In The News

In the News

05/27/2020 - Op-Ed on General Lyon

Orangewood CEO Chris Simonsen reflects on the legacy of founding board chairman, General William Lyon (OC Register)

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05/22/2020 - William Lyon, Orange County homebuilder and civic leader, dies at 97

OC homebuilder, philanthropist or Orangewood founding board chairman passes at age 97 (OC Register)

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05/07/2020 - Meet Jacquelyn

During this time of the coronavirus, it’s a parent’s worst nightmare. Your adult child is studying abroad and on a daily basis the U.S. and other countries are restricting travel and movement. Your child contacts you. She thought she could ride out the coronavirus in place but now she’s scared. The country has announced that it will be instituting a state of emergency and potential martial law soon. Food is getting scarce. Her university isn’t providing much guidance.

That was the situation with Jacquelyn Leyva, an Orangewood Foundation scholarship recipient in our Advanced Studies Program.

Jacquelyn first began receiving support from Orangewood Foundation when she was a senior in high school and wanted to enroll at Orange Coast College (OCC). She received an Orangewood scholarship and, to make ends meet, would occasionally visit the Orangewood Resource Center for the free toiletries. “Coming out of foster care or a tough situation, everything seems more difficult,” she says. “Applying to college and financial aid, it’s so overwhelming. Orangewood Foundation helped me every step of the way.”

With the help of Orangewood scholarships, Jacquelyn graduated from OCC and then from UC Berkeley. She received an Advanced Studies scholarship and was in Thailand as part of her first year of a Master in Global Studies program at Humboldt University of Berlin. She had started the academic year at the university’s campus in Berlin, Germany, April of 2019. With her focus is on fair trade fashion, she spent the second semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and then Bangkok, Thailand.

Jacquelyn secured a small one-room apartment and, in early January, began her classes in Bangkok. With only a mini-refrigerator and electric tea kettle, she relied on nearby inexpensive restaurants for her meals. In February, while the country had the second highest number of COVID-19 cases (behind China), the actual number was still small and classes and field trips continued as usual. Carla Etzold, Orangewood’s Scholarships & Grants Coordinator, reached out to Jacquelyn via email and Jacquelyn replied that she was fine. Things in Thailand weren’t that bad and she would just wait it out.

However, in early March the local restaurants switched to take-out only, then closed altogether a few days later. Jacquelyn began to wonder if they knew something she didn’t. “It was very tumultuous and I was getting nervous,” she says. The political climate in the country was intensifying and the government was putting limits on free speech, especially about COVID-19.

Jacquelyn reached out to Carla for reassurance. “Carla was the first person I contacted, thinking she might give me reassurance. I was really scared but thought maybe I was thinking irrationally. But I really want to leave immediately.” When Carla saw Jacquelyn’s email, she researched the situation in the country and learned that Jacquelyn’s fears were well-founded.

Carla asked and received approval to use Advanced Studies scholarship funds to get Jacquelyn home to the U.S. “It was the best feeling to know that I could ask and I knew the answer would be ‘yes,’” Carla says. “I could make it happen for Jacquelyn.” Carla searched flights which took a while since they were being cancelled or the prices were increasing as she looked. “I was trying to figure everything out,” Carla says. “I just wanted her to get home safely. It was stressful.” For her part, Jacquelyn says, “I was too anxious to even sleep.”

Finally, within 24 hours of Jacquelyn first reaching out to her, Carla was able to secure a 10:00 P.M. flight, just in the nick of time. The following day the Bangkok airport was going to close. Over the course of 24 long hours, Jacquelyn flew from Bangkok to Japan to San Francisco. Carla kept her cell phone on 24/7 and was checking the airline website to track the progress of Jacquelyn’s flights. In the crowded airports and on the planes, Jacquelyn saw many passengers in face masks and some even wearing head-to-toe hazmat suits.

Every time her flight landed, Jacquelyn called Carla to let her know. During her 14 hour layover in Japan, Carla encouraged Jacquelyn to call her grandma with whom Jacquelyn had been placed while in foster care. “My grandma was in tears and so worried about me,” Jacquelyn says.

On March 26th, Jacquelyn’s plane landed in San Francisco. Since then, she’s been staying with her boyfriend and his parents in Northern California. “I wasn’t able to really sleep until I got to my boyfriend’s house and laid down,” she says. “I was so happy. It was such a relief. All that stress lifted from my body.” Jacquelyn is healthy and continuing with school, submitting her final exams and papers. The summer internship she secured at the World Fair Trade Organization Asia is uncertain. She hopes to stay on track and graduate in April of 2021.

After receiving her master’s degree, Jacquelyn’s goal is to secure a position with the World Fair Trade Organization, auditing and providing guidance to the fair trade industry. Her ultimate dream job is Director of Social & Environmental Responsibility for a fashion brand. Despite her ordeal getting home during a global pandemic, Jacquelyn’s spirit of adventure and her desire to travel haven’t diminished.  “Every experience makes me stronger,” she says.

“Orangewood really does support its scholarship students,” Jacquelyn says. “Carla has always gone above and beyond. If I needed anything, she was there to help…which is why I turned to her in this situation.” She continues, “Had Carla not been able to help, I probably would have stayed in Thailand. I had no other alternatives. She was a lifesaver, literally. I’m really grateful to Orangewood Foundation.”

05/05/2020 - 44 Women for Orangewood Virtual Happy Hour

Thursday, May 14, 2020
Zoom Call

44 women virtual happy hour

01/21/2020 - 44 Women for Orangewood Anaheim Ducks Center Ice Party

Click: Ducks and fans team up for Orangewood (COAST Magazine)

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01/15/2020 - Orangewood Foundation & Sex Trafficking Awareness

After foster care, where do young adults go? Too often into arms of sex traffickers (OC Register)

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12/30/2019 - Sex Trafficking Awareness Trainings

Thursday, January 16 & 30, 2020
Orangewood Foundation

When: Thursday, January 16 & 30, 2020; 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Where: Orangewood Foundation, 1575 E. 17th St. Santa Ana

In light of January being Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Orangewood is hosting two Sex Trafficking Awareness & Skill Development Trainings to the community. Our goal is to bring the community together to create awareness, provide support, develop skills and ensure our responses to youth impacted by sexual exploitation and trauma are consistent and compassionate. We hope that you join us as we learn from one another and strive to create a community of healing.

12/12/2019 - 44 Women for Orangewood Anaheim Ducks Center Ice Party

The Crowd: Anaheim Ducks break away for Orangewood (Daily Pilot)

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11/21/2019 - Meet Ivan

“I always thought that I was a bad kid; that I didn’t deserve anything, didn’t deserve to be happy,” says Ivan.

His dad was a drug addict and mom was an alcoholic. His parents worked a lot, leaving Ivan and his siblings home alone without supervision. Ivan was placed in foster care at 13 years old. “Being in foster care and in group homes, you don’t know what’s next,” Ivan says. “You don’t expect anything. You just live and survive.”

When Ivan was a teenager in foster care, he started attending Orangewood’s Independent Living Program (ILP) workshops learning life skills. But what he remembers most about it was the Orangewood staff and Peer Mentors. “People treated me with respect and that motivated me,” he says.

In the last year, Ivan’s Youth Support Specialist, Frank, noticed a changed in him. “He wanted to change his life,” Frank says. “He demonstrated that he was serious and he started to set boundaries with his peers who may not have been a positive influence.” Ivan explains, “It’s hard because my friends are my family. But I have to set myself apart and decide I want something more in life.” He visited our onsite Orangewood Resource Center every day to wash his clothes, enjoy a hot meal, print out his resume and find resources.

Frank says, “At one point, Ivan was overwhelmed because he had nothing, but I told him to be patient. Then he got a job offer, was approved to become a Peer Mentor, and got accepted into our Rising Tide transitional housing program.”

Today Ivan has a full-time job at Motive Energy where there is room for growth. He wakes up every day at 3:00 A.M. to be at his job in Corona by 4:00 and gets off at 1:00 P.M. Ivan then heads straight to Orangewood for support and help facilitate the ILP workshops as a Peer Mentor. “I want to give back,” Ivan says. “I know what it’s like to feel that nobody understands them and that they’re alone. I tell them, ‘I was in your shoes. Every day I’m trying to be better and you can too.’”

When describing his life currently, Ivan frequently uses the word “blessed” and says, “Sometimes I wonder what I would do without Orangewood Foundation. This is like my family. Orangewood has given me things I never thought I could have – living a normal, decent human life where I don’t have to just survive.”

07/26/2019 - 44 Women for Orangewood Fall Social (Membership Cocktail Party)

Thursday, September 12, 2019
Newport Harbor Yacht Club