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“It’s about making an impact in our backyard”

Brian Yun, Costa Mesan, Philanthropist and Chief Operating Officer at ymarketing

“One of my mantras in life is to be constantly improving things. I wake up each morning asking, ‘How can I be a better husband? A better father? A better business owner? A better neighbor?‘ I challenge myself with these questions on a daily basis because optimizing is just my nature.

“I think it goes back to my childhood. When I was a kid my family struggled a lot. Now I’m Chief Operating Officer at ymarketing – a local, digital-marketing agency – and I feel so fortunate to be in the position to give back. As we’ve grown, I’ve looked for any number of ways our agency can engage in fundraising or volunteer activities at the local level.

“Because of my own experiences as a kid, I tend to gravitate towards organizations that support children and address any struggles they have. For example, I volunteer for Project Hope Alliance. They’re based in Costa Mesa and are making a big difference in the area of childhood homelessness.

“Once a quarter, ymarketing also caters a meal for families at CHOC; it’s usually about 200 people. We’ll set up a meal and an activity for the kids and grown-ups to do together – bead-making or cookie-decorating, things like that. One of the parents said to me, ‘You have no idea the impact of this – to not have to eat cafeteria food yet again. To bring a little normalcy into the day. To take a break from the worrying and just do a simple activity together.’

“Then, one day, I saw a Facebook video all about Caterina’s Club and what they do for local kids. Because I live in Eastside Costa Mesa next to the Boys and Girls Club, I had the idea to take what Chef Bruno was doing and bring it to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Costa Mesa. Many local families use those facilities for after-school care, and some of them are in food-insecure situations like I had growing up.

“So now every Wednesday night, six to eight volunteers from ymarketing go prepare and serve a pasta dinner for the kids at the Westside Boys and Girls Club at Rea Elementary, and the Eastside Boys and Girls Club at Tustin and 21st. We feed about 300 kids total, each week.

“And while some children in our program really depend on the meal, the dinner is open to all the kids. So even if they don’t necessarily need the food, it’s still one less night, each week, that Mom or Dad has to cook. It also builds community when the kids share a meal together.

“I think my message for Costa Mesans is that, while it might be difficult to set up programs like this, it’s certainly not hard to participate. Go find an organization where you can help out, even just a little bit. Once a month or once a quarter or once a year, just pay something back into your community. If you’re healthy, if you’re fed, if your living situation is secure – go out and lift the spirits of a neighbor who might not have those things.

“I look at my son and his life is so ridiculously good compared to how I grew up, but I never want him to be sheltered from the need in our community. I don’t want him growing up in an Orange County bubble. He should know what’s going on in the real world and be a part of real life.

“I try to be an example to him. To teach my son that it’s not about taking credit or being in the spotlight. It’s about making an impact in our backyard. When I look at our city and where I fit into it, I want to be a part of the effort that’s collectively working towards the betterment of all life in Costa Mesa.” ♥

– Brian Yun, COO at ymarketing, Eastside Costa Mesan, Philanthropist, Father

About The Author

Hearts of Costa Mesa

Hearts of Costa Mesa is a curated journey through the rich diversity of Costa Mesa life. We'll be sharing vignettes and stories through the reflections of Costa Mesa's residents and regulars. This is an ongoing project, a tapestry we'll continue to weave over time. Please contact us through the website if you'd like to participate. Read all the Hearts of Costa Mesa vignettes here.

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