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You Know You Work at Project Access When...


1.    You’re part of a spontaneous wave during staff meetings.


We take our waves very seriously.

2.    You come to staff meetings with your game face on- we are a very competitive bunch.


Esther, Ivonne, Yadira, and Daniel concentrate on their science related project. This may not have even been a competition, but it definitely turned into one.

3.    You get teary eyed hearing a success story at a staff meeting.


This box is always close by.

4.    You are constantly seeking donations.


Employees at Mazda held a Toy Drive for the holidays.

5.    You started using Gill Sans MT font everywhere and you can recognize it anywhere.


Times New Roman, psht! You ain’t got nothin’ on Gill Sans MT!

6.    Distance is not a factor in having good relationships with co-workers.


Nadia from Anaheim and Mikeyonna from Fontana find time to catch up during our monthly meetings. We're also all just a Skype/phone call away from each other!

7.    You choose restaurants based on James’ Yelp reviews or at least asked him for a recommendation.


Seriously, he’s like Yelp royalty.

8.    When you go to the Newport Beach corporate office, chances are you'll be matching with somebody.


Teresa, Kristin, and Claudia donning the fabulous coral color and unintentionally matching.

9.    On your birthday you feel super loved, and you eat a lot of cake!


Cake, cake, cake, cake, cake.

10.    You have improved the vocabulary of friends and loved ones around you, and have added terms such as ‘partnering,’ ‘full-spectrum,’ ‘holistic,’ and ‘social impact’ to their everyday lives.


You can’t help but picture Sara when you hear these words either.

11.    You say the word community an excess of 25 times a day


When you don’t use the word community, you’re looking for the next opportunity to use it in a sentence. Community.

12.    You have been described as flexible.


And you actually are- look at this makeshift office!

13.    You make an effort to eat healthier foods at staff meetings, especially when Sara is involved.


Unless it’s your birthday. Then please refer to #9.

14.    You probably have some hidden talent that has come in handy at work.

bf15a talent2

Like some truly amazing baking courtesy of Nathan or awesome photography skills courtesy of Miriam.

15.    You’ve gotten a chance to do a lot of really cool things.


Like bake your own bread for your holiday party!

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Or ride a tractor


Or learn how to paint!


Did we leave something off? Sound off in our comments sections to add to our "You Know You Work at Project Access When" list

Project Access Ballet Classes on Pointe




Project Access Service Coordinators are tasked with creating programs that appeal to the needs of their residents. Some communities thrive on Zumba classes, others are more interested in health screenings and nutrition classes. At our Family Resource Center at Tara Village Apartments in Cypress, CA, Service Coordinator Hannah Ghim had the opportunity to create a unique class for her residents.

During a woman’s exercise program, one adult resident voiced her interest in creating an onsite ballet class for children. She studied ballet extensively, but she felt like she has no place to exercise those talents after becoming a mother and a homemaker. We encouraged her to conceptualize the class, and got the word out to interested residents. Soon, we had a small gaggle of preschoolers donning their first pairs of pink leotards and tiny tutus!  

The class has an average of seven 3-6 year old ballerinas. The girls come primed in fluffy hair bows and braids. Moms, dads, and grandparents sit in the back of the classroom laughing with each other and taking rapid-fire photos of their little girls.

A success story that has come out of the ballet class was a young girl who had trouble relating with other girls her age. Her grandpa shared his sadness in seeing his little granddaughter without many friends. In ballet, she is encouraged to work with partners and express herself through dance. Her growing confidence has been remarkable.

The ballerinas will dance their tutus off all summer long. Building up confidence and working on their form will surely give these adorable dancers memories that will last them a long time.

Project Access Board Member Joe Litten's Virtual Swim


Our board member Joe Litten set up a virtual swim across the English Channel to fundraise for Project Access. If you haven't been following along with his progress, be sure to check it out here:

We appreciate Joe's creativity in raising dollars (over $4000 with more to possibly roll in) to help our children, families, and seniors. Here is a snippet of one of the wildly creative videos Joe starred in:

Staff Spotlight - Tracy Lewis



Name: Tracy Lewis

What are you most looking forward to at your new position?: Really being able to improve the lives of our seniors and residents

What do you do for yourself? (for fun/hobbies/side business/etc): Hanging out with friends and family, playing with my dog, travel, going to the beach, exercising

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?: Recently, my iPhone

How many states have you visited?: Around 20 states

If you could meet anyone from the past or present, who would it be? Obama

Project Access and Summer Learning


To succeed in school and life, children and young adults need ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills. This is especially true during the summer months.

Many Americans have a wonderful image of summer as a carefree, happy time when "kids can be kids,” and take for granted the prospect of enriching experiences such as summer camps, time with family, and trips to museums, parks, and libraries.

Unfortunately, some youth face anything but idyllic summer months. When the school doors close, many children struggle to access educational opportunities, as well as basic needs such as healthy meals and adequate adult supervision.

Did You Know?

  • All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004). 

  • Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains (Cooper, 1996). 

  • More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college (Alexander et al, 2007). 

  • Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children—particularly children at high risk of obesity—gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break (Von Hippel et al, 2007). 

  • Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do (Duffett et al, 2004).
Project Access continues learning long after our youth wrap up their final day at school. In fact, our sites transition our After-School Programs into Summer Programs where youth can participate in meaningful activities to keep them engaged. In addition, we offer a safe haven for our youth during the summer months when they may be exposed to riskier behaviors. We also partner with food banks and other agencies to offer summer meals. All of these efforts ensure our youth stay on track and out of trouble during the summer.

Here are some photos of a recent summer kick off event at our Family Resource Center at Pradera Apartments in Anaheim, CA. Residents enjoyed carnival games that were led by youth and parents had an opportunity to learn more about what Project Access offers during the summer.

Staff Trained on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


At Project Access, we are always looking for new ways to better ourselves and grow. On a monthly basis, we engage in trainings and workshops that help us become better Service Coordinators for our residents, and in this case better and more effective people. 

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey has become a regular part of our staff development. A team of 5 staff members called "The Fab 5" have taken on the role of 7 Habits trainers for the rest of the staff. Each month, they tackle one habit and present their findings to the rest of the group. The habits teach you to take responsibility for the things in your life that you have control of. They touch on topics such as time management, creating your own mission statement, and being proactive. 

fab5“The Fab 5”- From left to right: Liz M., Hannah G., Brenda R., Veronica A., Miriam M., and PA the Parrot

Since we like to keep things fun here at Project Access, "The Fab 5" are always finding new and interactive ways to engage the group during trainings. The use of video skits is one such way we keep it interesting. This clip shows the different ways that a Service Coordinator can react to something that is beyond their control.

Staff have found creative ways to apply the 7 Habits to their work as well as their programs. For example, at Woodbury Walk apartments, our After School Program has created a mission statement for their classroom based on Habit 3: Begin With the End in Mind. Covey explains that people are more invested when they are involved in creating the goals of their organization. The kids feel that they are more invested in the rules of the class after they have had a hand in creating them. Their mission statement reads: “I pledge to always be nice, be responsible, ready, and respectful. I will help others. I will include everyone and share. I will keep calm. I promise this to the class.”

irv missionstatement

Staff Spotlight - Rachael Christenson


rachaelName: Rachael (spelled like MichAEL because the way I spell my name is apparently really confusing!)

Nickname (if any): None :)

What do you do for Project Access? I am the new Service Coordinator for Breezewood here out in Riverside!

What are you most looking forward to at your new position? Getting to know everyone and diving into everything!
What do you do for yourself? (for fun/hobbies/side business/etc): For fun I am focusing on a lot of DIY projects on my house, hanging out with my small farm of animals, hiking, READING (book-a-holic), and just enjoying life 

What is something most people don't know about you? Hm. Most people don't know that I'm pretty much legally blind without glasses or contacts. I am as blind as a bat.

Do you know what the Hokey Pokey is all about? And I turn myself AROUND that's what it's all ABOUT. Obviously. :)

If you could have one super power, which would it be and why? One super power? Just one?! Ok. I'd have the power to fly. Because why wouldn't  you want to be able to fly?

Partnership Highlight - Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County


Project Access is fortunate to work with organizations that further our mission to keep our families healthy. One such organization is Second Harvest Food Bank. All over California, our sites partner with Second Harvest Food Bank to provide healthy meals, freshly made, and delivered. With favorites like peanut butter and jelly and turkey sandwiches, the kids line up to get a healthy lunch. 

“It takes me 25 minutes to walk home from school, sometimes it rains and sometimes it’s too hot. By the time I get to Project Access, I am so hungry. I am happy that they provide food for us. My favorite is when they have turkey sandwiches for us, yummy!” – Ashley, 9.

In addition to healthy meals, Second Harvest Food Bank also offers a Food Bag Program to some of  our sites. The goal of this program is to provide additional food resources to households on the weekend when food may not be as accessible. These bags contain items such as rice, beans, cereal, peanut butter, canned vegetables, pasta, grains, and more. “Without Second Harvest, a lot of our youth wouldn’t be getting a nutritious meal. This may lead them to spend the few dollars they have by purchasing unhealthy snacks,” explains Belinda Rodriguez, Service Coordinator at Hermosa Village.


Second Harvest has been impactful for our residents in Cypress as well. The children who participate in the meal program are more committed to attending the After-School Program and are better prepared to dedicate themselves to their work. Several of our students rely on Second Harvest’s contribution in order to eat a daily balanced meal.

Ellie Nedry, Child Nutrition Coordinator, works closely with Project Access. “Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County has been providing meals for children at seven Project Access sites for over nine years. We greatly value the partnership with Project Access, and can’t help but notice the care and kindness the Project Access staff shows toward the children enrolled in their after school and summer programs.” …And we couldn’t do it without your support, Second Harvest! 

For more information on Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, please visit:

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Project Access Participates in “Women’s Career Success Graduation”


On Sunday, May 18, 2014, six Project Access residents participated in Working Wardrobe's 24th Annual "Women's Career Success Graduation" event at Los Amigos High School in Fountain Valley. Our ladies were among the 100 plus participants at the event.

Participants spent the morning getting pampered: each left with two complete outfits which included shoes, handbags, and jewelry. They also received hair and makeup and massage services. Free lunch was provided and the day concluded with the ladies walking in a fashion show.

Working Wardrobes partners with many agencies to assist women in transition and give them an opportunity to succeed in the future. To learn more about Working Wardrobes, please visit their website at:

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group photo

Staff Spotlight - Julie Brown


juliebName: Julie Brown

 I don't have any nicknames other than Jules! 

What do you do for Project Access?
I am the Service Coordinator at Santa Rosa Gardens in Santa Rosa, CA.

What are you most looking forward to at your new position?:
I'm excited about getting to know the people here, to connect them with services that might make their lives a little easier. So far, everyone I've met has been so appreciative and excited
about the program, it's always a "feel good" day here :)

What do you do for yourself? (for fun/hobbies/side business/etc):
Hiking, downhill skiing, camping, spending time with my friends and family and dogs (Marley and Charlie), DIY projects and volunteering keep me pretty busy!

What is something most people don't know about you?:
Most people don't know I'm going to be a first time grandma in August!!!

Are you prepared for a Zombie Apocalypse?  
I think so! I've learned quite a few survival skills from watching The Walking Dead ;)

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I love where I live. Northern California has so much to offer - the coast, Lake Tahoe, gorgeous wine country, San Francisco nearby, etc. However, If I could, I'd live in the same town where my three grown kids live, if they all lived in the same town, which they don't. Colorado and Idaho call to me too :)

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