Three years ago, when we began our strategic planning process to identify the community’s current needs, we never imagined the severe crisis we would find. Many of you have shared stories about the youth you know, the heart-wrenching pain they are facing, and how their suffering is affecting both their families and the community.
While there are many factors contributing to the rise in anxiety, stress, panic, depression and suicide in our youth, we are focusing on the biggest issue identified by our community: excessive screen time and social media addiction. Click here to learn more about our new youth mental health focus, including how we enlisted the community’s input, the feedback we heard loud-and-clear, and our progress.
We are committed to compassionately supporting local youth and families through new services to increase empathy and resilience, just as we have through our legacy programs. Click here to join our email list and stay up-to-date on our progress!
AFSP's South Bay Campus Walk
Join us as we walk together on journey of remembrance, hope and support to bring awareness to mental health and suicide prevention at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness South Bay Campus Walk.
Saturday, March 23, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Torrance High School's Upper Field
The field is located on Plaza Del Amo, south of Carson Street. Parking is available on Plaza Del Amo in the lot next to the field and the larger lot across the street.
The walk is hosted by the South Bay Association of School Psychologists and sponsored by Clear Recovery Center, Frocks&Rocks, GoGuardian, Lilac and Lemon Lash Spa, Novo Yoga and the Volunteer Center. The event includes remarks by Congressman Ted Lieu, Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, Torrance Mayor Patrick Furey, Dr. Mimi Hoang and Howard Baker; a meet-and-greet with therapy dog Tali Zorah; and a Resource Fair. Learn more and register online for FREE (by Friday, March 22 at noon) at www.afsp.org/SouthBayCampus; register in person at the event between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m.
Spring Bling Jewelry & Accessories Sale
The Affinity Group of the Volunteer Center invites you to join them for bling, baubles, beads and more at their Spring Bling Jewelry & Accessories Sale on Wednesday, April 10, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m., at our Torrance headquarters (1230 Cravens Ave., Torrance, CA 90501). Enjoy refreshments while you shop an assortment of chic, trendy, fun, antique and travel treasures, benefitting Operation Teddy Bear!
Mark your calendar for our first annual Heart-to-Heart Gala on Saturday, June 15 at Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles! This unique evening celebrating empathy, kindness, compassion and mindfulness features dinner, entertainment, and live/silent auctions. You don't want to miss it! Stay tuned for complete details.
Thinking Outside the Cookie Box
The kind, compassionate and energetic members of Torrance's Girl Scout Troop 3845 visited us at the beginning of March to present a basket of donated cookies for our food pantry and a generous check following a successful Girl Scout Cookie season. During their visit, we showed the girls how the Volunteer Center helps local elementary school students their age.
First, we introduced the girls to Food For Kids by taking a tour of the pantry and reading a book from our kindness-themed book list ("Maddie's Fridge" by Lois Brandt). Then, we looked at the different items in the Operation Teddy Bear schoolbag and talked about why we provide them to the first graders, followed by a discussion about our feelings and ways we can be kind. We ended on a very empathetic, comforting note as we hugged teddy bears and practiced taking deep breaths. We are so grateful to have such a generous community of youth, and we love when we can have conversations about kindness, compassion and social-emotional wellness!
The Generous Food Donations Continue
We are so grateful to our community members who continue to show such compassion and generosity toward the families we serve through our Food For Kids program!
- Liam Demko, a 5th grade student at Silver Spur Elementary School in Rolling Hills Estates, wanted promote giving back to the community at his school, so he decided - on his own - to coordinate a school-wide food drive, collecting and donating 423 pounds of food
- The team at Honeywell Aerospace in Torrance collected and donated 493 pounds of food during Engineers Week
- Professor Woo Kang from the Presbyterian Theological Seminary of America coordinated a food drive with his students, donating 109 pounds of food
- The Warner-Farah-Smith Family in Torrance donated 338 pounds of food
You can learn about the latest Food For Kids donations and see other updates when you follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! For more information about how you too can help, including a downloadable copy of our Shelf-Stable Shopping List, click here. We've also made it easy to support Food For Kids through our Amazon.com Wish List.
Visions of Unity Celebrates 20 Years
Students, families and community members gathered at Torrance Memorial's Conference Center earlier this week to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Visions of Unity Contest. Nearly 50 Torrance high school students were honored for their original short stories, essays, poetry, fine art, photography and sculpture celebrating diversity, promoting education and understanding, and cultivating a sense of belonging for the diverse population of Torrance. The award-winning art work was on display during the event, and after the awards were presented, the winning literature submissions were read aloud by the student authors. As Co-Founder and Contest Coordinator Lea Ann King so aptly shared during her remarks, "This is the future of our world. We are listening to them."
The Volunteer Center is proud provide fiscal sponsorship for this event and join the other partners in our community who make this student arts and literature competition possible each year: The Human Relations Forum of Torrance, Torrance Memorial Medical Center, Torrance Unified School District, League of Women Voters of Torrance Area, and Palos Verdes Chapter LINKS, Inc. The Visions of Unity Committee also includes three of our Board Members: Jean Adelsman, Lea Ann King and Shirley Starke-Wallace. Learn more in this video produced by Torrance CitiCable and at visionsofunity.com.
WE RISE Poetry Contest
The LA County Department of Mental Health is currently accepting creative, original poems that address mental health and wellbeing for the WE RISE Poetry Contest, part of a campaign to transform our mental health care system using art and community building in Los Angeles.
Entries are due May 1. They will be judged on poetic merit by a panel of poets and peers, and honorees will be invited to a WE RISE reception in Downtown Los Angeles. Click here for guidelines and complete details.
Discussing Our New Focus on NEWSBREAK LIVE
Check out the February 5 episode of Torrance Citi CABLE's NEWSBREAK LIVE to hear President/CEO Sara Myers discuss our new youth mental health focus, including the research, community input, plans to help families address screen time and social media addiction, and helpful resources we can all use now.
Click here to learn more about our new focus and click here find helpful resources. Many thanks to Hibah Samad and her team for the opportunity to talk about this work and our community-based approach!
Celebrating Operation Teddy Bear Together
Another year of Operation Teddy Bear is in the books, and it truly would not have been possible without our family of volunteers, donors and sponsors. Together, we provided more than 4,000 local, underserved first grade students with our signature schoolbag filled with books, educational supplies and wellness tools, as well as more than 150 first grade teachers with appreciation kits. Volunteers also inspired the students at the 36 schools they visited during a lesson in kindness, compassion, volunteering and identifying emotions before distributing their surprise gift. The students' reactions to the surprise are often quite boisterous and joyous. Volunteers also love watching the excitement build like in this video with volunteers from Kinecta Federal Credit Union.
There were a few new additions this year. They included a volunteer-made "rekenrek" to assist each first-grader with concepts of math and counting (and calm fidgety fingers), an engineering construction kit to help the students learn to build two and three dimensional shapes, and inserts in a writing journal showing sentence-starters and sight words, all prepared by volunteers from Keenan & Associates. Each teddy bear also had a tag on it to remind the students what they were taught during the lesson: When you feel nervous or afraid, give this teddy bear a big hug and take a deep breath to help you feel better. Watch volunteers from the Port of Los Angeles demonstrate in this video.
We are grateful for the enthusiastic and hard-working volunteers who took the time to distribute the schoolbags and visit with the students, including representatives from our Affinity Group, Bank of America, Beacon House, California Water Service, GreenVetsLA, John Deere, Keenan & Associates, Kinecta Federal Credit Union, Los Angeles Trial Lawyers' Charities, Rudolph J. and Daphne A. Munzer Foundation, Nonprofit Partnership, Port of Los Angeles, Rotary Club of Manhattan Beach, Sandpipers, Simon Law Group, South Bay Junior Women's Club, St. Anthony High School, Valero, Watson Land Company, as well as several individual volunteers. We also want to once again thank our major sponsors and in-kind donors for joining us "at the heart of helping" to make this program a reality! Click here to learn more about Operation Teddy Bear, including a complete list of our sponsors.
Jean Twenge Discusses Screen Time & Mental Health
We recently held our first major community event focused on youth mental health - an evening with nationally-renowned author and psychology professor Dr. Jean Twenge, in partnership with Torrance Unified School District and South Bay Families Connected. Dr. Twenge delivered an engaging presentation, including eye-opening data from her research on "iGen" and practical tips to counter the effects of screens on teens, which were in line with the services we are currently developing - a Parent Education Course, the reinvention of our popular Teen Program, and a Community-wide Awareness Campaign.
Before the presentation, we hosted a Special Reception for community leaders and those who have played an integral role in our work over the past year. It was truly gratifying to hear Dr. Twenge - who we have quoted in countless conversations - confirm that we are headed in the right direction. Click here to learn more about what we're focusing on, why and the services we're developing. Click here to see more photos from the recent event on Facebook.
Presenting our 2017-2018 Annual Report!
Click here to check out our Annual Report and learn more about the next inspiring chapter in the Volunteer Center's 50+ year history! After you read about our past and future in the Annual Report, we hope you'll join us in making an impact with a donation, so we can continue to meet the needs of our community and be "at the heart of helping" together.
The Volunteer Center is a participant of the UCommunity - UPrinting Sponsorship Program.