The Children's Lifesaving Foundation provides a day of pampering and relaxation
for homeless mothers and children.
By Heidi Manteuffel/Special to The Malibu Times
Mothers forced to raise their families in shelters and in severe poverty don't have the liberty to buy anything but what they need to keep their family surviving. The thought of a beauty day would not even enter their heads when they possibly don't even have enough money to buy clothes for their children. Yet the Children's Lifesaving Foundation made the unimaginable possible for some homeless mothers and their families by treating them to a spa and beauty day during a three-day weekend retreat in Malibu.
On Saturday, the Children's Lifesaving Foundation had its annual "Goddess Spa & Beauty Day" at the Circle X Ranch in north Malibu. The event was part of a three-day retreat for mothers and families the organization supports through the Enrichment Camp Program and its Adopt-A-Family program throughout the year.
"You can tell when people have a genuine interest as they do with Children's Lifesaving Foundation," said Veronica Mills, counselor at the Circle X Ranch. "They do things that people wouldn't realize because they sincerely want to help the families involved."
Mothers of homeless families and shelter-bound youth were invited to come to Circle X Ranch and enjoy a day of pampering and relaxation. The mothers were treated to massages, manicures and yoga, as well as a catered lunch by Chameleon and live music by the band, Cocktails with Joey. The moms also received new summer clothes and a take-home bag filled with gifts from sponsors for the three-day event.
One of the mothers at the event, Jovita Carrillo, has been supported and encouraged by CLF for 11 years. Her son started coming to camp when he was young, and in later years worked as a counselor at the camp. The CLF also gave her son a scholarship to help get him through school.
"They would pick the kids up in busloads from the shelter and let them experience what it was like to be a kid," Carrillo said.
Mario Arevallo, the son of CLF's first Adopt-A-Family in 1993, tells how his family first came to be involved with the organization.
"My parents got caught [using] drugs, and they were gong to split us up in foster homes and Maria [D'Angelo, CLF's founder] got word of it," Arevallo said. "While living with our aunt, Maria helped us get a nice place, furniture, a car-everything. And she's kept up with us until now."
The main programs of Children's Lifesaving Foundation include Adopt-A-Family, Camp Enrichment Programs, and Project Angel, along with the newest program, Project Imagination. Camp Enrichment is currently going on at the ranch, and runs from April until the end of September. The children are involved in various activities such as arts and crafts, hiking, as well as learning about Chumash culture. Mills said Camp Enrichment also takes the children to the beach. "A lot of them may live 12 miles from the beach, but may have never been there. We give them the chance to play in the water and to just be there. They really enjoy this opportunity."
Candidates for the Adopt-A-Family program, D'Angelo said, are actually found through the Camp Enrichment Program, evaluated, and if approved are chosen for the program.
"Parents must go through the course of action of finding their new home, which we advise on and approve. Parents must have jobs and be drug and alcohol-free, and committed to changing and improving the lives of their family for the better," D'Angelo explained.
Once the family can more fully support themselves, the foundation still provides extra support from time to time if needed.
Karen Blish, the mother of one of the earlier families CLF adopted, has been able to move north of Los Angeles and raise her family on her own. She commented, however, that D'Angelo would call to see how her family is doing, and often at the times she needed help.
Not only this, but the families are invited to outings throughout the year. "Maria has fun events for the mothers," Carrillo said. "She invites us to the House of Blues and last year she took us to Raging Waters."
When asked why she saw the need to create this organization, D'Angelo said it came from her time volunteering at shelters in Los Angeles. D'Angelo met children in shelters who had never had a physical.
"I just started taking children to different physicals, met different doctors, a wonderful doctor from Ventura made it possible for his clinics do to both physicals and surgeries for the children," D'Angelo said.
More information about the CLF can be obtained by calling 310.457.6166 or by logging onto www.childrenslifesaving.org