The Junior League of Orange County, CA (JLOCC) has been training volunteers and solving issues in Orange County for over 60 years. During this time, we have changed the landscape of nonprofit and charitable partnerships in Orange County. Below are just a few of our efforts from the 1990s to today.
In the 1990’s, JLOCC assisted with the establishment and furnishing of the Girls Hope Home in Fullerton, which houses girls between the ages of nine and seventeen, and staff members. JLOCC also arranged fun, educational outings for the girls, assisted with a mentor program, and continued to make improvements to the home for the duration of the project.
Boys Hope/Girls Hope of California help academically capable children who are “at-risk” by placing them in a value-centered, family-like home, and providing them with a quality education through college. JLOCC also coordinated outings for CASA.
Girls Inc. (formerly: Girls Clubs of America) is a national nonprofit youth organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. JLOCC teamed up with Girls Inc. to implement a program for pregnancy prevention. Girls Inc. provides teen girls access to positive role models to help them get a realistic picture of opportunities available in their future. JLOCC assisted by implementing a program that included conducting career-oriented outings and activities, becoming role models, participating in community projects with the girls, and evaluating the effectiveness of each component of this program.
SEEK was a collaborative effort between JLOCC and the Girls and Boys Clubs of Garden Grove and the Boys and Girls Club of Capistrano Valley, to create a model multi-faceted project offering innovative programs and comprehensive services for the entire family.
The Child Abuse Services Team (CAST) program, in conjunction with the Orangewood Foundation, brought together the multiple social and legal entities involved in the processing of reported cases of sexual abuse of a child under one roof to lessen the trauma of the child victims. Also through the efforts of trained JLOCC and community volunteers, homeless and nearly homeless families in Orange County were guided through a comprehensive program that provided intervention directed at preventing chronic homelessness.
In collaboration with Camp Fire Boys and Girls, the Prime Time Literacy program brought the joy of reading and the importance of literacy to at-risk children. JLOCC read to children in homeless and battered women’s shelters throughout Orange County, with each child receiving a book of their own to keep. Annual book drives organized by JLOCC were held in local middle schools, collecting over 25,000 children’s books for the Camp Fire literacy programs.
In partnership with the Children’s Bureau of Southern California, Mission Hospital and the Child Abuse Prevention Council, the Center was established for families to have a resource for education, referral and support services.
JLOCC members planned a series of mentoring programs in which JLOCC women acted as role models and mentors to girls between the ages of 9 and 11 who are at risk for teen pregnancy. This program paired volunteers with girls to see the benefits and opportunities that result from making positive choices and postponing parenting in favor of continued education. This mentoring program allowed JLOCC women to act as role models and mentors to at-risk boys and girls, ages 11-14. This program identified for the kids the variety of career opportunities available to them through continued education and goal setting.
Project for Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy (PPAP) was a multi-faceted program that targeted children in middle schools and provided strategies that would help delay parenthood. The program included a classroom curriculum, marketing materials, and “Baby Think It Over” dolls.
JLOCC worked with the Orangewood Foundation to assist foster children in making the transition from foster care to independent living. The Business Mentor portion of the program assisted the youth in finding paid, part-time jobs and matching the youth with business mentors. “Independent Living” workshops also were offered to help foster children gain skills necessary to live on their own.
In the 2000s, JLOCC members were trained by Free Arts for Abused Children of Orange County to work with children in residential care facilities, family shelters, and at the dependency of the court. Volunteers provided hands-on opportunities to bring the therapeutic power of dance, drama, writing, music, painting, and other avenues of creativity to abused, abandoned, and neglected children to encourage them to channel their emotions, release their anger and develop positive self-esteem. JLOCC working with the staff at Olive Crest, a group of residential facilities for abused, abandoned and neglected children, JLOCC planned and sponsored activities for two “adopted” homes. Volunteers used their creativity and resources to plan activities and outings for the children or teens of the selected homes and also planned and executed a home improvement project for each house.
Located in San Clemente, Laura’s House is a home for abused women and children. JLOCC members worked with the children and teens at Laura’s House to escape the trials of life at an emergency shelter for abused women by planning interactive events. Volunteers planned activities to reinforce to the children and teens that life does exist without violence. In addition, members planned and participated in a Children’s Center improvement project.
Sustaining Members have partnered with the Orangewood Foundation to reach out to teenagers emancipating from Orange County’s foster care system. Over 300 teens emancipate yearly, and many lack the support system to help them finish high school and plan their future. To ease the transition into independent living, the Bear Hugs and Bear Necessities program provides emancipated teens with a duffel bag full of essentials, such as toiletries, towels, a blanket, stationery supplies, an inspirational book, calling cards, maps, a flashlight, and an alarm clock. In addition, the Bear Hugs and Bear Necessities program supports the Orangewood Resource Center (ORC) through their Independent Living Program (ILP) and the Rising Tide Community Program to provide support services focusing on employment, education, health, and housing. JLOCC members volunteer at ILP events such as “Independent City,” which educates teens on the basic skills they need to live in the outside world.
Canyon Acres Children’s Services is the only facility in Orange or surrounding counties serving the most severely abused and emotionally troubled children between the ages of six to twelve. It is here that the children are provided with the highest level of care and therapeutic treatment. Canyon Acres also provides a home to children who suffer from a variety of emotional and psychological disorders. These disorders are due to family histories of child abuse, substance abuse, family violence and mental illness. JLOCC volunteers spent time with the children building strong relationships with the kids and really getting to know them. JLOCC members planned monthly events for the kids in each home.
The YMCA Youth Services Corps program is designed to instill a life-long pattern of volunteerism in youth deemed at high risk for adolescent pregnancy. JLOCC members mentored youth to plan, implemented and evaluated community service projects. Approximately 45 adolescents were enrolled in the program, ranging in age from 12-15 years old. These youth have been selected for the program due to failing grades or risk of retention. JLOCC members met with the students monthly to coordinate each community service project then selected a day within two weeks of the planning meeting to implement the project. Projects were selected based on a connection to the curriculum in the classroom as well as a benefit to the community.
Casa Teresa houses homeless pregnant women and new mothers while providing training in infant care, parenting, and job skills. JLOCC established a mentoring program through Casa Teresa, partnering the new mothers of Casa Teresa with trained mentors to assist in the transition from the structured environment of Casa Teresa back into the community.
JLOCC partnered with Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center (OCCTAC) to help develop a Strategic Child Abuse Prevention Plan and a Resource Library focused on child abuse prevention for families, educators and therapists working with the Santa Ana community. JLOCC members worked hands-on with the children and families at monthly community workshops and received training on a variety of topics, such as child abuse factors, cultural understanding, and the benefits of therapeutic arts.
JLOCC has teamed up with Girls Inc. to help administer and enhance the Action for Safety Program, a self-defense and violence prevention course for girls 9-11 years old, designed to teach girls negotiation, assertiveness and self defense skills to protect them from abuse and harassment. JLOCC volunteers also will develop a community awareness program for child abuse prevention.
In partnership with the Orange County Bar Foundation, JLOCC worked with the Higher Education Mentoring Program, serving approximately 40 Latina girls in their junior and senior years of high school in the Santa Ana area. The program is designed to lend educational support so these promising young women can graduate from high school, enter college and prepare for professional careers. JLOCC members provided tutoring in the areas of math and science and assisted with the college application and personal essay process. JLOCC also helped plan monthly workshops for the parents/guardians and program participants. Workshop topics ranged from fostering excellent study skills to applying for financial aid. In addition, program participants toured local colleges and had an annual Career Day Workshop where they could explore various career paths and participate in resume writing workshops and mock interviews. At the end of the year, JLOCC sponsored a graduation event where seniors of the program received college starter kits with school supplies and dorm essentials for their next steps in their journey onto higher education.
“Bridges to Higher Education” was a program offered through Orangewood Foundation, was initiated to increase high school graduation rates and admission to college or trade school among dependent foster youth participants. The program matched students in grades 10 – 12 with mentors in the community. The mentors were advocates on the students’ behalf, with teachers, social workers, schools, care givers, etc. as well as being an advocate for education and exploring options after high school. JLOCC members planned 5-8 workshops throughout the year for program participants and mentors. Workshop topics included the following: Better Studying Habits, Test-Taking Tips, focus on the students’ goals of graduating high school and seeking opportunities to continue their post-secondary education. JLOCC also works with Orangewood staff to organize educational field trips and tours of local colleges and universities.
Orangewood Foundation’s Mentoring Program partnered with JLOCC to provide educational workshops geared towards life skills and topics for foster youth involved with the Orangewood program. The project hosted workshops that explored topics designed to support and encourage the young adults through critical periods of their lives.
JLOCC partnered with CASA again to work with youth who are approaching emancipation from the foster care system. CASA and the JLOCC realize that these struggling teens face their greatest challenges after they emancipate and their volunteer advocates also need significant support from CASA as they help these youths with the transition. CASA and JLOCC’s goal is to enhance the support and resources currently provided to youth before emancipation, while also developing a program that will continue that support post-emancipation. Monthly training sessions for youth and volunteer advocates were planned, as well as, coordinated with local employers to find employment resources and opportunities for transitioning youths. A support system between emancipated youth and volunteer advocates was established to aid communication between meetings and training sessions.
In partnership with Olive Crest, JLOCC assists in the development of kinship support services devoted to providing support for foster youth placed in the homes of relative caregivers. Approximately 60% of the children taken out of their homes are placed with relative caregivers, such as aunts, uncles, grandparents, or older siblings. Relative caregivers often have special needs linked to age, poverty, poor health, social isolation, or inadequate access to information and services. The Kinship program, supported by JLOCC, hosts events that address the unique needs of each caregiver and child by providing referrals to basic services and resources, a support system of other caregivers, and a break from daily stresses.
JLOCC has partnered with Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) to significantly expand the CHOC Reading Club in an effort to support literacy. Open to all children participating in their “Well Visit” check-ups, this program provides each patient a new book to encourage a love of reading and boost reading skills. Doctors use the books that are provided as teaching tools for the child during the exam and to speak with parents regarding the importance of reading daily with their child. JLOCC members work hands-on in the waiting areas of CHOC to build a passion for reading by organizing “Reading Day” parties with activities and fun which is revolved around book themes. JLOCC members support CHOC’s staff in continuing to sustain their program by assisting in building the Reading Program’s library with organized book drives in the Orange County area.
Crittenton Services for Children & Families has developed the Connect Program to help promote and foster long-term mentoring relationships with the young women it serves. The Connect Program, which began over 12 years ago, tasks volunteers with visiting the same cottage residents on a regular basis. By the time adolescent girls are transferred to Crittenton, they are in dire need of positive role models, healthy relationships, and trust. Providing volunteers to consistently interact with these girls on a regular basis is an important part of their development. The JLOCC hosts monthly activities and a holiday celebration to help the girls establish relationships and a sense of holiday tradition. Several Crittenton clients have been identified as especially motivated to go to college but are unable to meet their full potential due in part to the lack of life skills and personalized mentorship relationships available to them. In 2012, JLOCC launched a new targeted Life Skills Training and Mentorship Program at Crittenton’s Fullerton campus for a select group of adolescent females, some of whom are pregnant or have given birth, and develop a Young Entrepreneurs Program designed to educate Crittenton clients about business development and finance. JLOCC members also collect or facilitate donations of goods to support the young women at Crittenton.
During the 2010s, JLOCC partnered with the Blind Children’s Learning Center. The Blind Children’s Learning Center (“BCLC”) provides early intervention, education and services for blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind children and their families to empower independence. JLOCC will embark on a multi-faceted partnership with BCLC to increase the impact of the current services by: (1) developing an extensive sports program to help students strengthen their balance and mobility and bolster their confidence; (2) expanding the current music program at BCLC, which would increase the children’s exposure to and appreciation of music; (3) improving on already established “Parents’ Night(s) Out;” and (4) developing a parent support group to include educational programs in an emotionally supportive environment.
Established in 1983, Second Harvest Food Bank’s mission is to eliminate hunger in Orange County. In response to the growing concern of childhood hunger, Second Harvest Food Bank established the Kids Cafe program providing after-school snacks and summer meals, a time when low-income and poverty level children often go without, as well as nutrition education activities to underprivileged children in Orange County. The Backpack program, nationally sponsored by Feeding America, will serve 144 youth in 3 locations – Santa Ana, Westminster and Anaheim. During the duration of the project, the program will expand to 15 locations feeding 700 children. JLOCC members assist in coordinating food drives, assembling backpacks filled with healthy food and nutrition education handouts, and coordinating training events. In 2012 Second Harvest Food Bank established the mobile Adopt-a-Pantry program. JLOCC provided funds to stock the mobile pantry and distribute the food to families in Orange County.
In partnership with The Raise Foundation, JLOCC worked to prevent child abuse by strengthening families. Through Resources in Motion (RIM), The Raise Foundation provides critical services and basic needs assistance including parenting skills classes, nutrition classes, and counseling, via a mobile unit to families who live in neighborhoods with limited or no access to these services and are at high risk for domestic violence and child abuse. JLOCC joined with RIM to expand the current services by assisting The Raise Foundation in organizing and facilitating weekend “Family Fun Days” in these at-risk neighborhoods.
The Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County (“DSF”) serves people with Down syndrome through educational, social and support programs delivered in partnership with individuals, families, professionals and communities. DSF focuses on parental support, educational best practices and advocacy with the goal of building a world in which people with Down syndrome live as valued members of their communities. JLOCC will partner with DSF to implement new services to possibly include a lending library, teen support center and parent support group.
Due in large part to the resort industry in Anaheim, Orange County has become a hub of human trafficking in California. Much of this trafficking is domestic with victims relocated to Orange County from other parts of the United States. Foster children are particularly vulnerable to human traffickers in that they often lack a stable home life and support system. The issue of human trafficking is still being researched and is in the early stages of being addressed in Orange County and currently the most impactful effort JLOCC could make is furthering public awareness and education. JLOCC will expand existing community-based education and communication programs about human trafficking in Orange County and how to identify victims. This training will be developed with input from and delivered to health care workers, social workers, law enforcement, teachers, child care workers, and JLOCC members