Cid Pinedo of Children’s Fund knows the challenges facing the most vulnerable families in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties – even in normal times. Add to that the health and economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the president and CEO of the non-profit sees an even greater need for resources to support members of the community struggling with homelessness, abuse and neglect, food insecurity, and many other issues.
The John P. Previti Memorial Foundation responded to a need that intensified due to the stay-at-home orders which handicapped local students who had limited technical ability to participate in distance learning. In March of 2020 the organization donated $60,000 to provide foster kids, homeless students and at-risk youth the electronic equipment and training necessary to access their classrooms remotely, print materials and even apply to jobs online.
“We approached the Previti Foundation with a very specific request to fund our computer camp, done with the San Bernardino County’s Department of Children and Family Services,” explained Ciriaco “Cid” Pinedo, Ed.D.
The donation funded 120 computer kits for teenagers in the foster system. Each setup included a new laptop, a new printer, licensed Microsoft Office software, cables, a computer bag, as well as computer training so the students could become proficient with their new equipment.
“The Previti Foundation is truly rebuilding the lives of children who have felt broken and shattered,” Pinedo said.
Stories of the students chosen to receive the electronics serve to underscore the impact of this kind of support:
- *Marco was born in East L.A. to drug-addicted parents, including a father who was abusive and a mother he never met because she was incarcerated. “He didn’t have a concrete example of love, success,” Pinedo said. “He says the reason the computer is so important to him is because it’s the first time he’ll have something new that is all his. He wants to study computer science and business, attending University of La Verne. The computer is giving him the stability he needs so he can change his life,” he said.
- *Sarah also received a laptop through the Children’s Fund donation from the Previti Foundation. “At 14, I questioned why I wasn’t wanted or loved,” she said. “I ended up in a behavior mental health center. Later I was placed in the foster care system. I fought and fought to find success. … Now I’m about to go to college.”
In addition to the obvious benefits of greater access to technology, the sheer contact with students who are in unstable situations can save lives. It is another example of the devastating fallout from the coronavirus.
“Most neglect and abuse is reported through the schools,” Pinedo said. “With schools closed, we saw a decline in the number of cases being reported. Children’s Fund is committed to helping.”
The benefits of the Previti Foundation’s gift go beyond the boost to young people. The addition of laptops to 120 students becomes multiplied to impact hundreds of individuals.
“We give the computer kits to a student, but we find that it becomes a family gift,” Pinedo said. “We find that they are sharing it with siblings … their parent is able to use it, too. While they may have received a tablet from school, the laptop offers so much more.”
The John P. Previti Memorial Foundation is a nonprofit organization with deep roots in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. By supporting local charities such as Children’s Fund, the Foundation is improving the quality of life for at-risk youth through programs of education, advocacy and recovery.
“If you truly want to save a life – change someone’s life – then get involved,” Pinedo said. “At Children’s Fund, we get involved with children who feel like no one cares, that they are lost. We tell them that people care and then show them that people care. We tell them that they have value and that they matter – then we make sure they have all the tools and resources to help make it possible. Especially now, and especially with everything happening.”
The John P. Previti Memorial Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and inspiring people to overcome adversity and by teaming with local charities, the foundation makes a real, lasting impact on the health and vitality of communities. To learn more, visit previtimemorialfoundation.org.
*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.