Women in Action Reaching Out Drive UpPartner Agency Highlights

Coronada King Haywood – Women in Action Reaching Out

To honor Women’s History Month, we need look no further than our own backyard, because some of the most inspiring women live among us. Today, we introduce to you Coronada King Haywood.

If you’ve traveled within the circle of Long Beach nonprofits or had the pleasure of attending any number of Long Beach award events, you may recognize her. She has spent a large part of her life making Long Beach and beyond a better place for countless people.

Before delving into her recent contributions, you should know her backstory. Coronada started her work life as a daycare helper. Her warmth and caring were an immediate draw for children, and recognizing this, her boss suggested she get a credential—just 12 units—so she could be part of the teaching staff. With her own small children to raise it would be a juggling act, but undaunted, she managed to attend classes while her kids sat quietly at the back of the lecture hall, with the permission of her professors. She swiftly completed her units and was hired! She then worked her way through a degree, first attending Cal State Dominguez, then graduating from CSULB on scholarship funds. But it wasn’t easy. “I was going through a divorce, raising kids…I just wanted to do what was best for them, ultimately,” she said. She eventually went on the teach at the Head Start program in Lynwood. Her teaching career spanned 44 years.

In 2007, she started a nonprofit organization, fueled by the grief of losing her son, an innocent victim of street violence. Her plan—to help others through similar grief. But that evolved to helping feed children, and later, feeding adults in need. By 2013 when Food Finders began assisting her organization, she had expanded her outreach even further and in 2014 officially took over Women in Action Reaching Out.

Today she employs 8 staff and serves the residents at Carmelitos Housing in North Long Beach, along with a Boys and Girls Club, nonprofit His Nesting Place, which serves families in need, and several other local park sites. Her programs include a daily grab-and-go lunch, a weekly food distribution for seniors, and providing donated clothes and hygiene items as available.

When asked what the most rewarding part about her role as CEO of Women in Action Reaching Out, she didn’t hesitate to respond.

“Being able to continue helping throughout the pandemic has been so important. My passion is ensuring that nobody goes hungry. We’ve followed all proper protocols, made sure nobody was gathering in the community rooms, and we kept our program running the whole time.”

Food Finders provides donations through local Ralph’s stores, and her recipients are so grateful for the food. “We value our partnership so much. Food Finders was the first place to help us with our food program,” she shared.

Not only has her program endured, but so has Coronada, with the recent loss of her husband still weighing heavy on her heart. “I had to get out of the house, it was getting so hard. My son encouraged me to go be involved, even if it was just an hour or two a day. It helps.”

Like everyone, Coronada looks forward to resuming normal get togethers so they can have people in group settings enjoying the meals their program provides. “We want to be that shining light, for both physical and mental well-being.”

You are the shining light, Coronada! Happy Women’s History Month, and thank you for your perseverance and dedication and for being a role model and amazing example of community spirit.

Casa Youth ShelterPartner Agency Highlights

Casa Youth Shelter

On any given day in the U.S., thousands of teens go homeless and hungry. Too often, youth reach a breaking point, unable to face another day of school bullying, parental abuse, stress–or hunger. Yet when we think of homeless people, our minds often form the image of an older male adult curled up on a sidewalk or a park bench. Shockingly, 34% of homeless people in the U.S. are actually under 24 years of age. Which is why Casa Youth Shelter right here in our own community is such a significant, often lifesaving, resource.

The shelter houses 12 youth (aged 12 to 17) when at capacity, and in addition to offering a safe harbor and hot meals, they provide group activities, peer interaction and counseling services for both the youth and parents. Ideally, after spending time at the shelter, the residents return to their families or move on to a safe, crisis-free living situation. While at the shelter they are on temporary break from school, focusing on improving their situation and receiving the help they need. Some former residents continue with counseling services, and the services are offered remotely to nonresidents as well.

Recently, there has been a change in the typical resident profile, according to Josue Montenegro, a 7-year staff member. Many of the youth seeking safe harbor are transgender and have been rejected, bullied and abused by family and friends. For them particularly, a place to find support and to reset is essential. And it comes as no surprise that in this past year during the pandemic, teen depression and anxiety have skyrocketed, so Casa Youth has been an invaluable haven.

Food Finders has been partnered with the shelter for 20 years and donates wholesome food twice a week. The staff prepare meals, sometimes engaging and teaching the residents cooking skills, and generally ensures that everyone receives a healthy meal. Any excess donated food is made available via an onsite pantry, free to area families or youth in need.

Food Finders is so grateful to count Casa Youth Shelter as one of our many partners that help serve our local communities. Thank you for all you do!

Support Food Finders and Give #MoreThanJustFood

Your support of Food Finders provides more than just food- it provides time spent cooking together, reconnecting with friends or family, creating a long-lasting memory, tradition and much more. Make a donation this December and provide someone in need with #MoreThanJustFood.