As we gear up to celebrate Pride Month, let’s support our trailblazers and innovators who use their community leadership and privilege to educate and empower our future leaders to become ethical, outspoken and fearless!
For over 25 years Angel Macias and the members of California Families in Focus have worked tirelessly on creating and producing SAFE and All-INCLUSIVE programs, projects and events that celebrate the beauty and diversity of our colorful community, which include the Family Fun Zone, Teen Pride, Oldies but Goodies, Trans Latina Christmas Gala, Spirit of Christmas, Familia y Fortaleza, Padrino Project, the M.A.D. Program and for the first time ever our Rainbow Family Festival catering to the LGBTQ+ Families, children, teens and seniors, which will feature a Trans Pride Resource Fair in partnership with the OC Trans Pride!
With a record number of supporting agencies, organizations and businesses from Orange County, Santa Ana, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Victorville and Greater Long Beach there’s never been a better time to join! http://www.mycff.org or email@example.com
Please read the article below or click the link, share it and contact us for information on Sponsorship, Membership and Volunteer Opportunities.
Meet Angel Macias of California Families in Focus in Long Beach
Today we’d like to introduce you to Angel Macias.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born in Mexico and my mother brought my two brothers, my sister and I to the United States in 1975. My father had already traveled to California, found a job in a landscaping business, had rented a two bedroom apartment in Culver City and was waiting for us.
Like many other Mexican families, my family was in search of the “American Dream” so they left their hometown of Zacatecas and traveled to “El Norte” (The North). The journey to El Norte proved to be a huge challenge and one that I will never forget. I was only five years old but I remember that I almost died! We attempted to cross the border ten times, ten different ways, with a “coyote” (man who gets paid to get people across the U.S. border) I had a terrible cough and we kept getting caught because of my cough. In order for us not to get caught again, my mother put her scarf around my mouth so that the immigration officers wouldn’t hear me but she was so scared that she didn’t realize that she covered my nose as well. She almost suffocated me, all I remember is waking up in a jail cell with lots of bunk beds and my little brother yelling out of the cell “tengo hambre” (I’m hungry). After the 10th attempt, we made it and we were heading to Los Angeles, California with big dreams. A few people that were part of our group made it across the border and a few died trying, one boy drowned, a young woman was raped and murdered and others just couldn’t go on due to lack of money or hope.
Thanks to my father’s boss who had immigrated to the U.S. from Japan with his family long before us, we quickly became acclimated to our new home and picked up a few Japanese words and traditions along the way. I started kindergarten immediately! I remember being made fun of at school because of the way I was dressed and because I didn’t speak English. I was always being sent to the nurse with a stomach ache and one day she asked me in Spanish what was going on and I told her the kids made fun of me and called me names because I didn’t speak English and she took me to the school library and introduced me to my English teacher…Dr. Seuss! The nurse recommended that I be sent to the library for one hour on a daily basis, she became my bestest friend and Dr. Seuss and I started a long relationship. I wasn’t to fond of school but I would eagerly wait for the clock to signal the start of my Dr. Seuss hour. As soon as it was time, I would jump out of my seat, rush to the library, put on my headphones, pop in the cassette that went with the book, press play and follow along, sometimes so loud that the librarian would tap me on the shoulder, put her index finger to her lips and signal for me to quiet down. I was speaking English in no time and sometimes rhyming too. The kids still bullied me and called me names because of the way I dressed and because I wasn’t pretty or feminine girl. Somethings were just out of my control and there was nothing I could do but fight, so I did and I got in trouble and suspended all the time.
As I grew up, things really got out of control, the bills started piling up so my mother with her second-grade schooling had to get a few low paying and degrading jobs to help make ends meet often working Monday-Sunday, sun up to sun down. My father became an alcoholic and there was domestic violence in our house, among other issues such as neglect and sexual abuse from male relatives. We were latch key kids and I was pulled out of school for months so I could stay home and babysit my brothers and sister. My father preferred it that way because he would say that I was never going to amount to anything and that I was an idiot just like my mother so school was a waste of time. My brothers and I would look out the window and watch the older guys hanging out, drinking, smoking and having fun with the pretty girls and we would tell each other that when we grew up we wanted to be just like them because they were cool, people respected them and they didn’t have to answer to anyone. A few years later we became that group but what we didn’t see when we were kids was the “dirt you had to do to be part of the group” (bad stuff) I became a teen mom at the age of 16. Four daughters later, that lifestyle wasn’t for me anymore and I moved Long Beach with my then boyfriend to start a new life but domestic violence struck again but this time in my own home. Six years later, I left that abusive relationship that almost killed me. I am one of the few that can say I am a survivor.
With a new lease on life and a new perspective, I started attending Long Beach City College and got my General Education Diploma and picked up credits for my Human Development Degree, I became a certified health educator and started teaching all over Long Beach and Los Angeles. I also became a proud U.S. Citizen. Contemplating where I had came from, the adversities that I had overcome, my mission in life was clear and I felt unstoppable. After working for a few reputable organizations and a few elected officials I started feeling like I wasn’t being true to my mission, I decided to start my own nonprofit organization California Families in Focus and with the help of my co-founder Robert Spieth, lots of volunteers and supporters, we were incorporated in April of 2002. Since then, we have provided an array of programs, projects, and services for youth and their families to achieve empowerment and purpose. Because of my background, I have been asked to speak all across the State of California at schools, prisons and community events. I am also an ordained minister and I love performing wedding ceremonies and being part of such a personal and joyous occasion is an honor for me.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road to becoming the CEO of California Families in Focus has not been smooth and there have been lots of struggles along the way, but I believe that the struggles we face during our journey to find our mission in life are good, why? Because they are learning experiences that challenge us to do better and to readjust our sails if we are heading in the wrong direction.
When I decided to create California Families in Focus, finding board members and convincing them to join a nonprofit that was new was a challenge but we were blessed to choose a great team and they all accepted and together we created a vision and goals that we all believed in and 17 years later I am still friends with the original members and they are very supportive of everything we do.
Another ongoing challenge is raising funding to address every issue that we identify in our community, especially with our youth and families because for California Families in Focus, there are many community issues and everything is urgent! But thanks to our consistency and follow through we have built a great reputation of the “Can do” attitude and for genuinely caring for our community, which is very diverse and beautiful, Long Beach is one of the most diverse Cities in Southern California and the projects, programs, and events must be innovative and take all of our communities into consideration in order to be successful in meeting their needs. We have to do constant surveys and forums to ask our community what they need instead of telling them what they need.
We are still working on the funding part because as a nonprofit that is always a challenge, especially when you are 100% volunteer run. For the past year, we have revisited that issues and discussed the benefits of having a consistent staff and we envision having paid staff in the near future, which will entail raising lots of funding to be able to pay salaries and benefits but we feel that we are well positioned to step up to the next level.
The biggest obstacle by far was losing my wife and partner of 17 years Kimberly Maddox, who not only encouraged me when I was just starting the organization but she helped me keep it running for many years and besides money, she poured her heart and soul into making it into a reputable organization. I had finally found my soul mate and we were married in 2008, together we raised my four daughters and adopted my brother’s son and daughter because they had become orphaned when my brother was brutally murdered in Sacramento on September 28, 2013, by a group of gang members. Soon after we adopted the kids, my wife decided to retire from the Long Beach Police Department in October of 2014 so that she could help me raise the kids. We bought a house and moved to Sacramento and left everything behind. In December of 2014, my wife was diagnosed with stage IIIC ovarian cancer and I found myself taking care of the adopted kids and my sick wife. After numerous surgeries, chemotherapy and trying everything imaginable to save her life, my wife died on September 12, 2016.
17 years of a wonderful and happy life and in the blink of an eye, she was gone! I was lost without her, dazed and confused, uncertain about my future and angry at the world. It took lots of different types of therapy and grief counseling for me to want to live life again. I now feel like I have an additional mission to live for and a legacy to leave behind when I am gone so I live life to the fullest, I treat people with kindness and respect and I work hard at creating a better world for our future generations and teaching our youth to do the same.
California Families in Focus is an ethical, well respected 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization and we are very proud and grateful for all of the community support and all of the blessings that constantly come our way.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the California Families in Focus story. Tell us more about the organization.
California Families in Focus is a Nationally recognized 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that has been providing services for youth and their families for over 25 years but officially became incorporated in April of 2002.
Our Mission is to develop and provide positive and innovative events and social service programs for youth and their families to achieve empowerment and purpose.
Some of our current programs, projects, and events are:
The Padrino Project benefiting Trans youth. The Padrino Project provides Trans youth a tailored suit or gown so they can attend prom or graduation. A school counselor, teacher or parent can nominate the youth. To qualify, the youth have to be excelling academically and doing community/volunteer work in their school or neighborhood. This project is ongoing.
The Familia Y Fortaleza parent support group. This group addresses issues specific to Latino/a families and provides resources, workshops, and training on subjects such as parenting, stress relief, financial literacy, domestic violence, drugs and alcohol, gangs, immigration, healthy cooking, discipline and many more. Wednesdays from 6:30pm-8:30pm at St. Lukes Episcopal Church in Long Beach.
The M.A.D. Program (Music, Art, and Dance) this is an alternative therapy program for youth who suffer from anxiety, depression, loneliness, or bullying. Music, Art, and Dance are used as tools to draw out emotions in a positive way, youth show us how they feel on paper, canvas, in a song, through a musical instrument or dance. Different schedules.
The “I MATTER 2” Anti-Bullying and Suicide Awareness Campaign, which involves a youth fashion show where Long Beach high schools compete against each other for an opportunity to attend New York Fashion Week and receive backstage passes. The objective is to create eco-friendly designs using one of five categories which in include, Denim & Diamonds, Leather & Lace, Silk & Steel, Pleather & Pearls or Satin and Silver plus incorporating an Anti-Bullying and Suicide Awareness message into each design. This event will also showcase our youth’s talent. July 6, 2019
The Rainbow Family Festival, which is the first ever Festival for LGBTQ+ families to come meet other families, exchange parenting information or just build new friendships and for the children and youth to see that there are other families just like theirs. September 22, 2019, at MOLAA (Museum of Latin American Art) in Long Beach.
The Kimberly Maddox Youth Scholarship, which benefits youth seeking a career in law or law enforcement. This includes a one-year internship with California Families in Focus and a check ranging from $2,000-$5,000. November 13, 2019.
The Spirit of Christmas Awards Banquet, this will be our 17th Annual and will benefit women and children living in domestic violence, drug rehab or homeless shelters during the holidays. The youth receive gifts from over 400 motorcycle riders along with face painting, arts, and crafts, bouncers, carnival games and snacks, photos with Santa and a magic show. The women receive self-esteem and self-care bags that include pajamas, slippers, personal hygiene products, makeup, perfume and self-help books. Besides the self-esteem bag, the women are escorted to their tables and treated like queens for a day and everyone enjoys a delicious brunch. December 21, 2019. This is an invitation-only event
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Most people believe that if they are at the right place at the right time, they are lucky and if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time, they are unlucky.
I believe that we all have a destiny, I believe in karma and that every event and circumstance shape us to be the people that we end up being.
I look back at my life and say to myself, you’ve had a rough life…but how much of that were you responsible for bringing into your life based on your decisions. I have to take personal responsibility for a lot of things that happened in my life because I chose to ignore my gut feeling or my intuition.
Now, if I don’t know how to proceed or if I don’t know the answer to something, I pray, meditate and ask for guidance and I usually make the right decisions.
- Address: 525 E. 7th St. Long Beach, CA 90813
- Website: www.mycff.org
- Phone: 562-900-8686
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: mycff
- Facebook: California Families in Focus
- Twitter: CFFocus
Leslie Renee Smith, Smile Factory, Ignacio Flores
California Families in Focus is proud to announce the launch of the Detective Kimberly Maddox Youth Scholarship Program and congratulate our first recipient, Ms. Michelle Flores, who is attending CSULB, which is the University that Detective Maddox attended.
We are proud and honored to bestow this historic award to Ms. Flores for her involvement in the community and wish her continued success reaching her educational goals.
Detective Kimberly Maddox was born in Jacksonville Florida on November 13, 1958 and moved to Los Angeles California in her teenage years. She attended Los Angeles High School and due to her extraordinary athletic abilities in basketball, she received a full scholarship to attend CSULB.
Kim still ranks among the top four performers in all of the key career categories: points (1775), assist (461), field goals (779) and steals (219). She played for the Women’s U.S. National Team during its 1978 tour of the Orient. She was a member of the 1980 Women’s Olympic team, but that team ultimately did not participate in the Olympic Games because of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. But Kim also participated in the 1984 Olympic trials.
Kim was an amazing basketball player who possessed phenomenal skills and in 1989 she was inducted into Long Beach State’s Hall of Fame for playing on their female basketball team, the 49ers.
Kim served as Co-President of Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride, Inc. and as Board Chair of California Families in Focus, she held many jobs in Los Angeles and Long Beach; but her favourite position was being a detective for the Long Beach Police Department.
Kim, a true leader with an always-positive outlook, retired from the police force on October 9, 2014 after more than 25 years of service as both a patrol officer and detective. After her retirement, Kim sought to assist her wife, Angel Macias, in taking care of her murdered brother’s two children. Angel Macias is the CEO and Founder of the local non-profit California Families in Focus and is very active with the City of Long Beach and the GLBTQ community focussing on the youth.
Not long after retiring and moving to Sacramento to be with her wife, Kim was diagnosed with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer on December 5, 2014. She fought hard with dignity and grace, and on September 12, 2016, Kim lost her battle to Cancer and passed away in Mexico while undergoing alternative cancer treatment.
Kim lived life to the fullest and no one can argue that she had one of the biggest hearts and would never hesitate to help those in need. That was her daily mission. Kim’s passion and compassion earned her great accolades and awards throughout the community; but her greatest love was spending quality time with her wife and family. She was the mother of 6 beautiful children and 5 grandchildren – all whom she adored and who adored her.
Kim loved to travel and had a knack for making friends everywhere she went. Kim’s legacy will live on through her wife and children, the Kimberly Maddox Youth Scholarship Program and her footprint will forever be engraved in the City of Long Beach.
We will be having an annual banquet where we will award 3-4 deserving students a $1000-$3000 scholarship.
CFF IRS REINSTATEMENT: California Families in Focus is celebrating and would like to thank Ms. Stephanie Jones Taylor at the IRS department for helping us get retroactive reinstatement going back to May 15, 2016!