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 VOLUNTEER PERSPECTIVE
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.
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 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.
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!
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!
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:
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)
- Pacific Edge Resort, 2 night ocean view room, Laguna Beach (Suggested dono $300)
- Two 60-minute Massages at Beach SPAhhh, Laguna Beach (Sugg dono $120)
- $100 Brussels Bistro Restaurant, Laguna Beach (Suggested dono $120)
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.
Much gratitude, Becky
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.
Great story from Stu News Laguna to promote our December fundraiser!
Holiday Trunk Show and Gift Boutique :: Annual Fundraiser to benefit our Adopt-A-Family event.
Come join us for complimentary appetizers, desserts, cocktails while you shop for gifts for your loved ones, co-workers, friends. We’ll have a great selection of local restaurant Gift Certificates, Hotel stays, artist handcrafted jewelry, home deco item, artisan Christmas Tree ornaments plus much more to choose from. There is something for every budget.
As always your financial gifts are tax deductible – Remember we are 100% Volunteer operated, which means your donations go where they are needed the most.
This will be Open House style, so drop in anytime between 3:00pm and 8:00 pm.
For details, follow this link: Holiday Trunk Show and Boutique. Invite Nov 2015
If you can’t join us, but want to contribute, click on our “Donate Now” button….
Thank you for your support!
Stay tuned for details about our upcoming fundraiser – Lots of great stuff will be up for auction. Orange County merchants have donated Gift Cards, Event Tickets and Restaurant Certificates to benefit our cause. Announcements will be posted on our FaceBook page as well as email updates. Please feel free to send over your current email address and you will be added to our mailing list : Becky@TonysTreehouse.org. THANK YOU for all you do!