At the Heart of Helping - June 2020 Update
In This Issue:
letterLetter from the President/CEO
...At the Heart of Empathy, Kindness and Equality

Empathy quote by Dr. Cornel West
Last month, I wrote about the struggle to find the right words to describe the crisis we are all facing. Now, just one month later, I find myself needing to explain which crisis: the COVID pandemic or the indefensible death of George Floyd and the global protests against racism that followed.

However, "crisis" is not the right word for the recent events, since the word itself suggests something stressful, but short-lived. While this may feel like a new development for some, issues of racism, profiling, wrongful arrests, and senseless murders have deeply affected the mental health of the Black community for generations, and continue to demand our attention.

In the past, I noticed many organizations were careful to "stay out of politics" and steer clear of emotionally-charged topics. The fact is anti-racism is not a political issue. We are witnessing a nationwide surge of empathy and courage, as countless companies and organizations are finally, publicly declaring that Black Lives Matter, as well as updating their policies and practices to reflect that value.

We, too, are such an organization. We simply cannot have a mission that encourages empathy and resilience in all of our youth, families and community members without taking a stance to declare that Black Lives Matter and that racism will not be tolerated in any form. The recent momentum to see communities filled with justice and equality must not be short-lived. We need to continue to participate long after today's stories leave our newsfeeds to ensure the social and emotional wellness of our community.

The Volunteer Center will continue to implement our strategic plan, which includes specific goals to diversify our board and staff, adhere to our anti-discrimination policy, and ensure our services address economic and racial inequalities. We will lead with kindness and compassion - just as we always have - and lean into the feelings of discomfort, so we can continue to listen, learn, appreciate and empathize with perspectives different from our own.

We need only look at the recent, local, hate-filled incident at Wilson Park in Torrance that appeared in so many of our newsfeeds to realize that these issues aren't just "another community's problem." While some stories are filmed and go viral, there are countless other microaggressions that happen every day in communities across the country, including ours. We need to acknowledge this and do our part to make a change.

We have compiled some external resources to help you discuss these topics with your loved ones and to address the social-emotional aspects of racism - we encourage you to take a look:
  • Learn more about How to Celebrate Juneteenth to commemorate the day the last enslaved people were emancipated in the United States on June 19, 1865
  • Anti-Racist Resources from the Greater Good Science Center, including past pieces that explore the potential to reduce prejudice in society and in ourselves
You can also check out these online events:
We hope you'll join us by leaning into uncomfortable conversations with your family and in the community, and finding the courage to always speak up against racism.

SM Signature
Sara Myers

P.S. As we struggled to find the right words for a social media post the Monday following George Floyd's death, we looked to one of our heroes - Mr. Rogers. This is what we shared. You can learn the story behind the images on the left here.

Quotes by Mr. Rogers

makingstridesMaking Strides with Your Support
...At the Heart of a Generous Community

Casa Herbalife Partnership - Bags and Notebooks
It's hard to believe that it's been three months since schools closed and we made special arrangements to continue delivering weekly bags of food through our partner schools. As you can imagine, being able to help families-in-need right now - thanks to the continued generosity of our community - has definitely been a bright spot for us.

We truly couldn't have done it without you, so we wanted to take a moment to thank each and every one of you who has made generous donations over the past few months. This includes a few local organizations we have yet to acknowledge for supporting our efforts: Girl Scout Troop 70755, Hermosa Beach Kiwanis Club, Hermosa Friends Foundation and South Bay Junior Woman's Club - we thank you!

We are also grateful for the renewed support of a number of our major sponsors, including our friends at Chevron, Port of Long Beach, Torrance Memorial, and the Rudolph J. and Daphne A. Munzer Foundation. This year, the Munzer Foundation took COVID-19 and the immediate needs of their community partners into account when they made their funding decisions. We applaud the initiative they've shown in providing support where it's needed most!

In the midst of all of this, we're excited to share that our second year as a Casa Herbalife partner is now underway! In addition to generous grant funding for Food For Kids, this partnership connects us with an amazing group of people from Herbalife Nutrition and the Herbalife Nutrition Foundation who are so supportive of the local community, especially when it comes to childhood nutrition. As an added bonus, the families we serve will receive food in the wonderful, reusable Herbalife bags pictured above, as well as coordinating notebooks, which we hope they will use to write about their feelings and emotions.
kindactsKind Acts: Providing Masks and More
...At the Heart of Making a Difference Together

Mask donation from the Molina Foundation and SCORE Sports
We love seeing examples of kindness and compassion in our community everywhere we turn, and we continue to see them daily! A huge thank you to our friends at the Molina Foundation and SCORE Sports in Wilmington for donating reusable face masks for the families we serve through Food For Kids. When we began distributing the masks with our weekly bags of food, some of the families told us that they already had masks, so they would rather leave the donated masks for the families who truly need them... kindness and compassion abound - right when we need it most!

TUSD and TCPTA June Distribution
We were also delighted to be able to once again join Torrance Unified School District's Building Bridges Collaborative and Torrance Council of PTAs' Project Hope as they prepared and provided supply boxes filled with non-perishable food, school supplies and hygiene products to the district's homeless families earlier this month. We contributed another 30 bags of food and the helping hands of our volunteers, plus we passed along some of the Herbalife bags and notebooks, as well as some of the donated masks, showing that making a difference together is at the heart of what we do!
celebratingserviceCelebrating Service to the Community
...At the Heart of Helping Students and Families

We recently had a socially-distant visit from Torrance Council of PTAs Board Member Cindy Shields. She delivered some of the items we would've received at their Honorary Service Awards Dinner, originally scheduled for late March.

The packaged included the beautiful artwork by student Zoe Y. shown here, which was going to be part of our table's centerpiece at the event, as well as Certificates of Recognition from Congressman Ted Lieu, Senator Ben Allen, the City of Torrance, and the Torrance Unified School District Board of Education.

We are so grateful to the Torrance Council of PTAs for selecting us to receive one of this year's Honorary Service Awards, and we look forward to many more years of working together to help the students and families in our community!
ffkMore Food For Kids - Literally!
...At the Heart of Keeping Shelves Stocked

Food For Kids Update June 2020

We are grateful to the members of our community who continue to help us keep our pantry shelves stocked with donations to our Food For Kids program!
  • The Gaddamadugu Family of Torrance donated 68 pounds of food!
  • Members of the Gajanan Maharaj America Devotees Parivar in Torrance came back again, this time donating more than 200 pound of food - nearly twice what they donated last time!
  • Members of the Social Ministry at Graceway Church in Torrance returned to bring us a new donation containing 116 pounds of food!
  • Our friends at Journey of Faith continued regular drop-offs in lieu of their quarterly Pop-Up Pantry, donating another 1,357 pounds of food - including 124 already-packed bags - bringing their total this spring to nearly 3,000 pounds and counting!
  • Our friends at Sandpipers also continued to help us keep our pantry stocked, with members donating more than 300 pounds of food since they began scheduling weekly drop-off appointments! 
We are currently accepting food donations by appointment only, and we have the greatest need for more canned vegetables, breakfast foods, jelly and peanut butter in regular-sized, non-breakable containers. Click here for complete details about our temporary food donation procedures, our Shelf-Stable Shopping List with details about all of the items we're looking for, and more!
amazonsmileAmazonSmile's Effortless Giving Update
...At the Heart of Shopping For a Cause

Great news - it's now easier to shop through AmazonSmile when you use a mobile device! The latest update of the Amazon Shopping app for iOS and Android includes an AmazonSmile setting.

Once you turn on the new setting, Amazon will donate a portion of eligible items to your selected charitable organization - hopefully us! - every time you use the app to shop. See below for some screenshots we put together using an iPhone to walk you through the steps. Make sure your app is up-to-date first, so you see the new AmazonSmile option under Settings, and learn all the ways you can shop using AmazonSmile here.

Speaking of Amazon, we updated our Amazon Wish List with our most-needed items at the top, making it easy to donate to Food For Kids, since you can have the items shipped directly to us at check out!

Also, since the deliveries from our Wish List don't always reveal who sent the items, we would love it if you could send us an email letting us know what to expect. This also helps us properly thank you and acknowledge your donation in a future newsletter!

AmazonSmile Settings

AmazonSmile Steps
featuredFeatured Kindness Opportunity
Join the City of Torrance in contributing Letters From Home for participants of their Senior Center and Adapted Recreation programs now through Thursday, June 25!

Write a poem, postcard, send cheer, draw a picture, send a photo of your favorite Torrance location, anything counts! It might feel difficult at first to be writing to someone you don't know. Their advice: just pretend like it's a conversation with an old friend.

Letters From Home Guidelines:

1. Letters must be legible (large print) and handwritten. No worries if you're not artistic, make your card what you'd like to receive.

2. Embrace creativity! Recipients love it when the letters are personal. We encourage you to make your letters detailed, thoughtful and heartfelt.

3. Share your act of kindness! Everyone will love seeing photos of your letters and drawings, and it helps promote the cause more than you know.

4. Contribute as many cards/letters as you'd like using one of these options:
  • Drop them off at the Volunteer Center (1230 Cravens Avenue, Torrance). You can leave them with the staff member at the front door, which currently has a Plexiglas barrier for everyone's safety, or simply put them in our mail slot if you come by after-hours!
  • Mail your letters to City of Torrance, Attn: V Minter, 3031 Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503.
  • Drop them off at the Torrance City Hall - West Annex (3031 Torrance Blvd., Torrance) on Thursday, June 25 between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Look for the large envelope attached to the front doors! 
The Affinity Group
ActivePDF_ Inc.
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
The 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
Phone: (310) 212-5009 | Fax: (310) 212-7201 |

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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.