At the SGA office in Long Beach, we like to focus on gratitude. And if we ever forget what gives our lives purpose and joy, there’s a 10 x 12 ft chalkboard wall to remind us.
Gratitude for SGA’ers can be brought about by things small (a blueberry muffin from Doly’s can turn any day around) or large (making a difference gets us up in the morning). Being grateful makes us feel good. But it turns out, it actually makes us healthier, too.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine tested the power of gratitude on heart disease. They asked one group to write down two or three things they were grateful for each day in a journal. The other group didn’t journal. After two months, the researchers found that the people who wrote in their journals showed reduced inflammation, improved heart rhythm and less risk of developing heart disease. Looks like our chalkboard scribbles are doing double duty.
There’s perhaps no better time to express gratitude than Thanksgiving. So we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our clients, colleagues, associates, and friends. It is a privilege to work with you to make the world a better place. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do what we love and to be part of a team of passionate people that believe in change.
We recently learned about Rebaldo and Silvia. From the onset, either one of them could pass for just about any other teenager living in LA. As we dug a little deeper into their heartfelt stories, however, it became clear that they had come a long way – a long way toward a place we often take for granted.
Take Rebaldo. Rebaldo and his family of six used to live in a garage. All six of them shared a single bathroom. They shared beds and there was barely any room to walk around in. They didn’t have any outdoor space for the kids to play in and had to drive for miles to find the nearest park. Then there was the last straw. “I was lying down and felt something nibbling on my toe. When I looked to see what it was, it was a rat about six inches long. A big rat. I looked at my toe and it was bleeding,” he said, recounting the incident. “It was horrible.”
Rebaldo’s mom Guadalupe sought help and soon found a home through an affordable housing project funded by the Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department (HCIDLA). The children have their own rooms and don’t need to wait for a single bathroom anymore. They have a yard where Rebaldo plays ball with his sister and a beautiful gourmet kitchen with granite countertops and hardwood floors. “I feel like a queen here,” said Guadalupe.
The odds were equally stacked against Silvia when she first came to HCIDLA’s partnering agency Central City Neighborhood Partners to get tutoring classes when she was in 3rd grade. Silvia’s family of eight was making $9,600 a year, which is well below the federal poverty line. Her dad had intermittent work and her mom had an autistic sister that she cared for. Through the help of the agency’s social services that included parent education, healthy lifestyle and civic engagement, Silvia and her mom took advantage of existing resources and got more involved over the years. Silvia excelled in school and recently graduated with honors on her way to becoming a freshman at the University of Southern California, just down the street from where she grew up in Pico Union.
Rebaldo and Silvia’s stories reaffirm the importance of leveling the playing field to ensure everyone has the same opportunities to succeed in life. More importantly, their stories remind us of how fortunate we are to have what we have and to be thankful for it.We would like to thank HCIDLA for sharing these powerful stories of impact with us and urge all of you to take a moment to give thanks – for good health, for a loving family, for a roof over our heads, the list goes on.