Monthly Archives: June 2013

CEO Update, June 2013

Dear Bienvenidos Supporters:

When I last wrote in April, we had just endured a very challenging month, highlighted by the crash of our computer system and round the clock efforts to submit nine grant applications to DCFS.  Two months later many of us are still sleep deprived–yet the heart of Bienvenidos continues to beat strongly as we near the end of another fiscal year of providing life changing programs to 20,000 children and their families.

That Bienvenidos programs are life changing, was affirmed for me at three recent graduation ceremonies I attended: Highland Park High School; the Institute for Women’s Health; and the Fatherhood Program. Knowing that none of the graduates’ accomplishments, nor those of other program participants, would have been possible without your guidance, support and love, I add my congratulations and thanks to each of you.

Other highlights from the past few months:

  • Healthy Living Expo
  • World Harvest Day at the Family Preservation offices in East Los Angeles
  • Dia de los Niños event in Covina
  • SPA7 Community Partnership Conference held at Torres High School
  • Our new CalWorks contract, which enables Bienvenidos to expand services in the Antelope Valley
  • Adoption license which we have worked so hard to secure, with the program ready to launch
  • Outreach plan recently launched to promote integration of services
  • And, by the way, yes we did meet our 25th Anniversary gala fundraising goal of $150,000 after expenses!
  • There is potential good news on the horizon, though much uncertainty exists regarding our FY 2014 budget: 
  • While both our CSAP and CSAT SAMHSA grants end September 30, 2013, we are applying to renew them
  • A Title X IT grant is pending, although we may experience  a further decrease in our annual grant
  • We knew about the major cuts to our Family Preservation program, and are facing the apparent termination of our Upfront Assessment contract. Nonetheless, with our SPA Coalition partners, we are aggressively advocating to restore at least some of the cuts
  • The Medical division has experienced a significant deficit this year; primarily because we uniquely serve many very sick, indigent and uninsured patients. In addition to implementing cost-cutting measures, we have received several grants and used them to offset the operating losses; and have two additional grants pending
  • We are waiting to hear about a $475k grant from Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
  • Though clearly a long shot, we hope to receive the full Federally Qualified Health Care (FQHC) designation by the end of the summer
  • Finally, we continue to be optimistic that the First 5 Best Start initiative will finally begin to fund services in 2014

Bienvenidos’ budget uncertainty is further complicated due to the difficult political and economic environment in which we operate. At the Center for Nonprofit Management Annual Conference last month, where I received the Nonprofit Leadership Impact Award on behalf of Bienvenidos, noted investigative journalist and author, Hedrick Smith discussed the “politics of hysteria.” He asked if we are “ready to put ourselves on the line?” He  and the other lunch panelists discussed the socio-economic divide in our society, and how it is isn’t so much about ‘left’ and ‘right,’ as it is about ‘top’ and ‘bottom.’

At Bienvenidos, our vision of “a society in which every family can provide a loving, healthy and secure home where children can grow and thrive,” seems to be ever more difficult to imagine, in our increasingly polarized society, in which those who are the most vulnerable have the least political clout. After all, there are no ‘Super PACs’ raising money to help the poor.


What has most impressed me in my five+ years at Bienvenidos is the remarkable resilience of the families with whom we work, many whom have been identified and categorized in a 2011 research study as the “Forsaken Five Percent. ” This is the group of Californians left behind in impoverished neighborhoods, one being East Los Angeles, where access to health care and quality education is very limited, where personal median earnings are $18,000 and 40% of the children live in poverty. That these families continue their struggle to survive demonstrates their resilience and is why we cannot forsake them!

The nonprofit sector has more clout than we think, if we just work together–and why not? We share a common set of values around fairness and equity, a vision of social justice and economic equality and commitment to ensure equal opportunity for all. What we need is leadership that works collaboratively, that leads beyond the walls of our own organizations, and that is fierce in our resolve to change the conversation to one that is inclusive and places the welfare of people first. This is what keeps us all going on the tough days. I look forward to continue working with each of you in the coming year “healing children, strengthening families and transforming communities.”


Yours in service,



Partner, UnitedHealthCare Receives Award

UnitedHealthcare awardUnitedHealthcare received the Los Angeles Business Journal’s (LABJ) Corporate Social Responsibility Award this week for its “collective efforts to promote, encourage, and organize company-sponsored programs and/or events, and to engage employees to participate in volunteerism.”

Last year, UnitedHealthcare provided Bienvenidos with nearly $50,000 to fund the startup of our mobile clinic in order to expand care for children and families in East Los Angeles. In addition to Bienvenidos, UnitedHealthcare also worked with two other nonprofits in Los Angeles, granting just over $2 million to improve nonprofit clinics that provide services for the underserved populations of California.

June: Congrats to our Grads!

Ritchie Geisel, Bienvenidos CEO, Awarded 2013 Nonprofit Leadership Impact Award

Bienvenidos congratulates our CEO, Ritchie Geisel, as the recipient of The Center for Nonprofit Management’s 2013 Nonprofit Leadership Impact Award. The selection committee chose four individuals who demonstrated the highest levels of collaborative, strategic, and transformational leadership. Recognition also included a $5,000 award.

Fatherhood Program Graduation  

This past Monday, we graduated 13 fathers from Project Corazon’s Fatherhood Program. These fathers underwent 16 weeks of classes, covering a variety of topics from child development and attachment theory to nurturing and self esteem. The tools that the graduates have taken away from the program will help them reunite with their families as well as to become better fathers and partners.

A Father’s Story

Jesse, a 38-year-old participant in the Project Corazon Fatherhood Program, graduated this Monday. His own relationship with his father was not positive, and he attributes his past behavior to that history. He is a father to five and stepfather of four; but was requested to leave his home and family due to an open Dept. of Child and Family Services case.

Mandated to complete 26 weeks of training in order to return home to his wife and family, Jesse was referred to Bienvenidos by his church. Because of Bienvenidos, he will return to court this month with all of his requirements fulfilled. Jesse is confident that he will be able to reunite with his wife and children.

Jesse spoke very positively about the program:

“Fatherhood is a real program, beneficial to fathers. It spoke my language- real down to earth. The topics pertained to me – definitely not a typical parenting class. The tools they gave me helped me see the role I play in my family…I think more fathers need to know about this program. It is life altering, unmeasurable and impactful.”

Congratulations Jesse!

Institute of Women’s Health Graduation

This past Friday, Bienvenidos’ Institute of Women’s Health graduated 10 resilient women from their program. Counselors praised the women for remaining strong despite their struggles with addiction and other obstacles. The graduates’ 6-12 month journeys were recognized in a small celebration at the East Los Angeles Library, where the ladies received roses and certificates of completion. All expressed their gratefulness to Bienvenidos and staff for help in getting their lives back on track.

Kudos to Fatherhood Program Grads



Congratulations to our Fatherhood Program graduates! The fathers underwent 16 weeks of classes, covering a variety of topics from child development and attachment theory to nurturing and self esteem.