Case For Kids, Basket Brigade, and Haven Of Peace Honored
By Bryan Harrison
The December 15, 2017 MVCA Holiday Luncheon Party, held on the outside patio at Dave Wong’s, paid tribute to some community leaders and non-profit efforts being done within San Joaquin County.
Lori Souza, founder of the non-profit organization Case For Kids, works to lessen the blow for children entering the foster-care system. Her organization provides customized cases of personal care items and a receptacle for belongings. A social worker by profession, Ms. Souza explained that she has seen too many kids throw all their belongings into a big black trash bag as they get pulled from their home and put in the system at some stranger’s house.
“It’s a hard-enough situation these kids are forced to deal with, at no fault of their own,” she explained. “I came to realize we could at least provide some sense of dignity to the whole endeavor by providing a case for their stuff.”
The Foster-Care system in San Joaquin County, she went on to explain, has grown in numbers to nearly the same levels as Alameda County - a much larger demographic. Stanislaus County, where Souza works by day as a Social Worker, by contrast, has drastically lower numbers. “This,” she said, “is primarily due to the policies of each county.
In Stanislaus, she explained, “we try to everything we can to keep families together and work through their issues. San Joaquin is quick to pull children from a troubled home.
She explained that a big problem with that is that parents are not able to practice in real time the education they receive on best practices for discipline, and such. “By the time the kids are allowed back home, the lessens learned are gone.”
MVCA also recognized the efforts of the Mountain House Rotary Club this past Thanksgiving. The start-up Rotarians orchestrated their 2nd annual Basket Brigade effort. Working with non-profits in the area, and their own community, they were able to garner donations and support enough to provide 61 families with complete, ready-to-make, Thanksgiving meals. Lead event producer, Christina Oh, and coordinator on the day of the event, Sainthavi Vinodh, joined the MVCA to be recognized for their positive contribution to the community. Olga Rodriguez, Executive Director at Haven Of Peace, was honored as well. Haven Of Peace provides shelter and support for women and children in crisis. Ms. Olga gave an overview of the colorful history and growth of the Haven, and graciously accepted MVCA Toy Drive donations.
And, lastly, MVCA member, Bob Archuleta, shared a bit about the work his investigative company does to provide work for those in need who cannot afford their type of services. The event saw some new folks join-in, and everyone enjoyed the food and fellowship.