Tags: Featured Story, Party and Entertainment
Reaching beyond the immediate pain of the present to the hope of a brighter future has seemed difficult for so many families. However, the faith of a child has a way of shining through even the darkest of times.
Isabella Brennan, age 7, found a unique way to bring her own blend of cheer to the community.
A video has circulated on social media with her explanation: “I had a lemonade stand. I collected money for The Mission...It just popped up in my mind.”
Isabella is the daughter of Kern County native Dana Brennan, vice president of government and public affairs at Grimmway Farms, and Joseph Brennan, adjunct professor of political science at Bakersfield College, originally of New Jersey.
Isabella hosted the informal stand in her neighborhood on June 28, an ordinary Sunday with some extraordinary results. She donated profits from the day’s total plus some additional amounts after the big day, $350 total, to The Mission at Kern County.
A local charity, The Mission at Kern County is a non-profit organization based in Bakersfield that assists with meals, shelter, and educational opportunities for those in need. Physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing are part of the charity’s focus.
Mom Dana Brennan emphasized that the lemonade stand - and the decision to donate all of her profits - was Isabella’s idea and that she was determined to conceive every aspect of it as a viable project.
“Previously, we lived north of Sacramento, where homelessness stands out in daily life. Isabella saw that; she noticed people and she started asking questions at a young age,” said Dana. “We explained it as best we could. She gave things away and it has just been an issue on her mind and in her heart. She said she wanted to do a lemonade stand, and she made the final call to donate all profits.”
“For a number of years, our family has been supportive of The Mission,” said Dana. “It is important to us as a faith-based ministry, and all the issues that may accompany that work in the community are important, too, in ministering to the whole person.”
Job training, transitional living for those struggling with addiction, and direct aid to individuals experiencing homelessness are also part of The Mission at Kern County’s work.
A small but important venture, the lemonade stand outshone the usual quiet fate of children’s homemade efforts sometimes hosted for a fleeting day on quiet residential streets.
Isabella prepared lemonade from a powdered mix and sold it for 50 cents per cup. Rather than donating the collected nickels, dimes and bills, her parents wrote a check for practical reasons, but the sincerity of Isabella’s offering remained even through the formalities of modern banking.
“Well, friends and family donated more than just the cost of a cup,” laughed Dana. “It was really touching because people turned out for it. Family sent donations from the East Coast just to support the cause.”
Friends, neighbors, and Assemblyman Vince Fong all came by to try Isabella’s lemonade in recognition of the surprisingly sweet fundraising initiative.
“I had fun. It was something I kept thinking about, and so I made a plan to do it,” said the incoming second grader. “The money could help other people.”
“I think that, at 7, to understand to some degree these social issues and seeing that your daughter has a heart for others is a really neat thing,” said Joseph. “None of this would have been possible without the support of family and friends.”
Even with the inherent isolation COVID-19 has brought, Isabella’s lemonade stand proves people are still willing to unite for a cause.
“It was a socially-distanced lemonade stand, with precautions,” said Dana. “The usual ways people get together like fundraisers or going to events for a cause just aren’t happening right now. We had to be creative but I say ‘we’ very loosely. We just helped support it where we could. Even as we’re spending more time in our own homes, there are still those out there in the community who don’t have that comfort.”
“That’s really what Bakersfield is about: a sense of community and helping others,” he said.
Isabella and her mom have discussed the possibility of hosting another lemonade stand in the future: “We could make it virtual, or maybe when it’s not so hot,” said Dana. Isabella is up for the challenge and will set a great example for her brother, Joe, age 3.
The scope of the issues Isabella’s fundraiser affects may not be something she fully understands, her parents have concluded. The joy giving can bring and the satisfaction of a job well done, though, stand out at any age.
Find more information on The Mission at Kern County at https://www.themissionkc.org/services.html