Casa de Luz has been around roughly thirteen years and has helped dramatically reduce crime rates and rescued victims of human trafficking or other abuse in that time. Casa came into one of the worst neighborhoods of Las Vegas at the time. Pat began with the organization about four and a half years ago. Casa believes they “can create a better neighborhood by investing in our neighbors.”
Pat explains, “we started by leaning into our neighbors in hopes people come to us. We have somebody on staff whose job is to be in the neighborhood and know the neighbors. We listen and then create programs based on their feedback of needs, rather than assuming what the needs are.”
For example, in addition to the food pantry, tutoring, or teaching English as a second language programs, last summer a new program was launched – a teen drop-in center. One thing they realized was that a lot of teenagers just sat at home because there was nowhere for them to safely go and socialize with friends. Therefore, they opened a center with activities like video games, board games, air hockey tables, and foosball tables. Casa also provides homework assistance.
Gateway Classic Cars was honored to partner with Greg & Christin Burda for the fundraising event. Greg is the acting president of the Vegas Valley Mustang Club and he is familiar with GCC due to our monthly Caffeine & Chrome events. Greg & Christin are known to Casa through their company, The Junkluggers. They provide eco-friendly alternatives to conventional junk removal, by providing sustainable disposal services for homes and businesses. The Junkluggers have often helped Casa with getting furniture for families in need.
Greg & Christin approached Pat at a separate Casa de Luz fundraiser a few months ago. They asked if they could organize a ONEHOPE wine tasting to help raise some funds and toys for Casa’s toy drive. Pat loved the idea.
It was a great success. Funds raised last night are still being tallied since all the wine sales have yet to be fully processed. The real purpose was a toy drive for their Christmas program. Casa’s Christmas program is different than most. A big change happened last year in efforts to be a hand-up rather than a hand-out model.
Pat and his team had a revelation when visiting families and donating Christmas items for them or having large Christmas giveaways. They realized they were unintentionally stripping away dignity from the hard-working mom or dad who were doing their absolute best to provide a Christmas. In essence, it was a reminder these parents were incapable of doing so and Casa became provider rather than partner.
Starting last year, all the toy donations were collected, and Casa opened a store. Dubbed Christmas at Casa’s, where they sold items on a sliding scale. All donations were still new, unused, and preferably name-brand because the kids in the neighborhood want what other kids do elsewhere. The items were sold at price points the families could afford. For example, a Champion hoodie a retailer would sell for $60, Casa sold that same Champion hoodie for $10-$15. This empowers the parents to provide gifts for the kids and the kids got what they wanted making it a win-win.
Parents absolutely loved it. They felt empowered, they felt like Casa partnered with them, and they were the providers of Christmas for their children. Everyone was happy and it went well. All proceeds from the store went right back into Casa programs, because they do not charge for any of their programs.
Pat got the idea from another non-profit director and his book. Robert D. Lupton did something similar a few years before in Atlanta. Pat flew to Atlanta to see it in action and brought the idea back home to try at Casa de Luz after a few tweaks and making it their own.
Pat explained the hardest part was getting donors and board members to accept it and understand. For them to grasp the idea of selling items to the neighborhood rather than merely giving the items away was counterintuitive to what they’ve always done.
“Last Christmas, being in that store and watching the families shop made it apparent it was one of the best things we’ve ever done,” Pat explained.
As a result, they shifted to that model for back-to-school clothes as well. So instead of just giving it all away they get everything donated and sell it to the neighborhood. The parents are empowered by providing for their children. Again, Casa is creating that relationship of partner rather than provider and Casa empowers instead of accidentally creating of a sense of entitlement.
Pat expressed his gratitude for Lori (Showroom Manager) and her team at Gateway Classic Cars of Las Vegas for hosting the event. “It was a big hit. Just a lot of fun being able to look at a variety of cool cars. And I met some excellent people.”
If you have an event and are interested in hosting it at one of our classic car showrooms, please do not hesitate to connect with a showroom near you.