When Compassion With Action (CWA) founder and CEO Darlene Turgeon lived in Las Vegas, she’d meet once a month with a group of friends and seek out single mothers and fathers who had fallen on hard times to offer “surprise blessings.”
“We like to do what we call ‘surprise blessings,’ Turgen said. “That just means that they’re not expecting it. Somebody has referred them to us, and we just want to let them know that somebody sees them. We care about them.”
As a single mother with three kids, Turgeon noted that she understands firsthand what her group’s surprise blessings mean to families.
“Raising my three children on nothing, absolutely nothing, I didn’t look for a handout and didn’t want a handout; just worked my fanny off for as many jobs as I could handle at one time,” Turgeon said. “But the inspiration came, I guess, from, I always believe that when you know better, you do better; and if you can fill some kind of a need, and that’s what we do.”
When Turgeon moved to Dana Point, she brought up the idea to a few friends of continuing to “support the forgotten,” as the Dana Point-based nonprofit’s motto goes.
The nonprofit launched in 2020 with Turgeon and three friends, looking for families to support in South Orange County.
The “surprise blessings” might be a month of groceries, clothes for the kids, gift cards or a care basket, Turgeon explained.
“We just want to surprise them, but we don’t take care of them on the monthly,” Turgeon said. “That’s the whole thing is, we go bless them once and just surprise them with that, and we hope that someday they’ll pay it forward and do that for somebody else.”
Though the group doesn’t often meet with the families that it supports, Turgeon added that when they do, the tears are flowing.
“After the tears have stopped and the hugs are there, and we just say, we hope that maybe one day you’ll do this for somebody else,” Turgeon said. “We just leave them with that. That possibility, that good feeling, because it’s better to give than receive, and we all get blessed getting together and getting the items that we’ve been told that that family needs.”
If the group does not find a particular family to support that month, the nonprofit supports Casa Teresa, a nonprofit that provides safe housing for pregnant women in need, or Laura’s House, an Orange County-based domestic violence shelter.
While the nonprofit continues to focus on single mothers and fathers in need, over the past couple of years, CWA’s focus has grown to include spreading awareness of sex and human trafficking, Turgeon explained.
“All of those horrific things are happening in the community, and a lot of people, I think, still live in a bubble, so we are doing our best to make them aware that, yes, it is happening right here,” Turgeon said.
“(CWA’s mission) is to do surprise blessings for single moms and dads and children in crisis; we’ll move forward to, yes, there are women and children in crisis when it comes to sex trafficking as well,” Turgeon continued. “So we kind of do both. We’re not going to drop one for the other. They’re both important.”
CWA will host its second fundraiser on Nov. 3 for Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), a nonprofit that aims to fight human trafficking. The nonprofit’s first fundraiser for OUR raised $24,000, Turgeon said. This year, Turgeon has set a goal of raising $50,000.
The fundraiser will run from 6-10 p.m. at the Hills Hotel in Laguna Hills.
Titled “A Night of Hope,” the fundraiser will feature a silent auction, a performance from violinist Daniel Morris and a presentation on OUR’s mission.
More information about CWA and how to purchase tickets to the fundraiser can be found at compassionwithaction.org.