January, 2020
Welcome to Cristina Connections
Did you know that this charity was named eBay’s 2019 small business of the year? And, that this $4 million business is the vehicle for young adults to take charge of their lives? So who is More Than Words?

More Than Words is a not for profit organization that provides support for young adults who are in foster care, have been court involved, or are homeless. Their interventions are designed to help these individuals become productive in their lives. More Than Words approach is to place an emphasis on economic empowerment. Though solutions may be different for different young people of various ages, the path to productivity, they believe, “must include getting up each day and being productive in work and/or education.”
Consider this learning ground for economic empowerment: More Than Word’s bookselling business (with an inventory of more than 140,000 books out of two retail stores and online sales) is managed by the young adults it helps. The organization conducts a Training Institute to guide them with their tasks. They believe that the basis of successful intervention is best given to the people they serve not through traditional social services models but through social enterprise/economic empowerment approaches.
Consider how a culture of support is built. Meaningful work, learning what work is all about, and the ability to address personal barriers to success as you develop concrete action plans is the critical model here. The young people are given an active role in taking charge of their lives. As Greg Brueck-Cassoli, Foundation and Corporate Grants Manager further explains, “What impresses me about More Than Words is how it effectively empowers people. We incorporate our youth in everything we are doing. No shortcuts here. "

Shannon, who is currently receiving help from More Than Words as she prepares to go forward with her education, said about her association with them
why she found it such a special place. “There is a true sense of a support community here. Here we are a family and we support each other.”

There is serious work and serious engagement for the young people who come through More Than Word's doors. As they build their work skills, at the same time they are building the YOU (the personal) and the Work Skills (professional) you need to build a positive future for yourself. Empowerment, they are learning, is participating fully in the work of constructing positive roadways into their lives.
"The biggest change I’ve experienced since starting at MTW is having more motivation. MTW helped me feel excited again. I looked forward to coming to work and that excitement had a positive effect on lots of other areas of my life. MTW is a play button from pause, it’s a second chance for many people like me."
Robyn, MTW Graduate

Nathaniel Miller, founder and president of Heroes Deserve Help , is passionate about helping veterans in need gain access to computers. His father, a Naval veteran who had become disabled, was an inspiration to his desire to help veterans. Nat credits him as the person that insisted he acquire IT skills and to work specifically in technology related repair jobs. After 20 years of using the IT skills he acquired for technology repair, he determined to follow his passion In honor of his dad and that he would create a foundation that would help veterans.  

In 2013 Heroes Deserve Help was founded. Its purpose, to help veterans gain access to computers they needed for personal support to lead more productive lives. The name Heroes Deserve Help was connected to his father’s personal history overcoming disability. Heroes Deserve Help started in a space no greater than 700 square feet. They continue to expand as the county of Los Angeles provides ongoing sizable donations of used equipment, as do the public and the corporate community. With the recent donations of laptops they have received through the National Cristina Foundation they have further expanded their ability to serve veterans in need. 
Because Heroes Deserve Help has established partnerships with five other organizations, its growing success as an organization despite having a small staff, says Nat, is possible because of these collaborative partnerships. These organizations have the programs in place that we can support. For example, when veterans are beginning as students at the Coastline Community College they are asked what technology they are using to support their studies. If they have none because they cannot afford the cost, that determines who is provided with a refurbished computer. The other organizations help in meaningful ways.

“As we link to others we share our strengths. We are all paying it forward. I am storing it up.” says Nat. “Not everyone can do this. I am so glad to be a member of the AFTRR community.“ As a member of the AFTRR community, ( Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse ) a program of the National Cristina Foundation, collaboration strengthens what a nonprofit refurbisher can accomplish.“ I have learned a lot from the other members in this nonprofit refurbisher community. “

Quoting Reagan, Nat added, “There is an unlimited amount a person can achieve if they don’t care who gets the credit.” We agreed that as digital inclusion becomes integrated more fully into the larger society our mutual goal must be that no one should be left behind.
[ 203.863.9100]   [info@cristina.org]  [ www.cristina.org]