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Residents find holiday cheer thanks to Mission Housing staff

Martín Ugarte, Associate Director of Resident Services for Mission Housing, and Veronica Green, Valencia Gardens Community Associate Director, inspect the wrapping on toys to be distributed later. Photo by Tony Bear!

Hundreds of Mission Housing tenants enjoy holiday festivities thanks to Resident Services team

Eighteen holiday celebrations spread among fifteen buildings. Hundreds of toys distributed. One thousand pounds of food served. Lots of smiling faces seen.

Every year, the Resident Services team of Mission Housing Development Corporation makes sure tenants get a little dose of holiday cheer. November through December, the sights and sounds of the season brighten the community rooms of several Mission Housing apartment buildings.

“Our goal is to make sure we keep our tenants engaged during the holidays,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing. “The end-of-year festivities help to bring our residents together, and make certain everyone has something to celebrate, no matter their circumstances. We hope these celebrations and gatherings create an environment that will take away some of the stress and isolation that can come with this time of year.”

Contreras supervises Mission Housing Resident Services Coordinators as they take charge of every facet of the group celebrations. Coordinators manage the residents who enjoy keeping busy by volunteering to decorate rooms and prepare meals. The undertaking is a collaboration with the on-site management staffs of Caritas Management Corporation and The John Stewart Company.

Holiday festivities mean food

Residents in Mission Housing senior buildings, and occupants of the Mission Housing single room hotels, enjoy holiday luncheons. At the Mission Housing family buildings, residents gather around tables for a festive sit-down dinner.

Some of the meals are prepared and served by staff, others are cooked and served by resident volunteers. In most cases, the food and refreshments are provided by Mission Housing. Tenants in the SRO buildings dedicate proceeds from vending machine sales towards buying food for their group holiday meals.

Holiday Wish Drive gift program fulfills wishes

At the family building celebrations, Mission Housing kids aged 12 and younger receive toys from The Family Giving Tree, as part of their Holiday Wish Drive. The Holiday Wish Drive receives personalized gift wishes, and raises money to bulk-purchase gifts. Various donors also buy and drop off actual toys.

Mission Housing staffers make several trips to The Family Giving Tree warehouse to pick up contributed toys. Resident volunteers help staff with gift-wrapping. The gifts are put into age-appropriate collections. The Family Giving Tree includes toothbrushes with the gifts, as a way to remind and encourage children to engage in proper dental hygiene practices.

“For our families who struggle to make ends meet, these might be the only gifts the children will receive during the holidays,” said Martín Ugarte, Associate Director of Resident Services for Mission Housing. “This is why our team enjoys putting so much effort into our holiday gift distributions.”

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