The Rite Aid Foundation awarded Maria D’Angelo, founder and president of The Children’s Lifesaving Foundation (The CLF) in Santa Monica, Ca., its KidChamp Award for her ongoing commitment to transforming the lives of homeless and at-risk children and families in Los Angeles. Ms. D’Angelo, who is the seventh recipient of the KidChamp award, was recognized during a special ceremony in Malibu.
“I am extremely honored to receive the KidChamp award. I want to thank The Rite Aid Foundation and KidCents for its support of The CLF and for its unwavering commitment to ensuring the children in our communities, especially those who are most in need, have a chance for achieving better and brighter futures,” said Maria D’Angelo, founder and president of The CLF. “I am so proud of the tremendous impact The CLF has made in this community and in the lives of our most vulnerable children and families. I look forward to helping even more children overcome the obstacles they face and, ultimately, learn how to stand proudly on their own.”
Ms. D’Angelo founded The CLF with her own funds in 1993. Since opening, the nonprofit has served more than 85,000 homeless and at-risk children and families with academic, social and domestic support. The CLF has helped transition 50 families from shelters into new homes, and distributed millions of dollars in brand new, in-kind goods and direct services to hundreds of additional families. Additionally,more than 55 college scholarships have been awarded to at-risk teenagers across Los Angeles, some of whom were the first members of their families to attend college.
Ms. D’Angelo was inspired to work with young people in need based on her experience as an immigrant child in America, years of teaching in New York and volunteer experience at a homeless shelter in central Los Angeles. At that shelter, she met an eight-year-old boy who never set foot in a classroom because he never had a physical exam. Upon realizing this boy was one of many dealing with such a dilemma, Ms. D’Angelo began meeting with doctors to arrange for free medical care for homeless children—and that is how The CLF was established.
Ms. D’Angelo soon decided to expand the scope of her support. Seeing the very dangerous and life-threatening environments these homeless children lived in on a day-to-day basis, she began organizing field trips to amusement parks and local attractions. But she didn’t stop there. With the help of a good friend, Ms. D’Angelo convinced the National Park Service to reopen an old Boy Scout camp called Circle X Ranch to offer these children a safe setting that would improve and enrich their lives with arts, sports and nature. In the summer of 1993, she launched The CLF summer camp enrichment program. Since that time, more than 75,000 children have participated in the Camp for All program, which is still offered, free of charge to all participants and has expanded to include a surf camp.
Ms. D’Angelo also created the Adopt-A-Family and Care Through College programs to further meet the needs of the homeless and at-risk children and families The CLF serves.