The numbers are tough to hear and even more difficult to fathom: each year in Riverside County, hundreds of cases of child abuse are reported, a number which escalates in difficult economic times and around the holidays. The children that are removed from these unsafe and unbearable conditions are in need of significant emotional healing and a safe environment in which to relearn what it means to be a kid.
Rancho Damacitas and it’s parent organization, Thessalonika Family Services, provide a much needed environment for some of these precious children to recover from the abuse that they have suffered. The Rancho Damacitas campus is a long-term care solution with several homes complete with a parent couple in each who take on the day to day responsibilities of raising the six girls or boys entrusted to their care. This loving, safe structure gives the children an opportunity to bond with the family unit and heal from the deep physical and/or emotional pain that they have suffered. Though the children often stay in the program for years, Rancho Damacitas does ultimately work towards transitioning ones that are ready into a more traditional foster care situation. In the interim, they offer much-needed family unit, counseling, recreation programs, tutoring and so much more.
Along with the care that they provide for children ages 6 – 18, Thessalonika Family Services also offers a continuum of care with Project Independence. As children age out of foster care at age 18, they are often left to their own devices, but not so with Project Independence. Once they have received their high school diploma, qualified participants are eligible for financial assistance with living expenses and continued education. Project Independence offers a mentoring program and other resources to help these young adults grow into responsible contributing members of our community. In essence, they continue to parent the children just as any parent would help their child transition into adulthood.
As with many nonprofit organizations, Rancho Damacitas is full of love and, at times like these, short on funds. Their short term goals involve simply maintaining the level of care that they currently provide to the children entrusted to them. In addition, they are always looking for families who are interested in training through their foster care program. By teaching families in our community how to love and care for abused children, they increase their positive influence exponentially.
Other needs include funds for basics such as clothing, school supplies and group outings for the children. Improvements to the campus are planned as funds come in. The wish list includes a walking path for the children to use for recreation and for therapy. The counselors often find that much healing can come from walking side by side and talking through feelings. Bigger goals include and outdoor basketball court as this is an activity that all the children seem to enjoy. The current parking space/basketball hoop set up quickly becomes crowded as everyone wants to play. For a complete list of needs or to make a donation online, please visit the Current Needs page on their website.
Events sponsored by Ponte Winery and other supporters give Rancho Damacitas the much-needed exposure to those who want to help. For a list of upcoming events please visit the Events Page on their website.
Rancho Damacitas gives the children in our community a chance at a happy, healthy life and then returns those children to us as happy, healthy adults. I submit that this investment is best repaid by our generous support of their efforts. Please join Taste of Temecula in our commitment to Thessalonika Family Services the wonderful work that they do.