New Horizons Caregivers Group serves food to the poor and inspires educational dreams

There are nonprofits designed to deliver food to those in need, and there are nonprofits dedicated to promoting education. New Horizons Caregivers Group (NHCG) has managed to find a unique way to serve both missions.

Based in Hacienda Heights, NHCG was formed in 2003 by Bob and Cathy Jamieson. Bob, who retired from a previous Pasadena nonprofit at 64, decided he wanted to launch his own volunteer organization to help others in his retirement years.  So the husband-wife duo started researching. When they asked the local school district about the biggest problem they faced, officials stated it was challenging to get certain pockets of low-income kids to regularly attend school.

Some parents would keep children home to help babysit younger siblings, and others would hold a child out to support dad’s gardening business if he got behind on jobs.

“There are so many low-income parents and single parents struggling to keep roofs over their heads, gas in their cars and provide meals throughout the week for their families,” said Cathy. “Still, we wanted these same parents to know how important it is to help their kids get the homework done, get to school and get a good education.”

So, the Jaimesons built their mission around helping low-income parents and at-risk children to see the value of education as a means to end poverty.

NHCG’s signature program, FIESTA, stands for Family Incentives Equals Students Taking Action. It incentivizes low-income parents with elementary school children to attend educational parenting classes hosted by the school districts. When the parents show up to one of these classes, they receive a bag of groceries and school supplies valued at $65 to $100.

“The parents walk away with food and supplies for their families to support their meager incomes, but the hope is they also learn some valuable insights about the importance of their child’s education, and how they can support their kids in school,” said Cathy.

The school district takes the lead in orchestrating the monthly parenting classes, while NHCG focuses on securing the free food, goods and school supplies. Hundreds of new backpacks are filled at the start of each school year, and essentials are added throughout the months to ensure students also have the necessary tools and resources to complete special projects and assignments at home.

During the winter months, NHCG secures toys, shoes, blankets and other goods to help families in need around the holidays.

“We partner with Costco, local grocery stores and other retailers who have excess food or product that would otherwise go to waste,” said Cathy. “It has been so great for us to make these connections to end the waste and at the same time help people in need.”

The NHCG often receives letters from appreciative families who have fallen upon hard times.

“Just last week we received a letter from a mother who received some Christmas items from us,” said Cathy. “Her husband was recently laid off and we were able to give her two girls and family some toys and food for the holidays. She wrote to tell us about how grateful she was and what a blessing we were during these difficult days.”

In 2014, NHCG hit $5 million in donated goods to the local community, and the plan is to continue to serve. This year, Cathy said they are supporting five local elementary schools, which equates to serving 200 to 225 low-income families each month.

Results have proven that getting parents involved and giving free products helps the family budget, the children, school attendance, grades and the overall attitude about learning and their school community.

“Encouraging our parents to get in engaged in their child’s education and providing them with free groceries and supplies is a win for our district and a win for the families,” said Anthony Duarte, school board president of the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District. “New Horizons Caregivers Group is providing an invaluable service to the students and families of our school district.”

To learn more about NHCG, visit