‘Tis the season for giving

Every December since 1983 (you do the math!), the community-service oriented Seal Beach Lions Club has held a gift drive and pancake breakfast for the residents of Casa Youth Shelter.

This year, Lions Club members and local businesses donated gift cards to be distributed among our residents during a festive breakfast event, held at the Marina Community Center in Seal Beach, just a few miles from the shelter in Los Alamitos. Lions and Leos (the youth community service branch of the Lions) served as volunteer hosts to our kids.

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“It’s important that the kids know the local community cares about them,” said Lisa Kemp, a Lion and an organizer of the event. She makes a point to include gift items for the kids that are warm and comforting, like socks and blankets. “We’ll warm their hands and feet,  while Casa warms their hearts,” she said.

Santa Claus was in attendance, and while one young girl was good-naturedly afraid of him (“my whole life, he always creeped me out!”), the others were excited to see him.

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Overall, according to Lisa, the event was a success and “the kids were delightful this year.” We are humbled and so grateful to the Lions for the kindness and generosity shown to our kids this holiday season!

Want to give back? Check out our wish list, or — for something a little more hands-on — our volunteer opportunities.

Volunteer spotlight: Los Alamitos Police Chief Eric Nuñez

Chief Eric Nuñez of the Los Alamitos Police Department is a relative newcomer to the Casa Youth Shelter Board of Directors, having joined in January of this year. Though he has made quite an impact already, not least of which was acting as keynote speaker at this past October’s Youth Leadership Conference at Los Alamitos High School.

When asked why CYS is a cause particularly close to his heart, Chief Nuñez tells us a story: “I grew up in Norwalk. We didn’t have much, but my mother always seemed to be taking in people who had nowhere else to go.” As a result, frequent visitors in his home were a normal part of childhood.

“Years later, I ran into one of those visitors, and he confided in me that my mother taking him in all those years ago had had such positive effects on his life,” he added. It wasn’t until that moment that he realized what an impression his mother had made on so many people, and that her simple gesture of providing a place to stay had made such a difference. “I think CYS is similar in that way,” he says. “They’re there in that moment of need.”

Chief Nuñez is no stranger to giving back; he supports many causes including Children’s Hospital of Orange County, the United Way, and “anything to do with helping veterans.” He is involved with several other organizations including the Kiwanis Club of La Palma, the California Police Chiefs Association, and the Law Enforcement Cancer Support Foundation.

“CYS is such a valuable resource in our community. I only have so much time to give,” he says, “but serving on the CYS board is a great way for me to be involved.”

Want to make a difference in the lives of our kids? Find out how.

Take me out to the ball game

Some may remember about a year ago when an unexpected delivery of cupcakes, balloons, and gifts arrived at the shelter courtesy of Kirsten Spreitzer, a woman who’d lost her daughter seventeen years prior. Kirsten wished to honor her daughter’s memory with a celebration, “paying it forward” with a special treat for our shelter kids.

This year, Kirsten treated the kids with tickets and food vouchers for an Angels game; giving the kids a fun summer evening outing and the unforgettable experience of a major league game, with hot dogs and soda included! The game took place one day after the 18th anniversary of her daughter’s passing. “I am considering it a celebration of the day she went to heaven, she said. “I am so happy to memorialize this time of year by offering kindness to the kids at Casa.”

“When I gave the kids at Casa a birthday party last year on her birthday, it gave me so much joy. I decided then that I will do something like that every year. So when I started planning something for this year, I was looking forward to her birthday and anniversary of her death, because I was so excited to use this as a reason for your kids to receive kindness.”

We are continually humbled by and grateful for people like Kirsten; people who give for the pure joy of giving help make what we do possible, and every little act of kindness matters!

How many Deloitte employees does it take to paint a rec room?

On a recent Friday morning, 20 dedicated volunteers from Deloitte’s Orange County office descended on Casa Youth Shelter. It was no vacation day, however; everyone arrived ready to work.

Previously, a connection between a Deloitte senior manager and our Executive Director Robin Sinclair, opened the door to Casa Youth Shelter becoming a participant in Deloitte’s annual day of service, Impact Day.

It was the Casa Youth Shelter mission that won them over: “Anything that’s about helping youth, education, giving them new beginnings, I love all that,” says Sumit Misra, a Project Controller for Deloitte Consulting and third-year Impact Day volunteer. The team appreciated that Casa Youth Shelter has a broader reach within greater Los Angeles and Orange County, rather than, for instance, facilitating an event that affects only a small portion of a local community.

As it can happen with any do-it-yourself project, there were a couple surprises early in the day. “Unfortunately, we ended up being a little shorthanded,” Misra says, “and we realized right away that we were going to need more stain, more varnish…and more time.”

“But those of us who were here had a great attitude, and were flexible and determined to get the job done and see it through. No one stood around with nothing to do, no one kept checking the clock.”

Some volunteers stayed behind to continue sanding and staining our dining room furniture, while others made frequent trips to a local building supply store to replenish the materials. “No one took a break” Misra said. In fact, some of the volunteers even helped promote our mission: one of the cashiers at the building supply store remarked that they’d seen quite a few of the same light gray Deloitte Impact Day t-shirts that morning, and volunteers took that opportunity to explain what they were up to, and what Casa Youth Shelter is all about.

The end result—a freshly painted rec room and refinished dining room furniture—speaks for itself. Everything looks beautiful.

Misra remarked that, toward the end of the day, as volunteers were applying some finishing touches, a few of the residents spotted them working. “They were curious and really excited,” he says. “I hope the kids loved what we did and take full advantage of it.”

Impact Day celebrates Deloitte’s year-round commitment to making an impact that matters in the communities where we live and work. In 2015, more than 980 community service projects were locally coordinated by Deloitte employees based on the specific needs of more than 80 communities where Deloitte has US offices. Deloitte’s community service on Impact Day—and every day—focuses on helping undervalued talent reach their full potential, particularly through youth education and programs supporting veterans transitioning to civilian careers.

Is your place of business interested in corporate volunteering? Contact us.