THE DO-GOODER: Los Angeles-based shoe designer George Esquivel
THE CAUSE: We’ve Got Your Back
THE MISSION: We’ve Got Your Back is a weekend nutrition program for homeless schoolchildren living in Orange County, created and overseen by Giving Children Hope.
Lauren: How did you originally get involved with We’ve Got Your Back?
George: A friend of mine read an article about We’ve Got Your Back in the paper. Knowing the circumstance of my childhood, he knew this was something I’d be interested in and shared it with me. We ended up visiting Giving Children Hope’s facility (the organization coordinating the We’ve Got Your Back program) to ask how we could help out.
Lauren: What is it about this particular organization that speaks to you?
George: My four siblings and I grew up living in motels throughout Orange County. Our father was a drug addict who was in and out of jail and not the type of person we as kids could count on to help and support us. I know the reality of going to bed hungry, and the feeling that things will never get better. A program like We’ve Got Your Back provides backpacks full of food each week to motel kids in OC. This isn’t a foreign story that I’ve read about in the paper, but a reality that I lived.
Lauren: Can you describe the work that you do with them?
George: Feeding over 3,000 kids and their families each week requires a lot of food. I’ve had the privilege of doing special fundraising projects with all of the proceeds going to help purchase needed food. Also, it takes dozens of volunteers each week to help pack and deliver the backpacks. My family volunteers our time regularly to help pack the food.
Lauren: What’s been your most memorable experience with We’ve Got Your Back?
George: The executive director of Giving Children Hope/We’ve Got Your Back is a good friend of mine, and he frequently comes by my shop and shares stories about the families they are serving. As he shares with me, I look at the pictures of my own three kids on my office wall and am very grateful that their childhood is so different than mine was. They’ve never had to skip meals so that their siblings don’t have to go to bed hungry.
Lauren: How has your involvement inspired you?
George: Still living in Orange County, I constantly see homeless people and am reminded of where I’ve come from. By the grace of God and with lots of hard work, my siblings and I have all broken out of the hellish lifestyle that my father put us in. Working with these kids, I’m constantly reminded to never take for granted the blessings of my life.
Lauren: How can others get involved?
George: The number of homeless kids in OC keeps growing, and with that comes the need to provide more food. WGYB always needs food donations as well as financial donations to purchase food. WGYB also offers the opportunity to serve these kids by donating your time packing the backpacks with food. For more info, you can visit their website or contact my good friend and executive director of Giving Children Hope, Sean Lawrence, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauren David Peden writes for Rue La La as a Contributing Editor.