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Status Update: CHOC, Casa Youth Shelter recipients of $4 million aimed at mental health

Orange County Register - 6/17/2024

Casa Youth Shelter in Los Alamitos and CHOC are the recipients of $4 million in state funding aimed at tackling mental health in at-risk youth.

Sen. Tom Umberg (34th District) recently presented $500,000 to youth shelter representatives and $3.5 million to Children’s Hospital of Orange County in Orange.

The money will go toward providing resources and facilities for families and youth who are experiencing mental health crises.

In recent years, CHOC has committed millions of dollars to the mental health of children. In April 2018, it opened an 18-bed $13.2-million mental health in-patient facility to serve children ages 3 to 18. Later that same year, the children’s hospital debuted a pediatric psychiatric access line, a first of its kind for the county.

Casa Youth Shelter provides emergency, temporary shelter and support services to homeless, runaway and abandoned youth between the ages of 12 and 17. Learn more about the nonprofit at

Nonprofits, schools and educators in Buena Park, Fullerton and Irvine can apply for a Bright Futures grant offered by the Orange County Power Authority.

Applications are now being accepted for the program, which grants up to $20,000 to applicants who bring forward “the most creative and unique ideas.”

OCPA said a particular focus would be given to the organizations that work with underrepresented communities and multilingual campaigns. The grant also prioritizes programs that collaborate on renewable energy education.

The deadline to submit applications is July 1; grants will be awarded later this summer, OCPA said.

Bright Futures Grant details and eligibility can be found below at

Stater Bros. Markets, ABC7 and Subaru are hosting the 13th annual Feed SoCal Food Drive.

The drive is raising money for critical supplies needed at Southern California food banks. Participating food banks include Feeding America Riverside/San Bernardino; Food Share of Ventura County; Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank; Los Angeles Regional Food Bank andSecond Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.

Shoppers can either buy a $5 donation card at checkout, contribute loose change at coin canisters, or text FEEDSOCAL to 41444. For more information about the food drive, go to

HomeAid Orange County is bringing back the popular fundraiser Project Playhouse.

The event will coincide with the organization’s 35th anniversary. Project Playhouse, last held in 2012, will showcase the talent of the local homebuilding industry. Proceeds benefit HomeAid’s mission addressing homelessness.

The playhouses will be displayed at Irvine Spectrum Center starting Sept. 7. The group will host an auction party and anniversary celebration in October. Bidders will have the opportunity to buy a playhouses.

For more information about Project Playhouse and HomeAid Orange County, go to

The 37th annual Circle 1000 Founders’ Celebration brunch raised $1 million for the Hoag Family Cancer Institute. The money will go toward recruiting of oncology physicians, clinical research, early detection programs and an annual nursing symposium that focuses on education. Circle 1000 has raised $25 million over the last 37 years for Hoag programs.

Project Self-Sufficiency, a nonprofit founded in 1985 and based in Huntington Beach, recently awarded more than 50 scholarships worth a combined $63,750 to help low-income single parents in Orange County graduate from college or vocational training. The organization’s annual June Recognition Program held June 1 recognized the achievements of Project Self-Sufficiency’s Single Parent Scholars at the end of the school year.

Casa Youth Shelter raised $335,000 at its annual gala “Art With Heart,” held May 10th at the Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach. The money will support the organization’s mission of providing a safe haven and support services for youth experiencing abuse, homelessness, human trafficking and mental health crises. At the event, Kenny Brandyberry received the Legacy Honoree award for his 25 years supporting the youth shelter. The late Lois Abrams also was honored as the Founders Honoree.

Blair Contratto is the new chief strategy officer at Be Well OC in Irvine. She most recently served as president and chief executive of Mount Carmel Health Ministries in Duarte. Contratto also was CEO of Providence Health System’s Little Company of Mary in Torrance for seven years. Be Well OC is a new initiative combining public, private, academic and faith-based organizations to create a system of mental health care and support for Orange County residents.

Kenneth J. Chang is the new executive medical director of the Digestive Health Institute at Hoag where he will lead a team of experts focused on personalized digestive health care and innovative treatment options and clinical trials. Chang, a board-certified gastroenterologist, comes to Hoag from UC Irvine, where he built and launched the university’s Comprehensive Digestive Disease Center and its Digestive Health Institute.

Darcy Clarkson is the new CEO of Region North America at BSH Home Appliances Corp. in Irvine. The company manufactures Gaggenau, Thermador and Bosch branded kitchen appliances. Clarkson most recently was chief commercial officer at the technology and Internet of Things company Nanoleaf.

Joe Stapleton has been named chairman of the New Majority Orange County, succeeding Lucy Rawlins, who is pivoting to the role of chairwoman emeritus. Stapleton will focus on membership growth, championing conservative issues and supporting strong candidates.

Status Update is compiled and written by Business Editor Samantha Gowen. Submit items and high-resolution photos to Allow at least one week for publication. Items are edited for length and clarity.

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