Palisadian-run nonprofit Present Now will host its sixth annual Party in the Park Sunday, July 14, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Palisades Simon Meadow YMCA Park.
Founded by Palisadians Melanie Neumann and Erica Fisher, Present Now works with a simple message: That a small gift can make a big difference in the life of a child.
“[Erica Fisher] and I are both mothers with three children,” Neumann told the Palisadian-Post. “We both wanted to start an organization supporting children in some way. We toured shelters throughout Los Angeles, and when we toured Good Shepherd Shelter, we knew that was the demographic of children we wanted to help.”
The Good Shepherd Domestic Violence Shelter, the first domestic violence shelter in Los Angeles, was one of the first to partner with Present Now when it was founded in 2012.
Today, the nonprofit boasts 33 transitional shelter partnerships, among them New York’s Urban Resource Institute, the largest in the country.
“We strictly work with long-term transitional shelters for battered women. All women and children who enter a domestic violence shelter leave their homes with no possessions. Mothers are usually in these shelters anywhere from three months to two years. The children get gifts in big white boxes with purple ribbons three times a year, or six, depending on how long they stay.”
Gifts are personalized for children by age and gender and separated into three categories. In August, kids receive the “Presence of Mind” box, which contains a backpack filled with school supplies suited to their grade level.
To date, the organization has brightened the lives of children across the country with over 4,897 gifts given—a number that continues to climb.
“I feel extremely blessed to be able to do this, to devote time in my life to help children in crisis because of an abusive situation,” Neumann told the Post.
Both founders personally deliver the gifts to the shelters, enlisting the help of their own children who have become instrumental in Present Now’s operations.
“Our children have been such a big part of it,” Neumann said. “We’re blessed to live in this community, and to be able to show our kids how to be grounded and give back.”
On July 14, community members can enjoy Present Now’s sixth annual Party in the Park, where they can help fill backpacks with school supplies for the August gift giving.
“It’s a great family-friendly event. We don’t charge any sort of admission,” Neumann said. “We ask that those who attend bring new school supplies to donate, as we will be stuffing the backpacks at the end of July.”
Families can enjoy food vendors, games and good company. This year’s event is being sponsored by Frankie’s on the Park, a kids and teens clothing store in Santa Monica.
“It’s a two-hour, very casual afternoon in the Palisades and we welcome all families and anyone that wants to come and support us.”
For more information, visit presentnow.org.