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.