ABOVE PHOTO: (Courtesy of Serena Hauser)
By Danae Reid
Although the first thought that comes to mind when thinking about the end of the year may be, what your goals for 2020 are, or the pending holidays, it’s important to remember that this is a time of giving unselfishly.
Throughout the year, I’ve been fortunate enough to come in contact with some fantastic people in the City of Philadelphia who are actively making a change in our community. An old high school friend of mine, Serena Hauser, started the C.A.R.E (Continuous Acts to Restore Encouragement) Foundation in 2017 after seeing a need that she felt guided to fill.
DR: When did C.A.R.E start and what was the driving force behind its creation?
SH: I was inspired to begin C.A.R.E during the summer of 2017 while I was interning for Public Allies in Washington, D.C., which is a multi city nonprofit. I was both passionate about the work that I was assigned and also about using my network and resources to create something of my own.
Every day on my commute to and from work, I took notice to the homeless population. I’d always known we had a grave amount [of homelessness] here in Philadelphia, but D.C. was much different. Under every bridge, you could see over 20 tents. I created C.A.R.E after seeing the deplorable living conditions in which the homeless populace lived, and also when I became aware of the fact that police officers would often kick them out and that people were getting killed under the bridges as well. I asked myself what could I do to help.
I would walk around the community passing out care bags and food to homeless individuals. I had no car while I was living out there, so I would carry everything by myself and have to make multiple trips back to my apartment. I will never forget my second time out there.
I was passing out the bags to the women and a guy said to me, “So, us guys are just left to die?” My heart was crushed, but it pushed me to go harder. I watched my support system and impact grow within two years, which keeps me going. I went from walking around these communities by myself, to having a team of 20+ out in the streets with me who see my vision.
DR: What is the C.A.R.E Foundation, and what does it mean to you?
SH: The C.A.R.E Foundation stands for Continuous Acts to Restore Encouragement. C.A.R.E is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to instill positivity and encouragement in those who may be experiencing difficulties. We are here to spread positivity and encouragement worldwide, regardless of your situation.
C.A.R.E is important to me because there are many people in this world ready to give up, or let difficult times get the best of them. I want to — and will — make a difference in this world. There are people out there counting on me, and people who are looking up to me. I cannot give up.
DR: Are there any parallels between your past and what you ultimately ended up doing? (creating CAREFoundation), for example, was there anything that happened in your life that’s led you to being a philanthropist?
SH: I’ve loved to help others since I was in Elementary school, and never looked for anything in return; however, it satisfied me to see the smiles I put on others faces. I would volunteer in nursing homes, schools, libraries, etc. I’m not sure where my philanthropic heart came from. I cannot say that I had it rough growing up, but I did beat a few odds that were placed in my path. My father has been incarcerated for 10 years now, my mother had me at 18 years old, and I am the first in my family to go away from home, let alone graduate from college. Growing up, I lacked the emotional support that I needed and didn’t know that I needed from the adults in my life. I faced challenges, but never let my hardships prevent me from getting what I wanted in life. I always had to get up and get the things I wanted on my own. I want everybody that I come in contact with to chase their dreams and always believe in themselves; no matter the circumstances because everything is temporary. My passion with the youth is heavy, I always say “be the person that you needed growing up.”
DR: What community does CARE Foundation Serve?
SH: C.A.R.E serves a variety of communities. As aforementioned, we started out in Washington, DC but C.A.R.E has impacted New York, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Haiti, and of course, Philadelphia! Our focus started with the homeless population, but we are always working with the youth and women as well.
DR: Are there other organizations similar to yours?
SH: Many nonprofit organizations out here are similar; our mission statement just differs slightly by a few words. Although I never look at others, as competition because there is so much work that needs to be done and it takes a village. I am big on collaboration with other organizations and businesses. It’s a great way to network, but also to make an even larger impact. I recently collaborated with an organization “Ordinarie Heroes” for my most recent event… They introduced me to three other organizations and presented new opportunities to me as well.
DR: How can someone get involved as a volunteer?
SH: I post our upcoming events on C.A.R.E’s website or Instagram page. Anyone is more than welcome to come out and volunteer, unless I am doing an event inside of a school. That is when state clearances are required to be submitted.
Our website is: www.continuousactstorestoreencouragement.blog and our Instagram page address is: @carefounationphl.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, The Philadelphia Sunday SUN, the author’s organization, committee or other group or individual.