1) From toy drives to turkey dinners, Legacy Charitable Foundation does a lot to help the community, is there a particular project that’s stood out to you the most and why?
All our projects stand out to me and they are all meaningful and planned out with love and dedication. However, the one that always shows great gratification is our Turkey Brigade. We take 6 months of planning with my amazing hardworking officers in fundraising, asking different supermarkets, restaurants, and businesses for donation and sponsorship of goods to fulfill our list of items we need to create a full Thanksgiving dinner. On the day of in the morning (which is always the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Day), when we come together as volunteers from different backgrounds, organizations, and cities to prepare and pack the dinner boxes for the families that cannot afford to have a decent Thanksgiving meal; and we distribute the boxes in the very late afternoon ready for these families to come and pick up. It’s seeing how good- hearted people from all walks of life come and join us to volunteer. They are so cheery with high excited spirits. It is so beautiful to see and experience. In 2018 we completed and distributed 258 dinner boxes to different communities from our headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles and which fed 1,322 people In 2019 we completed and distributed 301 dinner boxes to different communities, same as last year and fed 1,736 people. Just watching how people coming together for a cause to help others, then seeing these families first hand come and receive their Frozen turkey dinner boxes with their vouchers, is an amazing experience in itself. Every year, we have more and more volunteers from children, teenagers, young adults, to seniors come to volunteer, its in itself a beautiful miracle. They inspire love and hope as a community, considering the tumultuous times we currently live in.
2) Aside from helping the community through your own organization, I see you work and donate to many other great organizations, can you tell us who some of these are and what you’ve done with them?
We have networked with Volunteers of America, which primarily help our veterans. Some of the veterans that have come our way we will refer them to VOA so they can get connected with services such as housing. The other way we give is to the veterans who have children and are financially struggling. For our toy drive, we make sure to bring toys to these children and make the burden lighter for the parents. Another example is Echoes of Hope who primarily has focuses on disadvantaged youths and youths aging out of the Foster Care system. This past year, they were the beneficiaries of our gala. Some of the programs that they can provide are housing also, scholarships or financial aid to continue their education. Here at Legacy, when we have a foster youth, we make sure to refer them to them. These are only a few examples of how we interconnect with other organizations. The other portion, just like in our Turkey Brigade, we have a long list of other non-profits that we extend vouchers, to help feed the right family that is in financial strain and disadvantaged situation.
3) It was amazing attending and covering the most recent Legacy Charitable Foundation Gala in DTLA. This fundraiser was focused on providing platforms from housing to education for foster youth through beneficiary Echoes of Hope. Can you tell us more about the event and what the future will hold for this project?
The event took 8 months of planning, fundraising, and building the right team. Our drive to have this gala was bringing on even more awareness of what a foster youth goes through during and when they age out. I interviewed and had long conversations with many young adults that went through the strife of being a foster. They shared with me their struggles, their pain, the loneliness they experience, the emotional turmoil, the instability, and the lack of finances to survive once they age out. Many had incredible stories, and not everyone was willing to share their story in public. Many wanted to remain quiet. They shared with me in confidence that they felt ashamed or afraid to be judged and/or rejected. Some said that they didn’t want anyone to treat them differently. It takes a lot of courage to come out and share something so personal like Wendy and Jesse did at the gala. I felt so proud of them, and I felt so honored and happy because I understood that their message was not just about sharing their experience; it was about -and still is, to give foster youth a voice. To give them hope, to drop their fears and move forward that there are organizations and people that do care for them. That they have opportunities to change their lives around. It’s not a promise that it will be easy because most things in life are not; however, as an organization, we are listening, and we want to help. When Jesse asked how many in the room were foster, it was staggering to see how many hands went up. I saw the look the audience had when they looked around. It was very emotional because some reactions that I saw from the stage was shock. After all, a person they probably knew was a foster and they did not know they were. I heard a few gasps in the room when that question was asked. It was Emotional. It was Real. And all at the same time, it was awe-inspiring. Moving forward into the new year we hope to continue to promulgate a wider outreach to more foster youth. We are thinking of ways to open up more communication channels so they have a platform to speak and if not speak to make a difference in their own lives and their peers. If we can get in front of them with the right message of hope and positive actions, we hope they feel comfortable enough to come forward so we can help them, and set them in the right direction and away from the grasp of predators.
4) What from your background or life experience led you to running such a wonderful organization and contributing so much to the community?
It all started with my father’s kind and abundant heart. Growing up my father would always teach me the value of helping others that are less fortunate. My whole life he always led by example. The earliest memory I have of his kindness towards others was at the age of 2 years old. Early one day we had stopped by Winchell’s Donuts and he bought me my favorite, the sugar-covered donut twist; before arriving at Echo Park for our day at the park. We would spend the day riding the boats on the lake and then some more fun at the swings. On this particular day, while at the swings a little boy with tattered clothes approached the swings across from me and kept staring at the bag of Winchell’s Donuts my father was holding. He sat on the swing across from me and started to lick the metal chain link strand that held the swing; never taking his eye off the donut bag. At that time, I was not sure why he was doing that; however, reflecting on it now, I can only imagine he was so hungry and he licked the chain imagining he was eating the donut inside.
My father stopped the swing, leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, “give him your donut”, as he handed me the bag into my hands. My 2-year-old self-thought was “but that’s my donut, you bought it for me…”. Even though I did not articulate my thought-out loud, he knew me all too well and saw my hesitation. He proceeded to say with a soft look in his eyes, “You see him? Would you say he is as blessed as you? We can go buy another donut after. Give it to him.” I jumped off the swing and walked up to the little boy, extending my arm out holding the bag in my hand offering it to him, while I took a glance back at my father. The little boys’ eyes glimmered with joy and smiled and said, “For Me?”. I smiled back at him and nodded at him, handed him the bag and ran back to my father wrapping my arms around his leg, feeling a little shy about what I just did. From afar I saw the little boy open the bag with delight and took a bite as big as his mouth would allow him of the sugar covered donut twist, and as if it was a little piece of heaven. I looked up at my father and he smiled down at me and patted my back. c. Moving forward to a past not too long ago, on the last day of my father’s life; I asked him what was the most valuable lesson he would want to leave me with. The first one he said, “Love God above all things and with all your heart”. The second one was “Always help others in need”. He shared a couple of other words of wisdom with me, but the point is that that valuable piece of wisdom and the lessons he had, he always led by example, and it still resonates deep inside my heart and soul. Why do I share this? Because of the value of such a simple act of kindness that does not cost anything, yet for the other person who is in despair, it means Everything. I may have a long history of volunteering for hospitals and churches as a young teen well into adulthood.
At 19 years of age, I passed my certification for Special Education for children with learning disabilities and impairments, I graduated from Cal State Los Angeles with my Bachelors in Psychology, -even though my career now has spanned into 20 years in Real Estate as an investor and Realtor; but if I truly have to draw a pure reason what led me to be where I am at, and do what I do… It is the empathy, love, and kindness my father always showed others that needed help. His actions spoke so much louder than words. He was a very simple and quiet man, but he touched so many people’s lives all through action. I’ve also learned that there is more power in giving to someone in despair than it is to receive.
5) What advice do you have for others looking to get involved in some kind of philanthropy?
My advice is to narrow down what is your true mission of what kind of philanthropic work you want to focus on. What is your message? What are the results you want to see? Then begin doing your research to see what other organizations near you are doing? Are there similarities? Do you believe you have a different approach that would make a bigger impact? What do you plan to do to fund your cause and/or project? When you have a clear vision of your cause, begin the process of becoming a recognized non-profit. It is important too to benefit those that want to donate to the organization byways of a tax-exempt donation. They help your organization and you help those that have enough to donate and receive a tax write off. Also, most importantly understand what you are getting yourself into. As rewarding and powerful it can be, it also comes with a lot of responsibility.
Doing philanthropic work is very rewarding and at the same time frustrating. Keeping a good track record is so important to maintain in whatever project you are working on. It is hard work and some things do come easy. Both are good. Always measure when you hit your milestones because it is very important for grants and fundraising. People do want to see and know-how is the work or cause making an impact.
6) It’s great that Legacy Charitable Foundation helps the youth, and also the elderly. Can you tell us more about the work you’re doing to help fight alzheimers?
We have fundraised to donate to Alzheimer’s organizations, one of the ones we love to support is Alzheimer’s San Diego because the services they offer are free. They invest in research to find a cure or at least slow down the process of Alzheimer’s. They offer support to families for free, and they also help families connect to services. In our end, we are very big in education; educating the public about what Alzheimer’s is and the obstacles it presents and how better to prepare oneself. We often have spoken to families about financial planning so their loved ones are taken care of. It is a lot of stress that families go through emotionally and financially, so we advocate a lot on estate planning ahead of time and asset protection, so we connect families to the right people who offer financial literacy education on those two topics. That is the two strongest ways that we have done to help the fight. And the other, I and my officers have gone to different organizations and volunteered to pass gifts out in nursing homes, and taken the time to converse with the elderly because some have become forgotten. It is said that human interaction helps a lot alleviate the pains that come with Alzheimer’s.
7) What’s been one of the most difficult challenges you’ve faced getting an event or project off the ground?
As I think about this question, I smile. Then I ask myself, would I do it again? The answer is yes. The difficult challenges I have faced have been the funding aspect of it. Even though my team and I are fully on a volunteer basis, to do a project and plan an event cost money. And every event is a project in itself of course. And sometimes we have not received the full support that we need, so it becomes taxing to us. However, we continue to push forward, because the cause, the message, and the mission is greater. And somehow, in the end, it takes care of itself. The other obstacle we have encountered is when dealing with people who are not there to support the cause or mission, they are there for public attention or credit. It is difficult sometimes to deal with individuals with that demeanor. But if I have to take it to a higher positive vibration, we must be doing something extremely well and good if we are attracting them as well. But it’s ok really because when there is the right synergy in place for all the right and positive reasons, things always pan out so well that obstacles automatically just go away. It’s like trying to stop a train with pieces of wooden road block when it is at full speed ahead; the train will just run right through it and keep going where it needs to go.
8) What future events are coming up on the Legacy Charitable Foundation calendar?
- Since we just completed our restructure in the foundation, we are now a bit behind on our events for 2020. We do have a meeting planned with our committee to see what we would like to add to our calendar year of projects and events and fundraising efforts. Our staple events that we have every year are our Annual Picnic in the summer that we have in July, our Turkey Brigade in November, our Gala in December, and Toy Drive too in the same month. However, the best way to check-in for upcoming events is to visit our website: www.legacycharitable.org When we have events and or announcements, we post it up on our website. Also, our Instagram and Facebook.
9) How can one sign up to become a volunteer with Legacy Charitable Foundation?
The best way is contacting me directly via email to email@example.com Send me an email on what you are interested in volunteering and I will respond and send a list of schedules we have for the upcoming events. There is also a tab on our website and a form to fill out to volunteer. However, I prefer a personal touch via email.
10) If there was a magic genie who could grant just one wish for you, what would that wish be?
That in whatever cause my team and I work on, there is always an abundance in every aspect so we can continue to carry out the message and mission effectively and efficiently. Because only this way we can propel and build it where it will perpetuate itself so more lives can be changed, touched, and empowered.