Residents of the Lydia House at the Long Beach Rescue Mission will experience the most magical place on earth courtesy of a partnership with a local charitable organization.
LONG BEACH, CA – On Feb. 6, The Global Youth Initiatives for Transformation (GYIFT) Foundation will host a trip to Disneyland for ten mothers and their children who reside at the Lydia House at the Long Beach Rescue Mission. Along with a few families from the Precious Lamb, a preschool program for children experiencing homelesness, Rescue Mission mothers and their children will spend an entire day out of the shelter in the park enjoying the rides, characters, and pure magic of Disneyland.
Co-founder of the GYIFT Foundation, Sheenagh Scholl, is looking forward to seeing the children’s faces as well as the moms during the trip. “Every child deserves an opportunity to go to Disney,” said Scholl. These are children who have never or may never get the chance to go. We want to let them experience that joy.”
Scholl, who grew up in Eswatini in Southern Africa and currently resides in Long Beach, remembers being a young girl who dreamed of one day enjoying a trip to Disney. She first experienced the magic in Paris during a visit with her now husband, Myke Scholl, who is also co-founder of their foundation.
“It was amazing”, Scholl says of her first time at a Disney park. “I just want every child to be able to experience the way I felt. We like to take children who have never been to things like this. We’ve also taken them to Cal State Long Beach basketball games, Rainbow Lagoon for swan boats and ice cream, and hands-on experiences like Discovery Cube.”
Throughout the year, the GYIFT Foundation provides supplemental, experiential education, and extracurricular activities for orphans and vulnerable children in marginalized communities. The organization currently operates in Southern California, South Africa, and Swaziland.
Scholl and her husband were first introduced to the Rescue Mission in 2020 when they decided to re-gift an old car to a person in need. The Scholls met Nick Roberts, current Project Coordinator at the Rescue Mission, who helped them gift their car to a Rescue Mission resident. During that interaction, they were able to see first hand what the Long Beach Rescue Mission does for the local community, which led to a relationship with the Lydia House.
As two faith-based organizations, Scholl says the Mission and the GYIFT Foundation share similar values and goals to help the most vulnerable in the Long Beach community. “We partner with other youth organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach to provide local youth with new experiences meant to open their minds. We have five BRAVE initiatives that support our mission. The “A” in the acronym stands for aspire.”
The core focus of the foundation is the youth, who they hope to “inspire to aspire towards a higher purpose, goal and ideal, to become the best version of themselves.” Scholl says the GYIFT Foundation hopes to continue its work with the Lydia House as well as with other youth-focused programs. She hopes to start a pen-pal program with local children and children in South Africa, and also take the children on more adventures around southern California.
To learn more about the GYIFT Foundation, visit https://www.gyift.org/.
By Alysia Burke