Before we head out to celebrate the holidays, we want to take a moment to express our gratitude for those compassionate community members and local organizations who truly saved the holidays for 50 of our families this year.
We’re inspired by each and every one of our Adopt-a-Family donors’ reasons for participating, and want to share a few of their stories to brighten your holidays as it has ours!
Sharon and Rick Rosas
Five years ago, a friend referred Sharon to The Guidance Center, and that year, Sharon became one of our very first Adopt-a-Family donors.
The tradition for her family started back when her twins were very young. Sharon and her husband, Rick, wanted to show them from an early age that not everyone is as fortunate, and that when you’re in the position to, you should always help others. Each year since then, they’ve made it a part of their Hanukah and Christmas tradition to adopt a family.
Now that her twins are 10 years old, they love taking the wish lists and picking out the gifts themselves. Sharon and Rick take time to have conversations with their twins about why certain items, like bed sheets, are on a family’s wish list, and how to be thoughtful about selecting gifts, always considering what another person might enjoy.
“We want to instill in our children the importance of giving back to your community and being generous without strings attached,” said Sharon. “We say it’s our family mitzvah – or duty – not only around the holidays, but in our daily lives, too.”
Seven years ago, a small group of residents at the West Ocean condominium complex formed a committee to help their neighbors get to know their community of Long Beach a little better – particularly the nonprofits that serve countless people in need. They called the committee Learn & Love Long Beach.
One of their major projects is their Annual Giving Tree. Each year, the committee selects a different Long Beach nonprofit to sponsor, and then fills trees in the lobbies of both towers with tags that list needed items residents can donate.
We were honored to have been selected for their Annual Giving Tree this year, and were touched by the sincere generosity of their residents.
Since 2012, Susan Cooper, Guidance Center Board Member and Kiwanis Club of Bixby Knolls-North Long Beach Treasurer, has rallied the members of this local Kiwanis chapter to help reach children and families in need through The Guidance Center’s Adopt-a-Family program – a program that also directly correlates with the Kiwanis’ mission to serve children. This year, they partnered with First Bank to reach more families.
First Bank is a family-owned bank that is committed to treating their clients as if they are a part of the family so when Susan asked if they wanted to participate this year, it was a natural partnership.
Two local First Bank branches, 4040 Atlantic Ave in Bixby Knolls and 6200 E Pacific Coast Hwy in Long Beach, joined forces to fundraise for the program. Kris Allen, vice president and senior bank manager of First Bank’s Bixby Knolls branch who oversaw their fundraising efforts, felt a personal connection to our Adopt-a-Family program.
“I personally grew up in the inner city so I understand how life-changing these programs can be for children and families,” said Kris. “It is so important to help kids while they’re still in the development stage. They need a glimmer of hope to know that life can be different. My high school football coach was that for me, and any opportunity that I have now to give back, I want to take.”
Ashleigh Amrine, software engineer for Amazon Game Studios, and her coworkers wanted to find a way to get more involved with their community and help families in need during the holidays.
A quick Internet search landed Ashleigh on West Ocean Home Owners Association’s website where she found information on their Annual Giving Tree and The Guidance Center. She felt immediately connected to our Adopt-a-Family program and signed her office up to adopt.
“I was excited to help families at The Guidance Center. I know how hard it can be for families to deal with mental health issues, and even harder if you don’t have access to services,” said Ashleigh. “My coworkers and I had a blast going shopping and picking things out from the wish lists. It was great knowing that we helped specific families.”
To all our 2016 Adopt-a-Family donors, we just can’t say thank you enough!