• Malia, Community Impact Manager

Updated: Mar 13

Volunteers, donors, and staff have been very busy the last few weeks, as we have seen a rush of FOUR families graduating our program and moving into permanent housing!

Eduardo, Blanca, and their four children were overjoyed to receive a new start courtesy of a generous donation from Tony Jakstis, Founder of Operation Gift-a-Smile. With the coordination of their landlord, Anthony, Eduardo and Blanca received first and last month’s rent paid for, as well as a fully-furnished three bedroom home for their family. Now their children have a place to call home – complete with their own beds and activity areas! Operation Gift-a-Smile even stocked the kitchen with groceries and supplies. Check out our Facebook page @ocfamilypromise to see the home tour and the moment the family was presented with the keys to their new home! A HUGE THANK YOU to Tony and everyone at Operation Gift-a-Smile for their overwhelming generosity in providing the rental assistance, furnishings, food and so much more! Eduardo, Blanca, their four children, and everyone at Family Promise of Orange County are deeply moved by your act of kindness! Thank you!

James, a Veteran, and his son moved into our short-term housing in September of last year. Our program helped James to get back on his feet, and now he and his son have happily settled into their new home. Thank you to all of our donors who helped James and his son furnish their new apartment. We wish them well!

Jasmine and Magin came to us in December of last year in need of shelter for themselves and their three very young children. We are happy to report that the family has found permanent supportive housing and are on their way to a better future.

Raegan and her son, Nehemiah, came to us in August of 2020 and moved into our short-term housing. She endured some personal difficulties in the latter part of 2020, but now has a wonderful job and was able to save up for a new apartment for her and her son. Thank you to all of the generous donors who helped Raegan furnish her new apartment!

With these four families moving into permanent housing, we are able to accept new families experiencing homelessness into our program. So far this year, we have been able to shelter 20 people, including twelve children!

We happily look forward to even more families graduating into permanent housing in 2021! Together we CAN end family homelessness in Orange County!

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  • Monica, Communications Intern

Updated: Mar 13

Merriah Dotson, single mother of two, initially reached out to Family Promise of Orange County in 2019 when an illness left her unable to work. She and her children were battling homelessness off and on for over four years. Merriah was able to graduate into permanent housing from our Emergency Shelter Program the same week the pandemic shutdowns began in the United States. She and her family have now been in their own apartment for almost a year.

Recently we spoke briefly with Merriah on how the pandemic has affected her family and how Family Promise of Orange County has been able to help.

Family Promise of Orange County: Tell us about the week you moved into your apartment right as the pandemic was hitting. How has the pandemic affected you and your family?

Merriah Dotson: The week when the pandemic was hitting, we had luckily already secured housing and were already moving into our own apartment on March 18th. Everything happened so fast and fell into place because of Family Promise’s help. By March 20th we were all moved in and had a home where we could quarantine safely. In a way, the pandemic has been a blessing. We are approaching a year in our apartment and have already been able to renew. Everyone in my family has their own room and we even adopted a new dog to join our family.

FPOC: How was Family Promise of Orange County able to help your family during this time?

MD: Oh wow. Lets begin with the food distribution we were having and supportive services. That was absolutely amazing. Such a huge help because at the time food stamps were not giving extra help and I was not on unemployment. During this whole year Family Promise or Orange County had been there every month with supplies like gas, food, groceries, etc. Even helped me with car repairs and was especially supportive the week when my mom passed away.

FPOC: What is something that Family Promise of Orange County did that stood out to you?

MD: They actually helped me get my car through 1-800CharityCars (a Family Promise partner). During the process, I had to write an essay and out of four other families I was chosen. Family Promise of Orange County assisted me with finding the organization to get this car.

FPOC: What would you like to say to the volunteers, supporters, and staff of Family Promise?

MD: Cyndee is just amazing, Alexis is amazing. There are so many people at the churches and different congregations that impacted my children's lives. Even though we are part of the graduate program we still give back to Family Promise. For me Family Promise is not just an organization, it’s a family. From me personally and my children, thank you to everybody. Keep doing what they do. They change lives everyday. They made a huge change to my life. I want to thank Cyndee for letting my emotional support animal stay with us during the shelter rotation . She stuck up for me and found the way to let him stay.

We are so happy that Merriah and her children are doing so well after such a difficult 2020 for everyone. We are always thrilled when we can keep in touch with our graduates!

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  • Chloe, Communications Intern

Updated: Mar 11

Erin Kaufman has nearly 12 years of experience in developing and implementing fundraising plans for child-focused nonprofits. This includes supervising 1000s of volunteers for multiple projects, managing donor databases, and supervising fundraising events including galas, 5K walks, and seasonal festivals.

Erin became interested in nonprofits as an AmeriCorps volunteer in New York City, shortly after graduating college in 2009. In NYC, Erin co-founded the Clothing Closet, a department at Highbridge Community Life Center which provided professional attire to the disadvantaged residents of the South Bronx. From there, Erin finished out her two-year AmeriCorps Volunteer contract at Blind Children’s Learning Center (BCLC) in Santa Ana as their Volunteer Coordinator. At BCLC, she worked alongside the Development Director to spearhead their 5K walk, as well as various other projects. She has worked in Fund Development ever since.

In her free time, Erin likes to take her dog, Esmeralda, for runs. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Mary’s College of California and currently resides in Foothill Ranch, CA.

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