At just 9 years old, Khloe Thompson has already had a remarkable impact on her community, and she’s following in the footsteps of her grandmother: Stephanie Arnold, a technical sales manager with Domtar Enterprise Group.
Through Khloe’s efforts, four generations of women are working together to provide help for homeless women through Khloe Kares. This small but heartfelt initiative provides basic necessities to homeless women in and near Fullerton, California.
How do you make a difference in your community?
Khloe: I started Khloe Kares when I was 8 to provide help for homeless women in our community. It starts with a tote bag that my great-grandma and I make together. We put in shampoo, soap, lotion, feminine products, toothpaste and sometimes clothes — the normal things that we take for granted. Whenever I’m walking or driving with my mom and we see a homeless woman, I jump out and say hi and tell her what I’m doing. Then I give her a bag. We’ve given out about 250 bags so far.
Stephanie: I have a nonprofit organization called RACE2Excellence, which is a Christian organization that helps women through empowerment classes — teaching women that they’re going to be OK, that they are worthy. We do vision boards and journaling. The nonprofit is just getting started, and right now it’s mostly funded from my own pocket, though we get in-kind donations from individuals in the community.
Why is it important to you to provide help for homeless women?
Stephanie: One of the things my husband and I always say is that folks see people on the street and pass judgment, but many of us are just one tragedy or one bad decision away from it ourselves. We don’t pass judgment. A lot of women who end up on the street are victims of domestic violence. You don’t really know what somebody has been through. Khloe understands that homeless people are people just like us and that they have needs just like we do.
Can you think of a special time you provided help for homeless women?
Khloe: There is this girl from the Ann Douglas Center, which is a homeless shelter in my community. She stands out because she went to college for chemistry and she’s really, really smart. She knows four languages. You might think that homeless people never went to school in their lives, just because of their outfit, but a lot of them have gone to school and are really smart.
What has Khloe Kares meant for your family?
Stephanie: It has meant that four generations of women are working together to offer help for homeless women in the community who are in need and deserve love as much as we do. Khloe is a special little girl. She’s made us — our community, our friends — more aware of the need to and how to help, and to not just turn up our noses and walk away. My daughter, Alisha, is out there with Khloe all the time — every single appointment, call and interview. I’m so proud of my daughter for taking this vision on from her daughter and making it their thing. I thank her for being the type of mother who supports her daughter.
How does Domtar encourage its employees to give back to their communities?
Stephanie: Domtar helps us make a difference in our communities by highlighting ways to get involved and making it easy. I’m an EarthChoice Ambassador in the greater Los Angeles area, and I always encourage my colleagues to consider joining the EarthChoice Ambassador program. I think Domtar is an amazing example of a company that helps employees give back to their communities beyond the products we sell. A lot of times that doesn’t get taught in corporate America.
What advice would you give to others on giving back to their community, particularly other kids like you?
Khloe: I would say that you can help out in so many different ways: recycle, pick up trash, or just go say hi to a homeless person. Don’t be afraid; whatever you choose to do to help out, just stick with it. You will be great. Just try to make it big and make it amazing.
How do you hope to make a difference?
Khloe: I hope to make a difference within the homeless community around me. To me, any type of person is a regular person, homeless or not. So they should be loved as much as we get love. I like to treat them the best that I can, because I know that once I treat them how they are supposed to be treated, that’s what changes them to think that they are loved, too. All you have to do is give them a smile and talk to them. Give them love. Act like they are your best friend or someone that you’ve known your whole life. Even though they are having different type of problems going on, they are pretty much the same person as you are.
Stephanie: I hope to make a difference by empowering women to realize that they can lead successful lives. My tagline is basically “Changing one heart at a time; excellence is a destination.” I’ve always had a heart for giving. My attitude is “What do you need? What do I have?” If I see someone in need, I want to help out.