Donor, Mentor Spotlight: Judy Combs

Who: Judy Combs

Location: Santa Ana, CA

Contributions: Longtime Volunteer & Mentor 

1) Project Hope Alliance: When and how did you first hear about Project Hope Alliance?

Judy Combs: Many ways, but primarily through several chance occasions with Jennifer Friend, since we are both members of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. When "214 Sq. Ft." went to St. Andrew's, I was unavailable to see it, so asked to go to Second Harvest Food Bank and learn more about the motel room and PHA.

2) Why did you choose to get involved and take action?

My nature is to give. Having been an executive director of a nonprofit, I know how difficult it can be to raise funds. I started my involvement that way, then when Jennifer spoke at a gathering at St. Andrew's regarding Every Monday Matters, my heart literally jumped into my throat and I was on my feet to serve!

3) In what ways do you help fuel our mission?

Fueling your mission is easy because every child does matter so much. I have donated and am presently mentoring the most delightful 8-year-old little girl through PHA's Bright Start Program. Each time I meet with her I come away from our time so blessed. I, also donate food and toiletries through St. Andrew's. PHA is the first organization I have served in this mentoring capacity, so I find myself learning so much and thanking the family constantly. My inclination is to give too much, so I have had to temper that and realize that they do not want their capabilities to be taken away from them. 

Judy's heartfelt summary of her time so far with her Bright Start mentee:

When the opportunity arose from Project Hope Alliance to participate in a pilot program concerning kids, I could not get to the person fast enough to sign up! I rearranged my schedule to meet the requirements before meeting the mentee, and then came the day. I was both nervous and extremely excited. Meeting at the Disneyland Hotel made the morning even more exciting!

Meeting my little 7-year-old girl was so exciting, I had tears of joy just seeing her and getting to know her and her mom. Our time together has been one of extreme joy. I have often said that if I meet with her and am in a bad or sad place, to see her and listen to her and what is going on with her—everything seems so trite and unworthy of concern. She loves to explore, so we do lots of up and down stairs and exploring what she wants to explore. We read, draw, and discover new fun things on a weekly basis, so we have lots to do. My challenges are keeping up with her and not smothering her with things. I have done quite well on both counts!

To sum up my time with this young lady, who is now 8 years old, is to say that I have been blessed to have this opportunity to be with her and her precious family. They make my week each and every time I am with them.

4) Who are you when you're not changing the lives of the kids and families we serve?

After my retirement from being the executive director for the California Academic Decathlon in 2002, I became more involved in St. Andrew's. I attend Bible Studies and other events that keep me busy. I am also a coach for Executive Coaches of Orange County and enjoy working with the men and women in nonprofits. In addition, I enjoy gardening, walking, and pilates. 

5) What gives you hope, and why?

God first! He is in charge, and that certainly makes life more hopeful. Also, having worked with high school students and seeing them in action for over 15 years, I see that so many want to make things better and assist others in the process. This gives me hope for the future. Organizations like PHA and the major role they play in Orange County and beyond are having an impact, and that makes me extremely hopeful.

Thank you, Judy, for giving the gift of hope.