Friends, local dignitaries and employees gathered at Summit House Restaurant in Fullerton, Calif. this past Veterans Day to help Crittenton Service for Children and Families honor five employees who themselves are veterans.
“This was a very special event which was a little different than our usual ‘youth focused’ celebrations. But at the end of the day our events have a similar feel that will always reference our mission of helping to empower all those that cross our path,” said Martha Jasso, Director of Communications, CSCF, “It was a privilege to get the opportunity to honor veterans, and in particular, it brings Crittenton great pride to know that our fellow colleagues, are pillars of leadership and believers in public service. Our agency is a veteran friendly employer and we encourage all non-profits to give veterans a chance in the hiring process. Trust us you won’t regret it.”
Among the people in the room helping us honor those that have served were also Crittenton employees who have or had a loved one serve in the US military. Ellen Parsons a longtime Crittenton staffer was moved by the day’s festivities. She also happens to be the mother of Jacob Ray Parsons who is currently serving in the US Army.
“Out of all the the celebrations we’ve had over the years I have to say that this one was perhaps the most intimate one and the one that meant the most to me,” said Ellen Parsons, Director of Client Services, CSCF Residential Treatment Center, “Didn’t realize I was going to get this emotional but hard not to when I remember my son Jacob. I’m just so proud of him.”
One of the highlights of the luncheon was hearing the speech by Chief Wolf Knabe of the Fullerton and Brea Fire Department, and who also happens to be a Crittenton Board Member.
What was so moving about Chief Knabe’s speech was that it was so heartfelt and honest. He revealed that he too is a veteran that served in the Marine Corps and that as a child he was in foster care.
One of the reasons that attracted Chief Knabe in helping Crittenton as a board member is that the agency helps out juvenile justice and foster care youth in crisis, and has a mission in assisting those in the community who are most vulnerable to violence, neglect, or exploitation. He mentions that earlier in his youth his life trajectory could have gone awry had it not been for his choice to join the Marines.
It was when Chief Knabe was serving in the Marines that he felt for the first time in his life he had a family. In fact, it was during this time period that he also met his wife and the Marine Corps helped him gain skill sets that helped him transition to a career in public service as a firefighter.
“I have been so grateful to our country for giving me so much when I didn’t have much when I started out in life. I made it a life’s purpose to give back to a country that gave me a sense of self-worth,” said Chief Knabe, “It’s one of the reasons why I say that we need to take care of our country, that we should always give back, and that we should always share a little bit of whatever our talent is, or always give something special of ourselves to our community.”
As Chief Knabe’s keynote ended he mentioned that he is humbled to have been asked by Crittenton to help honor fellow veterans, and that he hopes sharing his life experience and message of doing your best; treating others with respect; and being accountable for your actions served a good purpose.
The first Crittenton employee and veteran to be honored at the event was Lance Allen. He has been employed at Crittenton for nearly a year and a half and quickly rose the ranks in our operations department. He is now Crittenton’s IT Manager and prior to working with us Allen had served five years in the Marine Corps as a Ground Electronics Technician based in Hawaii, and also did a 7-month stint in Afghanistan.
He had just graduated from high school at 17-years-old when he signed up for the Marine Corps, and by 22-years-old he successfully completed his duty and quickly transitioned into an IT career at Crittenton.
Allen mentioned that he didn’t know exactly how he wanted to serve our country. He didn’t necessarily see himself in infantry, but he did see himself as support services for an infantry division. He figured that this was how he could use his skills sets, and it was the Marine Corps that helped him hone his natural ability to work with and quench his fascination with electrical equipment.
“Even though I was too young to really remember the accounts of that fateful day, but the aftermath of 9/11 really did make an impact on me. I felt compelled to support our country in anyway I could and joining the military was my way of helping,” said Allen.
At the same time of being a full-time employee at Crittenton he also juggles the responsibility of being a young father of two boys, a 5-month-old and a 2-year-old, and is well on his way of earning his Associates degree from Coastline Community College in Computer Networking Security this coming Spring.
“I like my new mission and what this agency stands for. It’s a good feeling to know that I’m helping those that help young people in their darkest hour. The goals of Crittenton align with my own view as a parent, as a human being, and as a patriot. Helping out and respecting each other is what I believe in,” said Allen.
On behalf of Crittenton we’d like to thank all veterans and those currently serving for the sacrifices and the journey you go through to protect our nation. And to those that assisted us in honoring our veterans thank you and it includes:
- Jesse Becerra, Veterans of Foreign Wars Representative (15 years, Army Infantry)
- Marty Burbank, Attorney and Counselor at The Law Offices of Marty Burbank (13 years, Navy Medical Deep Sea Diver)
- Wolfgang Knabe, Chief for Fullerton and Brea Fire Departments (3 years, Marine Corps Artillery)
- Christine Terry, Crittenton Board Chair (Wife of Army Veteran Vernon Terry)
- Shaneisha Willis, Crittenton’s Executive Assistant (8 years, Army Administrative Specialist)
- Honorable Doug Chaffee, Mayor of Fullerton
- Congressman Ed Royce’s Office
- California State Senator Bob Huff’s Office
- Beverly’s Best Bakery
- Summit House Restaurant
- Wine Country Gift Baskets
- Listing of all Veterans Honored
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.