Name: Caitlin Nguyen
Location: Newport Beach, CA (born and raised!)
Contributions: Former Summer Volunteer
1) Project Hope Alliance: When and how did you first hear about Project Hope Alliance?
Caitlin Nguyen: I first heard about Project Hope Alliance in the spring of 2015 when I was doing research about non-profits I could volunteer with in order to fulfill my volunteer hours as part of the UC Santa Barbara Honors Program. I came across a number of articles and reviews about the work Project Hope Alliance does for Orange County's homeless and pored over their website to find out more information on how to get involved.
2) Why did you choose to get involved and take action?
I consider myself incredibly lucky to have grown up in such an affluent community my entire life. That being said, reading the stories and statistics of homeless families and children in Orange County really highlighted the discrepancy of wealth around me and opened my eyes to an otherwise hidden issue. I was compelled to take action to help my community by assisting these families who are too often ignored or stigmatized.
3) In what ways do you help fuel our mission?
I spent my summer interning for Project Hope Alliance, working with the great, huge-hearted staff and learning firsthand the massive impacts that Project Hope Alliance has on the families they help. While I knew that my work assisting in the office was helpful to the mission of Project Hope Alliance, the feeling of working with the families directly, whether that was grabbing supplies from the pantry or entertaining the children while their parents met with case managers, is indescribable. It made me realize the difference Project Hope Alliance makes in the lives of families and children by lifting them out of homelessness and towards more stable, secure futures.
I also decided to make Project Hope Alliance part of my Lenten sacrifice. As Pope Francis recommended giving up indifference to others for Lent this year, I was inspired to help the homeless through Project Hope Alliance. I decided to give up cursing, pledging to donate $0.50 for each time I broke Lent. (Let's just say I broke Lent quite a lot.) I dedicated my donation to Project Hope Alliance's education program in memory of my grandpa, a lifelong educator who recently passed away this past December, and who had always instilled in me the values of selflessness and the pricelessness of an education.
4) Who are you when you're not changing the lives of the kids and families we serve?
Outside of Project Hope Alliance, I am a college student, finishing up my bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Santa Barbara and graduating this spring! After graduation, I hope to start preparing for law school to pursue a career as a lawyer, where I hope I can merge my passion for making a difference with my interest in the field of law. Aside from that, I am an avid Lakers fan and a victim of wanderlust, traveling the world and experiencing different cultures whenever I can. Thankfully, this hobby complements my "foodie" tendencies, as I constantly seek to immerse myself wherever I go by trying authentic cuisine. (Italy will forever have my heart. And my stomach.)
5) What gives you hope, and why?
The future gives me hope because of its endless possibilities. Drawing from the lessons taught to me by my grandparents, who came to the United States with very little only to seek a better life for their children, I am a wholehearted believer in the American Dream. The mission of Project Hope Alliance, in helping children by providing them with an education and their families with a stable home, has only reinforced my belief in the power of education, the opportunities afforded by upward mobility, and the potential for a better future, despite current struggles or obstacles. In fact, I consider Project Hope Alliance's ending of homelessness for over 700 children and their parents since 2012 to be a testament as to why the future gives me hope.
Thank you, Caitlin, for giving the gift of hope.