We go into their home and we teach them how to cook, budget and shop. We teach them how to launder their clothes. We teach them how to take the bus, and how to get back and forth to different things in the community.
I think personally it would give me a great feeling to know that Beth had a place she could call her home long after we were gone -- and I know that is true of other parents that we know.
The neatest thing about living in my own place is cause I love it here... I can do things on my own.
My dream was always living in a house and I got that dream, and I made that dream come true.
I really like it. This is the best place I ever lived, and my Dad was so happy when we found out about this program and found this place.
“I’m still in touch with my foster family,” says Brandon Osborn. “I was actually just on the phone with one of my sisters. I try and keep in touch with my mother from day to day.”
Brandon is an outgoing 27 year old. This afternoon he stands tall and flashes a smile as he looks around his new apartment in East Long Beach. Six days ago he moved out on his own for the first time. He was able to financially accomplish this rite of passage due to the affordability of his new HOPE home.
It is difficult in today’s housing climate for low-income Californians like Brandon to find stable, affordable housing. As of September 2016, the median price for a one bedroom apartment in Long Beach was $2,155. At $10.50 minimum wage a renter would be required to work 154 hours a week to afford this rent and pay no more than 30% of their income on housing. Where a person can find affordable housing it is often not in a “healthy neighborhood,” defined as a safe community with adequate health promoting resources like parks, bike paths, healthy food retailers, recreation centers and activities.
The task of finding a home can be even more discouraging for people with developmental disabilities who face more daily challenges than their peers without disabilities. According to research, they are at a higher risk for a variety of medical conditions that can limit their ability to accomplish acts of daily living. They are more likely to be abused. They report having fewer people in their lives who offer emotional support. They have more difficulty accessing transportation. And finally, most are underemployed, despite their ability, desire, and willingness to work.
But Brandon is not the discouraging type.
He has worked hard over the years to get to where he is today, yet he knows he’s had plenty of help along the way. Brandon grew up in the foster care system. He’ll admit that he is one of the lucky ones. “I had the privilege to not be bounced around from foster home to foster home as a child,” he says, “I lived with the same family that took me in from 3 months old to 16.”
This doesn’t mean it was always easy for him. For a period during his childhood he began displaying negative and aggressive behavior toward other children. It almost forced him to be removed from the home where he had lived the entirety of his life.
He gives credit to his long time foster mother and father who worked with the system and fought to keep him in the family. In the end, they were successful, which meant so much to Brandon to be able to remain with the foster siblings he grew up with. “I owe my family a lot of gratitude. I am very humbled.”
As an adult now, he thinks back on his childhood growing up in the City of Carson. Besides the joy of hanging out in the park or playing basketball in front of his house, he remembers the challenges of school, doing homework, and reading. Brandon recalls how he had not always applied himself academically, and at times that got him into trouble—although he says that slowly changed. “I learned at a certain point that there was more to life than being a class clown.”
If school was a challenge his adoptive family seemed to be his solace. “There is no reason to put the whole foster label on them. If you’re with a family from being a baby, to a teenager, to an adult--that’s considered your family.”
His father had a particularly strong influence on his life, and Brandon’s success at maintaining gainful employment during his adulthood can be directly tied to this strong bond. Currently Brandon is a custodian at the Harbor Regional Center. He has held this job for the last 7 years. Brandon remembers the moment when he was 17 and his dad finally told him it was time to get a job. ”He’s like: I’m going to throw you out there, but I know you can do it.”
His dad always made sure to give him guidance prior to asking Brandon to take on new challenges. “He told me step by step, song by song, what to do in life. My dad is no longer with us, because he’s deceased, but he would want me to now achieve my greatness, catch it, go after it.”
Brandon is eternally positive. It’s contagious to be around. He wears a big smile on his face every time you see him. “Living on my own now, I’m excited about conquering the world. Everybody says, the world is a mean place, and it will knock you down, and it will keep you there if you let it. But I’m headstrong, I know what I want. I see where I’m going, and I have what it takes to make ends meet. I’m going to strive for what I want and just make everything happen. I follow a simple rule, ‘Plan your work, work your plan.’ That’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
He knows that living on his own comes with a lot of new responsibilities. “You have to be an adult first,” he says. “You have to put off buying a brand new pair of expensive Jordans [shoes]. Me, I opt for the cheaper Converse Chucks. Sometimes you just need to wait till your next paycheck to buy things you want, because bills have to come first.”
For now he is enjoying settling into his new home. All of his belongings have finally been moved in, and he is in the process of ordering a dresser and a bed frame. He proudly shows off his TV that was just set up in his bedroom. His clothes are hung neatly in the closet.
For Brandon, his life plan is coming together. He enjoys hanging out with friends and relatives. He is working full time and is now living on his own. He even glows with excitement when he talks about the future and starting to get more involved with his passion of wrestling.
It has been a long road for Brandon, but he is confident he’s on the right path. “For the people that have been there for me along the way, I just have to say thank you.”
This is a story of HOPE. We strive to empower our residents to achieve independence and follow their dreams. In Brandon we see the realization of that mission.
If you would like to sponsor an item for Brandon or other HOPE residents that will help turn their houses into homes, please consider making a contribution through our HOPE HELPS Gift Catalog.
There was something special about HOPE’s 9th Annual Charity Golf & Tennis Classic. From the start, the cool coastal air and frenetic energy of its players set a positive tone for the day’s festivities that raised more than $175K to provide additional affordable, stable homes for people with developmental disabilities. This goal could not have been accomplished without our sponsors, participants, and volunteers. Special recognition is in order for California Mentor who contributed to the event at the highest $15,000 - Titanium Level, and who continue to be an essential partner in our mission.
The theme of this year’s event was Creating Independence. Funds raised at the tournament will go directly to providing housing that empowers those who are most vulnerable in our society to become valuable, contributing members of their communities. HOPE believes that housing is foundational in life. When our residents are no longer forced to worry about where they will live and sleep, their energies and savings are freed up to focus on other essential aspects of their lives, like work, school, volunteering, or fostering relationships.
Months of planning culminated in the day’s three pronged event that was once again emceed by ABC7’s Rob Fukuzaki. The tournament hosted golfers, tennis players and dinner guests from the greater Los Angeles region. Rob, having supported the HOPE tournament for the previous 8 years, was quick to point out why this event is so important. “We are all here today to help HOPE Create Independence in the lives of people with developmental disabilities,” he said. “What could be more important than that?”
After registration, attendees mingled with colleagues and chatted with players they had not seen since the previous year’s tournament. The locations of both competitions were at two of Palos Verdes Peninsula’s high-end sports venues—Peninsula Racquet Club and Ocean Trails at Trump National. Sweeping Pacific Ocean views accompanied players throughout the afternoon and into the evening’s dinner that was held at Vista Terrace, a beautiful Mediterranean Chateau style ballroom. “This is such a beautiful venue,” said Mike Bush of Brown & Brown of California. “It really is a classy setting for this event that just keeps getting better each year.”
During the day, both tournaments saw stiff completion. Kelly Evans grabbed the top prize in tennis by a three point margin, and perennial golf tournament contenders from Integrated Life (CJ Nelson, Phillip Avila, John Betham, and Joseph De Leon) held a decisive seven stroke lead to end the last round of golf.
As the sun began to set and the afternoon’s competition came to a conclusion, the mood of participants was enthusiastic as they entered the Vista Terrace for the evening’s activities. “This event is always so well organized,” said Chris Hoffe, a golfer from So Cal Office Technologies who has participated in the past few tournaments. “I can’t wait for next year!”
Board President, Bob Irlen, opened the award ceremony and tournament dinner by reminding those in attendance about the importance of the day. “Nonprofits receive only so much support from the government for housing, and that’s why we need you—it is imperative that the private sector and individuals who care about our cause get involved to help in building the affordable housing we need. And the need is great. That’s why our annual Tournament plays such an important role in sustaining our mission.”
Later in the ceremony our guest speaker and HOPE resident, Deaka McClain, shared her story with attendees about the challenges she faced as a young woman with cerebral palsy struggling to find permanent, affordable housing while attempting to also pursue her education. Deaka’s speech emphasized that because of HOPE, and the stability that comes along with her new home, she was not only able to obtain her bachelor’s degree, but also a master’s degree in public policy and administration. She now plans to use her education to pursue a career in public service. The room was left inspired, and her words led to a standing ovation by the moved audience.
Another notable highlight from the evening was HOPE Executive Director, Kristin Marin, honoring two longtime advocates and tournament volunteers, Mercedes Lowery and Colleen Mock. During their time as Harbor Regional Center employees, they have given steadfast support to our cause, and their work has been integral in the organization’s expansive growth during the last 20 years. To thank them for their commitment to our mission, HOPE named two of its newest College to Career housing sites the Mercedes Lowery Hall and Colleen Mock Hall. This was a fitting tribute for such generous benefactors.
As the evening concluded, HOPE staff felt the warm glow of its mission being boosted by the goodwill and charitable spirit of its community. HOPE does not walk alone, but is part of a larger initiative to ensure that people with developmental disabilities are given the opportunities to experience independence and enjoy full, meaningful, and contributing lives.
Plato famously said, “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life.” At HOPE we could not agree more. We believe that education is an important contributor to our resident’s ability to become increasingly self-reliant.
Beyond the philosophic, there is countless economic evidence that education is key to financial stability and greater independence. According to the Economic Report of the President, published in 2015, “College graduates make about twice as much every year as high school grads.” At HOPE we recognize the unique challenges that those we serve face when entering the job market. In turn, we are proud to be part of a partnership that strives to remove as many of these barriers as possible and puts in place supports to give our residents the very best chances at success.
That is why in 2010, with the vision and direction of Harbor Regional Center and California MENTOR, HOPE helped to develop our College to Career (C2C) program that offers dorm like housing near the campus of Long Beach City College. Students receive a full range of both on-campus and residential supports by service providers who offer both academic counseling and also assistance with independent living skills.
Of course our residents are no different from any student; each person brings their unique inspiration to why they are pursuing education as a pathway to independence. For Taylor Smith, a C2C enrollee in Long Beach, it was his interest in public safety that started him down the path to hopefully becoming a peace officer one day. He is currently studying administrative justice due to his strong impulse to protect and serve his community.
He admits that moving to his HOPE home was a big first step toward independent living. He is up for the challenge, and knows it will be hard work. But Taylor is also still a college student who just enjoys the opportunity the C2C program provides to socialize with his peers in a nonjudgmental environment. In the end, he is glad that this program has given him the chance to make proud the people he loves in his life.
His dorm mate, Morris Mordado, also sees his time in the program as instrumental to learning how to become independent and take better care of himself. “Living on my own is a big difference, cooking for myself is completely new. Before I moved out I lived with my family,” he shares.
Currently Morris is majoring in graphic design and radio / television production. After he graduates he wants to work in a production studio. He has a clear goal to one day be employed in the entertainment industry where he will hopefully do design, art, editing, or cinematography.
Lastly, Javier Reyes Jr. echoes a similar sentiment about living on his own for the first time. “I have to shop for myself, clean for myself, and do laundry.” He says that this transition process has been aided by observing his friends in order to learn their routines. He is currently studying horticulture and hopes to get a job in that industry after graduating.
California MENTOR director, Roxanne Carter, tells us though that it isn’t always easy for C2C students to find the major that interests them and leads to academic success. Javier, she shares, was not doing well early in the program as an art major. Things turned around after his counselor dug deeper and helped him to identify what he was really most passionate about studying: he did enjoy drawing, but he really loved creating images of plants. From those conversations, they discovered that he also had a knack for science. From that point on Javier found greater success after switching to become a horticulture major.
So now he is working on combining his passion for horticulture and art. Javier is really excited about a suggestion made by one C2C service provider to consider creating children’s books based on plants. He hopes to one day work on cartoons and video games that contain characters that are fruits & vegetables. At the moment he says, he is just focusing on living independently and getting his homework done.
HOPE is inspired everyday by the will-power of our residents to continually strive for more full, involved, and impactful lives. Education is essential to each of their journeys toward greater independence, and with the generosity of our donors, volunteers, and advocates, HOPE and our partners will be there to support them every step of the way.
HOPE’s 9th Annual Charity Golf & Tennis Classic is right around the corner on Tuesday, October 25th. For those involved in this premier fundraising event, excitement is building as we countdown to the morning’s shotgun start and opening serves. Once again, Rob Fukuzaki, weekday sports anchor for ABC7 Eyewitness News and host of Sports Zone and Rams Primetime Saturday night with Jay Mohr will be our tournament’s Master of Ceremonies.
This tournament raises substantial income to fund the acquisition and renovation of new HOPE homes and the daily operations of our nonprofit organization. It is also an outstanding opportunity for HOPE to bring together donors, colleagues, volunteers, vendors, and corporate clients to celebrate our impact in the community…and participate in the some friendly competition for a good cause!
This year’s tournament theme is “Creating Independence,” and proceeds raised through sponsorships, advertisements, player & dinner registrations, opportunity drawing tickets, and donations will be used to renovate several newly acquired HOPE homes. Most homes require upgrades to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, while many also require special remodeling to meet the specific needs of our residents. Proceeds from the Tournament help us to do just that. Through creating safe, stable, and affordable housing options, which are tailor made to the needs of our residents, HOPE is empowering people with developmental disabilities to live as independently as possible-- increasing their quality of life, supporting their long-term security, and assisting them in becoming contributing members of their community.
To match the importance of this event, the fundraising goal that is set for this year’s tournament is high. HOPE is confident that with the continued support our outstanding sponsors and donors, our goal of $160,000 will be met and surpassed. We are happy to announce that with six weeks remaining we have reached 75% of this financial target. The biggest impact is made though the generosity of our Sponsors where we are able to truly raise the funds we need to do the work we do. There are a variety of sponsorship packages available, with benefits ranging from preferred seating and starting holes, VIP gifts, marketing and media exposure, and more. To secure your sponsorship please visit our event homepage at www.hope-homes/tournament/.
Players will have a fun and challenging day of competition at Ocean Trails, at Trump National, and the Peninsula Racquet Club in Palos Verdes. Check-in for golf players open at 9:00 AM and for tennis players at 11:00 AM. Secure your registration as an individual here. Spots are limited so don’t wait!
There are many other ways to participate in this important day; tournament dinner tickets can be purchased here, with the evening’s festivities starting at 5:30 PM. Join us for an night of delicious food, great company, and a program that will include stories of courage and success, as HOPE residents are empowered to reach their potential.
This year’s Annual Journal & Tournament Guide will feature our annual report, moving stories on the achievements of HOPE residents, and stunning photos of our annual impact. Purchasing an ad will expose your brand to HOPE constituents throughout the year-- well after the tournament's conclusion. Please visit our event homepage at www.hope-homes/tournament/ to purchase an ad this year.
WIN A VACATION
Opportunity drawing tickets can also be bought to test your luck at winning one of three amazing vacations to Orlando, New York City, or Pebble Beach. Grab your tickets today! For trip and contest details visit our opportunity drawing page.
Lastly, for those wanting to assist in coordinating this meaningful and exciting event, consider joining our day-of volunteer support team. Where else will you have an opportunity to have fun, spend a Tuesday looking at amazing ocean views, AND make a difference in the lives of people with developmental disabilities? There are morning, afternoon, and evening shifts to accommodate your availability. Register here to tell us how you'd like to help!
For questions or comments about the 9th Annual Charity Golf & Tennis Classic email email@example.com or call toll-free (877) 311-HOPE. See you in October!
HOPE's Opera in the Garden was a celebration of its accomplishments in the area of providing stable, affordable homes for people with developmental disabilities. With a special performance by opera singer, Rebekah Rota, this event raised funds to support the operational and housing expenses at HOPE. A special thank you to all of our donors and Patricia Del Monico for her support in hosting this event.