It surprises me, when I visit a Lodge, to hear our members still think Rebekah Children’s Services, (RCS) does not need the help of our lodges because it is now funded by the government. I understand how this perception may have started, but let’s set the record straight. After nearly 60 years of running our Gilroy facility, as a non-profit group home for at-risk youth, and no longer the orphanage we started in the late 1800’s, we need your help more than ever.
The history of our Children’s home, not only in California but across all jurisdictions, is noble. Our Membership took care of orphans in a time when money was tight and locating family was a challenge. The Rebekah Children’s Home in California was opened in 1897. The land and materials were donated by Caroline Hoxett, a Past Rebekah Assembly President who lived in Gilroy. We quickly grew in size and in the care provided to our youth. By 1925 we housed over 100 orphans, all sponsored by members of the order. In the late 1950’s, the Federal Government de-institutionalized the system of orphanages. They mandated a governed support system that allowed orphaned children a way to stay connected with family. When family was not available, a foster family maintained the continuity of a family environment.
During this time of transition, between our courts and our Odd Fellow community, many orphanages closed their doors. Here in California we opened our doors to the opportunity of supporting at-risk youth who need special care and counseling. In 1957, Rebekah Children Services took in its first court appointed youth to our residence program. Today, The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs of California can proudly say that we still own, govern and maintain our Children’s Home.
RCS provides services that range from County “Wrap-Around” programs, where families receive needed services in their homes, to our new “Hospital Diversion” program that takes at-risk youth from the hospitals and bring them to a secure, controlled environment with full counseling opportunities. We have “Links to Life” (TAY), which incorporates several programs for older youth ready to move into the workforce including a “Culinary Academy”. We also have a non-public school, parenting education, fostering, and adoption services available.
These services are partially funded by health insurance or government grants. This program funding is very specific to what can be covered and government cuts have affected every level of care from the federal to the school district. Our facilities and overhead are not covered by government funding. To maintain the high quality of our staff and facilities, it takes the support of everyone in the world. When called upon in your lodges, we ask you to make a contribution to support the needs of this wonderful facility so that we can continue to support our youth.
RCS VISION STATEMENT: “To be the national leader in creating, shaping, teaching and providing services that achieve positive, permanent outcomes for children and families.” Today, we are a National Leader in our industry, one that is looked upon by our peers for guidance and support. We do not take this role lightly and appreciate what our lodges around the world may do to help. It is most important; we get the word out about what RCS does. We must change the perception; we are not self supported by government funds.
If you have any questions on our services or to make a donation, please visit www.rcskids.org.
Thank you for your past and continued support of our home. If you wish to have your donation designated to a specific fund, here is a list of funds that have been set up by our Board to assist where there is the greatest need; “Major Medical”, our kids at the home do not always have enough insurance to cover the needed medication. “Holiday”, along with our annual Christmas party for our residents, this fund also covers birthdays and other parties given at the home for our kids. “Good Times”, we send residents to prom, leadership conferences, job fairs and much more. “Facilities”, our building and grounds need constant upkeep. “Links to Life”, is a group of programs set up to link our transitioned youth (TAY) into the real world including developed culinary skills. “Scholarships”, we offer several scholarships.
Our Board is very excited about the work that we do in California and are pleased to have the opportunity to share our excitement with all of you.
Nancy Johnson, President, RCS Board of Directors
This May, we are celebrating National Foster Care Month. This is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of the more than 400,000 children and youth in the foster care system. Every day the urgent needs of these young people rise and citizens nationwide come together and get involved-as foster or adoptive parents, volunteers, mentors, employers and in so many other ways.
When it comes to thinking about childhood, we think in terms of the fissile family. The reality is that things do not usually work out that way. For many reasons, parents sometimes end up in a situation where they are unable to care for their children, either temporarily or permanently. What happens at that point?
Throughout history, the fate of these children has depended on the inclination of the community. In the past, if the extended family, neighbors or strangers didn't step in as alternate parents, parent-less children would be turned out on the streets. Today, childcare is institutionalized, but it still relies on the kindness and compassion of individual members of the community. When parents are unable, unwilling or unfit to care for a child, the child must be placed in a new home. In some cases, there is little or no chance a child can return to the custody of their parents. In other situations, children only need a temporary home until the situation with their parents change. Nonetheless, the children still need somewhere to stay until a permanent home is possible.
People just like you are helping young people in foster care build brighter futures by serving as their foster parents, relative caregivers, mentors, advocates, social workers and volunteers. As more help is needed, communities are seeking more everyday people to come forward and support our nation’s most vulnerable children so they can realize and utilize their full potential.
This month, we are asking our surrounding communities to come together and get involved. You do not need to become a foster parent to show your support. You can support us by wearing a blue ribbon, spreading the word and share the facts about the well-being for children and youth in care. Raising awareness will not only provide support during the month of May, it will continue in the years to come to the foster children and youth in the future.
For more information: http://www.fostercaremonth.org/
Recently, Rebekah Children's Services had the privilege of having a very special guest visit; Caroline Monzani. She is the Great, Great Granddaughter of Mrs. Caroline Hoxett; well known as the Grand President of the Rebekah Assembly in 1900. Monzani, along with her two daughters Emily and Christina, traveled to Gilroy hoping to gain more insight about the person their ancestor had been.
Caroline Amelia Brooks was born the youngest on September 23, 1840 in Painesville, Ohio. At the young age of 19, Caroline married Abial Osborne, and the two immediately began the Gold Rush journey to California in 1859. Traveling the jungles through the Isthmus of Panama, they boarded the ship which would carry them up the California Coast towards the gold panning and mining town of Placerville (Nicknamed Blood and Guts and later Hangtown). Shortly after, Caroline gave birth to her only child, Ada Eliza Osbourne on November 25th, 1860
After Abial’s death, Caroline remarried a handsome baker; Thomas Hoxett. Soon, they moved away from the rough and tumble life of Placerville to the valley town of Gilroy in 1868. Thomas established the first bakery on Monterey Street. They wanted to raise Ada in a better place and once she had grown, she was sent to the newly established Wellesley College for girls. She studied for three years and married a young banker, Christopher Carlson. They both settled in Painesville, Ohio.
Thomas Hoxett retired from the bakery and passed away shortly after. In the years to follow, Caroline took on increased responsibilities and a greater role with the Unity Rebekah Lodge.
Caroline Hoxett is well remembered for donating the 13 acres of land that we are currently located on today. She provided funding to institute the then; Odd Fellows Orphans Home at I.O.O.F and Forest Streets in Gilroy. The establishment was completed in 1897. In 1902, the original wooden orphanage building was severely damaged by the earthquake. Mrs. Hoxett did not hesitate and was the contributor in funding the reconstruction for a much larger, solid, steel reinforced concrete building designed by the late William Weeks. Following completion of the 45,000 square foot building in 1921, she also gifted a bell tower and chimes as she was very dedicated to the orphanage.
Certainly, Hoxett was a determined woman to improve the quality of children and young adult’s lives. She naturally demonstrated her dedication to promote Gilroy’s strength as a town and was a person of strong resolve to keep the Children’s Home. She played remarkably prominent roles fostering town landmarks during an era when conventional protocol at that time for women was to maintain a low profile. Caroline remained ambitious and pursued her true desires. Hoxett lived to be 87 years of age.
“Though knowing her personally will always be a mystery, she was a woman with good intentions, outwardly focused to giving and to help children and young adults. She was truly a person of resilience and so inspiring. She was a benefactress! Children and young adults today are still being given support. That is what endures through time. My family and I will be thinking about this trip for a long time to come.”~Caroline Monzani
Caroline Monzani with her daughters; Emily & Christina visit Rebekah Children's Services in Gilroy.
Spring is here and so is spring vacation. This is a great time for families to recharge, get ready for the rest of the school year, and enjoy some fun activities. There is always something inspiring about springtime and if you and your family are planning on a fun trip or taking it easy at home, here are a few fun activities to do with your kids:
Enjoy a Fun Family Picnic: What better way to spend a beautiful warm day outside than to go on a fun family picnic? First, you will need to pack a good blanket. A waterproof one will work best if you expect the grass to be a little damp. You will also need a picnic basket to carry the food and utensils. Depending on your family size, you may even consider using extra bags or backpacks to hold everything you will need. Picnics are about ease, so pick up deli finger foods, sandwiches and make your family’s favorite salad to go or you can also add your favorite fruits and veggies with a dip you love. Don’t forget to bring a variety of toys and games, such as kites, Frisbees, softballs and bats so you and your family can interact if there is room to run around. If you are looking for more of a relaxing interaction, Scrabble, chess or card games will do the trick.
Create a Garden: Kids love to dig in the dirt! Creating garden projects with fast growing seeds and plants, tool sized to children’s hands and surprising things will help your child enjoy the garden. To get them excited, let your child pick out what they will grow. You can guide them to pick quick growing plants and vegetables such as peas, radishes, cucumbers and a variety of flowers. To keep the children interested in tending to their plants, put the garden where they can see it and have them start a garden journal. They can use this to draw or write the progress of their garden. Although children lose patience and make messes, let them take pride in their piece of land this summer.
Outdoor Games: Spring break is a great time for fun, and lots of fun games can be played outside in the fresh air and sunshine. The days are now longer and the temperature is warming up, classic outdoor games like red light, green light, freeze tag and four-square are perfect for kids to play during the break from school. Parents, make this a play date or even a party. Let your kids interact and have fun as much as possible with these classic games as you did when you were young. The best part: They get exercise while having fun!
South Valley’s KidFest is here once again, and we’re going to be there! Hosted on Saturday, March 9th this special event is providing resources for parents and plenty of exciting activities for the kids to enjoy. Informational booths will be present to help parents find all that they need to make informed decisions about their Children’s futures and well-being. Educational opportunities will be available as well as options for birthday party and family day planning, clubs and organizations that provide a variety of ways for your child to participate in the community.
KidsFest is partnering with us here at Rebekah Children’s Services as a way to give back to the community. We are very excited to have this opportunity and be a part of a wonderful event. Our Culinary Academy is gearing up and baking a special assortment of our most loved cookies & scones! We also will have a variety of information on the services we provide on-site here at Rebekah’s, including applications for our Culinary Academy.
Now, if you’re not familiar with our Culinary Academy, we offer job training in the hospitality and culinary industries. Our students have the opportunity to learn hands-on culinary skills in a commercial kitchen along with developing job-readiness in an environment that prepares them for the demands and responsibilities of adulthood, independent living and the real work world.
Make sure to stop by and visit us at booth #44! KidFest is free to the public and located indoors at the Cochrane Plaza Shopping Center off of Highway 101 & Cochrane Road. The first 500 families will receive a welcome bag. We look forward to seeing you there!