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Lifting Up the Littlest Angels

Nonprofit organization The Littlest Angel Guild raises money to support CHOC’s pediatric patients and families. 

It’s often said that love is the best medicine.

Since 1965, a special group of women in the Yorba Linda area has worked tirelessly to support pediatric patients at CHOC—Children’s Health of Orange County—through The Littlest Angel Guild, one of seven guilds currently serving the CHOC Foundation.

This non-profit organization raises funds and community awareness to ensure that all children treated at CHOC—over 275,000 annually—receive exceptional medical care, regardless of their family’s ability to pay.

With the support of The Littlest Angel Guild’s various fundraisers, patients, and their families can focus on what truly matters most—getting well and spending priceless quality time with one another.

To date, The Littlest Angel Guild has raised nearly $7 million dollars in support of CHOC’s mission—“To nurture, advance, and protect the well-being of children.”

Headed by Volunteer Leaders Sally Stacey, Lori Stenovich, and their team of Angels, several members of The Littlest Angel Guild are second generation, and two are daughters of a founding member.

Fundraising efforts include the annual Pursenally Yours Luncheon, an annual spring auction event where attendees can bid on purses and an array of other exciting items, as well as fun monthly events ranging from art and cooking classes to educational tours and shopping excursions.

Other opportunities to support the work of The Littlest Angel Guild, we will be joining the other Guilds for The Holiday Tree Brunch on December 3rd at the Westin South Coast Plaza.

A major focus of the Guild is using their funds to support the mental health crisis.

One way they seek to provide comforting care to children at CHOC is through the Resident Dog and Pet Therapy Program. Two specially-trained, full-time facility dogs, Lois and Odessa, provide lots of love, care, and wags to all they meet and greet.

Loisis blonde, with one of the most compassionate faces you will ever see. Odessa is spunky, with a raven-hued coat, and once had her nails painted purple by a patient. They are resident service dogs and badge-carrying CHOC staff members whose work is supported solely through philanthropy.

Although Lois and Odessa are undeniably adorable, the benefits provided by their presence go far beyond their fur.

Unlike pet therapy animals brought to the hospital by volunteers to provide cheer, resident service dogs are highly trained to be a vital part of therapeutic treatment. These dogs, who live with their CHOC handlers, help patients achieve their medical goals one wag at a time.

A wealth of research has proven the positive effects of placing highly trained animals in a hospital setting.

Resident dogs bring many positive impacts to a hospital environment, including reducing stress, enhancing calm and security, easing the perception of pain, decreasing fear, improving mood, building trust, increasing the hormone that produces feelings of happiness, and decreasing the hormone that is produced during times of stress.

Lois and Odessa each have their own unique areas of expertise.

Lois is treatment and therapy wrapped in fur with a wagging tail. She is tasked with helping patients and their families cope with many situations, her duties include providing comfort at the time of diagnosis and play-acting ‘dog-tor’ as a therapeutic means to help patients understand the challenges they face.

Odessa is specifically assigned to the Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center, meeting patients where they are as they struggle with their mental health and building trust through trauma-informed care.

“When the new resident dog and pet therapy program began, it was a ‘match made in heaven’ for their dog-loving members. Two of our Guild presidents have worked with the Guide Dogs for the Blind organization, and many members have volunteered with various animal rescues,” says Patty Randall, the CHOC Foundation’s director of community involvement.

“We know from various reports that if mental health conditions are caught early, outcomes can be improved. This crisis impacts everyone, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status. This Littlest Angel Guild wants to be part of the solution,” she adds.

“Our volunteers lend their time—about 11,000 hours per year—talents, business expertise, and giving hearts to help support CHOC’s efforts to give their patients comfort, peace, and a path on how to cope with mental illness,” Randall adds.

Like so many patient and family-care services provided by CHOC, the animal-assisted therapy program is 100% supported by philanthropy. Community kindness is key to sustaining and growing this crucial resource.

“The Littlest Angel Guild is always looking for new members to join us in our efforts to make a difference in a child’s life,” says Randall.

Visit for ways to get involved!

 “Our volunteers lend their time, talents, business expertise, and giving hearts to help support CHOC’s efforts.” –The Littlest Angel Guild