Dear Friends of Friends Outside in Los Angeles County:
As you know, many people are suffering during these trying times. If you are one of the fortunate persons who has enough for yourself and is able to help those who are in need, will you please consider supporting our annual project for children with incarcerated or formerly incarcerated parents? These children’s separation from one or both parents is even more difficult this year because family visiting at most prisons and jails is not possible during the pandemic.
For more than 30 years, we have held parties for these children and want to continue this tradition but in a way that is safe for all involved. The flyer describes how we will continue to support them even during the pandemic. Anything you can do to support our efforts will be appreciated.
With best wishes to all for a healthy and meaningful Holiday Season.
Dear Friends of Friends Outside in Los Angeles County!
Congratulations to our clients and our staff who completed our California Workforce Development Board-funded grant, Forward Focus, with flying colors! Here are just some of their accomplishments:
|What we were contracted to do|
|What we actually did
|Enroll 135 parolees and county probationers (clients) into the ForwardFocus program|
|Enrolled 135 parolees and county probationers (clients) into the program
|75 clients to attain an industry-recognized vocational training so they are more competitive for employment|
|75 clients attained industry-recognized vocational trainings
|81 clients to attain employment|
|82 obtained employment
The jobs they obtained included the following:
Union Construction Trades (Plumber, laborer)
|54 clients to retain employment |
|67 clients retained employment
Kudos to Helena Henderson, Case Manager, and Jose Cosme Sandoval, Job Specialist, who did this great work with our great clients under the leadership of Irena Seta, Director of Employment Programs!
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.
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.