Friday, 13 June 2008

Charitable Donations: Echoes of Hope

In the continuing summer project that I have vowed to undertake, Hockey Blog In Canada is proud to bring to you another fabulous organization. In fact, this will be Part One of a two-part article that reflects on organizations founded by Luc and Stacia Robitaille. Luc, of course, is a former NHL superstar, and he is now the Los Angeles Kings' President of Business Operations. Today, we'll look at an organization called Echoes of Hope, an organization that works to help Los Angeles youths to help themselves. The non-profit charity was founded by Luc and Stacia in 2005 in response to the Gulf Coast disasters, and was started as an outgrowth of Shelter For Serenity, the other charity the Robitailles started.

Mission Statement: Echoes of Hope was founded to specifically address the needs of at-risk youth who had their futures put in serious jeopardy by the Gulf Coast disasters. It also was started to "identify young people with the drive and ability to succeed, whose only obstacle is the lack of the tools and support to create brighter futures for themselves, and to give them the opportunities they so richly deserve".

How Did Echoes of Hope Start?: "Since its inception, Echoes of Hope has assisted young people across the country - from Katrina survivors to struggling youth in Luc and Stacia's own Los Angeles community". Obviously, this organization is working to ensure that America's future remains bright, and that's an excellent reason to help out. Echoes of Hope has a variety of programs that help adolescents and young adults achieve their ultimate potential.

The first program to be highlighted is called Echo Teens: Blueprints, which is designed for teens aged 13-17. The objective of this program is to help "participants become the "architects of their lives". In collaboration with their life coach, teens will map out their educational/career aspirations. Next, students will work to create an 'action plan' of measurable, short-term goals to ensure these dreams are brought to fruition. Visualization, goal-setting and motivational techniques will be taught to promote self-empowerment. Participants will also have one-on one wellness counseling with a mental health professional".

The second program I'd like to highlight is called Echo Young Adults: Foundations For Success, which is designed for young adults aged 18 and older. The objective of this program is to help young adults who demonstrate strong potential, but do not have the resources to achieve their dreams. "This program will focus on, but will not be restricted to, emancipated foster youth, and is a referral-based scholarship program. Programs will be custom built based on each individual's unique skills and needs to provide the best opportunity for success. Possible resources include scholarships, housing assistance, special event sponsorship, and supplies/equipment. In addition, each participant will have one-on-one wellness counseling with a mental health professional".

Both of these programs establish building good foundations on which success is built. This is vital when working with children who seemingly have their dreams dashed due to circumstances outside of their control. Ultimately, Echoes of Hope is rebuilding hope and enthusiasm in young adults during times when these young people have none. That is the definition of charity, and I commend the Robitailles for their efforts in re-establishing smiles on the faces of young people.

However, Echoes of Hope also has two other significant programs that enable young people to reach their full potential.

The Echoes Book Fund helps college students buy textbooks. Textbook costs have increased at nearly four times the inflation rate, averaging in at $853 per year. Students who are supporting themselves can rarely afford to buy all their textbooks, and, without textbooks to study from, are more likely to fail exams and possibly drop out of college.

"Echoes of Hope's book fund was established to ensure that the cost of books would not prevent any student from accomplishing their dreams of higher education. 100% of the donations to this fund will go toward the purchase of college textbooks and required supplies, providing a deserving young person with the tools necessary for success in their educational endeavors".

The Sponsor An Echoes Of Hope Youth program allows individuals and corporations to select a specific youth from the Echoes of Hope program, and pledge to support that young person in the pursuit of his or her dreams. This may include "attending a four-year college, community college, beauty school, vocational school or overseas study programs". Echoes of Hope ensures that the sponsor and youth remain in contact with regular updates and photos.

These programs are phenomenal, and I salute the Robitailles for their vision in creating these routes to help America's most valuable asset: young people. I encourage you to read the stories of some of the featured young people being helped by Echoes of Hope. They are stories of loss turned into stories of happiness thanks to the help of this fabulous organization.

Echoes of Hope also partners with other organizations as well. These include the Majestic Reality Foundation, the Bresee Foundation, The Alliance for Children's Rights, The Salvation Army: Red Shield Youth and Community Center, and Para Los Ninos. All of these organizations work to help children, and all deserve some recognition as well. Please visit these sites to find out how they, along with Echoes of Hope, are helping youth in America achieve their goals and dreams. Not only are these organizations partners of Echoes of Hope, the Robitailles have used their celebrity status to bring aboard a large number of sponsors and friends which help to ease the financial burden on running such a great organization.

How Can I Help?: If you'd like to help Echoes of Hope in helping America's youth discover their potential, I encourage you to click here. There are a number of ways to donate to this organization, and I especially encourage you to follow the information about doubling the impact of your donation by having your company match your donation. All the details about that are on that link above. I also encourage you to check out the events that Echoes of Hope is holding if you feel you'd like to donate to the organization that way.

You can also volunteer for Echoes of Hope. Volunteering is even better since you can do much more than just give money. Giving your time and energy is contagious, and your friends may also want to tag along. To volunteer, please contact Laura Baker at (310) 458-9770.

Echoes of Hope, the NHLPA, and Luc and Stacia Robitaille are helping the communities they live in. It's time for us to help them as well.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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