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“I just can’t stand poverty. I can’t fix poverty around the world, but for that one family, for that one day, I can fix poverty,” said The Guidance Center Board Member and Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, Luis Maimoni.

Spreading joy this holiday season means a lot to our Board Members – and we’re not just talking about hanging up Christmas lights or even surprising loved ones with special treats.

For them, it’s another opportunity to positively impact our communities and give hope to our clients and their families. It’s about coming together with their families and friends to assemble care packages to meet The Guidance Center families’ most basic needs, and put smiles on children’s faces with a new toy they would otherwise not receive.

We call this program, Adopt-a-Family.

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For Luis, it’s personal. Previously an advertising executive, Luis is now earning his hours to become a licensed marriage and family therapist. He meets with children in their homes, some of which may be considered pretty rough areas. Many of his clients live in broken down apartment complexes, behind security doors and gates, surrounded by community violence and illegal activity.

He stares at poverty all day, but he knows that one person can make all the difference in a child’s life. One person, one family, one community service club can help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

For Susan Cooper, it’s about bringing people together to help others and better our community. Not only is she a Guidance Center Board Member, but she also holds a position in the Bixby Knolls/North Long Beach Kiwanis Club.

Since 2012, Susan has rallied the members of this local Kiwanis chapter to help reach more children and families in need through The Guidance Center’s Adopt-a-Family program – a program that directly correlates with the Kiwanis’ mission to serve children.

For Tim Sailor, it’s about more than Christmas. He looks forward to helping our clients with items that set them up for success in the year ahead. A longtime Adopt-a-Family participant, Tim began working with The Guidance Center as a mentor for clients almost 20 years ago and then joined the Board not too long after. He recalls how, during his time as a mentor, he was able to provide a Christmas tree for a family that had never had one before and how he took one of his mentees out Christmas shopping for their family so that they could also partake in the joy of giving themselves.

“In addition to emotional and mental health issues, The Guidance Center clients are also struggling with poverty. These gifts from Adopt-a-Family make a tremendously meaningful impact on their lives. Not only does it enable them to celebrate the holidays, but these items – like backpacks, sneakers and jeans – can actually help sustain them in the coming year,” said Tim.

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For Joanna Exacoustos, it’s an opportunity to physically help our clients and rekindle the Christmas spirit among her friends and family. Joanna first got involved in Adopt-a-Family with the plan to participate just her and her husband. She soon realized that they could do so much more for their “adopted” family if she invited her Bridge Club friends to help. A new tradition was born. Now each year, they all look forward to going out and shopping for gifts. Joanna’s husband and grandchildren also love getting involved and play a key role in the gift selection.

“When you see undershirts and socks on the family’s wish list, it really hits you. These people need our help. Don’t fail to do it because you feel you can’t do it by yourself. Gather your friends and family and adopt a family together,” said Joanna.

To join our Board Members and adopt a family from The Guidance Center this holiday season, please contact Lorraine Lyou by Monday, Dec. 5 at llyou@tgclb.org or 562.485.2276.

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