Thanksgiving at Crittenton is a special time of year for us as it serves as a reminder of what we are all about – serving those that need us the most.
Despite jam-packed schedules of daily duties, paperwork, and job responsibilities Crittenton Services for Children and Families (CSCF) staff prepare and distribute food, meals, and tokens of appreciation to roughly 400 clients enrolled in various CSCF programs that include Residential Treatment Services, Youth Shelter Program, Foster Care Program and Wraparound Services Program.
“The holidays are a special time at Crittenton as we are witness to the ‘spirit of giving’ embodied by our staff throughout the agency,” said Martha Jasso, Director of Communications, CSCF, “What makes Thanksgiving at Crittenton so special is being able to witness firsthand how appreciative our clients are of the staff for going the extra mile. For so many of our clients the celebration of Thanksgiving is not a possibility, so it is for this and many other reasons that our staff take the celebration of Thanksgiving to heart.”
Celebrating the meaning of Thanksgiving and showing our children and families that we care is a week long process, but staffers don’t mind ‘giving’ a little extra of themselves in order to create a memorable celebration.
CSCF Residential Services and Youth Shelter Program staff start their shifts extra early on Thanksgiving day (some as early as 3:00 AM) to prepare and cook nearly 130 traditional home cooked Thanksgiving meals for the teenagers and toddlers staying with us that do not have a safe home to go to, or that don’t have family to share this day with.
All staff pitch in by cleaning, decorating, chopping, mixing, cooking and doing whatever else it takes in order to create a Thanksgiving feast that serves as a starter to an evening filled with laughter and friendship.
One of the highlights of Crittenton’s Thanksgiving Feast is hearing what our kids our thankful for. As each is given an opportunity to speak to a room of their peers what resonates the most is hearing our clients say they are thankful for things that most take for granted. Among the top things CSCF youth were most thankful for include: “being able to obtain medical care or other health related services that they did not have access to before arriving at Crittenton”; “having a safe place to stay during the night”; “interacting with adults who want the best for them”; and of course the statement that makes preparing for this day well worth the effort, “meeting volunteers and others that help them believe in people again”.
Our annual Thanksgiving Feast is not the only celebration that takes place, in fact, our Foster Care staff and Wraparound Services staff do their part to thank and acknowledge those clients we serve in the community.
For the past three years Foster Care staff personally delivers pumpkin pies to Crittenton Foster Care parents as a token of appreciation for opening up their homes to Crittenton youth in need. This year a total of 50 pumpkin pies were delivered by Crittenton Foster Care social workers throughout Southern California.
After the pie delivery nearly 40 bottles of Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider were also delivered to our Foster Care youth enrolled in Crittenton’s Independent Living Program. Our Foster Care staff strongly believes that it is important to show young adults in our Foster Care program that they are not forgotten and that they are warmly remembered and cared about at Crittenton.
“Crittenton Foster Care staff truly wants to show how much we appreciate and care for our Foster Care parents and youth in our programs,” said Ana Eykel, Vice President of Foster Care, CSCF, “Thanksgiving is just another wonderful opportunity to ‘give’ to those we are glad to have in our lives by personally going to each home and thanking or acknowledging how special they are to us.”
In addition to the festivities implemented by Residential Services, Youth Shelter, and Foster Care Programs our Wraparound Services Program also geared up for the Crittenton Thanksgiving celebration. Each year our Wraparound Services Program partners with Lambda Theta Phi a college fraternity based out of California State University, Long Beach to help with the Thanksgiving tradition.
With the help of this fraternity Crittenton makes Thanksgiving dinner possible to families in our Wraparound Services Program. Thanksgiving food baskets are donated and delivered throughout Los Angeles County 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.
“In Wraparound are 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.”
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.