CASA Success Story: Chloe

Chloe* was eight years old when she came into the juvenile dependency court system.  She had multiple injuries and medical problems; she had suffered regular beatings and periodic starvation from family members who had custody of her. Chloe became a withdrawn and fearful child.

chloeThen CASA of SLO County assigned a volunteer, Phyllis*, who visited Chloe regularly and took her for weekly outings. The park, library and the Children’s Museum were some of Chloe’s favorites. Phyllis met with Chloe’s social worker and foster family and identified some critical needs. She advocated for therapeutic services to address the trauma Chloe had been through in her life and met with other professionals to make sure Chloe got the right treatment.

Chloe soon began to laugh and play as she spent time with Phyllis. Phyllis became a great support to Chloe and continued to support her once she was adopted by her foster family.

Chloe had a voice, thanks to Phyllis, who remains a caring friend.

*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of both the child and CASA volunteer. Photos are courtesy of National CASA and do not portray the children named.

Success Story: Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Sister Vivian and Little Sister Jessa*

  • 12 year old Little sister waited 3 years for a Big Sister who could travel to her small community in North County as well as cope with her challenging personality.
  • Mom said, “I think Jessa is hard to connect with because for so many years she didn’t have anyone she could count on. I just pray this program will help her make good choices and not grow up to get involved with drugs and stuff, like I did.”
  • 33 year old Big Sister, Vivian, brought her dogs along on hikes and beach walks so animal-loving Jessa would feel comfortable getting to know someone new.
  • After 10 successful months of growing friendship and positive mentoring, Jessa began misbehaving during their outings. Vivian felt like the match wasn’t working.
  • Match Support Specialist, Diane, coached Vivian on curtailing Jessa’s tantrums, navigating the “limit-testing” phase of the relationship and continuing to build trust between them.
  • At their one-year “match-a-versary,” Jessa said, “Vivian is the coolest person I know. She really understands me.”

BS Vivian and LS Jessa*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of both the child and volunteer

Food Bank SLO Progress Spotlight

Santa Rosa Academic Academy

21239700572_b53a257704_o“The farmer’s market at Santa Rosa Academic Academy is a great success. The market gives students a hands-on experience learning to make healthy food choices and budget money. Students are more willing to try new fruits and vegetables because of their experience at the farmer’s market. Some of my students are even learning how to prepare the fruits and vegetables at home with their families. Many of our students have limited access to nutritious foods–my favorite part of the farmer’s market is seeing the smiles on their faces when they sample food they haven’t tried before and discover they really like it. I know that the children were very excited to participate in the market and I also know that we have many high needs families at this site, so I am confident that the farmer’s market is making a positive impact in their lives!” Sally Immel- Champions Site Director, Santa Rosa Road Academic Academy

“It’s fun because you get yummy food.” –Audrey, 2nd grade

“You get veggies and carrots, my mom says I’m a carrot man.”–Winston, 2nd grade

“I like the farmer’s market because of all the yummy fruits and vegetables. My favorites from the market are avocados, potatoes, pears, and carrots.”–Walter, 4th grade

CFM 2015 broccoli girl Chicken Salad

Must! Charities Youth Board Continues to Serve in our Community

Throughout the month of April, several members of our youth board volunteered at a few of our sponsored Children’s Farmer’s Market Sites.  In 2015, must! charities partnered with The Food Bank to Create 9 new Children’s Farmer’s Market Sites. Located in high-needs communities, the Children’s Farmer’s Markets serve as a hub where children can learn about nutrition, cooking demonstrations, tastings, and more. This program encourages children to shop for nutritious food, support local farmers, learn and play while reinforcing the importance of healthy eating.

Throughout SLO County, farmer’s markets are plentiful thanks to the increased demand for local produce by a booming population of food conscious consumers. The demand for produce spans all income brackets, yet the abundance of farmer’s markets in our county does not mean increased access to fresh produce for all. For many low-income residents, the cost and accessibility of fresh produce is a deterrent that makes this dietary staple a fleeting luxury.

To address this issue, The Food Bank launched its Children’s Farmer’s Market program in the Spring of 2014. This program provides students in participating schools located in low-income communities with 15 pounds of monthly produce in a farmer’s market setting. Similar to a real farmer’s market, students are provided a reusable bag and mock money, or ‘Food Bank Bucks’ to be able to choose which produce and the amount they would like to take home to share with their families.

Long lasting effects of the Children’s Farmer’s Markets include a change in eating habits toward healthy choices and an increase in appreciation for local farmers and local produce.


Must! Charities Youth Board Volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club

The must! charities youth board volunteered their time with The Boys and Girls Club middle school pilot program in Atascadero. Currently there are 27 youth enrolled in Atascadero’s after school program.

Youth Board Volunteersmust! charities’ youth board consists of high school aged volunteers who shared their time mingling with the middle schoolers and playing organized mixer games and a game of kickball too.  The youth also spent time in the kitchen where they prepared a meal together – there is something to be said about time in the kitchen where everyone seems to gather and is comfortable and relaxed, sharing stories, learning about each other’s favorite bands, while making a “backwards” dinner together of pancakes topped with fruit and whipped cream of course.

All in all our youth board once again walked away with the knowledge that giving of yourself is actually a great & enjoyable way to spend your time.

Open House at Boys & Girls Club Recognizes Members

On Thursday, April 14th our local Boys & Girls Club held their annual Open House.  It was a great turnout with community members, donors, local dignitaries, staff and club families. This was a great way to see what is happening at the Paso Robles Club, and also hear about the Middle School Pilot Program running in Atascadero.

Some of the club’s middle school students were on hand wearing t-shirts that said, “ask me a question” – they were easy to spot in a crowd and very helpful. Tours were given of the club, and there were many hands on activities – including a quiz to test your knowledge of the club’s history in the computer lab.

IMG_4759It was gratifying to see a few kids who have made so much progress be recognized.  Vicki Janssen was present from Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian’s office to present them with awards as well, which was very cool. The kids and families were so proud and thankful to be recognized.

Learn More…

Derby Wine Estates Donates Over $22,000 to must! charities

Derby Wine Estates is a champion of the North County and their commitment to must! charities is no different!  Thank YOU to their entire team for the efforts it takes to donate over $22,000 to must! charities last year!  Read more about their story in our Straight From the Nut House post.

“The North County wine community is unique – we are more of a community.  In the true sense of community.”
–Ray Derby, Owner, Derby Wine Estates