There’s a sisterhood in Long Beach dedicated to helping medically needy children and supporting their families who are struggling. Since 1946, they have raised over $1.7 million. And in just last year alone, they collectively raised $76,000. All with the purpose to provide hope to disadvantaged children and families through access to physical, dental and mental health services.
This sisterhood of extraordinarily caring and generous women is called Children’s Benefit League (CBL).
The Guidance Center is beyond grateful to be one of the five clinics that the CBL supports. Countless number of children and families at The Guidance Center have benefited from their invaluable support and been given hope that may not have been available otherwise.
We recently sat down with Judy Cornwall, current Philanthropy Director of CBL, and chatted about CBL’s mission, what their members are passionate about and why they support The Guidance Center.
Can you tell us about the history of CBL and its mission?
In 1946, Children’s Benefit League was formed by a group of women who wanted to help medically needy children. Over the years, many members of CBL have been retired educators, like myself, who want to continue helping children grow healthy and reach their full potential.
Health is a life-long process. Our core belief is that building a stronger foundation in early childhood encourages every season of life to be enriched. We’ve coupled that belief with action to the benefit of untold numbers of children and their families.
This belief continues to drive our mission to help those medically needy children and support their families in healthy living education.
To do this, we hold fundraisers throughout the year, like our Autumn Festival, Mingle and Jingle Holiday Event, and Spring Fashion Show. Groups within CBL also host fun events, too, like bridge tournaments, raffles, wine tasting events, chili cook-offs, handmade item sales and luncheons. We also hold drives for items the children and their families might need like books, hygiene supplies, toys and hearing aids. We’ve also partnered with restaurants, grocery stores and online shopping programs such as “I Give” who donated a percent of their profits. Our investments also added to the treasury.
In addition to The Guidance Center, CBL supports several other nonprofit community health organizations for children in the Long Beach area: The Children’s Clinic, The Children’s Dental Clinic, Ability First and Long Beach John Tracy Clinic.
CBL has supported The Guidance Center since 1963. Over the years, CBL has made so many wonderful contributions to The Guidance Center. What contributions or achievements are you most proud?
There’s a few contributions that come to mind. Delores Gale a member of CBL and The Guidance Center’s Board of Directors started a “Matching Penny” program with an agreement by Bank of America to match all the pennies we could collect for The Guidance Center. This program started in the early 1990s and ran for about 10 years or so.
When The Guidance Center’s San Pedro Clinic moved to a new location in 2015, CBL raised funds for a play therapy room.
CBL has volunteered at many Guidance Center holiday family party celebrations, too. Throughout the 80s and 90s, CBL members attended these parties, bringing and serving refreshments and giving out toys. It was so special to see the kids, who came in a little shy, open up and enjoy themselves in a social setting.
For the past 10 years or so, CBL members have also organized holiday toy drives, collecting many fun toys for children at The Guidance Center and even gift cards for the whole family.
What The Guidance Center does to reach out to the community and provide education is an amazing feat! Recently, we were so impressed by the screening of The Guidance Center’s documentary film, “The Bridge: Pathways to a Trauma-Informed Community,” and how you’ve partnered with local law enforcement, The Children’s Clinic along with other community organizations and community members to help our families who are struggling.
It was wonderful to see on screen how The Guidance Center specifically helps children. Hearing the difference you made in the life of that one young boy who was bullied and to know that there was a good outcome because of what The Guidance Center did was just amazing.
There are still so many families who are struggling, but knowing that we’re able to help provide hope to them by partnering with clinics like The Guidance Center is incredibly motivating.
This hope is realized in the wonder on a child’s face when they hear music for the first time. It’s the joy when a child can run and play without the asthma that sickened them in the past. The security and happiness a child feels when there is peace in their family that was troubled by stress, addiction or abuse, through understanding and therapy. The relief from pain caused by dental decay. The happiness of socialization and acceptance from peers and others who in the past would have been locked away in their own world of autism or disability. It’s that hope.
For more information about Children’s Benefit League, visit www.childrensbenefitleague.net.