Friday, July 25, 2014

Around South County: On A Day Of Service & A Sense of Gratitude

 Today was a Day of Service around South County.   It began for me with a morning of Service at St. Timothy's Food Pantry  as the Food Pantry took stock of the bi-weekly delivery by the Second Harvest Food Bank and geared up for a week of service to the clients.    As the day was finished, a legally blind man was brought to the pantry to be registered to be served.

I continued onward as I joined the Michael Chang Tennis Classic.  This is an event spreaheaded by Tennis Great Michael Chang thru his family foundation to support HomeAid Orange County.   I was part of the volunteer contingent on behalf of HomeAid OC that was the featured charity.  

HomeAid OC is the charity art of the Builders Industry Associatoin whose avowed mission is the end homelessness in Orange County.  I had a chance to have some insightful discussions with a member of the Board of HomeAid OC and was very pleased to see that HomeAid Chapters are continually being launched throughout the United States.   One of the recent initiatives they've begun is to create "care kits" for the homeless.    I took a few and was able to hand them off as I returned to South County.

Today reminded me of this affirmation: 

Affirmation Challenge, Day 5 [Gratitude]: "I'm grateful for everything in my life."



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Around South County: ; Laguna Niguel's Day @ the Orange County Fair

2014 OC Fair | Summer Starts Here | July 11 - August 10  

Today was Laguna Niguel Day at the Orange County Fair.    Member of the City Council, the American Legion Post 281 along with Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Community Members joined the opening ceremony at 12:30 PM sharp and thereafter went out to join a day of fun and excitment at the Fair with fun rides and an opportunity to visits the Vendor Pavilions as they showcased some rather interesting and exciting products on display.   

It was quite a hot day--and the Cooling Stations were quite a welcome site for all the patrons.   It will continue onward through August 10.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Around Town in South County: A Roundtable w/the CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank

On Tuesday July 15,  we at "Outsiders"  joined a roundtable with the CEO of Second Harvest of Orange County at Polly's in Laguna Hills.    As she shared updates on the initiatives, the statistics that was most impressive was how they distributed 20 Million Pounds of Food during 2013 which translated into around 15-16 Million Meals..

They have launched a number of initiatives for 2014.   One very exciting initiative is the Edible Farm that is a 5-Acre Farm on the grounds of the Great Park.    Some One hundred Fifty Thousand pounds of food has been harvested from the Farm.    Kids Cafe and School Pantry programs are some of the more innovative ways in which children with free or reduced meal are able to receive a meal.  They have identified the pilot schools which will be launched this year.  It was gratifying to see the broad public-private coalition that is backing the initiatives.    Walmart, for instance, is funding a new truck to help with some of the outreach efforts at schools.

Beyond the on-going ground work, another exciting initiative is WastenotOC to be able to gather up food that is not used by Restaurants to be utilized by organizations including Second Harvest Food Bank.  Beyond the initaitives, what was quite impressive to note was how they were able to retire their debt and were working on a long-term strategic reserve.  We look forward to sharing updates on the work of Second Harvest Food Bank here and urge all to contact Second Harvest Food Bank to assess opportunities to contribute.   

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Around Town in Laguna Niguel: Brief Reflections On the 2014 37th Run in the Park

July 4 2014 is now history.   Throughout the United States, families got together for barbeque, fireworks lit up the sky as families got a chance to catch up and relax.    Politico featured a "slice of history" as it remembered how  Presidents of the United States celebrated the 4th of July.   South Orange County was no exception to this rule.

For me, the day began at approximately 6:30 AM when I reported to the Crown Valley YMCA for duty on what was a cloudy day.  The YMCA was abuzz with volunteers and runners as all checked in and geared up for the 37th Run in the Park.   .   Along with a number of other volunteers, we were assigned to the Water Duty Station and set out to join the station.

The race began at 7:30 AM and the 5K/10K runners came running down.   A number of leading luminaries of the City including members of the Council and other civic leaders ran--and some were quite intense.    The runners were done by around 10:00 AM--at which time we all converged upon the Soccer Fields of Crown Valley Park to join the Chamber of Commerce Pancake Breakfast and be privy to local businesses showcasing their services.  It could not get better than this:   One had an opportunity to serve, get a nice breakfast, get a nice massage and also got a chance to see a Community coming together.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Around Town in South County: Personal Thoughts on the Eve of July 4

On the eve of the July 4 Weekend,  I wanted to begin this with a tribute to a wonderful organization:  Welcome Inn.   Welcome Inn is a interfaith network of faith organizations throughout South Orange County that for over 20 years has served the homeless in South Orange County by serving them an evening dinner.    They are on the Web @

I had a chance to join them yesterday to support their efforts.   Unfortunately, they were given visits by local law enforcement because they did not want them to be "visible" as a new Farmers Market was launched near and the sight of the homeless was a challenge.    The suffering of the people was ever so evident--even though they were so thankful for the meal they received that was prepared with such beauty and precision by the team at St. Timothy's Catholic Parish.    I did my utmost to elevate a sense of dignity as best as I could as I called one of these unfortunate souls "Sir".  He asked me not to call him Sir which especially struck me.    All deserve a sense of dignity and self-respect and the Grand Canyon that seems to exist is ever so.

I also have the privilege to serve on the staff at St. Timothy's Food Pantry.  Earlier that day,   I had a chance to chat with one of our clients.    He shared the fact that he was homeless and was living in his car.    He had initially asked me about getting directions to a facility in Laguna Beach to take a shower.   I asked him whether he was successful--he said he was.  I asked why he went all the way to Laguna Beach and not to the YMCA.  He said the wait at Mission Viejo YMCA took too long and I suggested that he visits the Crown Valley YMCA--I hope he does.

Tomorrow is also another milestone as my local City, Laguna Niguel, celebrates 4th of July with the Annual "Run in the Park" and a subsequent Pancake Breakfast sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.  I look forward to joining the celebrations as I will be helping to staff this event.    

A lot to be thankful we remember all who are less fortunate .  

Happy 4th of July to all!!!