When longtime ORIX USA employee, Tonya Moore, became involved with the ORIX Foundation years ago, she was excited about the possibility of being able to devote time to some nonprofit work. Now the secretary on the board of the ORIX Foundation, Tonya previously spent five years as the chair of the charity review committee—meaning she got to see all of the grant applications that came through, leading her to fall in love with a new organization on a regular basis.
One non-profit in particular—Rainbow Days—caught her attention after she volunteered at its annual back-to-school celebration, held at the Dallas Market Center. Each year, Rainbow Days buses in about 600 school-aged children and their families who live in homeless shelters across Dallas and hand out backpacks filled with school supplies. Food, games and face-painting are also on the lineup.
Events like this are all part of Rainbow Days’ mission to provide high-risk children—such as those who are homeless, living in poverty and high-crime neighborhoods, or have an addicted parent or family member—with the skills and support to overcome adversity and stay drug-free.
Volunteering at that back-to-school event is what got Tonya, now a board member for Rainbow Days, hooked on the organization. I’d always thought of homeless people as the person who was standing on the street corner panhandling,” she says. “The homeless are families-and children. I was humbled and realized just how much we’re ignoring what’s right there in front of us.
Since its founding in 1982, Rainbow Days has helped more than 190,000 children through programs like its curriculum-based support groups, in which Rainbow Days staff members travel to schools, recreation centers and homeless shelters to lead small group sessions of about six to 10 children. Through guided discussions and games, children learn healthy ways of coping with difficult family situations.
Also on the long list of ways Rainbow Days provides support to high-risk children: summer day camps, tobacco use prevention programs, family outings and annual events like its Easter Extravaganza—a spring carnival complete with a petting zoo, games, an egg hunt and more. Volunteers are always needed to make events like these come to life.
“I’m a big believer in what we’re doing because I realized we might be able to catch them young and change these children’s lives,” Tonya says.
And the director of development for Rainbow Days, Tiffany Beaudine, is a big believer in the power of volunteers. “They provide positive examples of caring individuals to the children we serve,” Tiffany says. “The children see that someone cares about them and is willing to take the time and energy to invest in them.”
Tonya’s presence in particular has been felt at Rainbow Days. “She has a joyful and friendly spirit, and the children love interacting with her.” Tiffany says. “As a board member, she provides business acumen and perspective that affect our organization.”
Changing children’s lives isn’t the only way Tonya gives back: She is also involved with Spirit of a Hero Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing support to wounded service member of the United States of Armed Forces. Having a son that served in Iraq, the organization is especially close to her heart. “All of these men and women have served our country, and it’s up to us as citizens to help them,” Tonya says.
Each year, Spirit of a Hero honors one wounded soldier by holding a motorcycle ride, benefit concert and other charitable events in order to raise money for the veteran and their family as they make the transition back to civilian life. The funds often go toward bettering the veteran’s housing situation, as was the case for Spirit of a Hero’s 2014 recipient, Marcus Burleson, who was severely injured in Afghanistan after a bomb he had been disarming detonated in his hands. The blast caused severe burns, organ damage, shattered bones, loss of vision in one eye and amputations to both arms.
Spirit of a Hero stepped in and remodeled Marcus’ parents’ home in Weatherford, Texas, so the honorable warrior would have an ADA-compliant house to return home to.
“I feel a huge sense of pride that I am doing something to help these soldiers,” Tonya says. Busy as this 12-year ORIX USA employee is, Tonya still finds time outside of her work as a senior paralegal to adore her two rescue pit bulls, Butch and Lucy, and cheer on her beloved Dallas Cowboys. (Just don’t mention last week’s game.)
With two sons, a college education and nothing stopping her from making a comfortable living, Tonya says she knows how blessed she’s been in life. “It’s our responsibility to help those who are less fortunate,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what caused them to be less fortunate-that’s irrelevant to me. They need help, and it’s our responsibility to help.”