Founded by George Papamatheakis and Roni Warda in 2019, The CARE Organization sets out to make a positive change in the lives of children who are abused, hungry or living in unsafe environments. Here, Warda, COO of The CARE Organization, discusses the success of the nonprofit’s first gala event and how readers can take action.
What is the mission of The CARE Organization? At CARE, our mission is to bring positive change to the lives of vulnerable children who are facing crisis situations. We focus on bringing aid to children who are victims of abuse, in need of shelter, struggling with hunger, and so on. We’re an action-driven organization that makes a powerful difference in our community, while continuing to bring awareness and inspire others in our community to join the fight. We host donation drives and renovate group homes for young women, provide mentorships and donate to organizations that can help facilitate specific services to enhance the lives of victims recovering from abuse.
What prompted the start of the nonprofit? When I was just 4 years old, my family moved to America from Beirut. At the time, Lebanon was in the midst of a civil war. I can remember hearing missiles at night. It was a terrifying experience, but my parents did everything in their power to ensure my sister and I moved to a place where we would not only be safe, but we could be anything we wanted to be and pursue any dream we had. Unfortunately, not every child is as fortunate. And not every child has an advocate making sure they have felt safe and live a life free from abuse, hunger, and poverty. We started CARE because we firmly believe that this should not be a privilege, but a right for the children in our community.
What is the greatest reward in being involved with the nonprofit? When CARE was launched in 2019, we didn’t know what to really expect but we knew we needed to help drive change in our community. It’s only been a few years, but I really believe we’ve been a powerful force and the experience has been beyond rewarding in so many ways. Whether it’s helping to renovate a group home for victims of abuse, delivering holiday presents or providing warm clothes, we’re an action-driven organization that not only raises funds, but is hands-on in the efforts that were fundraising for. So, for me, to see a child’s smile on their face when they realize you’re helping them and not wanting anything back in return is the most indescribable feeling and best reward you can ask for.
Additionally, it’s been incredibly heartwarming and humbling to receive such immense support from our friends and leaders in the community. In the fall of 2022, we hosted our first Red-Carpet Gala at Wild Horse Pass Gila River, which raised awareness and resources that went directly toward the renovation of a new group home for young women who are recovering from abuse. We knew we wanted to make a tremendous impact but couldn’t have predicted the amount of support we received. We had over 500 people in attendance and raised over $170,000. It’s now our signature event we plan to host every year.
What is the biggest challenge the nonprofit faces? Has the pandemic affected the needs of The CARE Organization? Our biggest challenge has been creating awareness for our mission. There are many larger organizations that have a similar objective, that aren’t necessarily in the trenches doing the everyday work that needs to happen for fundamental change. We’re a smaller nonprofit but we’re extremely effective in the work that we do. The pandemic definitely impacted CARE, as anytime people’s finances are affected it’s undoubtedly going to shape how and when they contribute to causes outside of the home. But as we’ve expanded our portfolio of initiatives, we’ve also increased our exposure and momentum among the community. We have incredible support, and I only see that growing in the years to come.
What are your goals for 2023? Ultimately, we want to help more families and children in need than ever before. That means exceeding expectations for raising funds, hosting meaningful events, and sharing our message and mission with as many people as we can.
How can readers help? Follow us on social media (Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn) and visit our website for information on our signature events and opportunities to further CARE’s mission.
Does the organization have any events or fundraisers on the horizon? We have our inaugural Stepping Out for CARE Walk on Sunday, April 23, at Chaparral Park in Scottsdale as well as the Annual Red-Carpet Gala on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Wild Horse Pass Gila River. Details for each signature event can be found at thecareorg.com, as well as all social media platforms.