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On Pause…

Our Treehouse Family is grieving a deep loss.  My beloved nephew, Steven Hernandez, graduated from this physical life on Dec 20, 2021. He was 34. We are on Pause for now… all photos of the Adopt A Family gift deliveries will be posted at a later date. Thank you for your loving support during this difficult time.

In honor of his big, loving life, we’ve started the Steven Hernandez Memorial Fund. Stay tuned for details.

Walk for the Treehouse, El Dorado Park, 2012
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“JETTE FORWARD” Initiative BLASTS OFF!

Meet Briann of HERE WE GROW gardens, our 1st JETTE FORWARD recipient!

Spring of 2020, Briann Battle began growing her own vegetables, fruit, herbs, which quickly turned into “Here We Grow” Gardens. It wasn’t long before she earned an invitation to the Farmers Pop-Up at Prosperity Market, Los Angeles.

HERE IS HER “WHY”…

Briann is bringing this labor of love FULL CIRCLE. Monthly Bri sets up her market booth with Prosperity Market in the areas that serve her UNDERSERVED community and she is giving back in LARGE CAPACITY, participating in produce Give-Aways at inner-city Los Angeles locations. Despite the cities vast wealth, 1 in 8 people in Los Angeles have said they can’t find fresh produce in their neighborhoods, and 1 in 5 can’t afford it. TOGETHER, WITH BRIANN, WE CAN CREATE REAL AND *LASTING* CHANGE by getting fresh produce to these communities, which equals better health, mental and physical.

And this is only the beginning… the JETTE FORWARD initiative will highlight selected individuals to be gifted financial assistance.

See how you’re helping their dream TAKE FLIGHT!

My Story…… by Briann Battle

If someone told me, as a young girl, that I would be the resilient woman and mother I am today, I would probably have said “yea right!”. Have you ever heard the term “the rose that grew from concrete”? It couldn’t be more fitting for my life’s story! There are so many details and events that have played a major role in shaping who I am today, and I’d honestly need a book to explain it all. To make it as simple as possible, let’s just say that God has chosen me for a specific time in each season of my life.  

My name is Briann Battle (in my business I go by “Botanically Bri”), I am 30 years old, and a mother of five beautiful boys. Raylion Jr. age 12, Brycen (who devastatingly passed away from SIDS at just 3 months old in 2014), Da’Ray age 6, Ryian age 4, and new to the crew Bryant, who is now 3 months old. Looking at their angelic faces is a constant reminder to be thankful of the blessings I have and the challenges I have overcome in life.

Living in Compton CA, from childhood to adulthood, can affect your outlook on life, and limit the opportunities available to you. I learned to make use of my obstacles and I imagined them as levels to be unlocked. Early in life, I learned that you are appointed a designated family, and then you extend your heart & hand to form your “tribe”.

Kindness, compassion, and generosity have helped my family tremendously during the times in our lives when we needed it the most. Becky, founder & director of “Tony’s Treehouse” has been an important person in my story. Homeless, off work from a workplace injury, and afraid of losing custody of me (then age 16), my father attended a fundraiser for homeless families hosted at San Anita racetrack. I met Becky at that event and learned about ‘Tony’s Treehouse”. That day we gained another branch of our “tribe” and her love & support over the years.

The “Tony’s Treehouse” organization has given so much love and opportunity to families in desperate need! They reach out to children living in communities that don’t have access to resourceful programs. Kids are provided an opportunity to experience and explore nature thru summer camp scholarships at the Laguna Beach Boys and Girls Club. Through their “Adopt A Family” program the group helps families during the holidays, spreading much-needed holiday cheer.

My second-born child, Brycen, passed away from SIDS, and that year of 2014, Christmas was just a blur. A beautiful memory, that still brings me comfort and joy when I think about it, is when “Tony’s Treehouse” surprised my family with a special dinner at “Las Brisas” restaurant.  It was Christmas Eve, with the most incredible ocean view, and the restaurant had a table reserved for us. The Las Brisas manager set up toys for Raylion Jr., along with a beautiful handwritten card to me and my fiancé.  

After I suffered the devastating loss of Brycen, I turned to meditation and therapy. Over the years, I eventually stumbled into the world of gardening. I immediately fell in love! I was a cashier at that time, and the days could be pretty stressful. I would come home from work, and the boys & I would go right outside to our yard. No shoes allowed, bare feet touched to the soil, no gloves so we could feel Mother Nature’s energetic vibrations. It was our respite and our true freedom!

What began as a simple mini- garden consisting of tomatoes, jalapeños, and green bell peppers, turned into a backyard farm. We now have over 200 plants, 10 fruit trees, 4 grapevines, and 20 tomato varieties. Everything in our urban farm is organic and supplies abundant produce. I am harvesting and packaging my own high-quality, organic seeds to sell. I was able to create my business “Here We Grow” amid a worldwide pandemic, and this is something I am proud of!

Here We Grow” is an urban farming company that specializes in high-quality organic seeds grown, harvested, and packaged by this “Botanically Bri”. I produce organically grown fruits, vegetables, and drought-tolerant succulent plants. I am in the heart of San Pedro, CA, and therefore able to harvest early in the day and deliver fresh produce locally to areas that are underserved and often deprived of fresh fruit and vegetables.

THIS UPCOMING CHRISTMAS, WE WILL BE ADOPTING A TREEHOUSE FAMILY OF OUR OWN, PROVIDING THEM WITH A BEAUTIFUL BASKET FULL OF FRESH GREENS, FALL VEGETABLES, HERBS, FRUIT, AND FLOWERS! I’m blessed to give back to the organization that’s loved and encouraged our family during these past years.

I’m so thankful for this journey and happy that my story shows that I did not allow my struggles to darken my heart or hollow my spirit. I grew from my pain and created a space much to my liking. I am blessed that this peaceful space has grown into an opportunity to provide for my family and my community.

Briann Battle

Botanically Bri, Here We Grow Gardens of San Pedro

Instagram : @Botanically_Bri_

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In Memorium, Jette Rea Anderson

Jette and I first met December, 2018, when she emailed regarding our annual Adopt-A-Family holiday event. She inquired about ‘adopting’ one of our local families in need, 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.

Above, Laguna’s local tribute to Jette

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Adopt-A-Family Event in Motion for 2020

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

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Treehouse First Responders deliver food during Quarantine

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!

BLESS YOUR HEARTS!

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.

GIFT WRAPPING AND PACKING CREW TOO!

THANK YOU for all who make this event possible!

Highlights of 2019 Holiday “Adopt A Family”

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.

A Tony’s Treehouse Success Story…Understanding the Ripple Effect through life long connections

Natalie Azcarate 2000
Natalie, 2001

A VOLUNTEER PERSPECTIVE

Natalie.Jorge.Alejandro.RoseGarden PortlandOR 2017
Natalie and husband Jorge with their oldest son, Alessandro  2018

By Liz Courselle

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.

Becky and Leo 6 mos. 2018
Becky and new family addition, Leo  2019

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.

Patrick.Julie.Natalie.Brigitte 2000
Left to right, Patrick, Julie, Natalie and BG, June 2000

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.

Sue.Becky.Leo and Alessandro 2018
Sue, Becky, Leo, Alessandro  2018

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 to stay 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.

Natalie.Sue.Becky 2015
Natalie, Sue, Becky 2015

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.Becky and Leo OCampo 2019

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! 

 

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!

 

 

Upcoming Feature :: Success Stories of Tony’s Treehouse

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

Natalie.Jorge.Alejandro.RoseGardenPortlandOR 2017