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
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
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!
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!
Our deserving children of the Boys & Girls Club attended the Rock Climbing Camp, Fishing and Kayaking at Dana Point Harbor and Football Camp. Thanks to the Club for continuing our cause through the Tony Martinez Scholarship Fund!
In honor of Stu’s beautiful life & his commitment to charity, Tony’s Treehouse (501c3) has started a Donation Drive in his honor.
Gifts will go directly to the Scholarship Fund assisting children of the Laguna Beach Boys & Girls Club. Due to financial hardship, the Scholarship recipients ordinarily wouldn’t be able to attend summer camp and field trips. I was one of the parents who received scholarship for my boys, when I couldn’t afford that extra expense. This is my way of giving back and saying Thank You to our Community Patriot, Stu Saffer.
To participate, you can mail a tax deductible donation to our Laguna Beach address shown under the “Financial Support” tab, or you can make a donation through our secure PayPal button. Receipts will be mailed so please provide your email or address as well. *SEE BELOW WHO YOUR GIFT WILL BE HELPING!
In addition, I want to share how Stu impacted my life and through his kindness, helped raise community awareness for Tony’s Treehouse ~
When I moved to the town in July of 2000, I walked into Stu’s “CoastLine News” office. It was just months after the sudden death of my 9 year old son, Tony. I had been a member of the Laguna community for only a short time, and had no idea what love and support were in store for me.
A single working mom of 2 energetic boys, I was on a ‘less than shoe string’ budget. My sons Danny, 9 and Tony, 8 attended the Laguna Boys & Girls Club after school program and summer day camp. Finances were tight, but I was fortunate to qualify for a scholarship to help with the monthly fees & day camp, which allowed me to work and provide for my family.
After Tony’s death, I was living the unimaginable. I started this Foundation in his memory. Tony was a sweet, loving, generous spirit and this charity was dedicated to honoring his life. I shared my story with Stu, knowing I would need help. We have no paid staff and are 100% volunteer operated. I sat across from him at his desk and told my story. His initial gruff expression turned into kind and caring as we spoke. My grief was beyond what words could express, but his empathetic spirit made me feel like I wasn’t alone.
Originally I visited his office hoping CoastLine News would share our story of the upcoming ‘Bicycle Drive’ we were holding at the B & G Club. Volunteers would tune up and repair the donated bikes, which we would in turn, distribute to local needy children and families.
After our time spent together, we became instant friends, and as we were saying ‘goodbye’ he said, “I’ll do anything I can to help you fulfill your mission and honor the memory of your son.” I walked out of his office with a wonderful supportive friend of 17 years.
Stu will be greatly missed. Many lives have been enriched because of his work here on Earth, and I’m so very grateful to have known him.
Here are the Field Trips and Summer Camp events in which you can contribute:
$25 gift sends 5 children to a Beach Day Field Trip to Treasure Island
$60 gift pays for one child’s Day Trip to Knott’s Berry Farm
$120 dono sends a child to Disneyland Day Field Trip
$250 provides a Catalina Island 4 day camp experience for one child
$375 sends one child to a week of Action Packed Adventure Camp (APAC)Tony, 1999
In celebrating the beautiful Mom’s in our life, the Treehouse is offering some equally beautiful gifts in our online fundraiser. Send an email (below), if you are interested in any of the following items, and I can answer any questions:
$50 BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery, any location (Suggested dono $70)
Two 60-minute Thai massage, Relaxing Center Spa, Laguna Bch (Sugg. dono $120)
$30 Carmelita’s Kitchen de Mexico, Laguna Beach (Suggested dono $40)
Choose a gift for the special lady in your life and we will send via Priority Mail, or a volunteer can deliver anywhere in Orange County CA. As always, thanks for your support – you are the reason we can continue our mission of helping families in crisis. Remember we are 100% volunteer operated so your dollars go to those who need it most.
Little Ruby is a BIG teacher. This sweet 6 year old has inspired us, greatly. Together with her Momma “T”, they loved the idea of setting up a Money Tree for friends & family to make donations at her upcoming 6th Birthday party. The money raised during her October 30 celebration will go directly to the family fund of Tony’s Treehouse. In speaking with Tanya, this kind Mom shared her thoughts of wanting to do things differently… her dedication of raising Ruby with the mindfulness of generosity. She stated “we want Ruby to always know the importance of giving… we are blessed to have so much in our life… giving back is a way for us to show our gratitude”. The party invitation asked guests to consider bringing a small donation in lieu of or with a small present for the charity near & dear to their hearts, Tony’s Treehouse. The gifts will be presented to Becky, Founder of the organization, at the date of her party.
Let’s rally together & assist sweet Ruby in her efforts to raise Dollars that make a Difference! Please click on the “Donate Now” button, if you would like to participate. We hope to raise $2000 in support of her efforts, so let’s help Ruby reach her goal! A gift of any size would bring her much joy! We would love to include your personal message to Ruby, celebrating her generous spirit and heart.
Thank you for all you do to continue our mission of assisting families and youth in need.