Marissa CASA

CASA: Advocates Help OC’s Forgotten Kids

Hope was five when she was matched with her advocate Marissa through CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children. Hope had been brutally abused and had no healthy parental figure, which resulted in her use of foul language, tantrums (including while she was with her advocate), and physical aggression. She was expelled from kindergarten for knocking over the principal who had leaned down to talk to her.

Her advocate, who knew that Hope was very bright, visited multiple schools in an attempt to find the perfect teacher to help Hope – someone who could see past the behaviors to her amazing potential. Marissa also helped find a single woman who was willing to adopt Hope, even with all the challenges she presented.

Marissa continued to work with Hope and support her to ensure the adoption was successful. Hope could have been relegated to moving from school to school, foster home to foster home, from therapist to therapist, but Marissa would not permit that to happen to this girl with amazing potential, despite her out-of-control behavior.

Hope is now a happy 17-year-old and remains in her adoptive home, thanks to the faith and tireless efforts of her advocate.

CASA’s mission is to provide quality advocacy for children through a unique one-on-one relationship between a trained and supervised court-appointed volunteer and an abused, abandoned or neglected child.

CASA believes that the protection of our children is a fundamental obligation of our society and therefore the advocates and staff will fight for and protect a child’s right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect and to live in a healthy environment where he/she can learn and grow. For more information, visit

Guadalupe Kidsingers

KidSingers: Offering Hope Through Music to Inner-City Youth

 “With approximately one year left in school, I can finally say what I want to study in college. There two main things I would love to study in college: automotive engineering and music, so I can become a choir teacher.

I know what a lot of you may be thinking “Wait, she wants to be an automotive engineer? Why?” Well, for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved cars! Cars are just so interesting and I’ve always wanted to know what makes them work! I want to also become a choir teacher because singing is my passion and I want to teach kids to get out of their comfort zones. I want to show kids how singing can be a stress reliever.

KidSingers is such a unique program, where you make friendships that will last forever. KidSingers is the type of program that brings people together who would never have met if it wasn’t for this amazing program.

Thank you, KidSingers, for giving me this opportunity to find my passion; thank you for helping me break out of my shell; thank you for helping me find friendships that will last a lifetime. The most important lesson you can learn from KidSingers is that with one small voice you can change and heal the world. And, finally, thank you, KidSingers, for giving me the opportunity to let my little light shine. — Guadalupe Gurrola

Formed in 1997 as a response to musical programs being cut from Santa Ana Unified School District, KidSingers is an inner-city, after-school youth chorus begun by 30-year choral conducting visionary, Paul McNeff. Now in its 20th season with an enrollment of 110 children, KidSingers serves at-risk youth in Santa Ana in grades 3-12. This award-winning program has served as a beacon of hope and inspiration, directly impacting more than 1,200 kids to a more hope-filled life. For more information visit,

Frank Mercy House

Mercy House: Making a Forever Home Possible

When we first moved Frank Gable into permanent housing, he literally had nothing on him – just the clothes on his back. Frank, a 73-year-old disabled gentleman, had been staying at our Armory Emergency Shelters after a referral from St. Jude Hospital.

Frank had been suffering from homelessness for the last 10 years.

A few years earlier, he had been living on a boat that he was working on. Unfortunately, the boat was destroyed after an unexpected incident, leaving Frank with nothing. Suffering from memory loss, disabilities and lack of a support system, Frank had nowhere to turn. Thankfully, Mercy House was able to provide Frank with the services he needed.

After moving Frank into permanent housing, Mercy House was able to provide him with household essentials to help make his new place a home. Thrilled to be sleeping in his apartment, Frank could not believe that he would actually have a bed of his own. “I don’t remember the last time I had something this nice,” Frank said. “I look forward to showering and actually resting for once.”

Mercy House provides housing and comprehensive supportive services for a variety of homeless populations, including families, adult men and women, mothers and their children, persons living with HIV/AIDS, individuals overcoming substance addictions, and some who are physically and mentally disabled.

We strive to assist our residents in the areas of economic, emotional and spiritual well-being in order to enhance self-esteem and a sense of personal pride. We value accountability, integrity, and self-sufficiency. The dignity of the individual person and the corresponding respect that follows is the guiding principle of our service to the homeless person. For more information, visit