Helpful Resources for Connection and Wellness Amidst Uncharted Times


Resources for Coping with Stress and Emotions | Resources for Families | Featured Kindness Opportunities | Hope Will Not Be Cancelled

Teens Encouraged to Apply for Connecting IRL | Food For Kids Update


Art by Beth Evans - itsbethevans.comDear Volunteer Center Family,

We know it's not an easy time right now, so we wanted to share some of the many resources available to help you navigate and cope with the stress and emotions this situation may be causing.

You may have seen people joking online about how they plan to completely ignore healthy screen time habits during this crisis to help manage children who are out of school. We certainly all recognize the serious difficulties parents face right now, especially since many are trying to juggle both working from home as well as caring for and teaching children. That said, we should all keep trying our best to find some balance with screen time to avoid adding more anxiety, depression and isolation to an already emotionally challenging situation.

There are a lot of great opportunities to make screen time interactive and educational, such as taking virtual museums tours together or watching a zoo's live stream and then discussing what you've seen. Plus, follow-along exercise activities, including yoga, make a great replacement for recess. You can mix it up by dusting off some old-fashioned board games and puzzles, letting your kids explore their creative side both indoors and out, or reading some of the books on our list of Books about Kindness and Empathy. Check out these lists from South Bay Mommies & Daddies, Screen-Free Parenting and Resilient Little Hearts for more ideas, and see more resources to help you below.

Some say that this is the most serious global crisis since the onset of social media, and we are already seeing the benefits of how social media, FaceTime and other apps are keeping us connected. If we can curb the compulsion of too much mindless scrolling - the kind that causes us to disconnect from each other - it will benefit our mental health. Most importantly, we need to remember to be kind to ourselves, that none of us are perfect, and we're not alone.

A friend of mine recently shared these wise words from Rev. Caela Simmons Wood and I thought they summed up how we can come together as a community to navigate this uncharted time:

"PSA: Nearly everyone around you is learning how to "do/be X in a pandemic" for the first time ever right now. Parents, teachers, administrators, librarians, that cashier at the fast food joint, coaches, elected officials, your barber, your friend, your neighbor.

People will make mistakes.
You will make mistakes.
I will make mistakes.
We will love each other through it.

Be gentle with yourself and others. Breathe deeply. Take a break and find some joy. Keep listening and loving."

The Volunteer Center team is currently exploring ways to safely and creatively remain "at the heart of helping" through this unprecedented pandemic. Feel free to write us about resources, remote volunteer opportunities, or anything else you wish to share, and we will do our best to keep everyone informed and connected. Please also check back for updates, and follow us on on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for additional content.

May we all have compassion for each other, be kind to ourselves, and stay safe,

Sara Myers
President/CEO


Image by Blessing Manifesting - www.blessingmanifesting.comResources for Coping with Stress and Emotions

For You:


For Kids:

See more resources below and check back for updates/additions.

How to Care for Yourself While Practicing Physical Distancing

Click here for more details

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Resources for Families

Posts by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle on Instagram @rachel.cargle and Ashley Austrew on Twitter @ashleyaustrew

Posts by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle on Instagram @rachel.cargle and Ashley Austrew on Twitter @ashleyaustrew

Continuing on the theme of "you are not alone," we wanted to share these wise words, as well as more resources to help families during this uneasy time.

  • Crisis Text Line: "If you're worried about making rent, we're here for you. If you're overwhelmed homeschooling your kids, let's talk. If you work in healthcare and show up ready to help, thank you - you're superheroes. It's okay to not be okay." Text SHARE to 741741 to reach a Crisis Counselor.
  • Teen Line Online OutreachTeen Line: While they have temporarily closed the physical hotline space, youth may continue to contact Teen Line from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. (PST) nightly by texting TEEN to 839863, sending an email through their website, using the online message board, or downloading the app. Click here for complete details.

    Teen Line is also beginning to offer virtual online lectures in place of their physical outreach programming. This outreach covers a wide range of topics for middle school and high school students, including stress and anxiety, as well as proper responses if a student is worried about someone else or themselves. Click here to learn more or contact Outreach Manager Sara Shewfelt, MSW at sara@teenlineonline.org.

    This is a particularly lonely time for everyone, especially youth. Please share this information, so as many youth as possible can find the support they need right now, and click here for Teen Line's advice on How to Help Your Teen Through the Coronavirus Shutdown.
  • Counselor Keri: While some schools are closing, kids are out of their comfortable routines, which can contribute to those worries. Click here for 15 things we can do to talk to kids about Coronavirus and help them manage these big worries they might be holding on to.
  • Dana Howell of Behavioral Interventions And Solutions: In the wake of the vast number of school closings, Dana created this FREE daily schedule and activity list printable PDF for parents. Are the schedule times or order of activities not quite right? Print it out, cut out the strips apart, reorder them to your liking and then glue it to a plain sheet of paper.
  • Christine Carter, Ph.D., Greater Good Magazine: Click here for three ways to cope if your kid's school closes: 1. Create some structure around work and school at home now. 2. Connect with your clan. 3. Embrace not being so busy.
  • Dr. Becky At Home - Resilience in the time of Coronavirus: Record 5 Manageable Moments per dayAction for Healthy Kids: Check out three categories of Healthy Activities to Do at Home: 1) Movement & Play, 2) Healthy Eating & Nutrition, 3) Mindfulness & Emotional Health. When kids are out of school for any reason, whether it’s the weekend, a holiday break, or a school closure, parents and caregivers can use these activities and resources to keep their kids moving, learning, and eating healthily.
  • HuffPost Personal: In Parents: It’s OK If You’re Barely Getting By Right Now, guest writer Kim Simon shares a 7-point "Permission Slip for Petrified, Paranoid Parents During This Pandemic" that includes "Teach your children how to listen to their own needs," "Cut yourself some slack. A lot of slack," "Make room for big feelings," and "Social media is not a measure of success."

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Featured Kindness Opportunities

While group volunteer activities are not possible, we encourage each of you to touch base with your neighbors and practice kindness on a personal level as much as possible.  Here are a few opportunities to help you do that:

  • We Love LB has published a postcard in seven languages that you can use to introduce yourself to your neighbors, and help set up lines of communication and aid for those that might be high-risk or otherwise in-need. Visit welovelb.org and scroll down for links to the different versions.
  • Kids and kids-at-heart can create cards, draw pictures and/or write letters for local seniors! Simply scan or take photos of them and send the scans/photos by email to Khryste Griswold at Home Care Assistance. Khryste said the pictures and words will bring great joy to elder community members - it's an especially lonely time for them, so join us in helping to brighten their day! 

    Want to have conversations about giving back with your kids while you work on this project? Check out #7 on this page for guidance from Abby Withee, MFT and our friends at South Bay Mommies and Daddies.

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Parents cuddling with daughter on sofaHope Will Not Be Cancelled

"While the list goes on and on and grows longer every day, we're going to need some good stuff to lean on and look forward to. Here are a few things to consider:

Conversations will not be cancelled.
Relationships will not be cancelled.
Love will not be cancelled.
Songs will not be cancelled.
Reading will not be cancelled.
Self-care will not be cancelled.
Hope will not be cancelled.

That's just my initial list. What else? What do you love that won't be cancelled? Who and what can you rely on right now? What will you continue to participate in?

We're all in this together... May we care well for one another. May we live with more grace and compassion than ever before. May we be careful and wise but also honest on the days we feel afraid. May we always always always know that it's okay to ask for help. And may we lean into the good stuff that remains."

- Jamie Tworkowski
Founder of To Write Love On Her Arms and New York Times Bestselling Author
Click here to read the full post

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Teens Encouraged to Apply for Connecting IRL

The Volunteer Center's NEW Teen Program, Connecting IRL (In Real Life)We are accepting applications for our NEW Teen Program, Connecting IRL (In Real Life)! If you know a teen who is struggling with screen time and wants a safe space to connect with others in real life, where they can share their thoughts and feelings, encourage them to apply for this new, first-of-its-kind program for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Taught by Evan Papadakis, LCSW - a local, licensed mental health professional - the program will be held on five Saturdays, 2:00–4:00 p.m., this Spring* (except the first session, ending at 4:30 p.m.) at the Volunteer Center in Torrance.

To apply, interested teens should complete the online application by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 10 for one of the limited openings.

As with all organizations, we are carefully monitoring the rapidly-evolving COVID-19 situation to make decisions that protect the health and wellness of all participants, and we plan to continue the program with modifications. *Interested teens should apply for the program with the understanding that the dates will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

We are excited to offer this new program to interested teens to teach them alternate methods of connecting with others in a safe space, as well as coping tools they can use. We sincerely believe that the timing for this program's content is more valuable than ever, since many are spending long hours on screens and facing a variety of emotions with school closures and cancelled activities.

Click here for complete details, a link to the online application, and a list of FAQs that include details about our COVID-related modifications.

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Food For Kids Volunteer DriverFood For Kids Update

We have been communicating with our Food For Kids partner schools to explore the best ways to continue to support families during the school closures, and we are happy to report that we have been able to deliver bags of food to multiple sites to help local families in need during this challenging time.

As you can imagine, many people cautiously stocked their own pantries over the past two weeks, so both our food and financial donations have ceased. We are still accepting donations - by appointment only - for the time being, as long as our main office (1230 Cravens Avenue, Torrance) remains open. We will continue to post updates on our website and social media channels as the situation evolves. 

For now, if you would like to donate food, please follow these temporary procedures to ensure your safety and the safety of our staff

  • If you are healthy and in a low-risk age group, please email programs@volcenter.org to make a drop-off appointment. (Please allow 24-48 hours for a response and note that we are not open on weekends.)
  • At your designated drop-off time, you can drive up to the ramp adjacent to our parking lot, and our staff will work with you to help you remain six feet away as you unload your donation.
  • We would also truly appreciate financial donations to help us continue this program and serve local families in need during this challenging time. Click here to make a donation.

Click here to learn more about Food For Kids, including a downloadable copy of our Shelf-Stable Shopping List, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to hear about the latest Food For Kids donations.

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