Jette and I first met December, 2018, when she emailed regarding our annual Adopt-A-Family holiday event. She inquired about ‘adopting’ one of the local needy families on our list, to provide presents and a holiday meal for them. I quickly learned that Jette was no stranger to the world of non-profit! She had read an article in StuNewsLaguna about our little grass roots organization, Tony’s Treehouse. Our story touched her and she signed up for our Adopt program. That was just the beginning of a beautiful relationship between Jette, me and the Treehouse.
Over the next few months, we set a lunch date to meet up at one of her favorite spots in Laguna Niguel. When Sue and I met Jette face to face, we instantly felt like we’d all known each other all our lives. Jette listened intently when we told her all about our small foundation. I was lucky for the opportunity to hear about her experience and kind words of wisdom. I soaked it up! That was just the first of many opportunities I had to see first hand, Jette’s Love and Light. My deepest gratitude Jette, for your strong and steady influence. For your Love of Charity and passion of supporting those behind the scenes. Your loving presence will be dearly missed, your grace and love will Forever BE.
Have fun working ‘hands on’ with your family or co-workers…or donate to the cause to make a difference in our County. This season celebrates Tony’s Treehouse 19th Annual Holiday Adopt Program. We are partnering with SOS (Share Our Selves) of Orange County which is a full-service program providing year-round care and assistance to families in crisis.
This year will be VERY different from previous years due to the necessary COVID protocols, and we are only able to give the family members Gift Cards and Gift Certificates. This is not our preference, we love ‘getting personal’ with toys for the kids and a treat for the parents. However, the gift cards will delight the recipients all the same, as all of the families involved in this years program have been deeply affected by loss of income from the pandemic. You will be given a short bio of your family, their names, ages and interests, favorite stores and retailers that are nearby. Delivery to the OC Fairgrounds is from 9:00AM- 3:00PM Tuesday, December 15th. Please email me directly if you would like to Adopt and shop for a family … Becky@TonysTreehouse.org. If you’d like one of our volunteers to shop and deliver for you, just go to the Donate Now page. A tax receipt will be sent, so please make sure we have your email or mailing address. Thank you greatly!
Here are some pictures from the 2019 Adopt-A-Family event :
The “Mom Squad” of Seal Beach called on their Troops for boots on the ground shopping, wrapping and packing for their Adopted families!
THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR BLESSED HEARTS! Happy Holidays, Your Friends at Tony’s Treehouse
Much Gratitude to all who contributed to our COVID Relief food & supply donations. We asked, you answered. In Orange County, our working poor struggle daily for basic necessities. When the pandemic hit, it got much worse, on a grand scale.
Thousands of families found themselves looking at the real possibility of NO way to provide for their children. That’s when your generous dollars were converted into food, diapers, home staples and other necessities.
Our volunteers delivered over 120 bags/boxes of groceries, 12 diaper boxes & 25 stuffed animals….not bad for our pint-sized charity! Here are some pics of our Treehouse First Responders!
Much gratitude to our Treehouse family and friends!
I’ve listened to this phrase for years, having been born in Texas.
After our 2020 Holiday Adopt A Family efforts and events, I say it LOUD AND PROUD : Bless Your Hearts!
I could write pages of stories that would send you to the Kleenex box. For now, I’ll stick with the beautiful photos.
Below: Due to COVID restrictions, the adoptive family asked for gift cards for groceries and clothing. The Becerra Family made sure they were WELL TAKEN CARE OF for the holidays! And… the children created their own personal greeting cards for their adopted family.
Meet the Becerra Family (Above: Edgar, Erin, Edison and Evelyn) who gave the Adopt A Family event a concerted family effort! Erin and Edgar have raised their children to enjoy charity opportunities and now 8 year old EDISON HAS MOST RECENTLY STARTED his very own La Habra home gardening business called “Herban Farm” IN WHICH HE DONATES 20% OF HIS EARNINGS to Tony’s Treehouse! Stay tuned for an email and opportunity to support this kind young man and his efforts! HERE’S EDISONS WEBSITE : http://www.Neighborhood.Farm
Now more pics:
HERE ARE A FEW OF OUR VOLUNTEER PARTICIPANTS DURING THE 2020 HOLIDAY SEASON.
Donors and boots-on-the-ground volunteers gave money, time and energy creating a bountiful Adopt program. All our adopted families were blessed with hundreds of Holiday gifts thanks to all your efforts. In this our 20th year, we remain deeply grateful for every way our faithful supporters continue our Mission of helping families and youth in need.
Thank you ALL!
The Seal Beach “Mom Squad” gathered together wrapping all the gifts they the purchased for their Adoptive family (2019)
Flint making his contribution with his handmade note card
Volunteer Day at the Park
Way to go Carmen!
toys toys toys
Suzanne the Master Wrapper
It’s fun playing Santa!
Roger Tomalas with son Ryan and daughter in law, Amy
The first time I met Natalie, in late 2000, she was just a little dot of a girl with big, solemn brown eyes. A group of Tony’s Treehouse volunteers had gathered outside the home she shared with her mother and 5 siblings. Our intention that weekend was to help the family spruce up their home. The goal was to reach out and tame some of the chaos that had settled in as a function of depression. My first thought upon arrival was “poor kids, they must think we’re some invading army of do-gooders”.
Becky calmly gave each of us the jobs she felt we were best suited for. Not an easy task when your volunteer staff has an age range from little kids to seniors! I remember feeling awkward and uncomfortable with the idea of going through someone’s home, and needed more than a nudge or two from Becky before I was ready to settle into a steady “work” mode. At that time I was still pretty cynical about this whole “helping people” thing. I didn’t believe back then that lending a helping hand would result long term change. I did the work simply because I love my friend Becky, and she said to do it.
We all worked hard that weekend, the volunteers and this family of 5 were pulled together with a common goal. What seemed initially to be a huge task was whittled away, and fatigue soothed with laughter and liberal amounts of pizza. By the time we finished Natalie and her siblings were comfortable with us being there and their quietness dissolved into play and giggles. They certainly seemed to enjoy the ‘new’ look of the home, which was wonderful to see. I felt like much less of an invader, and began to enjoy this “helping” thing. Of course, still a confirmed cynic, I thought the “new look” of the place wouldn’t last and I told Becky it was a temporary fix. Wise woman that she is, she proved me wrong.
She kept this family within the Treehouse “fold”, and continued to do her unconditional love magic.
When Sue partnered with Becky and Tony’s Treehouse, she added her own exuberant influence and encouragement. Becky and Sue kept things going, and graciously met whatever needs they could as they presented themselves. They were also able to “make it happen”, no matter if money was low, donations scant, all while juggling busy work schedules in addition to running a Non-Profit. Many times it was just about being present and being that “rock” of stability that children need when their world at home is in chaos.
Natalie and her siblings were welcome to stop by Becky and Sue’s after school to “hang out”, and enjoy words of encouragement. It was wonderful to see how true caring, friendship, a school backpack, and some snacks could affect the lives of the kids in such a positive way.
Recently, I was lucky enough to speak with Natalie. She is now an adult, a student, married, with her own family. She is an articulate, intelligent young woman, and it was through her that I learned the importance of those seemly small acts of love & influence.
Natalie vividly recalls that first “tidy up” day. She said she had a range of emotions, embarrassment, excitement, hope, and happiness. What I learned was that she and her siblings were so happy with their home after the volunteers left that they resolved to maintain it, all by themselves if need be. Although they were young, they teamed up to clean, do laundry, and chores. Sometimes they even skipped school tostay home and clean the house.
Natalie told me about how special it was to be able to pop over to Becky & Sue’s for dill pickles and Pepsi after school. Of feeling like their house was something of a sanctuary. A slice of the calm, orderly home environment that she craved. She told me that their support was instrumental in getting her through those rough high school years when peer pressure can be so torturous. She told me their caring attention influenced her in wonderfully positive ways.
As a young married woman, Natalie lived for a time in an area of high density housing where families were often affected by social, emotional and economic struggles. It was there she met children facing the same type of challenges she dealt with growing up. She did not shy away from those kids. She embraced their needs, offering them sandwiches, caring attention and the sanctuary of her home. Although she has moved away from the area now, and has children of her own, she still keeps in touch with those kids, checking in with them and some of their parents too. She has encouraged them, influenced them and served her community in an invaluable way.
What Becky & Sue, and Tony’s Treehouse did for Natalie as she was growing up, and the way Natalie then continued to be a positive light in the world, is the reason we roll up our sleeves and do what we do. It is why we ask for donations, contributions, and volunteer hours. It is the reason every dollar gathered makes a difference in both a person’s momentary need, but less obviously, and much more importantly, in their life’s journey. I can honestly see, in just this one lovely young woman, why we need to toss those pebbles of love and care into the pond. They don’t just sink to the bottom unheeded, they continue to cast ripples outward, wide enough to embrace and influence others in a positive way. To me this is more than enough ‘interest’ on a dollar spent, it is a loving investment in the future!
Jorge, Alessandro,Becky 2017 Portland Rose Garden
Sue, Leo, Becky, Natalie 2018
2019 Visit to Portland with Natalie, Becky, Alessandro, Leo and Jorge
A note from Becky:
A SPECIAL THANKS to Doug and Margie Burt of Mission Viejo, for introducing Natalie and her family to Tony’s Treehouse. Doug and Margie (pictured below) built a loving foundation with this entire family and I’m so very grateful you asked me to be a part of the Joy! Yes, it takes a Village, and what a beautiful Village it is! Hugs to the entire Burt Family for their 19 years of Treehouse support!
Please visit again in May 2019 for our Featured Mother’s Day article about one of our Treehouse success stories. We’ll be highlighting Natalie Azcarate O’Campo and family… we originally met little Natalie and her siblings in 2001, and she was about 9 years old Now age 26 she is raising her 2 little boys in Portland OR. She’ll be sharing how the Treehouse assisted herself and siblings in her younger years. Natalie is a perfect example of how Tony’s Treehouse continues to nurture generational relationships with many of the individuals we’ve helped over our 19 years of service.
Natalie with husband Jorge and their son, Alessandro, 2017
Many have asked, “how do you locate the families you help?” Answer : Tony’s Treehouse partner’s with local Orange County Agencies and Non Profit groups who identify families with the greatest need.
“Share Our Selves” of Orange County, is one such organization who lovingly provides comprehensive safety net services to the homeless and low-income population of Orange County, CA, since it’s inception in 1970.
To all who participated, on every level, THANK YOU so very much for your time, effort and dollars to give our Adopted families an abundant Holiday. Nothing happens without volunteers!
L to R : Liz Courselle, Amy Tomalas, Ryan Tomalas, Lynn Tomalas, Sue Bottassi, Roger Tomalas, Adam Tomalas
Photo, LA Times 12.19.2018
Sue Bottassi, Ryan and Amy Tomalas at Orange County Fairgrounds, Costa Mesa Volunteer event for “Share OurSelves”
Have fun working ‘hands on’ with your family or co-workers…or donate to the cause to make a difference in our County.
This season celebrates Tony’s Treehouse 18th Annual Holiday Adopt Program. We are partnering with SOS (Share Our Selves) of Orange County which is a full-service program providing year-round care and assistance to families in crisis.
How It Works: Volunteers identify needy households of our community, prepare their personal packets, family story and wish lists… you are provided all their information, and shop, wrap and deliver to the Orange County Fairgrounds (we can assist with drop off as well).
Let’s provide these deserving souls a beautiful Holiday Season. Thanks for your support!
Roger Tomalas Family, Becky, Sue, Carmen at SOS Gift Delivery site
Below is our initial story and plead for assistance for this family. We are still taking donations, and up to date we’ve collected $1715 for them, thanks to generous friends and kind hearted strangers! WE ARE SMALL BUT MIGHTY! Thanks to all who’ve helped with dollars and prayers. November 29, 2018
Nov 11, 2018 …. Our California Wildfires have destroyed yet another family home of dear Treehouse supporters. In the little Northern CA town of Paradise, it was last night the Lindsay family discovered, at KOA base camp, that their home, camper trailer and car were all lost in the fires. Steve and Teri Lindsay, along with their 3 children, had just moved into the home and in process of securing insurance (which is a difficult task now in Nor Cal fire zones). The policy was not yet in effect – THEY HAVE NO INSURANCE COVERAGE to pay for their temp living arrangements, personal items or to rebuild what they have lost.
What makes this even more devastating are the losses suffered with their disabled daughter – Megan’s life depends on her medical supplies and Cpac machine and has mobility only with her electric wheel chair. Thank goodness Megan’s sweet service dog, Giata, survived & is able to comfort her during this time.
For over 13 years, the Lindsay’s have come to the aid of Tony’s Treehouse, helping with fundraisers, using Megan’s wheelchair van to transport donations, giving time and money to help our cause. Let’s do what we can to show them that they are not alone, people care and will answer our call for help in the face of tragedy. ANY size donation will help.
Tax deductible contributions can be made through this website or you can mail a check to the address below, please reference the Lindsay Family Fund. Time is of the essence. The family and I are grateful for your support.