iCARE4Homeless is very thankful to Henry Schein Cares (HSC) for giving us the opportunity to fulfill our mission: Helping the homeless community by improving the health, welfare and personal well-being of those economically disadvantaged and less fortunate.
In the San Diego, California community, the number of homeless children and families is estimated at 8,500. Most of the homeless live in urban areas (e.g. El Cajon, Escondido, and Oceanside) and include seniors, children/young adults, families, single moms, veterans, and the disabled. Because homelessness is an increasingly major issue, iCARE4Homeless strives to help in any way possible.
We received HSC oral hygiene adult & children kits and incorporated them into our iCARE Health Kit, containing the following items: Facial Towel, Shampoo & Conditioner, Toothbrush & Toothpaste, Lotion, Dental Floss, Pair of Socks, Snack Items, Soap bar or body wash, and an Inspirational Motivational Card. Working diligently, we assembled 1,200 iCARE Health Kits. Pictured below are some of the Executive Committee Members: Event Coordinator, Irene Ellery Bautista; Campaign Coordinator, Ninie Bautista; Founder, Alvin Cabrera; and, Campaign Coordinator, Beth Cabrera.
On Saturday, December 29, 2012, at 10 am, we arrived at the St Vincent de Paul Village‘s dining hall for feeding the homeless and situated ourselves near the exit corridor. Outside the kitchen was a line exceeding ~200 people, which circled the entire perimeter of the courtyard in a snake-like maze. Each person, clothed in either a scarf, jacket, or sweater, was carrying bags and bags of items. That day, the homeless ranged from the elderly and disabled to children ages 5-10 years old.
At 10:50am, after 15 minutes of preparation and assembling our station, some of the homeless had already finished eating their meals. They lined up very quickly as soon as they saw the boxes of goodies along the exit corridor. Their eyes lit up as they saw each of us holding a bag containing an assortment of items.
We greeted the first person with a smile and said, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!”. He smiled in distinct awe and wonder. The look on his face was priceless, as he declared, “You guys are amazing! God Bless you all!!” As the minutes passed by, more and more homeless people started to exit the dining hall. We rushed in a frantic manner to give each person their healthcare kit.
By 1:30pm, we succeeded in accomplishing our goal of distributing 1,000 kits! To celebrate our accomplishment, two of our Campaign Coordinators, Geny Cuevas and Beth Cabrera, smile with extreme pride! The most memorable part of the day was the amount of positive comments we received from the homeless individuals:
You are a blessing to all of us. Please continue this next year.
Your hard work will return to all of you in more than one hundred folds.
God Bless all your hearts!
You are so thoughtful! Thanks a million.
All of you are amazing and awesome people!
Wow, I really appreciate this. You guys rock!
You have socks? Thank you so much!!
I really needed that! Thanks again.
Their kind words helped reinforce our belief that we are really making a direct impact on their lives. From the expression on their faces, they were very sincere and appreciated our dedication and hardwork.
Prior to this distribution, on December 23, 2012, iCARE4Homeless traveled abroad to Mandaluyong City, Philippines, to distribute our healthcare kits to the homeless children and orphans in one of their Youth Villages at DSWD Youth Welfare CPD Village in Barangay Addition Hills.
Here we are, setting up our station and unpacking our bags containing our kits, along with snacks and drink items.
Father Wilmer Rosario and Aida E Fresco corresponded with us to ensure we would have a successful event. Seen above is a snapshot of the 200 children in the Youth Village.
Prior to the distribution, Father Rosario led a short prayer to God, and stated that this is a tremendous help to these underprivileged children. Pictured below are some of our Event Coordinators: Irene Ellery Bautista, Lou Agtay, and Joyce Marcelo.
Some of these young adolescents were abused and driven away from their families and respective homes. Some do not have any parents and have been left alone. They do not know what it is like to have a father or mother-like figure in their lives. Instead, they must support themselves. They have no one to turn to for advice or support (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Also, unlike other middle-class children, these adolescents have not had the luxury of enjoying expensive video games, toys, clothing, and food. Their lives are filled with immense responsibilities – manually washing and ironing the clothes, cleaning & organizing the center, washing the dishes, manually gardening, taking care of themselves, and preparing their own food. This situation is not ideal, especially for children ages 5-12 years old.
Pictured above are Joyce Marcelo (left image) and Lou Agtay (right image) distributing the kits to children waiting in line. Pictured below are Joyce Marcelo and Irene Ellery Bautista handing out our food and supplies.
The children fell in line waiting for the distribution. From these pictures, you can see the excitement and wonder in the childrens’ faces as they each received a healthcare kit, a Mamon sponge-cake, and a drink.
Seeing each person revel in excitement as they received their items was very rewarding. Hearing children mutter “May I have one?” or “Maraming Salamat” (Tagalog expression for ‘Thank you so much’) was touching and heartfelt.
Each child was talking to each other in Tagalog, wondering if they could have more. Between their “Ooohs” and “Aaahs,” we could see them smiling to themselves, as they proceeded through the line and down to their chairs.
It is a blessing to be an instrument toward helping the lives of these orphans. No matter how small or large our help is, we know that we have made a positive impact. Our goal was accomplished – to make them smile, so that they could forget about their troubles and move forward with life.
Pictured above are the Campaign/Event Coordinators Lou Agtay, Irene Ellery Bautista, Ninie Bautista, Joyce Marcelo and Aida E Fresco.
iCARE4Homeless would not have been successful in this feat without the tremendous help and support given by the Henry Schein Foundation. We would like to express our sincerest gratitude to the St. Vincent de Paul Village for helping us coordinate and setup our mission. We would also like to thank our other sponsors: Green Suites, Beiersdorf Inc, Nivea, Redmond Trading LLC, , and friends & family that have made this a success!
All the support we have received allowed us to accomplish our mission of helping improve the lives of the homeless community and underprivileged children in San Diego, California, and in Mandaluyong City, Philippines. iCARE4Homeless will continue its mission for the upcoming years.