The holidays are a time when family and friends get together to acknowledge how fortunate it is to have someone that cares at your side. The gifts, the food and merry cheer are a happy side note that is synonymous with this time of year.
However, for some among us, celebrating the holidays is a concept foreign if there is no family, no food, and no opportunity to feel as if someone – anyone – cares.
At Crittenton Services for Children and Families (CSCF) we have made a commitment to demonstrate to the families and children we serve that Crittenton does care. In fact, during the holidays, we reach out to as many community partners as we can to assist us in proving to our clients that “good” people still exist in the world. If it were not for the added generosity shown during the holiday season by CSCF donors, volunteers, or community partners this concept would be difficult to prove.
For the “good” people out there that have helped us over the years a special thanks. Proving to clients that there is hope in humanity and in the world is a challenge, but with the kindheartedness Crittenton supporters continue to show makes it that much easier for our clients to believe.
Once such community partner that has made an effort to include CSCF in their community outreach and holiday donation efforts is Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc – Alpha Iota Chapter, based out of California State University Long Beach (CSULB).
Since 2009 Lambda Theta Phi, or the Long Beach Lambdas, have made a commitment to help collect and distribute meals to Crittenton’s Wraparound Program families on Thanksgiving.
“In Wraparound our motto is we do ‘whatever it takes’ in order to ensure that our families are successful in life and in their communities,” said Cesar Salgado, Wraparound Services Program Director, CSCF, “With the help of Lambda Theta Phi we are able to assist and bring some joy to families in need. For this we are thankful to our community partners that help make a day of “thanks” a reality that otherwise would not be possible.
Salgado is also an alumnus of the fraternity and graduate of CSULB. He recalls that he first started volunteering in Lambda Theta Phi’s Thanksgiving Outreach Project in 2002. This project made such an impression on Salgado that he has continued to participate as an alumnus volunteer for more than a decade.
“When I first volunteered I remember delivering a meal to a Latino family with 8 or 10 family members, that were low-income, and living in a one bedroom apartment. The family was very appreciative and continued to thank me while I was in their home,” said Salgado, “The one interaction I’ll never forget was the 7-year-old boy who asked what was in the food basket that I brought, and when I told him that it was a turkey he jumped up and down saying, ‘Wow – I’m going to have a turkey for the first time’, at that point I just knew that I had to keep volunteering.”
When Salgado first came to CSCF in 2006 as an employee of the Wraparound Services Program he realized that he provided Wraparound family services to the same kind of families whom he was delivering Thanksgiving meals to since 2002, and wondered if the two organizations would ever work together. Due to Salgado’s history with the fraternity the opportunity for both CSCF and Lambda Theta Phi to make a connection was made possible, and have since continued the yearly collaboration.
With the help of this fraternity chapter Crittenton makes Thanksgiving dinner possible to families in our Wraparound Services Program. Thanksgiving food baskets are donated and delivered throughout Southern California to low-income families with demonstrated need. This year alone, nearly 130 Crittenton families received a food basket that included: one turkey (that feeds 8-10 people per household), mashed potatoes, stuffing, various side dishes, rolls, a pie, and a 2 liter drink.
However, the fraternity should receive much more credit than just providing the food basket itself. The Lambda Theta Phi Thanksgiving Outreach Project starts even before Thanksgiving, as many man-hours are required to reach out to corporate sponsors, donors and others that can fulfill every food basket application received. Not to mention any last-minute fundraisers hosted in order to purchase additional food requests, the unpaid mileage provided by the fraternity members, and volunteer management required to coordinate the face-to-face delivery of food baskets on Thanksgiving Eve or early Thanksgiving Day.
“I want to give a special thanks to the Gentlemen of Lamba Theta Phi – you guys rock! You personally delivered 130 food baskets to needy families in our Wraparound program, making a huge difference in their lives. You make me proud to be an alum of CSULB! Go Beach,” said Joyce Capelle, CEO, CSCF.
To Lambda Theta Phi this yearly philanthropic initiative is merely one of the many projects they accomplish that fulfills both their historical and organizational mission. The CSULB chapter of the fraternity was established in 1997 and since then has stayed true to their goal in promoting scholarship, Latin unity, respect for all cultures and brotherhood. They have set out to accomplish these goals through responsible political and social action in their surrounding communities by providing social services, positive role models, as well as to enhance the image of the Latino culture.
At the national level Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. is considered the first and largest Latin fraternity in the United States. According to the their website the fraternity was founded on December 1, 1975 at Kean College in Union, New Jersey. This Greek-letter organization became the first Latino collegiate fraternity in the country whose ideals for their members were of academic excellence; brotherhood; leadership; Latino unity; and service.
Today, Lambda Theta Phi has grown exponentially and covers a territory of 24 states, including California, which boasts the largest chapter membership. Lambda Theta Phi has 21 fraternity chapters on the West Coast based out of several collegiate campuses including at: the University of California, the California State University, the University of Southern California, and the University of San Francisco.
“I think it’s an important event for us to continue with every year because of how great an experience it is for all people involved. Not only are the families grateful for receiving the meals, but we always get such positive feedback from our volunteers about the experience and seeing what kind of difference they made,” said David Morales, Lambda Theta Phi, Latin Fraternity Inc. and CSULB alumnus,” As passionate as we are about this event, it has almost become our duty to make it bigger and better every year and a truly rewarding experience to continually be a part of. The Thanksgiving Outreach is one of the many bonds that we share with each other as a fraternity, no matter how much time has passed and where life has taken us.”
Crittenton Services for Children and Families of Southern California (CSCF) is a non-profit social services agency whose mission is to heal the wounds of abuse and neglect; strengthen families; and help troubled adolescents reach their full potential. Established and incorporated in 1966 Crittenton has a highly trained workforce operating 24 hours a day / 7 days a week providing comprehensive counseling, medical, and other support services to the clients in our care. We provide a full array of residential, in-home, community based, wraparound, mental health, foster care, and adoption services with a service planning area throughout Southern California that covers Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego Counties.