The Day the World Changed – Update from Friends Outside in Los Angeles County

So, let me deal with the obvious first . . . yes, I am still here.  The top two candidates for my position turned down the job offer, perhaps due to the salary.  The Board is continuing the search.

I want to let you, our supporters, know that our clients are continuing to be served by our 22 member staff who are working safely from their homes. This includes services to individuals by telephone, text, email, and via U.S. Mail and workshops via a platform such as WebEx or Zoom.   I am in daily contact with our five managers who are in daily contact with the staff they supervise.  We are having weekly team meetings to check-in with one another, share information about new resources, strategize how to best deliver services, ensure that we are meeting the requirements of our grantors, and generally to keep spirits up.  And, I am in touch with grantors to ensure that we are providing services to their satisfaction while remaining in compliance with Governor Newsom’s order to stay at home.

Concerns include whether new grant opportunities will be made available down the road and how individual fundraising will hold-up, understanding that people for the most part are going to be focused on their own survival, including some who are losing their jobs.  But, one of my biggest concerns is that as I listen to press conferences and news sources whichI believe to be legitimate, I have yet to hear mentioned the special needs of nonprofits when discussions take place about what Congress is considering in the bailout packages.  I am, therefore, encouraging each of you to contact your representatives in Washington D.C. and remind them of the important work that is performed by our sector, providing services that will be needed now more than ever as human need escalates.  Please ask them to “have our backs” when the bailout packages are put together.  I also encourage you to go to this link and read the story from CNN which explains this need in greater detail:  https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/20/opinions/coronavirus-extinction-level-event-charities/index.html

Of course, your donations will be welcome, too, but I believe that advocating to Congress at this critical time is the most important act you can take on our behalf and on behalf of those in need.

Wishing you all good physical and mental health as we navigate uncertain waters from our individual lifeboats.

Mary Weaver
Executive Director

LET’S GIVE A HURTING CHILD CAUSE TO SMILE IN 2020

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LET’S GIVE A HURTING CHILD CAUSE TO SMILE IN 2020!

When a parent is incarcerated, the child is separated from a primary source of security.

According to a U.S. Department of Justice report, since the war on drugs began in the 1980s the rate of children with incarcerated mothers has increased 100% and the rate of those with incarcerated fathers has increased more than 75%. The impact of parental incarceration commonly manifests in increased antisocial behaviors in their children, including severe depression and a greater potential for substance abuse, criminal activity and suicide. The Centers for Disease Control states that these children are more likely to drop out of school.

Friends Outside Los Angeles County is the longest-running and arguably the most cost-effective nonprofit organization serving area families impacted by incarceration.

An estimated 75,000 children in Los Angeles County have an incarcerated parent. But, the good news is that research shows that these children are more resistant to negative outcomes when there is a sustained bond between parent and child and a network for social and financial support.
Established in 1972, our multi-award-winning organization invests nine of every ten dollars directly into services (IRS Form 990, 2018). Each year, we serve approximately 300 children and their incarcerated or formerly incarcerated parents to strengthen their bonds and their social and financial support. Our programs include the Incarcerated Parents Project, an after-school program, a family support group, and the Dads Back! Academy, which builds fatherhood skills and provides reentry employment assistance. 65% of the fathers we assisted through our recent U.S. Department of Labor grant obtained employment. Only 7% returned to prison.

Our services culminate each year with the Thomas Fleming Rhodes Memorial Holiday Party that the children love! I will never forget a comment from one smiling child who exclaimed to me, “This is the first fun thing I have done with my family this whole year!”

At Friends Outside Los Angeles County, caring is contagious. The more caring people who provide support, the more caring support we can provide to families, giving hurting children cause to smile.

Won’t you join our 2020 Care Team and make a generous donation now? We promise to honor how much you care, not just with a note of thanks and a periodic performance update, but also by responsibly managing every dollar to maximize your return on investment while putting smiles on the faces of these children. Thank you!
Sincerely,

Mary Weaver
Executive Director

Thankful Thursday


Dear Friends of Friends Outside LA:

It seems to me that if there is a “Giving Tuesday” that there should also be a “Thankful Thursday” to thank each of you for giving to Friends Outside LA such as through your financial contributions, volunteer time, and overall support of our Mission.

Wishing each of you an enjoyable, safe, and healthy December. Don’t eat too much but show your love for others a lot!

Mary Weaver
Executive Director

Giving Tuesday


Dear Friends of Friends Outside:

During a previous Thomas Fleming Rhodes Memorial Holiday Party, young Adam looked up at me and said, “This is the only fun thing my family has done this whole year.” This was not a surprising statement for me. Over the past 30 years I have gotten to know children with incarcerated parents and their families well. Their stories are too similar. And, too many are from impoverished families and live in crime-ridden communities.

Except for an occasional visit to a prison or jail (to keep family bonds strong), their families have limited social lives and cannot afford to participate in the parties that most of us take for granted during the December Holidays. Their children quietly suffer, feel different, and are ashamed of their circumstances.

Your support has enabled us to plan special parties for these children at the time of year that is the most difficult for them. One year a mother told me after the party that her child had thought he was the only one with an incarcerated parent. He then realized he was not alone and didn’t feel so different from the other kids!

Your support for the parties to be held in December will make a world of difference for these children. Won’t you say YES to assuring that they have a wonderful Holiday through your support as follows:

Sponsor: Your $5,000 or $1,000 gift will be the “frosting on the cake” for each party and will enable us to do so much for the families throughout the coming year.

Co-Sponsor: Your $500 gift will sponsor 10 families for the party and help us to provide services to them during the coming year.

Family Sponsor: Your $100 gift will sponsor 2 families for the party and help us to provide services to them during the coming year.

Supporter: Your $50 will be used where it is most needed to support the Holiday Party and to provide services to the families during the coming year.

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Sincerely,

Mary Weaver

Executive Director

P.S. Won’t you please take a moment now to make your tax-deductible donation via PayPal or by sending your check to our offices at 261 E. Colorado Blvd., Ste. 217, Pasadena, CA, 91101? Your contribution will also be a present to yourself when you experience the great joy of what it means to help others who are less fortunate, the true meaning of this special time of year.

 

In Memory of Eddie

I am very sorry to share with our supporters the news that we lost one of our valued staff members, Eduardo “Eddie” Estrada, over the December Holidays.  Eddie was the Peer Navigator for Project imPACT, our reentry employment program located at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College.  The Peer Navigator is the “glue” between clients, potential clients, and the program.  The Peer Navigator recruits new clients for the program and develops relationships with existing clients so they remain involved and meet their employment goals.

Eddie was so good at this.  He cared about people very much and that is the one quality the position has to have when hired.  It is difficult to train someone to care about others.  I don’t know much about Eddie’s prior life other than he ended him up in prison at some point in time.  What I wanted to know about him in the job interview was how he presented himself, how he spoke about the duties of the position, and whether I could sense from him a passion for the work.  I quickly discovered that the answers were yes – yes – and yes.

Eddie had several tattoos, including one large one on the top of his head.  I had never hired anyone with so many visible tattoos but it only took me about 30 seconds to get beyond that.  The quality of him as a person, his obvious compassion, and his intellect won me over quite readily.  I last saw him at our Holiday Staff Party on December 21.  I asked what he wanted from his “Secret Santa” and he responded “a gift card from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.”  “For your girlfriend or partner?” I asked.  “No,” he responded, “for me.”  I like the Teakwood fragrance . . . the body wash, the spray, and the cologne.”  I chuckled to myself, thinking “This is not the response I thought I would get from this former gang member, tatted-up, rather large individual.”  But, then I remembered one of the first lessons I got at Friends Outside, which was not to judge a book by its cover.  Some of the finest persons I have met in my life are ex-prisoners.  And, Eddie is on my short list.

Rest in Peace, Eddie.  We will miss you.

Mary Weaver

Executive Director