Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Give Back this Holiday Season!

 "To laugh often and much; 
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; 
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;  
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Help me to give back this holiday season by donating time or money, or adopting a family in need.  

This is a rare charitable opportunity where your gifts will be given directly to a family.  

If money is an issue, you can help with 
organizing donations, wrapping, and dropping off. 

Please read this through... even a small donation can be put towards an outfit for a child.  

My good friend Ann began this Holiday program several years back; this will be my fifth year helping her.  These families have no basics (food, clothing) and certainly no gifts.  The names come Valley High School, one of the poorest districts in the state. Typically there are several children and sometimes one parent, and rarely two.  Once their amount of need is determined, we help as many families as we can, with the neediest families getting “adopted” first.   Every year is a different but very moving experience. Last year we adopted seventeen families; this year we have committed to 20.   

Without us, these families would 
not have a Christmas at all. 

These families are living in extreme poverty, and we try to see that they get just the basics, first.  If we have extra, it will go towards gifts for the children. 

Here is how it works:

  • We try to get a pair of pants, a shirt, a sweater or jacket and a pair of shoes for each kid.  
  •  We like to get them things they can return easily with a gift receipt.  Target is always a good option. 
  • We also like to get each child a book and one toy/game/fun, and have the same number of gifts for each child. 
  • The gifts will be delivered to the families on Christmas Eve.  
  •  I will also need to find $200 for a grocery gift certificate for each family. 

Please let me know if you can make a contribution, or take a child, or even adopt a family!

Also, if you have any gently used blankets that you would like to donate please let me know. 
If you are able to, there are still several families that need a team captain, so please let me know if you are up for that!  
Seeing the look on the children’s faces when you deliver the gifts is priceless. 
I know that times are tough, so anything that you can do to help is greatly appreciated.  
Every donation helps!
Please contact me with any questions at all!

Happy Holiday's to everyone!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Best Day Foundation, Bolsa Chica State Beach, June 16, 2012

"You know, We're All Special"

I wanted to share with you a little bit about my second experience working with Best Day Foundation.  The event was held at Bolsa Chica State Beach (in Huntington Beach, CA.)  For more about Best Day, see my previous post.

Periodically throughout my day at school today I found myself grinning, thinking about the kids this weekend and how awesome they were, so full of life and personality.   

A shortage of volunteers caused us to do some last minute scrambling to make sure every kid had a "beach buddy"; the shortage also meant no one to man the wetsuit/life jacket/helmet station, so that was a bit of a zoo.. needless the say, the morning was full of excitement and a little chaos (a perfect recipe in my book).   Somehow,everything ended up running smoothly.... with smiles and laughter the ultimate indicator of success.  

My favorite part of the day was the awards ceremony at the end of the day.  The kids were so excited, and got all prepared for their "walk of fame" down the  "runway" to collect their awards, many of them putting on a show or doing a little touchdown victory dance; the parents were smiling ear to ear; and I was so flooded with emotions and happiness that I got all choked up.  

During my Nursing Leadership class today, we were talking about successful teamwork, and how a good team can make or break a company (organization, group.. whatever it may be).  
A great team, made up of passionate people with a common goal, is the key to success. 

That's the secret of Best Day... a group of people who are passionate about helping children...with no ulterior motives, nothing to gain.... except this unbelievable, indescribable, overwhelming feeling of joy you  get when a kid gives you a hug because you made his day (or week, or year... ), simply by spending a few hours with him at the beach.  The smiles that are so full of gratitude that it gets you choked up.  
The beauty of it is that something so simple and easy to give can result in a feeling that is ultimately  priceless; an invaluable gift for both the giver and for the receiver...  It is beyond what I can put into words.     

When we were playing volleyball on the beach, a little girl looked up at me and said, 
"you know, we're all special."  
She was right... we're all special.  My mom has always told me to "place yourself in an environment in which you wish to thrive, and surround yourself with people who will bring out the best in you."  
I did just that during my day at the beach, surrounded by extraordinary, special people.. the volunteers, the kids, the parents, and the Best Day Team.    

I am humbled by the generosity of the volunteers, blown away by the positive attitude of the kids, and in awe of the tenacity and tireless dedication of the Best Day team.  I am forever grateful for the opportunity to experience firsthand all of the extraordinary and special people that make up The Best Day Foundation. 

get involved: 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Best Day Foundation Doheny State Beach, May 26, 2012

Hi everyone!  
I'd like to share with you my experience this weekend with
Best Day Foundation, Orange County Chapter.  
Best Day is a non-profit organization that allows kids with special needs to participate in safe, fun-filled adventure activities including surfing, bodyboarding, kayaking, snow-tubing and more.  An experienced teamgenerous sponsors, and volunteers help keep the programs free for all.  
Children with Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Blindness, Cancer, Spinal Cord Injuries, and other physical and developmental challenges are able to participate in activities that help build their self esteem and confidence.  

The event I attended was held at Doheny State Beach on Saturday May 26th and 27th.  We started at 8 am to help set up and go over safety guidelines.  The kids arrived with their parents at 9:15 a.m. 
  The volunteers are given instruction and assignments; and the children are paired with their "beach buddies" based on their experience and each child's specific needs.  The parents are informed that this is a day for them to sit back and relax;  with this freedom, they are able to truly enjoy the happiness that their children are experiencing.  
The children are ecstatic as they are waiting on the sand for their turn.  The happiness and joy felt from the children, as well as the volunteers, is palpable.  You cannot stop smiling, and the time flies by.  
At the end of the day, the kids have an award ceremony.  Each child will receive a Best Day Surf Team medal and a goodie bag (which is a back-pack / totebag) --- the contents vary but usually include: a BDF tshirt, some sponsor SWAG (posters, stickers, etc.) 
Max Montgomery, the Co-founder/Executive Director of the OC chapter tells me that  
"Our per child cost is $197 -- but should decrease over time as we're able to ramp more chapters and events. 
 ...In 2011, the OC chapter covered just 42% of its costs via donations and grants. 
The organization needs sponsorship and donations

The experience with Best Day was incredible, and I can't wait to do it again.  The next event is June 16-17th at Bolsa Chica State Beach (Huntington Beach, CA).  

Please click here if you would like to get involved: http://www.bestdayfoundation.org/get-involved/

volunteers and parents watching their children

Award ceremony, where each child receives a medal and goodie bag filled with sponsor swag..

Wetsuits, helmets, and life jackets are provided for each child.

Ricochet the surf dog was there!!

The experience with Best Day was incredible, and I can't wait to do it again.  The next event is June 16-17th at Bolsa Chica State Beach (Huntington Beach, CA).  

Please click here if you would like to get involved: http://www.bestdayfoundation.org/get-involved/