“GAWDA Made It Possible”

Where’d the money go?

GAWDA Gives Back has donated almost $300,000 to deserving recipients in convention cities since 2000. Organizations have used this money to achieve various goals, from building new facilities to implementing new programs. Welding & Gases Today contacted recipients to learn about the impact these donations have made. With no surprise, we discovered that GAWDA’s spirit of giving is making a positive difference in countless lives.


Hawaiian Seniors and Nonprofits Enjoy Expanded Programs


Seniors enjoy May Day festivities at Maui Adult Day Care Centers.

In 2000, the National Welding Supply Association (now the Gases and Welding Distributors Association) donated $35,965 to the Maui Adult Day Care Centers and Hawaii Community Services Council. Maui Adult Day Care Centers received half of this endowment, and used the money to expand several essential programs designed to provide care for senior citizens and a respite for the families these seniors live with. Founded in 1974, the organization specializes in caring for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s, diseases that affect 90 percent of the current clientele. “We offer therapeutic activities, recreational activities and exercises to keep seniors busy during the day,” says Margie Dela Cruz, executive assistant. “It’s a safe place for them so that their loved ones have peace of mind and don’t have to think of Mom or Dad sitting at home alone.”

Last year, Maui Adult Day Care Centers began the “Sun Downing Program” with direct assistance from GAWDA’s donation. “Sun Downing is a farmer’s term and refers to behavior changes and increasing anxiety when night falls,” Dela Cruz explains. “So every Friday we are open until 8:30 p.m. to give the family time for an early dinner or a movie.” Seniors are fed, clothed in pajamas, and transported home on buses, ready for bed.

GAWDA’s donation also aided the expansion of the Saturday respite program. “We offer arts and crafts, music and dance, excursions, educational activities and exercise,” says Dela Cruz. The money from GAWDA funds scholarships for families that cannot afford the daily fee of $39.50.

Honolulu Nonprofits Unite to Advocate Change

The Hawaii Community Services Council (HCSC) used their half of the 2000 GAWDA Gives Back donation for various projects. John Flanagan, President and CEO, joined the organization in 2002, and notes the announcement of GAWDA’s check in an archived newsletter. “It was a remarkably generous donation,” he says.

The nonprofit organization has been in existence since 1902, when it was known as the Shippers’ Wharf Committee, collecting taxes to destroy diseased rats. “Our mission has evolved over the years,” Flanagan says. “We are a community planning organization that provides workshop training, consulting and technical assistance to a group of almost 200 nonprofits in Hawaii. Rather than sending our legislature to Michigan to learn about drug use, we think the nonprofits here have something to contribute to that conversation and should be able to inform public policy.” To that end, GAWDA’s donation was used for training and advocacy.  



Second Chance for San Francisco’s Troubled Youth


Lincoln Child Center helps children learn to lead independent, contributing lives.

In 2001, GAWDA Gives Back donated $33,295 to two deserving organizations in the San Francisco area. Lincoln Child Center, an organization devoted to children since 1883, received $15,747.50. The Center’s mission is simple: “We want to enable vulnerable, emotionally disturbed children and families to lead independent and fulfilling lives,” says Jack Soares, chief development officer. The Center provides state-accredited education and residential programs for children ages 6-14. Currently 42 children live at the Center; 85 percent are dependents of the state, and 65 to 80 percent have been physically or sexually abused. The cost for a child in the residential treatment program is about $175,000 a year. The Center is located on a 7.5-acre campus in Oakland Hills, California, with six buildings serving as residences, classrooms and office space.

The typical child in need of residential treatment arrives one to two years, sometimes four, behind academically. “It is not unusual to see kids with three to five failed foster placements,” Soares says. The Center has housed children with as many as 13 failed placements. “A gift of GAWDA’s magnitude was used to help these students,” Soares says. “We have added playground equipment for recreational therapy, allowing these children to develop social skills and interactions.” The good work continues as the principal of Lincoln Child Center currently looks for classroom behavioral incentives in the form of eight Sony PlayStations. College Scholarships Help San Francisco Students Beat the Odds

The other deserving San Francisco recipient that received half of $33,295 in 2001 was Students Rising Above (SRA), formerly Beating the Odds. The organization and television series, founded in 1998 by local TV news anchor Wendy Tokuda, sends low-income students to college. “One hundred percent of donations go into our scholarship fund, which is used to help students pay tuition and whatever educational costs they incur while going to college,” says Executive Director Lynne Martin. “GAWDA’s donation also enabled us to institute the mentoring program in 2001, which dramatically improved the percentage of graduating students. The success rate prior to mentoring was about 50 percent, but with the advent of the program, we now have graduation success rates close to 80 percent.”


Students Rising Above head off to college.

Each year, Students Rising Above sends out 700 to 800 applications to various high schools and teaching programs in the 11-county Bay area. “We look for kids with the potential to complete a four-year degree,” Martin adds. “They need to have a minimum 3.0 GPA, but what we really look for is students who have shown great depths of character and courage in overcoming obstacles that were not of their own making.” Most of the students lack the financial means and family experience of applying to or succeeding in college: Nearly 100 percent of the recipients are the first in their families to attend college, 75 percent live below the poverty level, 50 percent do not live with a parent, and 25 percent are raising a sibling. “Our kids have never sat at the dining room table for family dinner, much less set it,” Martin explains. “We teach them how to look adults in the eye, shake their hands and write a thank-you note.”

Over 100 students have completed college since the inception of the program, attending such schools as Yale, Princeton, Wellesley and Stanford. Aaron Bianco, who was chosen for SRA in 2001, the year of GAWDA’s donation, grew up in an environment of physical abuse and drug exposure. At the age of 11, Aaron moved in with his aunt and uncle to escape the physical beatings from the adults around him. He graduated from high school in 2001 and was accepted into Princeton University. Aaron took his junior year off to care for his uncle, who developed brain cancer and recently passed away. “He lost someone incredibly important, but still graduated from Princeton,” Martin says. “GAWDA’s money helped kids like Aaron.”  


 New School Aids Children with Autism in Orlando


Princeton House Charter School's new facility helps 240 students.

Serving autistic children, Princeton House Charter School in Orlando makes a difference in the lives of students from all corners of the United States. “We used the $34,075 from GAWDA Gives Back to build a new school,” says Carol Tucker, executive director. “We started building in 2002, moved in June 2003, and just completed our third year. The total amount from GAWDA was used to build our Occupational/Physical Therapy wing, a part of the new 25,000 sq. ft. building, which houses 27 teachers and classrooms that cater to 240 students ranging from pre-K through high school.” Completed in January 2005, the total cost of the 2,500 sq. ft. therapy center was $250,000.

Princeton House is also looking to build a Functional Living Center on campus, where graduating students can enjoy assisted living and continued educational aid. The school aims at reintegrating children with autism back into regular classrooms, though Tucker understands that some children with severe handicaps will always require the school’s help. “This year, 15 students are leaving us and returning to regular classrooms,” she says. “However, for the kids who reach 22 and graduate, we want to provide them with a continuation. Our oldest child right now is 17, so we are looking down the road five years for a place for him to live and still be able to receive the help he needs. We have been so blessed. It is people like the members of GAWDA who have helped us reach this point, and going to the convention was so rewarding for all of us.”

GAWDA Gives Back Wins National Award

GAWDA Gives Back received the 2006 Award of Excellence in the Associations Advance America Awards, which are granted each year by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). The award recognizes associations that propel America forward with innovative projects in education, skills training, social innovation, citizenship and community service. ASAE notified members of Congress and the state governors’ offices about GAWDA Gives Back and the generosity of GAWDA members.


Recovery and Reading Rooms in Vancouver

St. Elizabeth Home, part of the St. James Community Service Society in Vancouver, British Columbia, is focused on providing safe and supportive emergency shelter for women and children in crisis. “We do this through two different programs,” says Coretta Peets, assistant coordinator, “a slightly longer housing program called Second Stage and an emergency 30-day shelter.” The Second Stage program allows women to stay for two years while working to regain independent living. The shelter is always full, sometimes serving 38 people in the 32-bed emergency facility. The $35,225 GAWDA donated in 2003 was used to improve living quarters for the women and children.


A safe haven from the streets and a quiet place to read, study and connect

“We used that incredibly generous donation to develop three rooms into library spaces,” Peets says. The 80 sq. ft. Kids Theatre is designed for the smallest children, featuring comfortable chairs and little bookshelves, stocked with educational videos and age-appropriate reading. Twenty-eight percent of GAWDA’s donation paid for redecorating the 120 sq. ft. Youth Room, a place for home-schooling. “Our local school board sends teachers here for the instruction of the shelter’s non-registered kids,” says Peets. GAWDA funds purchased the room’s mural, along with a computer. “We loaded it with educational software and we also added a bookshelf with science books, encyclopedias and quieter games like chess and checkers,” Peets explains. “This is a great, flexible space that the kids know is primarily for their use.”

A third room measuring 210 sq. ft. was re-decorated as a library, using 70 percent of GAWDA’s donation. “We installed a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, purchased two computers and bought a variety of different genres from Scholastic Books of Canada and a local bookstore,” Peets says. She vividly recalls a situation in the shelter, concerning an abused woman who spoke little English. “It was a huge challenge for us to help her because she had no family in the area,” Peets says. “So she used Instant Messenger to contact her family and receive support from overseas. GAWDA’s contribution made that possible.”  


$57,395 Raises Heels and Housing in Las Vegas


Studio and two-bedroom apartments for people with HIV/AIDS in Las Vegas

Golden Rainbow is an organization dedicated to providing direct financial assistance and housing for the HIV/AIDS community in Clark County, Nevada. In 2004, Golden Rainbow was the recipient of $57,395 from GAWDA Gives Back. Eric Fleming, executive director, says the bulk of the money ($50,000) was earmarked for building a new, 40-unit housing center. “The unexpected donation has made a huge difference,” Fleming says. “Our direct financial assistance program makes us the payer of last resort for people who can’t cover medical bills or housing costs. The GAWDA money not directed toward the new expansion helps pay these expenses.” Fleming recently used some of the donated money to get a family off the streets, a husband and wife who are both HIV-positive with a six-year-old daughter. “We got them into our housing, and now the girl is going to school and the family is doing really well.”

Golden Rainbow is the only permanent housing program in the area, and currently has one home and eight apartments. “Families that live with HIV can stay in our housing for as long as they need,” Fleming says. After receiving GAWDA’s donation, Fleming learned that the organization’s housing complex was going to be demolished by the city of Las Vegas, to make room for an expanding freeway system. “So we are currently looking at purchasing land and building a 40-unit complex of studios and two-bedroom apartments,” he says. Fleming adds that Apartment #1 in the new complex will be dedicated to GAWDA. “We are going to have a plaque on the front door,” he says. “We want to show how grateful we are to GAWDA for making this happen.”


Help for Hawaii Military Families


Dancing with Dad at the Armed Services YMCA Father-Daughter Dance

The sole mission of the Honolulu, Hawaii, Chapter of the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) is to provide educational, recreational and social programs to local military members and their families. The $76,575 from GAWDA Gives Back funds a variety of programs, including a food pantry, after-school assistance, holiday gift baskets and scholarships for children with a parent who has been killed in action. “The money we received from GAWDA enabled us to build a new Children’s Waiting Room at Schofield Barracks Medical Clinic,” says David Gomez, executive director. “We provide free child care while parents or siblings attend doctor’s appointments. This service reduces cancelled medical appointments and distractions in the examining room.” The Children’s Waiting Room is manned three half-days a week, and Gomez hopes to expand to five. The costs are $8,000 a year and will increase to $12,000 once the center is open five days a week. “One of our staff and a volunteer supervise the children, who range in age from three months to five years,” Gomez says.

ASYMCA’s Hawaii Wounded and Fallen Hero fund allows the families of deceased service members to attend memorial services in Hawaii. “Most of these families are on the mainland,” Gomez explains. “We pay for their lodging and some transportation costs.” Gomez has had as many as 26 families attend a memorial service. Funds have also been given to wounded soldiers. “We provided $2,000 to one Army soldier who was severely wounded in the face,” Gomez says. “GAWDA Gives Back funds paid for extra tinting on his car because the disfiguring wound increased the sensitivity of his eyes.”


A 2005 memorial service for 27 Marines and one sailor killed in Iraq. Their unit came from Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii.

With help from GAWDA Gives Back, Gomez is also hiring another Welcome Baby Home Visitor to provide counseling for low-risk pregnant women referred to ASYMCA by the armed services. “Often a young military spouse with a deployed husband might be facing her first pregnancy feeling scared and isolated if all her female relatives are on the mainland,” Gomez says. “Welcome Home Baby Visitors are female staff who become surrogate mothers to these women and provide comfort and support throughout the pregnancy, and afterwards as well.”

The Honolulu, Hawaii, ASYMCA has been providing helpful programs for military members and their families since 1917, and will continue to do so with the assistance of GAWDA’s donation. “Helping others is our passion,” Gomez says.

To date, GAWDA Gives Back has contributed $272,530 to help people throughout the United States and Canada. These donations truly demonstrate GAWDA’s position for aiding others. Community Vision, the 2006 Gives Back recipient, provides free healthcare to patients in Florida’s Osceola County, courtesy of the Mobile Medical Express. Show this organization why GAWDA members are the most generous and kind people around. Make your donation today, and make a difference. 3i_gawda_givesback

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