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!
Thank you to everyone who joined us for an evening celebrating kindness, empathy, compassion and mindfulness, and supported the launch our Youth Mental Health programs at our Heart to Heart Gala on Saturday, June 15 at CRAFTED at the Port of Los Angeles! Proceeds from the event benefit our new programs addressing the alarming rise in anxiety, depression and suicide in our youth. With your support, we will help local youth and families gradually reduce screen time while increasing face-to-face connections and self-care. Click here for complete details!
Click here to see the TEDx talk of one of the evening's speakers, Jason Reid.
Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force
We are proud to announce the launch of the Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force, a local effort in support of Project 2025, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s nationwide initiative to reduce the annual rate of suicide in the U.S. 20 percent by 2025. Representatives from 18 organizations serving youth in L.A. County’s Service Planning Area (SPA) 8 helped us kick-off Mental Health Month on May 1 with the official launch of the Task Force. Click here to learn more!
Declaring May as Mental Health Month
We are proud to report that May was officially declared as Mental Health Month in a State Resolution by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi and a Proclamation from Mayor Patrick Furey on behalf of the City of Torrance. Both the State Declaration and the Proclamation also recognized our innovative, new youth mental health focus and the launch of the collaborative Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force, as did a Certificate of Congressional Recognition from Congressman Ted Lieu and a Commendation from Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn. We're so grateful for the support our local officials continue to provide.
Mental Health Month Activities
Do you know a student in the South Bay who would love to create a poster or video with a positive message to increase awareness of mental health and reduce the stigma of seeking help for mental health issues? All South Bay students are invited to enter the #TUSDStoptheStigma Poster/Video Contest. Prizes include a mental health swag bag filled with #StoptheStigma promotional materials and a $100 mall gift card for the first place winner, a $50 movie gift card for the second place winner, or a $25 Starbucks gift card for the third place winner. Entries are due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 31. Click here for complete details, including guidelines and submission instructions.
In honor of Mental Health Month, we're re-launching our Community Input Survey to gather more input as we finalize our new programs and services. Your responses will help us focus more precisely on the information you want/need and how best to deliver that content to you. If you didn't get a chance to complete our survey in March, we hope you'll take a few minutes to provide your feedback here before May 31.
The Torrance-South Bay YMCA and South Bay Families Connected are celebrating Teen Wellness Week with a series of workshops May 20-24. Our President/CEO, Sara Myers, is presenting a workshop for teens and their parents on Suicide Prevention and Mental Health on Thursday, May 23 at 6:30 p.m. She will be discussing things teens can do to improve their health and happiness, including insights we've found through our research. The Teen Wellness Week events are free and you don't need to be a Y member to attend. Click here to learn more and click here to sign up for our Thursday evening workshop.
Mental Health Month is also a great time to check in with the people you care about and practice self-care. Here are some resources to help you:
- How to Start (and Continue!) a Conversation About Mental Health
- 6 Ways to Boost your Mental Health and General Wellness
- 5 Ways to Set Boundaries Around Devices
- Ease Stress Through Empathy
Continued Compassion and Generosity
We are so grateful to our community members who volunteer such compassion and generosity toward the families we serve by donating shelf-stable food to our Food For Kids program!
- Board Members Jean Adelsman and Shirley Starke-Wallace both donated to Food For Kids, collectively totaling 70 pounds
- The Kiwanis Club of Rolling Hills Estates donated 560 pounds of food
- Saddleback Church South Bay donated 55 pounds of food
- The Torrance Woman's Club donated 447 pounds of food and more than $500 to Food For Kids
We are currently in need of breakfast foods (cereal, oatmeal, granola bars) and canned vegetables. Donations can be dropped off in the lobby of our Torrance Office (1230 Cravens Ave, Torrance CA 90501) Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Please make arrangements for larger donations by contacting us at (310) 212-5009 or email@example.com. You can also donate items to Food For Kids by shopping from our Amazon.com Wish List here.
Click here to learn more about Food For Kids, including a downloadable copy of our Shelf-Stable Shopping List. You can also learn about the latest Food For Kids donations and see other updates when you follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
A Very Happy National Volunteer Week!
National Volunteer Week is always the perfect time to publicly thank all of our wonderful volunteers! We are extremely grateful for all the hours they dedicate to us, whether they're the members of our Board of Directors and Affinity Group, the faces we see weekly through Food For Kids, or those who help us with various aspects of Operation Teddy Bear during the fall and winter months.
Throughout the week, we've been highlighting some of our volunteers on social media, and we've given many of them a token of our appreciation in recognition of the way they touch so many lives in our community with their kindness: a special bookmark highlighting their true value, along with seed paper hearts in recognition of the "seeds of love" they've planted in countless lives.
They Came, They Saw, They Accessorized
The members of our Affinity Group spent National Volunteer Week preparing for and hosting the Spring Bling Jewelry and Accessories Sale. This fantastic FUNdraiser featured a treasure trove of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, watches, scarves and handbags. Community members joined us throughout the afternoon to schmooze, shop and bid on silent auction items, with proceeds benefitting Operation Teddy Bear. We are extremely grateful to the ladies of Affinity Group for all they have done and continue to do to support the Volunteer Center!
Joining Together in Remembrance, Hope & Support
We proudly joined together with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the South Bay Association of School Psychologists last month to sponsor and participate in the first ever Out of the Darkness South Bay Campus Walk at Torrance High School. More than 200 community members representing 45 teams walked together in remembrance, hope and support of suicide prevention and mental health. The South Bay Campus Walk surpassed its fundraising goal of $10,000 by more than $5,000, which will help fund AFSP's educational programs and services in our community.
The morning began with a resource fair and an opening ceremony featuring remarks by Congressman Ted Lieu, Torrance Unified School District (TUSD) Board Member Betty Lieu, Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, Dr. Mimi Hoang, a suicide survivor and someone affected by suicide. During a bead ceremony, participants held up the bead necklaces in various colors to indicate their personal reasons for supporting the walk, which also allowed them to connect with others who shared similar experiences. After the one mile walk around Torrance High School, the event closed with remarks by Clear Recovery Center's Howard Baker, Torrance Mayor Pat Furey, and the closing song, "Lean On Me," performed by Dalia Rodriguez.
Volunteer Center staff members were honored to walk with more than 40 other community members on Team Lucas in memory of Lucas Smith, the South High teen who died by suicide last summer. The team was led by his best friend Luke Antaky - one of the participants of our youth input panel - and Team Lucas earned the honor of carrying the banner at the front of the walk for raising the most funds. Click here to see more photos from the Campus Walk on Facebook, and click here to watch Betty Lieu's remarks about what TUSD is doing to help with the rise in anxiety, depression and suicide of our youth.
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!
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.
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.