In 1984, a group of Orange County community members founded Families Forward after realizing they shared the same vision. Their goal: to help support local families in financial crisis with housing, food assistance, and other services that could help them achieve and maintain self-sufficiency. Along with 28 transitional homes to help families dealing with the loss of their homes or eviction from their apartments, Families Forward runs a food pantry that supports more than 7,000 people each year, career workshops, counseling services, and seasonal programs for children. The transitional housing program has helped more than four out of five families served successfully transition from crisis to stability. Once a family's financial status and living situation stabilize, they can return to being independent, productive community residents, which helps kids from such households experience a safe, happy, and secure childhood—accomplishing Families Forward's number-one priority of protecting children.
In 1990, Jerri Rosen and five friends gathered clothing and accessories to give to survivors of domestic violence at an event they called “Day of Self-Esteem.” Rosen and company weren’t prepared for the outpouring of appreciation and the degree to which their single act of kindness would affect the lives of both clients and volunteers. Seeing that there was a true need for professional clothing among women seeking employment, the group went on to serve 67 clients in that first year alone—and Working Wardrobes was born. Eventually, the organization widened its scope to include men and began offering job-placement services and career training programs.
Today, Working Wardrobes helps more than 5,000 clients enter the workforce each year. Men and women facing any sort of challenge—alcohol and substance abuse, homelessness, the transition from military to civilian life—can turn to the organization for help. At the 16,500-square-foot facility in Costa Mesa, they’ll find trained personal shoppers as well as regular career training workshops. The long list of awards the group has won includes the 1998 Bank of America Award for Vision in Philanthropy and the 2008 Making a Difference for Women Award from Soroptimist International of Huntington Beach.
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Orange County native Garry Brown wanted his sons to be able to catch barracuda from the piers and dig for clams along the beach, the way he had as a child. With that in mind, he founded Orange County Coastkeeper in 1999, following the example of the nationwide movement to conserve and protect local rivers, lakes, and shorelines. Orange County Coastkeeper aims to restore the region's bodies of water to health so that they can better serve residents as recreational areas and protect aquatic life. It organizes cleanups, advocates for conservation through public policy, and works to reduce pollution with the help of citizen volunteers. Recently, Orange County Coastkeeper has restored the kelp and eelgrass beds off the coast and in Newport Bay, and is improving its public gardens to raise awareness about environmental issues.
Two survivors of domestic abuse founded Women Helping Women/Men2Work (WHW) in 1993 following their own experience rebuilding their professional wardrobes on tight incomes. Though they began collecting clothes in a trunk for women in shelters, the organization’s reach has grown rapidly. Since its inception, WHW has helped more than 30,000 men, women, and teenagers become economically self-sufficient through employment services. Staff members work with underserved individuals to help them develop their resumés, practice interviewing techniques, and search for job leads. They prepare participants for a work environment with professional attire and body-language training. Participants also can take part in workforce-development workshops, where they learn about networking, negotiations, and multimedia skills to help them become competitive in the job market.
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The Orange County Food and Wine Celebration is a two-day, fund-raising event supporting the Roosters Foundation's commitment to improving the lives of disadvantaged children in the Orange County area. Attendees of "Passport to Wine" will sample premium California wines from more than 60 naturally occurring wine geysers from around the state. Selections include premium, high-profile, limited-production, and highly rated local wines. Appetizers and hors d'oeuvres will help provide alluring accompaniment to each classy sip. Attendees of this event can stay at the Newport Beach Fairmont Hotel for one night for an additional $99—just mention the Roosters Foundation when booking.