At the Heart of Helping - September 2020 Update
In This Issue:
letterLetter from the President/CEO
...At the Heart of Connecting High School Youth

COVID has forced some nonprofits to go back to basics and only provide core services. Survival has taken priority over innovation.

While the Volunteer Center is incredibly proud of our core Food For Kids program and the fact that we kept it open during COVID closures and delivered more than 1,800 bags without missing a week... our purpose is to remain "at the heart of helping" and respond to urgent community needs, which means we MUST keep adapting!

Youth sharing and connecting in a circle
The need we just can't ignore is the effects of this pandemic on our youth. The online publication, Rewire recently stated "..New pandemic research has reported that younger adults are struggling the most, mentally and emotionally - even though they're the least likely to experience serious outcomes from the [COVID] virus." That is why 
we are now accepting applications for our newly-adapted teen online program: Connect. The goal for this program-to increase youth resilience and empathy, couldn't be more valuable right now. 

Connect will help youth combat isolation, find community of
Photo of Macy Grim
and a space to practice identifying and expressing their emotions in healthy ways. They will learn life long coping tools while participating in engaging and interactive activities and meaningful conversations. We've selected Macy Grim M.S., LPCC, a talented therapist who specializes in "process experiences" including adventure and play to lead our program. 
Connect is open to local high school students from the South Bay, Harbor and Long Beach areas. 8-15 selected participants will meet via Zoom from 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. on five consecutive Thursdays beginning on October 15, with a final, sixth meeting for parents and/or caregivers on November 19. 
Youth can learn more about the program and fill out a quick application (due 10:00 p.m. on Wed. Sept 23) at Please spread the word and share this news with the teens you know!

SM Signature
Sara Myers
ShelterProviding Food to Families at a Local Shelter
...At the Heart of Supporting Local Homeless Families

Cart with food and cereal
We previously shared that in early April, one of our partner schools asked us if we could provide bags of food for a few of their families living in a shelter. The answer was of course a resounding, "yes!" and this simple request developed into a wonderful new partnership with another local nonprofit: Harbor Interfaith Services Family Shelter in San Pedro.
Each week, our Food For Kids volunteers drop off between 10-20 bags of food for the families. They are always so grateful, since money is tight and many families have young children to feed. We are told that they especially appreciate the simple reusable bags that hold the food we deliver. We're grateful that we're able to work with another local partner to make a difference for these youth and families, especially when the need is so great right now!
RyanInspired by Local Youth
...At the Heart of One Teen's Desire to Make A Difference

Ryan Rossow graduated from Mira Costa High School this past June. While he was a student there, he founded the South Bay Food Initiative (SBFI) as a school club, which he has now recently turned into a nonprofit organization. SBFI works with students from Mira Costa and other South Bay high schools, providing opportunities to address local food insecurity. 
Ryan was also named one of this year's Southbay 20 Under 20 by Southbay Magazine and received a scholarship from our friends at Kinecta Federal Credit Union for his dedication to helping the community. He recently shared the following with us: 
"Before I began SBFI, I had no idea that over 2 million people suffer
from food insecurity in Los Angeles. The more time I spend at food banks, soup kitchens and pantries like the one at the Volunteer Center, the more I realize that most people are just one small personal disaster away from food insecurity. It affects people in all walks of life, and I have become motivated to educate more people about what I have learned. 

Working with organizations like the Volunteer Center and their Food For Kids Program has made me more passionate and compassionate than I was prior to starting my community organization. 

I really enjoy collaborating with the Volunteer Center team, and I am grateful for their inspiration and support in growing my organization. 
They are some of the kindest and most dedicated people that I have ever had the opportunity to work with. It's hard not to be inspired by them." 
FFKHelping Hands and Full Bellies
...At the Heart of Keeping Our Neighbors Fed

Each month as we eye the dwindling shelves in our pantry- before we can worry too much... you, our community, start calling and scheduling your donations and always make sure that we can keep showing up for our families each week- we are so grateful... THANK YOU!
  • Long time Food For Kids volunteer packers Sue Golden, Sarah Chen, Leslie Back & Sheila Millman helped collect food to keep the pantry stocked with healthy fruits, vegetables and other much needed items. We are so thankful for all our volunteers taking special safety precautions and going the extra mile! 
  • Sandpipers continued their ongoing support by bringing over 85 pounds of food this month!
Torrance Refining employees hold up donated food
  • Torrance Refining Company hosted a Breakfast Food Drive and collected 178 pounds of favorite kid cereals!
  • Bob & Kathy Swank, friends of longtime supporters Ray and Anne Destabelle donated 73 pounds of food! (This was part of a much larger effort you will hear more about in our next eNewsletter)
  • Kimberlee Elliott of Pediatric Therapy Network (PTN) dropped off 29 pounds of food and PTN continues to support us by providing volunteers for our food pick-up every week.
  • Loyal supporters, the Holt Family donated 281 pounds of food and helped collect $900 in much needed financial support!
  • Our new friends at Gap Inc. and the Banana Republic Store in the Del Amo Fashion Center hosted a huge food drive with their employees as part of their "Be what's possible" campaign. They delivered 425 lbs of food and loads of smiles! 
We are currently accepting much-needed food donations by appointment only to ensure everyone's safety. Click here to learn about our temporary donation procedures, download our non-perishable food Shopping List, find a link to our Amazon Wish List to have donations shipped directly to us, and more!
ResourceFeatured Resource
Teach a Child How to Pause and Breathe

With everything going on right now, sometimes the best care we can give a child (and ourselves!) is to step back, shut off the noise, and take a few deep breaths. 

We found this simple, fun exercise that doesn't involve any counting or holding your breath- just colorful, comforting imagery. (We've tried it a few times at our desks this week!) If you have little ones who are overwhelmed by the new school year- do this activity with them. 

kindnessFeatured Kindness Opportunity
Keep Our Beaches Clean!

Here's a meaningful opportunity from our friends at the City! Due to the current pandemic, Coastal Clean-Up Day has been turned into Coastal Clean-Up Month, and here's how YOU can participate!
  1. Take a photo of yourself cleaning up trash and litter in front of your home, a park, the beach, or in front of a business anywhere in Torrance and post it on social media.
  2. Post it on social media with #CoastalCleanUpMonth and #TorranceCares and #AtTheHeartOfHelping
  3. Tag @HealTheBay
  4. You can also send a copy of the photo to CDDInfo@TorranceCA.Gov to be entered in a prize drawing!
All clean-up efforts during the month of September are included in Coastal Clean-Up Month. With your help, we can keep the City clean, even during this pandemic!
The Affinity Group
ActivePDF_ Inc.
Albertsons Companies Foundation Nourishing Neighbors Community Relief
Albertsons Companies - Vons - Pavilions - Foundation
Bank of America
Battle Creek Community Foundation
California Water Service
Griswold _ Griswold Insurance Agency
Herbalife Nutrition Foundation
John Deere Foundation
Los Angeles Trial Lawyers_ Charities
The Molina Foundation
The Rudolph J. and Daphne A. Munzer Foundation
NES Global Talent
No Kid Hungry
Port of Long Beach
The Port of Los Angeles
Rotary Club of Manhattan Beach
Sares Regis Group
Sempra Energy Foundation
Torrance Memorial
Valero Energy Foundation
Watson Land Company
Carl E. Wynn Foundation
Whitney Young Children_s Foundation
The Volunteer Center South Bay-Harbor-Long Beach
(310) 212-5009 |

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Recognizing the value of empathy and service to others, the Volunteer Center has been "at the heart of helping" for more than 50 years. The heart of our mission lies in knowing the most urgent, local needs. We learn these needs by regularly listening to the members of our community. When we discover a critical need is going unmet, we lead the response by assembling a team of caring, talented volunteers to create signature programs, such as Operation Teddy Bear and Food For Kids, offering members of our community the opportunity to contribute to the solution. Click here to learn more about Engaging Hearts and Minds - our new, all-encompassing program designed to compassionately support community members, so everyone can look up, re-connect, empathize with each other, build resilience, express emotions and practice self-care.