Brunch Club – A Combination of Inspiration and Food for the Homeless

corporate Giving Partnerships has been working with Brunch Club since our inception. We have seen first hand the change that this organization has made both for the homeless in San Diego, and for our corporate clients that have participated in volunteerism events. This is our second feature of Brunch Club. In the Christmas and all Holiday Spirit, we hope you enjoy reading what inspired Jennifer Crone, to start this organization. A special thanks to her for authoring this month’s blog.

I’ve always had a heart for the homeless. I’m just not the type of person who can walk by someone clearly living on the street and not feel something. After growing up in a suburb of San Diego, I lived in New York City for 6 years and I saw homeless people every day. When I first moved to New York, I never ate lunch because as soon as I walked out of the cafe on my way back to work I saw someone who needed the meal more than I did.

There were a few particularly sweet homeless men I met that I would regularly get hot chocolate and a donut for in the winter time, when it was wet and snowy and freezing. One guy camped out on the corner a couple avenues from my place in Murray Hill, and I would sometimes heat up a can of soup and bring it out and sit with him on the curb while he ate. He wasn’t a drug addict or a crazy person; he was a father, who spoke with pride and love about his children, with no animosity or blame that they weren’t helping him. He had drowned in legal fees while trying to get custody of his children from his ex-wife, and that’s how he became homeless.

I continued to help out in the little ways that I could. I always found that the kindness more than the food was what really touched their hearts and added some warmth. The simple act of looking into their eyes and not looking away made all the difference. When I moved back to San Diego I came to Little Italy, on the bay edge of downtown. Again, I saw homeless people every day. Again, I did little things like give them leftovers or make sack lunches from things I had at home. And again, I felt the immense gratitude from every one of them. The morning of my birthday, January 30th, 2014, I was walking downtown and noticed all the homeless people lining Broadway. After my yoga class, I went into a coffee shop and ordered a bagel for myself to go. I then thought of all the people I would pass by on my walk home and ordered 5 more bagels in separate bags. As I walked home I handed them out and was full of love in my heart with each interaction. But I ran out of bagels way before I ran out of hungry people.

A couple months later I was feeling particularly sorry for myself after a difficult time with my boyfriend and forced myself to do the only thing I know to pull me out of self-pity: a gratitude list. I started my list with a roof over my head and food to eat. This sparked the thought of all the people I passed every day who didn’t have either of those. I wanted to pull myself out of my funk by being of service to the people who had less than I did. I knew I could make a couple sack lunches and have a few conversations, but I wanted to do more. I posted an event on Facebook called Brunch Club – Sunday of Service and invited all my local friends I thought might have an interest in giving back. All I said was that I was going to make some lunches to hand out to the homeless and then afterward we could go to brunch. I asked the friends who came to bring a cash donation to help pay for the supplies. I had no idea if anyone would show up or if they would all think I was crazy, but I resolved to do it alone if no one showed up.

A couple days later I went to the local discount market and got 50 bottles of water, fixin’s for pb&js, granola bars, and toothbrushes. 6 people showed up at my door and we put together the bags. The night before I sat up late writing 50 notes. On one side I chose a quote of inspiration or a message from my heart and on the other, I wrote the address for a shelter where they could go for a meal. My friends and I packed up the bags and went to hand them out. They went quickly. There were more people than bags. But the folks were grateful. They said thank you. They joked with us, smiled at us. As I was getting back into my car there was a man sitting on the floor in front of a building lit up with bright mosaic tiles shining in the sun. He pulled out the sandwich and as he read the note I had written a smile overtook his face. My heart grew 2 sizes that day. My friends and I then shared a brunch table and broke bread together as a little family, happy with the small difference we had just made.

A month later I made a similar invite along with new Facebook and Instagram accounts for Brunch Club. Word had spread and 39 people showed up this time; my condo had never been so full. Some of the people I had never even met before. That day we were able to make 150 bags. In addition to the notes, water, food, and toothbrushes this time we added socks and wet wipes to each bag, items often requested by those living on the streets.

Again, the most amazing part of the day was the interactions we had with the people we served. The stories they told us, the gratitude they displayed. A 17-year-old kid broke down in tears telling us that he was so scared to die. He told us that every member of his family and every friend he had ever had died on the street. He told us that he just wanted to make it to his 18th birthday.

Our group is not based in religion, rather in kindness, love, human decency and service, but this kid asked us to pray for him and so we got in a circle around him and my friend Branko said a prayer. It was a moment I will never forget. Writing about it now my eyes are welling up with tears. I haven’t seen that kid since but I think about him all the time. A Veteran who told us he felt forgotten and thrown away by the country he served also came to tears while thanking us for our kindness. Whether he wanted it or not I gave him a big sweaty hug.

The third month we were 60 strong, fed 201 and again were able to add more useful items. Dentists donated whole dental kits with toothpaste, toothbrushes, and floss. My dad donated 100 socks and t-shirts. Nature Valley donated 100 granola bars. We met at Mission Brewery, who just gave us the use of their space.

As Brunch Club expands with more volunteers and we’re able to serve more people, I’m mindful to remember that at the heart of our mission is to be of service to those members of our society that need it the most. I want to do more work to help people transition out of homelessness and get their lives back on track to where they want to be, working with some great organizations who are already doing this kind of work. San Diego, has the third largest homeless population in the country and the first largest population of homeless veterans. At the end of the day, I want to feed people who are hungry and I want to look them in the eyes and tell them they are worthy when they have forgotten it. And that’s what Brunch Club does.

By |2018-04-25T05:56:32-07:00December 5th, 2017|Featured NonProfit|Comments Off on Brunch Club – A Combination of Inspiration and Food for the Homeless

Send Me On Vacation-Changing Lives for Women with Breast Cancer

You Have Cancer!

Many people believe you either live in love or in fear.

Every breast cancer survivor is initiated with fear once they hear, “You Have Cancer.” Much like a war veteran who returns from battle to discover they are effected by a condition known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), survivors also find PTSD a common condition.  About 82.5% of women have PTSD symptoms after breast cancer diagnosis. Survivors who are fortunate enough to afford mental health therapy, have a greater chance of managing the emotional effects of fighting cancer. Those who do not, often find themselves caught in a downward spiral of depression and fear. Dealing with a traumatic change from health to disease often leaves victims overwhelmed, exhausted and financially devastated.

“In December 2009, I was 39. My world came to a crashing halt went I was told I had breast cancer. In the following year my strength and faith were tested to their limits and my finances were in total ruin. Instead of taking my first trip on a cruise ship that I had been saving for for 10 years, I spent that year and every dime I had saved hoping to see another day.”  – Taneta Blanden

When treatment’s ended, it’s easy to assume one might believe they will be jumping for joy – but joy is a feeling that is too often out of reach. That’s the time, Send Me On Vacation shines a light on the lives of survivors by providing healing vacations to rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit.

“Today I’m in remission. I’m actually going to see my kids graduate and I went on vacation for the first time in my life to Myrtle Beach, SC. It was a dream come true.  There was no way I would’ve been able to take a break like this from cancer, to relax and reflect on my life and the blessings now see coming my way.” – Taneta Blanden

Corporate Giving Partnerships has worked with Send Me On Vacation to develop a strong board, caring volunteers, and create marketing and fundraising strategies. This partnership has been so valuable in achieving our goals, said Cathy Backus, Founder of the organization.  SMOV has sent hundreds of underserved survivors on healing vacations in the past 6 years from the U.S., Canada and Mexico. SMOV is a 501 (c)(3), all volunteer charitable organization. Vacation options include group therapy vacations, freestyle family vacations and end of life vacations. SMOV is a resource focused program that combines donations from the travel and tourism industry with financial contributions to create transformative experience that have the ability to change lives, one vacation at a time!

Corporate Giving Partnerships is a national consulting firm. We engage corporate leadership and employees with the community, using life experience to inspire collaboration, compassion, productivity and a strong culture. We support growth of corporate social responsibility with technology and marketing, providing companies with the tools they need to build strong volunteerism and cause marketing programs. CGP consults with nonprofit organizations such as Send Me On Vacation to facilitate visibility and growth. Our team’s expertise includes donor development and retention, fundraising strategies, board and volunteer development, marketing and communications. Contact us to learn more.

By |2018-04-25T05:56:33-07:00February 9th, 2017|Featured NonProfit|Comments Off on Send Me On Vacation-Changing Lives for Women with Breast Cancer

Meet Casa de Amparo: Preventing Abuse and Neglect for At Risk Children and Foster Youth

Casa de Amparo, supports those affected by and at risk of child abuse and neglect through a range of programs and services that promote healing, growth and healthy relationships.

Corporate Giving Partnerships has had the privilege to place employee volunteers with this impactful San Diego County based organization; providing a wide range of programs to support those affected by these conditions, from prenatal to 25 years of age (and specifically those within the transitional age foster youth population).

Transitional age foster youth are a severely under-served population and without places like Casa de Amparo, most would transition out of foster care ill prepared for life and end up a statistic. The unfortunate reality is that 40% of children affected by child abuse and neglect will experience homelessness, only 50% complete high school or receive a GED and less than 50% are employed by age 24. In addition, 85% of these children experience mental health issues during childhood and into adulthood and have little to no resources for healthcare.

Casa de Amparo strives through both facility and treatment based programs to meet all of the everyday life needs to as many children and young adults as possible. The nonprofit organization is successful because of the help from the community and the countless volunteers and donors that support their efforts.

For foster teens that are pregnant or parenting, it can be difficult to find a stable or permanent placement as their own children are not considered foster children, making home placement a much harder option. To support these youth, Casa de Amparo offers a program called the “young parent network”. This program resides within their residential services program and addresses the needs of the pregnant and parenting youth who are struggling with the emotional, financial and personal demands of being a parent while being a foster child themselves. The goal of the program is to address trauma and increase health, safety, and the well-being of both children and families. Casa de Amparo is very proud to be the only provider of pregnant and parenting care in the San Diego County.

Corporate Giving Partnerships works with companies to identify meaningful volunteerism opportunities with nonprofit organizations such as and including Casa de Amparo. As a result we have seen the impact of what even one afternoon of time can mean to young lives.

Thank you to Cristin Wondergem for her contribution to our featured nonprofit organization of the month. We’re proud to present Casa de Amparo to our readers. To learn more about their programs, click here or watch their video on YouTube.

If are interested in learning more about employee volunteerism, please contact Corporate Giving Partnerships or if you are interested in getting involved and helping to support Casa Kids, please contact Celeste Leichliter at cleichliter@casadeamparo.org or at (760) 566-3553. Perhaps you or your company will consider one of the following:

  • Organize an In-Kind drive
  • Coordinate a Fundraiser
  • Volunteer/Teambuilding
  • One time activity like a sports event, BBQ, Crafts or parties, etc.
  • Host a drop off party:
    • Baby items for Pregnant & Parenting Casa Kids
    • Wine for special events
    • Gift wrapping supplies for holiday drives
By |2018-04-25T05:56:33-07:00January 4th, 2017|Featured NonProfit|Comments Off on Meet Casa de Amparo: Preventing Abuse and Neglect for At Risk Children and Foster Youth

Volunteers Help VE Global Change the Lives of Children at Risk

It’s another scorching December afternoon in Santiago, Chile and the air is thick with laughter and the thump thump of reggaeton music. A team of 20 kids plays a lively game of fútbol while 15 more stand on the sideline, cheering and swaying to the beat.

No bystander would ever know that these children have been removed from their own homes by the Chilean family court system due to abuse and neglect. Thanks to a non-profit organization called Voluntarios de la Esperanza (VE) Global, these kids have a million opportunities to play and a million more reasons to smile.

VE Global fosters the development of children at social risk in Chile by training and empowering volunteers to serve as positive role models, educators and advocates of social justice. VE has successfully integrated 450 full-time volunteers from 35 countries into a network of partner organizations. With an average on-the-ground presence of 15 full-time volunteers, VE provides more than 40,000 hours of volunteer support each year and serves over 200 children daily via after-school activities, homework help, and emotional guidance.

In addition to developing leadership and mentoring skills in their volunteers, VE also contributes programming and support to 14 local partner organizations that include children’s shelters, community centers, and schools in the most vulnerable neighborhoods of Santiago. VE touches the lives of children aged two to 12, adolescents aged 13-20, as well as pregnant and adolescent mothers and their babies.

Not only does VE host a health and wellness league (including regular fútbol matches!), they also offer a literacy program, art festival, and English lessons. These programs empower, educate, and motivate the children of Santiago so that they may become future role models and leaders.

With the support of companies like Corporate Giving Partnerships, VE works to build a global community that ensures equality of opportunity and social justice for all children.

Volunteering with VE is an opportunity to put your beliefs into action, create positive social change, and use your skills to help the children of Santiago sustainably. VE is always looking for qualified volunteers to join their January, May and September volunteer classes.

A special thanks to Isabella Trouw, from VE Global for this post. To learn how you may volunteer or donate to this nonprofit organization, please visit their website or Facebook page. To learn more about Corporate Giving Partnerships, please contact us.

By |2016-12-01T16:41:58-08:00December 1st, 2016|Featured NonProfit|Comments Off on Volunteers Help VE Global Change the Lives of Children at Risk
Go to Top