CHOICES gets boost in funding

Catalina CHOICES’ efforts to fund and continue its programs got a shot in the arm last week when Southern California Edison stepped up and donated $5,000 to the cause.

“Southern California Edison is pleased to be able to continue its support of Catalina CHOICES in 2013 with a $5,000 charitable contribution,” said Ben Harvey, Edison spokesman. “We support the educational efforts provided by Catalina CHOICES and the important impact it has on the island community.”

Catalina CHOICES’ efforts to fund and continue its programs got a shot in the arm last week when Southern California Edison stepped up and donated $5,000 to the cause.

“Southern California Edison is pleased to be able to continue its support of Catalina CHOICES in 2013 with a $5,000 charitable contribution,” said Ben Harvey, Edison spokesman. “We support the educational efforts provided by Catalina CHOICES and the important impact it has on the island community.”

It was good news for Rhonda Kalish, founding member of CHOICES and its only paid employee.

“We are extremely grateful to Southern California Edison for this very generous contribution which is so desperately needed at this critical time for CHOICES,” Kalish said. “These funds will to help to continue fun activities, substance abuse education, prevention and intervention services that are so very important to the youth and families in our community.  It is especially important now to continue our fundraising efforts since our primary source of funding is no longer available to help support choices.”

CHOICES, which is aimed at keeping young people in Avalon from making poor decisions about drugs, alcohol and other pressures of their age and environment, is continuing to struggle financially.

It recently lost about $40,000 in funding when a regular, major donor had to pull out.

The financial void left CHOICES’ leadership looking for new ways of generating the money it needs to continue providing guidance to Avalon youth who are often exposed to adults partaking of the party scene. The situation and peer pressures can therefore be harder on Island kids than perhaps in other locations on the mainland.

In addition, CHOICES has launched a new fundraising activity. It is asking local merchants to display a CHOICES donation container at their register counter. For at least one month, CHOICES has begun to distribute some of the containers.

CHOICES’ leaders recently held a planning session to develop plans to make the program more financially fit.

At the meeting it was revealed that CHOICES’ funding had dwindled to $12,547.

In 2012 its annual budget was $87,750—about $7,312 per month. Its expenses were about $20,229 more than its revenues last year.

Other fundraising ideas have included hiring a grant writer who could bring in corporate and other donations. During a recent meeting of CHOICES leaders, the group designated Islander Dawn Sampson to lead a fundraising team.

Another effort is CHOICES’ “Save Me Saturday” event. The last one will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday when CHOICES takes over the Along The Way Thrift Shop. Avalon residents are asked to bring donations of “previously loved” items in good condition to the thrift store (next to the Cornerstone Teen Center) and come in to shop for something new. All proceeds will benefit the CHOICES program.

While the financial struggle continues CHOICES programs are ongoing according to Rhonda Kalish, a CHOICES founding member and its only paid employee. However, there has been some reduction of their level of service CHOICES can provide until additional funding becomes available.  

“We are training the young people to help other kids that are having a hard time,” Kalish said of one of the programs it runs for Avalon Schools students. “We train them to diffuse conflict peacefully. We are also doing an early intervention program, which we never stopped and goes throughout the school year.”

Kalish said she is hopeful the new donation container program will be a successful component. To have a donation container delivered please call Rhonda at (310) 848-4381.

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