Latino Life: Hawaiian Paradise in Fresno at Luau of Love

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Hawaiian paradise awaits you in Downtown Fresno! Angels of Grace Foster Family Agency is hosting its annual Luau of Love featuring Polynesian dancing, food, and silent auction items.

The event is Saturday, September 22, 2018, at Arte Americas. Get ticket information here or call (559) 268-0000. Angels of Grace CEO Lisa Casarez joined Latino Life host Vanessa Vasconcelos in our ABC30 studios to share details on the fundraiser and the mission of the agency that helps local children.

Lisa: Aloha! How are you?

Vanessa: Aloha!

Lisa: We are so excited. This is our eighth annual Luau of Love.

Vanessa: Yeah, tell us a little bit about what people can expect.

Lisa: Well, you can expect to have Hawaii in Fresno. We have the Polynesian Club of Fresno coming out with their wonderful dancers. You'll see the fire dancers. And it's just gonna be a wonderful evening. And they will actually be catering, so you're gonna get the authentic Hawaiian catering.

It's just exciting. We'll have dancing under the stars. We have silent-auction items, live-auction items. And the most beautiful part of this whole benefit is that it's truly love, and with the love that we get to share with one another, we get to help the children in our community that are being rescued out of abuse and neglect 24 hours a day.

So, when you see those babies coming in and they don't have the diapers that they need or the formula or they maybe need some clean clothes because they're coming out of a meth lab, they can feel good knowing that they participated in bringing love and security and caring to this child that's gonna be rescued from the benefits of our Luau of Love that we're having.

Vanessa: And I want to talk a little bit about that 'cause, of course, this is a very fun event. People are gonna get a night out under the stars. But this is a very serious cause that it goes to. Let's talk about Angels of Grace.

Lisa: Angels of Grace is a foster family agency. I'm very proud to be the founder. I founded it in 2000, so we've been around for going on 18 years.

It's just basically the way that the community, especially in our community, where we have so many children being rescued out of abuse and neglect and needing to have those basic needs met as they're coming out, the diapers, the formula --You know, we get them at 2:00 in the morning, 3:00 in the morning.

Sometimes you don't have a store that's open with that special kind of, you know, formula that they need because maybe their parent is in a place where they're not able to take care of them, there's drug addiction, and they don't have that formula that they need because they have maybe a sensitive stomach.

We have those things available in our emergency closet because of events like Angels of Grace and because of this community.

Vanessa: And some of the kids that you deal with -- they're dealing with serious trauma. Can you give us an example?

Lisa: Well, we have a lot of trauma, and not always is it the parents. Sometimes people die, you know, and we have children that are left without a mom and a father. So, it's just the types of ways that we can respond to trauma in the world and to people that are places of maybe being lost with drug addiction, domestic violence. And I'm very proud to say that we come alongside child protective services. And the goal is not to hurt families.

The goal is to help families. And we bring these children into a place of protection. At the immediate protection, when the police are out and you're watching the stuff on the news, we know that those children are being rescued.

They're in a safe place, and now the families can get the help that they need so that the children can return home into a place where they can feel secure and loved and the family can be healthy. So, that's the goal of child protective services, and that's our goal to come alongside them and provide these immediate emergency supplies.

Vanessa: What are the ways that you support these children?

Lisa: Well, most importantly, the community has to be there for the immediate need. A lot of these kids are coming out -- I mean, I've seen kids coming out with diapers that haven't been changed for days, and, you know, just those immediate things, a nice, warm bottle, clothing, foster homes that will be able to take care of them 24 hours a day. Those are the real heroes, the resource families that come alongside and are there with warm soup and, you know, holding children that have been traumatized because of the drama that's going on in their lives immediately. Then we have the police department who comes out. They're the initial responders. We have child protective services. We have the community that donate gently used clothing and,you know, finances or attend the Luau of Love in order to be able to have what we need to be there immediately.

A lot of these children are only with us for two days because, obviously, the goal of the Department of Social Services is to reunify children with their families, put them with a relative. And so a lot of times grandma's gonna come and she's gonna have custody of these children and then she's gonna be a on journey with the healing of this family. So, we're able to bless grandma because then those children don't initially end up in the foster-care system. So, we're just basically here to be a blessing, and the community comes alongside us, so we thought Luau of Love was a perfect word because it is love, people coming alongside each other and helping each other become healthy, happy, and whole so that the children can grow up and give back to the community.

Vanessa: And that community support -- I mean, buying a ticket can go a long way.

Lisa: It can, and it does, you know, because we have the tickets, which are $65. Children 5 to 12 are $12. You can bring your family. This is not just adults only.

These are children. We have an area for the children. We have games. We have the Polynesian Club of Fresno that comes out and performs, And they come out with the fire dancers. I mean, I went to Hawaii recently, and I have to tell you that this Luau is top-notch.

We have the best luau. And I thought Hawaii was gonna be a little bit more because it was in Hawaii, but, no, Fresno -- we do a great job.

And then, like I said, they're also gonna be catering, so the food is authentic. And then we have the silent-auction items, which are always fun.

So, anybody in the community that would like to donate for the silent auction or the live auction, these are all tax-deductible donations that

they can make. And then we have dancing under the stars, which we know is very important for all of us in order to go and really create an atmosphere of joy.

Vanessa: And where can we get tickets?

Lisa: You can get tickets by going to You can also contact us at Angels of Grace at 559-268-0000. Or you can also, you know, just come on down. We're gonna beat Arte Américas. It's gonna be in the plaza. We convert the whole plaza into a wonderful, beautiful night under the stars. It's truly a Luau of Love.

Vanessa: Oh, it sounds like so much fun. Lisa, thank you so much for joining us.

Lisa: Thank you.
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