling sad and I can’t imagine what it would be like to not have able access to such literature. Therefore, I volunteer at The Children’s Foundation of America where I know my efforts can best flourish and go to assist those who need it.
What is currently your favorite read?
I am utterly obsessed with my most recent read, Rook by Sharon Cameron. It is actually because of that book that I was stuck in a reading slump for quite a while.
What I liked about the book was that it was the perfect read for someone, (like me), who is looking for everything in one. By that, I mean that it had just about everything you could imagine: a dystopian, Victorian-themed, romance, set in Paris. Along with elements of mystery, adventure, dangerous banquets, suspicious suitors, and a daring female main character—it had that edge of the seat suspense that you only get from really great books. The type that doesn’t allow you to get up to eat or anything due to the never-ending eagerness to turn the next page and find out what happens next. The only thing I disliked about this book was that it ended.
How long have you been volunteering with CFA?
If my memory serves me, I’ve been volunteering since I was 11 years old? So, several years now, and I look forward to continuing to volunteer with them whenever I have an opportunity.
I volunteer at The Children’s Foundation of America because there I can help those in need using the skills that I do have. For example, The Zayda Literacy Fund. With my passion for promoting the appreciation of literature I can assist foster youth by granting them an opportunity to pursue their own love of reading. By volunteering at CFA, I can utilize my talents to give back to the community in the best way I can and even possibly help shift the direction of a child’s life for the better.
What inspires you to volunteer?
When it comes to organizations that one would donate to, you often don’t know where that money is going, or whether it will be used responsibly. By volunteering you get to see hands-on the hard work that goes into making these campaigns possible. To volunteer is to contribute to our community and build a genuine connection with those who need it.
The people behind CFA are the kindest people and are extremely passionate about what they do. They work so hard to make the magic they do possible and are so genuine with their intentions to assist the youth in our community.
If you’d like to volunteer with the Children’s Foundation of America, sign-up for our monthly newsletter for volunteer opportunities. You may also contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800.KIDS.730.
Briana Calderon, Volunteer Coordinator
Briana leads our volunteer program through various campaigns and volunteer activities year round. Briana describes her responsibility as helping to create a space for everyone to come volunteer and find community in serving a greater purpose than our own. Briana graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication with a focus on public relations at California State University San Bernardino. During her time at CSUSB, she was a student recruiter and tour guide. Having enjoyed her experience working with students and public speaking, working with volunteers seemed like a natural step. Briana has helped advance our volunteer systems with technology and provided virtual volunteer opportunities when possible. In addition to her position at CFA, Briana also serves on the Diversity, Inclusion, Value, Equity (DIVE) team.
Zayda Literacy Fund Grants Three More Foster Youth with $500
In its second year, the Zayda Literacy Fund initiative is going strong. The fund, established by social influencer and teen entrepreneur Zayda Love, is awarded to three foster youth who write the most compelling book reports each year. The grant is to support the imaginative dreams of children in foster care.
Books are a great escape from the circumstances foster youth face, but also teaches them how to face challenge that come their way. Books also help children to not feel alone.
The Children’s Foundation of America is pleased to announce that we were able to award three more grants of $500 each in 2020 to children in foster care. In addition to the prize money, winners were also given books or a Kindle.
Our winners included a 12-year old who wrote about “The Island of Dragons” by Geronimo Stilton, a 17-year-old who did their book report on “The Lightning Thief,” and a 16-year-old youth wrote their book report on “The Child Called It” by Dave Pelzer which chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in history. The contest is open to foster agencies in California. This year’s winners came from Trinity Youth Services and McKinley Children’s Center.
We encourage all agencies to participate in this incredible opportunity that encourages literacy and the pursuit of the imagination for children in foster care. The book report is open to agencies in California each year. If you are a resource parent for a foster youth in California, please ask your agency to reach out to the Children’s Foundation of America to enter a book report for a grant.
Jenelle Phillips, Director of Development
Jenelle oversees the day-to-day operations and staffing of the Foundation, which includes event planning, volunteer coordination, community outreach, marketing and donor relations. Above all, Jenelle’s focus is to identify and access resources in order to help children heal, learn and thrive. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from California State University Fullerton and is very involved in the community. She is active in her church and owns an art gallery. Her volunteer contributions to the community have been recognized by Senator Portantino, Assemblymember Holden and the Claremont Village Marketing Group.