Helping families

Diana Wilson, director of educational services at Rebekah Children’s Services, accepts the Kimberly Ordaz Award on behalf of Corina Sapien, principal of Glen View Elementary School. Presenting the award is Michael Luevano, development director of RCS.Phot

It was a baby shower, but there was no baby.

Instead, more than 100 people filled the banquet room of Old City Hall on  April 21 for a Rebekah Children’s Services (RCS) fundraiser and a free program aimed at children under 5 helping to promote education, information about nutrition and healthy parenting principles.

Purple vases filled with white carnations decorated the dozen-plus tables at the first Spring Shower, something they aim to make an annual event.

The luncheon, fashioned as a “baby shower,” included a gift table, which overflowed with bags and packages in bright shades of pink, blue and yellow containing essentials to benefit families participating in the services offered by the Family Resource Center (FRC).

Guests were treated not only to good food and drinks, but also the opportunity to win designer purses, spa treatments and wine baskets in a raffle and silent auction.

The room’s energetic buzz quieted as Christophe Rebboah, executive director of Rebekah Children’s Services, addressed the crowd.

“The FRC is part of a multi-prong approach to treating children and families. It’s one of our biggest doors that we have at RCS,” Rebboah said.

“We’re going to give them all the love, all the guidance, and all the skills, our heart, as much as we can offer to those kids and their families.”

Rebboah credited FRC employees who assist the families as the program’s greatest asset.

“We have angels who work for us. These angels truly make miracles happen, and it’s inspiring, and it’s heartwarming,” Rebboah said.

“We were sold out,” said Michael Luevano, communications and development director. “We actually had to turn away probably 20 people. Money is great, but awareness is even better, long term. These people will know who we are, what [FRC] is, and share that message.”

The FRC was first created to support community members in Gilroy and Morgan Hill, but today the program knows no boundaries, said Diana Wilson, director of educational services. The organization helps some 3,000 families.

“I just need everybody to know that no family will ever be turned away. I don’t care about your social or economical levels. I don’t care what your story is, I just want you to come, and learn, and be part of the community,” Wilson said.

“As we know, it takes a village to raise a child, and we have a village. We just want the numbers to come.”

Gilroy’s Corina Sapien was given the Kimberly Ordaz Award. Ordaz, who passed away in 2013, was a mother, teacher and active community member, and according to Luevano, she “embodied that person in your life that you aspire to be.”

He added that “she made a huge impact on so many families that came through our community and it is the feeling that I want to share with our community when selecting a recipient. It is a high standard in my book, and one worth honoring.”  

Always putting dedication to her job and her students, first, Sapien was unable to accept her award in person, so Wilson stood in for her.

“That’s Corina, her job is to protect her school family, and that’s exactly what she did. That’s who she is,” Wilson said.

Addressing the crowd, Wilson’s voice quavered, and her eyes filled with tears, as she extoled Sapien’s contributions to the community, some of which Wilson’s personally experienced through their work together at the FRC.

Born and raised in Gilroy, Sapien, a mother of two, is a devoted educator and school administrator who has served 27 years with the Gilroy Unified School District.

She received her BA in English, and a Masters in Education from the University of Santa Clara, then returned in 1989 to her hometown, where she began teaching.

She spent seven years at South Valley Middle School, followed by 15 years at Rod Kelley Elementary School, as assistant principal and a literacy facilitator.

Sapien had a brief stint in the human resources department of GUSD, but soon discovered she’d rather be back on campus. In 2010 she took on her current role of principal of Glen View Elementary.

Wilson’s speech credited Sapien with creating a safe and loving school environment, implementing a school wide culture based on love and logic. “When students feel respected, appreciated, and loved by their teachers, they are far more motivated,” Wilson said.

Sapien created the Glen View project at her campus, a community hub for families and children to receive quality academics, mental health services, health care, parenting classes, a monthly food pantry, and other services.

The success of the event was not only evident from the attendance, but also by the money raised in one afternoon: $5,500, along with 75 “baby shower” gifts donated by the guests and contributions collected on the gift registry at Target.com.

“There were a lot of new faces in attendance that were previously unaware of the types of services that we provide for our families, I can’t put a price on that, but it’s what meant the most to me and to our program,” Luevano said.
 

For additional information about Rebekah’s Family Resource Center, please go to: rcskids.org/services/frc.
 

We’re going to give them all the love, all the guidance, and all the skills, our heart, as much as we can offer to those kids and their families.
 

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