Love is in the air. But it’s not just for couples. An early Valentine event Feb. 4, organized by Wildomar-based nonprofit Community Outreach Ministry, showed love for Angel Tree families. The event supporting at-risk youth and their families was hosted by Wellness & More in Murrieta and featured lunch, screenings and workshops focusing on physical and emotional health.
The A+ Dental Vista Community Mobile Clinic provided free dental assessments and fluoride treatments for 21 patients, performing 13 children’s cleanings and 18 sealants. Two adults were able to make appointments to be seen at the Vista Community Clinic in Lake Elsinore.
VCC staff member Cristina Urquiza also provided educational materials and performed 15 blood pressure screenings on adult caretakers.
Lunch was catered by Maria’s Street Tacos. Free clothing was available for those in need. Splash Medics provided a water safety program.
Author and creative writing instructor Liz Gonzales of Uptown Word and Arts led a story writing workshop. Gonzales is widely published and teaches for Angel’s Gate Cultural Center and University of California Los Angeles Extension Writers Program.
Cynthia Duran, a craft and sewing expert for 20 years, led a crafts workshop using decoupage and fabric strips to create unique book covers.
The two noted that teaching these valuable skills fosters creativity and boosts self-esteem, allowing the children to explore and see their potential.
Caregivers, meanwhile, attended a unique workshop “Breaking the Cycle of Incarceration Model,” written by Community Outreach Ministry co-founder Mona Davies with her husband Bob. The program partners with Angel Tree, a program of Prison Fellowship, to reach southwest Riverside County youth whose parent or parents are incarcerated.
In addition to the research-driven, community-based interventions model, Davies also provided a valuable resource list of community support systems and after-school enrichment services.
“This was intentionally developed to help prevent youth from involvement in the juvenile justice system and to help reduce recidivism and to help tear down the cradle-to-prison pipeline,” Davies said.
Kathleen McCall, a mental health and drug and alcohol recovery counselor, was also on hand to provide support to caregivers.
Jennifer Hernandez, an independent distributor of Herbalife and the owner of Wellness and More, said she was happy to provide her facility for the event.
“If someone is doing something for the community, I always open up my place to them,” Hernandez said.
Community Outreach Ministry’s motto is “Giving at-risk kids a second chance to be winners and champions.” The Valentine Celebration was just one of several events Community Outreach Ministry puts on throughout the year for these local at-risk youth. In addition to summer camp, the youth and their families are invited to an annual Angel Tree Christmas party.
Davies gave special thanks to Natalie Morgan of Builders of Faith, an Angel Tree coordinator from Temecula and Kathryn Veenhuizen of Farmers Insurance for organizing and donating clothing to the families and to Janice Hare of Mountain View Church in Wildomar for volunteering with Community Outreach Ministry year-round and reaching out to Angel Tree families.
Community Outreach Ministry and Builders of Faith is planning an Angel Tree Easter Celebration Sunday, April 2 at the Temecula Community Center from 1-4 p.m. For more information, email [email protected] or call (951) 698-7650. Sponsors, donations and scholarships for summer camp are needed and welcomed.