Dedicated to helping individuals who do not have the means to help themselves, Ryan Kavanaugh supports a number of organization that benefit animals and children. One of the organizations that he supports is Aviva Family and Children’s Services, which has worked to provide key services for children from disadvantaged backgrounds in Los Angeles for more than 100 years. All children deserve support and love, and Aviva has created a range of programming, including parenting courses and therapeutic services, to improve outcomes for underserved children.
Aviva maintains four primary programs: foster family and adoption services, residential treatment services, wraparound services, and community mental health services. Through these programs, the organization conducted nearly 100,000 hours of therapeutic sessions last year. On an annual basis, the organization works with more than 6,500 children, families, and young adults living below the federal poverty level. The organization helps children in a wide range of circumstances. Some of the individuals served have endured sexual exploitation, abuse, and neglect, while others have experienced substance abuse issues or mental health problems. The juvenile justice system works closely with Aviva to place children who need assistance.
The services that Aviva offers are largely supported by volunteers and donors. Individuals can volunteer their time in a number of different ways, from helping with one-off events to committing to ongoing programs, such as teaching courses, leading recreational activities, or providing administrative assistance. The organization also relies on volunteers to serve as mentors for young people. Mentors provide one-on-one support to these youths while guiding them along the course to success.
As the holidays approach, many people begin asking what they can do to help children and families in need during this particularly difficult time of the year. Luckily, Aviva provides a wide range of opportunities, including the following, for making an impact in the community and putting smiles on young faces:
“Adopt” a Foster Child.
Aviva gives people the chance to sponsor a foster child (from infants to 13 year-olds) and purchase them a toy they really want when their guardians cannot afford it. When individuals volunteer, they receive a bit of information about the child, including his or her name and age, as well as the child’s personal holiday hopes and dreams and a personalized gift wish list. Then, sponsors use this information to purchase some gifts and put a huge smile on the face of the particular child. The approximate cost of “adopting” a foster child is about $50 to $65, and this activity can be a great and affordable bonding experience for groups of friends, small teams of colleagues, and more.
“Adopt” a Foster Teen.
The foster teens (aged 14 to 18) who live in the Aviva group home have only each other to rely on during the holiday season. However, when individuals from the community sponsor them, these young people learn that they have intrinsic value, which boosts their self-esteem. Aviva provides individuals who want to “adopt” a foster teen with the youth’s name and age, a personalized wish list, as well as an account of the teen’s various likes and interests. Each participant can request one special gift from a sponsor. Taking the time to purchase this gift is an incredible way to support a young person as he or she faces some of life’s most difficult years.
“Adopt” an Aviva family.
The families that Aviva supports have difficulties making ends meet during normal times of the year. Therefore, the holidays are often a terrible reminder of their inability to provide adequately for children. When basic necessities are not always available, members of these families do not expect holiday gifts. Individuals can “adopt” these families and remind them of the generosity that exists in the world.
Families submit special wish lists to Aviva that tell their stories and give tidbits of information about each member, from personal tastes to clothing sizes. In addition, each list contains some household items. These families often need pots and pans, linens and sheets, small appliances, utensils, and more. Gift cards are also very helpful. The cost of sponsorship can range from about $250 to $350 depending on the number of family members. However, sponsors can defray costs by joining with family members, friends, or coworkers to shop.
Organize a holiday drive.
Aviva welcomes holiday drives at places of work and worship, or other venues. The organization has a special wish list of the items it needs for its programs and for the people that it assists. Before organizing a drive, though, people should get in contact with Aviva for some information and tools that can support their efforts.
Make a holiday donation.
Those who want to help but who don’t have the time to organize a drive or shop for children and families can make a holiday donation directly through the Aviva website. By earmarking the gift as a holiday donation, the donor ensures that the organization will use it to purchase gifts for the children and families who do not receive sponsorship during the upcoming season.