Author Archives: Emma Lemcke

November: Save the Date!

Save the date for our Casino Night!

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Please join us for our Annual Casino Night on Saturday, March 26, 2016 at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. For sponsorship and event details please contact Desiree Reyes at (213) 785-5906 or vial email at events@bienvenidos.org.

Foster Care & Adoptions

Let Love Define Family

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Watch and listen for “Let Love Define a Family” street banners and media campaigns beginning November 16th!  Bienvenidos has joined a collaborative Resource Family recruitment initiative with RaiseAChild, a non profit organization that is launching a major recruitment drive throughout the greater Los Angeles area.  All of Southern California will be hearing and learning about the benefits of building families through fostering, adopting, and weekend hosting. In this, its largest collaborative radio campaign to date, listeners of KOST, KCRW, KPCC, KLVE, KTNQ, and KPBS will learn about our upcoming “Let Love Define Family®” recruitment event schedule.  In Los Angeles and Long Beach, these radio ads are reinforced with robust streetlight banner campaigns. In December, Bienvenidos will participate in two evening events in West Hollywood and Long Beach.  All around the country, the RaiseAChild Huffington Post Gay Voice series and social media efforts are raising awareness as well.

Martial Arts & Leadership Program

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Foster Care & Adoptions Martial Arts & Leadership students are broadening their horizons and acquiring leadership skills!  On November 8th, students toured the Los Angeles County Arboretum and learned about native species from all over the world.  What followed was a discussion about “seeds” – and that each of us has “seeds” of family, culture and life experience that influence our behavior and our choices.  As for martial arts training, we are witnessing its impact.  One of our students received a “Star of the Month” award at school, several have begun advocating for themselves, and four have been promoted in rank from white belt to yellow belt.  These rank promotions are merit-based, and demand a demonstration of having learned basic etiquette, Japanese terminology and basic karate techniques. Congratulations to all our students!

Office Relocation to Pasadena

Montclair Foster Care & Adoptions staff thank IT and Facilities for supporting a major “musical offices” move to accommodate the growth of our Division! We have seen an increase in number of our new Resource Families, and, as a result, the ever-growing number of children and youth we are able to welcome into our care means we are growing our number of staff. Our IT, Facilities and Montclair team consolidated office space to make way for new staff coming on board.  And incredibly, despite the upheaval, we welcomed six new children through the course of the day. 

One could think it was the doughnuts and pizza that made for the laughter and great spirit… but we do believe it is truly the unflagging commitment to what we do. We’d like to acknowledge the following team members for their continued service and commitment to our Bienvenidos Family: Alex, Robert, Mike and Steve, Theresa, Grissy, Emily, Laura, Larry, Leandra, Yolie, Leslie, Maribel, Laura, Cynthia, Nidia and Elizabeth. You are an example of our mission in action!

Community Services

Mujeres de Paz Candlelight Vigil

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Bienvenidos proudly participated in the 17th Annual Candlelight March and Vigil to raise domestic violence awareness last month. The East Los Angeles community came together to mark this auspicious event; approximately 100 participants marched down Cesar Chavez Avenue chanting “No More Violence.”

Domestic violence is often more than just physical abuse. It encompasses sexual, emotional, economic and psychological violence. Initially, identifying the signs of an abusive relationship can be difficult, especially if the cycle of violence may have started early on in the relationship. Understanding common occurrences or patterns in an unhealthy relationship and being able to begin an informed conversation is a major step to healing and helping others to join in understanding why and how domestic violence occurs. For more information, please call us at (323) 726-9790.

East Los Angeles Empowerment Congress – Community Day of Service

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Bienvenidos, and other members of the East Los Angeles Empowerment Congress (ELAEC), continue to dedicate their time and effort to quarterly community days of service. On this particular day, some volunteers took to the streets to sweep up litter while others dedicated their efforts to paint a home for a well-deserved family. The ELAEC, comprised of elected officials, local non-profit organizations, small business owners, homeowners and residents from East Los Angeles, is part of Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez’ initiative to bring together stakeholders with the community in an effort to improve vibrant East Los Angeles.

Board News

Board Recruitment

We are actively seeking seasoned business professionals who want to volunteer their time and expertise on a nonprofit board and make a difference.

Bienvenidos is looking for volunteers to bring expertise in various areas including, but not limited to finance, legal/risk management, strategic development/planning, marketing/communications, and fundraising. We appreciate the value of your contribution of your time, talent and financial resources. We will continue to offer you meaningful opportunities to further the mission of Bienvenidos. Interested parties may email Desire Reyes at dreyes@bienvenidos.org

Please include your location, area(s) of interest, skills/experience, and/or other nonprofit boards on which you’ve served. Be sure to include a resume/cv and/or LinkedIn link. 


September: Our New Offices

All Staff Retreat

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Left to right: Ritchie Geisel, President & CEO, Miriam Gonzalez, Chief Program Officer, Lizbeth Nevarez, Board Treasurer, Renee Pozza, Board Member, Cara Valentini, Board Chair, Diana Buehler, Chief Operating Officer, Mike Still, Chief Financial Officer)


We are happy to share highlights from our all staff retreat and luncheon held at Luminarias. We decided to focus solely on staff appreciation and relaxation this year; our staff was greeted by our Board Chair, Cara Valentini, who graciously thanked them for their hard work and dedication to the families we serve. Following lunch, everyone enjoyed the feature presentation of McFarland USA which closely reflects our mission and vision at Bienvenidos. We’re already looking forward to planning next year’s event.

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We’d like to acknowledge the following team members for their continued service and commitment to our Bienvenidos Family; you are an example of our mission in action.

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Yvonne Cervantes – Shining Star

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Leandra Deeton – 15 Years of Service

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Michael Esquivel – 5 Years of Service

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Phuong Lane – 5 Years of Service

elizabeth

Elizabeth Mariscal – 25 Years of Service

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Anthony Navarro – Shining Star

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Lawrence Walker – Shining Star

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Sandra Zuniga – 15 Years of Service

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

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We’d like to acknowledge the following team members for their continued service and commitment to our Bienvenidos Family; you are an example of our mission in action. Thank you for participating in our administrative offices grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony! It was great to see so many familiar faces and the support of our community. The relocation of our administrative offices from downtown Los Angeles to East Los Angeles is part of our strategic initiative to invest in a greater concentration of programs and services in this community. Through further development of community partnerships, we hope to utilize a model of integrated services to promote healthy minds, bodies, and spirits.

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Representatives from elected officials, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, Assemblymember Ed Chau and Supervisor Hilda Solis were on hand to welcome us to the community and present proclamations for the event. Our President & CEO, Ritchie Geisel, expressed thanks to all the guests for their ongoing support and for sharing in Bienvenidos’ vision. He also noted that the decision to move to East Los Angeles is already fostering a stronger bridge between program staff and the administrative staff that supports them.

We are especially thankful to our friends at the East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Heavenly Choice Events, and Mercado’s Flowers, who helped contribute to our event’s success.

Community Services

Back to School Resource Fair

Our Community Services and Mental Health Divisions held a “Back to School Resource Fair”, Saturday, September 12th at the East Los Angeles Service Center. Festivities included Ballet Florkorico, Zumba performances, free school supplies, complimentary breakfast and lunch as well as access to much needed resources including dental, health, and school readiness programs.

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The event was a huge success largely due to our community partnerships with Atlantic Pharmacy, Avon, Care First, Mary kay, Department of Rehabilitation, EDD, L.A. Care, LA County 211, New York Life Insurance, Super Dental Kids, USC School of Dentistry, White Memorial (Welcome Baby) Herbalife and the East Side Medical Clinic. We’re already looking forward to next year’s event!

Special thanks to our staff, volunteers and contributing vendors; your support is critical to our mission of strengthening each family’s resilience in the face of challenges, and enable them with resources to meet their own needs. You are very much a part of their lives too. If you would like to volunteer your time to one of our events, please click here.

Big Sunday Family Fun Day

Thanks to the generous support of Big Sunday, two of our Project Corazón families were able to enjoy a well-deserved mini-cruise from the port of San Pedro to Long Beach. The cruise was an opportunity to learn about the rich history of our ports as well as partake in some dolphin and sea lion sightings. Guests also received t-shirts and continental breakfast in conjunction with the cruise. Bienvenidos is proud to partner with Big Sunday, whose mission is dedicated in helping underserved communities.

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Our “Family Fun Days” are hosted by our Project Corazon program which focuses on reducing the maltreatment of children which can result from neglect, domestic violence and/or mental health issues. To learn more about Project Corazon, or to sponsor a Family Fun Day, please contact Georgia Thompson, our Community Services Director, at (323) 268-5442.

English Parenting Class

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Parents show off their certificates after completing a 12-week program of Los Niños Bien Educados, which helps parents increase positive behaviors in their children. Participating parents learned the power of praising their children, understanding the causes of child behaviors, and the importance of having family conversations. In addition, parents were also taught the stages of child development. Many of the participants in our English Parenting class were also involved in the Parent Café, Money Management classes, and Family Fun Days. Each of the parents were honored for their efforts and commitment to the program. Congrats parents!

Fatherhood Program Graduation

Proud graduates of our Fatherhood program received their diplomas at a special ceremony on September 15th in our Administrative offices. Fatherhood is part of our Partnership for Families and Prevention and Aftercare Programs; it is a support group dedicated to enhancing parenting skills and help equip participants to become nurturing fathers.

To learn more about the Fatherhood Program or to register, please contact Hugo Garcia, our Family Specialist at (323) 268-5442.

Foster Care & Adoptions

Foster Family Picnic

Our Foster Care & Adoptions division held their annual Foster Family Picnic, September 19th at Arcadia park in the city of Arcadia. This fun-filled event featured family-friendly games, bingo, piñatas, prizes for all the winners and complimentary food. We welcomed 328 resource families to Santa Anita Park for our 23rd year partnering with A.J. Picnics, whose D.J. always engages our kids in exciting and entertaining games and activities. Board Vice Chair, Jesse Cripps, was accompanied by his wife and their children, and the Cripps children wouldn’t let mom and dad leave until they had participated in all the games. The afternoon was so successful that we all forgot about the 102 degree temperature… except that all the ice cream did disappear!

Martial Arts & Leadership Program

On Sunday September 20th, the students in the Martial Arts & Leadership Program participated in two unusual training sessions. The first hour they learned African drum rhythms on 5 hand-made drums with Djibril N’Doye. Mr. N’Doye is an artist and musician from Senegal, where he is renowned as a national treasure. He engaged our students in discussing how the drums are made, and then taught them the rhythms for welcoming guests and for healing.  The second hour, our students participated in instruction with 21-year old Aaron Cruz.  Mr. Cruz was born completely hearing impaired and unable to speak yet has achieved first level black belt rank.  Our students saw firsthand how life challenges can be overcome; they learned how to, and did communicate with Mr. Cruz even as they practiced their martial arts techniques.  We were extremely proud of the respect they demonstrated and their excitement in learning.

Are You Registered to Vote?

In 2016, for the first time ever, people of color, young Americans and unmarried women will likely cast over half of all the ballots in the presidential election. Think about that. For the first time in our nation’s history, the most diverse electorate ever will enter voting booths on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

We would like to encourage you, our Bienvenidos family, to vote! Ask your friends and families if they are registered to vote. For our part, all of our locations are stocked with voter registration forms, stop by and fill one out or take some to go. Your voice matters!

Bienvenidos is hiring!

Would you like to join our team? We are currently seeking qualified and dedicated candidates to fill the following positions: Accounting Associate, Prevention Specialist, Program Navigator and Community Resources Coordinator, Project Coordinator, Respite Worker, Social Worker. Visit our website for more information and to apply. www.bienvenidos.org

Board News

Board Recruitment

We are actively seeking seasoned business professionals who want to volunteer their time and expertise on a nonprofit board and make a difference.

Bienvenidos is looking for volunteers to bring expertise in various areas including, but not limited to finance, legal/risk management, strategic development/planning, marketing/communications, and fundraising. We appreciate the value of your contribution of your time, talent and financial resources. We will continue to offer you meaningful opportunities to further the mission of Bienvenidos. Interested parties may email Desire Reyes at dreyes@bienvenidos.org

Please include your location, area(s) of interest, skills/experience, and/or other nonprofit boards on which you’ve served. Be sure to include a resume/cv and/or LinkedIn link. 


August: Thank you, Supporters!

Virtual Gala Results

We are happy to announce that this year’s first virtual gala raised over $23,000, which will directly further our service mission! We are especially grateful to the following supporters:

  • Barrio Planners

  • Bolton & Company

  • The John W. Carson Foundation

  • Arthur Gallagher & Co.

  • Green Hasson Janks
  • The Harrington Group

  • Kaiser Permanente

  • The Steven & Laura Mayer Family Foundation

  • Janet Schulman & Philip Trask

  • Cara and Alessandro Valentini

Board News

New Board Member

We’d like to introduce our newest board member, Laura Ramirez, who comes from our very own East Los Angeles community. Laura holds degrees in Mathematics A.S., Chemistry B.S., and Analytical Chemistry M.S. She began her career in education at the California State University of Fullerton working with undergraduate students, then became chair of the science department at Don Bosco Technical Institute. Laura was subsequently hired by East Los Angeles College to Chair its Chemistry Department and quickly rose to become the Career Technical Education Dean. She currently serves as the Vice President of Workforce Education & Economic Development at East Los Angeles Community College. Laura is also a new member of the Bienvenidos Board’s Strategic Planning Committee.

New Board Officers

The following board members have been elected to serve as officers on our board for the period of 2015-2017:

  • Board Chair
    Cara Valentini

  • Board Vice Chair
    Jesse Cripps

  • Board Secretary
    Wayne Guzman

  • Board Treasurer
    Lizbeth Nevarez

Board Recruitment

We are actively seeking business professionals – both young and seasoned – who want to volunteer their time and expertise on a nonprofit board and make a difference.

Bienvenidos is looking for volunteers to bring expertise in various areas including, but not limited to finance, legal/risk management, strategic development & planning, marketing/communications, and fundraising. We appreciate the value of your contribution of your time, talent and financial resources and will offer you meaningful opportunities to further the mission of Bienvenidos.

Interested parties may email Desiree Reyes at dreyes@bienvenidos.org

Please include your location, area(s) of interest, skills/experience, and/or other nonprofit boards on which you’ve served. Be sure to include a resume/cv and/or LinkedIn link.

Community Services

Parents show off their certificates after completing a 12-week bilingual program of Los Niños Bien Educados, which helps parents increase positive behaviors in their children. Participating parents learned the power of praising their children, understanding the causes of child behaviors, and the importance of having family conversations. In addition, parents were also taught the stages of child development. Each of the parents were honored for their efforts and commitment to the program. Congrats parents!

Foster Care & Adoptions

Our Foster Care & Adoptions division certified their 100th resource (foster) family in June. This is a testament to our dedicated staff and their unfailing desire to recruit families, to provide loving homes for children who have suffered abuse and experienced neglect. In addition, four children were welcomed by their adoptive families in June – making a total of 10 children during the fiscal year. We also celebrated two high school graduations and 4 promotions from middle school to high school. Congratulations to our foster kids and their resource families for all their hard work!

Bienvenidos is hiring!

Would you like to join our team? We are currently seeking qualified and dedicated candidates to fill the following positions: Social Worker, Program Navigator and Community Resources Coordinator, Respite Worker, Mental Health Therapist. Visit our website for more information and to apply. www.bienvenidos.org

Administrative Offices Grand Opening

Join us on Tuesday, August 18th from 9:30 am – 11:30 am for the grand opening and ribbon cutting of our new administrative offices, in East Los Angeles, located at 501 S. Atlantic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90022. For more information please contact us at events@bienvendios.org or (213) 785-5906.

May: We’ve Relocated!

We are pleased to announce that we are relocating our administrative offices to East Los Angeles in order to be closer to the communities we serve. We expect to be fully moved by the end of this week. We hope to have a grand opening early this summer. Our new address is: 501 S. Atlantic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90022. (Map)

My Stuff Bags Event

Bienvenidos Partners with My Stuff Bags to let kids entering foster care know that their lives matter!

Mazda volunteers assembled 1,000 bags during a day of service May 5. Pictured, left to Right, are Ritchie Geisel President & CEO, Bienvenidos Children’s Center, Janeen Holmes President & CEO My Stuff Bags Foundation, Robert Davis Sr. Vice President of U.S. Operations, MAZDA Foundation and Teresa McKee Board Member, My Stuff Bags Foundation.

The bags were given to Bienvenidos to distribute to our children, many of whom have never had anything of their own before. A sibling set of four aged 7, 8, 9 and 10 were placed with us one night in an initial detention after being removed from their home. When the four of them were given their “My Stuff Bags”, the 7 year old broke into a brilliant smile and said “This is the best day of my life!”

My Stuff Bags (MSB) is a nonprofit located in Thousand Oaks that assembles and distributes duffel bags filled with age and gender appropriate blankets, stuffed animals, toys, personal care items, and books to 20,000 children each year. Bienvenidos has been a proud partner of MSB for many years.

Foster Care & Adoptions

April saw the launching of an exciting leadership and martial arts program in our Foster Care & Adoptions Division, inviting our youth and teens to team with us in creating a program that responds to their needs while instilling principles of self-respect, respect for others, team building, anger management, conflict resolution, and the experience of setting and attaining personal goals. Our volunteer lead instructor is Robert Alvarez, a Bienvenidos foster/adopt parent, a veteran of the US Army, 5th Special Forces, honorably discharged after two tours of combat duty in Vietnam. He holds the rank of “Shihan” (5th level black belt) and has taught children, teenagers and adults, both able-bodied and physically challenged for over 4 decades. He is joined by Stephanie Ivler, Director, and Nidia Canello, Foster Care Social Worker. After just one month of training, one of our youth reported to a team of LA County workers that “I love this karate so much…every kid in foster care should be at Bienvenidos!”

Payless ShoeSource Event

We were awarded 150 Payless ShoesSource merchandise certificates for our foster children. Ten different events were held throughout San Bernardino and Los Angeles County. We currently have 227 children in placement; children of school age were given priority. Thereafter, our focus was on children who were recently detained and had only the pair of shoes they arrived with.

At each event, Victoria Ramirez had a minimum of one volunteer social worker to assist the children with their selection. Payless stores graciously opened one hour prior to business hours to accommodate our large group. Most of our children were able to purchase two pairs of shoes each in conjunction with an ongoing promotion that allowed them to purchase one pair and receive 50% off the second pair.

Thanks to the commitment of our dedicated team, we were able to accomplish our goal of outfitting 150 children with new shoes. Grateful thank to Payless ShoesSource!

Community Services

Fatherhood Graduation

Proud graduates of our Fatherhood program received their diplomas at a special ceremony on May 5 at our East Los Angeles office. Fatherhood is part of our Partnership for Families and Prevention and Aftercare Programs, under the direction of Georgia A. Thompson. Long time Bienvenidos partner Armando Lawrence, and staff member Hugo Garcia guided the men through the fatherhood program. Kudos to the graduating fathers.

Family Fun Day at LACMA

Families from our Community Services Division in East Los Angeles were thrilled to participate in a family fun day at LACMA on Sunday, April 19, 2015. Upon arriving to the museum families were given free NexGen memberships for all children. This membership allows for families to return until the age of 18, for free. What a deal! Families enjoyed tours of different exhibitions and a walk to the La Brea Tar Pits. They had an opportunity to have lunch at the park or hang-out at the Family Sundays area to partake in a variety of art workshops. Overall, families had an awesome day at LACMA. This field trip was organized by Xochitl Ramos, the Parent Educator Coordinator for Project Corazon.

Save the Date!

While the annual gala has become our signature fundraising event, this year we are inviting you to support our “virtual” gala.

We sincerely hope you will be part of this effort to fund the needs of our families at Bienvenidos. We are counting on our close friends and partners for sponsorship support and want to thank you for your consideration.