The Volunteer Center South Bay-Harbor-Long BeachOur History

The Volunteer Center was founded as the Volunteer Bureau in 1963 by the Junior League of Long Beach in response to the urgent needs of the community. Over the decades, we have referred more than a million volunteers to hundreds of nonprofit agencies who maintain critical programs for those in need. 

Highlights of our 50+ Years


  • The Junior League of Long Beach establishes Volunteer Bureau at 1427 Pacific Ave., San PedroVernon Fay Founder Picture
  • Funded by Junior League
  • Placed 34 volunteers in 24 agencies
  • Vernon Fay, Volunteer Center Became Founding Board President (pictured to the right)


  • Bureau recruits 232 volunteers


  • 313 volunteers recruited for nonprofit agencies


  • Last year of Junior League funding
  • First official budget was $4,103


  • Moved to 2008 W. Carson St. in Torrance on April 24
  • Placed more than 800 volunteers at 60 different agencies


  • Placed more than 900 volunteers

Charlotte Lobb 1969

  • Organized first workshop for nonprofit agencies
  • Charlotte Lobb (pictured to the right) started publicizing volunteer opportunities in the Daily Breeze newspaper


  • Supplied playground equipment for Harbor Hills Housing Project
  • 200 participants attended agency workshops

1971Joan Santaella 1972

  • Joan Santaella became Executive Director (pictured to the right)
  • Placed 1,785 volunteers at 93 agencies


  • Changed name From Bureau to Volunteer Action Center
  • Expanded to include beach cities

1973 - Tenth Anniversary

  • Volunteer Service Awards program became annual event
  • 4,400 volunteers, 156 agencies
  • Kathryn JoinerKathryn Joiner became Executive Director (pictured to the right)
  • Established Court Referral Community Service Program


  • Added Court Referral Coordinator to staff



  • Recruited 450 high school volunteers

1978 - Fifteenth Anniversary Grace Wright School


  • Moved to the vacant Grace Wright School at 3915 Spencer St. in Torrance


  • Held First Annual Corporate Volunteer Awards Banquet fundraising event


  • Joined coalition of 40 California Volunteer Action Centers to unify activities and program strategies
  • Expanded services to Long Beach area


  • TRW and CCH Computax contributed a new computer system

1983 - Twentieth Anniversary

  • Initiated Human Race fundraiser for nonprofits


  • Grew partners to more than 500 agencies


  • Teen Involvement Program began with help from TRW
  • Collaborated on Taste of South Bay fundraising eventDe De Hicks 1986



  • Rented former Stone & Meyers Mortuary from Torrance Redevelopment Agency
  • Torrance Historical Society declared edifice a Historic Building

1988 - Twenty-Fifth Anniversary


  • Partnered with 550 agencies
  • Stone & Myers Mortuary Originally built in 1924 Renovated the Stone & Myers Mortuary


  • Founded the One-Can-Do Program
  • Served 12,000 volunteers


  • Center selected from 47 in state to receive the Gloria Deukmejian Award as the most outstanding Center


  • Opened second satellite office in San Pedro
  • Coordinated the J.C. Penney Golden Rule Awards

Small Painting of Building1993

  • Purchased Stone and Myers historical building through generous grant of $200K from Toyota
  • Budget was at $395,000
  • Provided more than $5.5 million dollars worth of services to the community
  • Board member, Jim Fucile, received the Gloria M. Deukmejian Outstanding Volunteer Award


  • De De Hicks served on National Board of Volunteer Centers Operation Teddy Bear Logo



  • Began building renovation


  • Hosted ‘Hard Hat’ Tea Party to announce Capital Campaign
  • Received Excellence in Communication award from Points of Light Foundation for our Capital Campaign packet
  • Board member, Lea Ann King, received the Gloria M. Deukmejian Outstanding Volunteer Award
  • Renovated Volunteer CenterRenovated the Volunteer Center


  • President’s Summit on Volunteerism selects Long Beach as one of 100 cities to send delegates to Conference in Philadelphia; De De Hicks selected as Summit delegate
  • Major Youth Volunteer Program begins
  • Expanded corporate involvement program; established the Corporate Volunteer Council
  • 3rd satellite office opened in West Los Angeles
  • 21-month Capital Campaign ended in the fall, surpassing the million dollar goal
  • 27,000 volunteers recruited
  • Board member, Ev Durfee, received the Gloria M. Deukmejian Outstanding Volunteer Award

1998 - Thirty-Fifth Anniversary

  • Adjacent parking lot purchased
  • Fourth satellite office in San Pedro opened
  • Partnership with 650 agencies
  • Expanded Training Program for nonprofits
  • Operating budget grew to $628,000
  • Implemented Family Matters Volunteer Program
  • Started Durfee Scholarships for students


  • Hosted first group of International visitors
  • Volunteer Center Youth Coalition (VCYC) started
  • Opened Fifth satellite office near LAX
  • Started JAM (Joint Agency Meetings)
  • Became host, sponsor and fiscal agent for the Human Relations Forum
  • Family Matters Program recognized nationally


  • Hosted First Regional Youth Service Project
  • Launched resource library for fund development and volunteer management
  • Operation Teddy Bear program distributed 3,000 filled backpacks
  • Hosted Pirates of Portuguese Bend successful fundraiser
  • Facilitated creation of Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden at George F. Canyon Nature Center
  • Hosted representatives from 24 nonprofit agencies from around the world


  • De De Hicks received President/CEO title
  • Spearheaded a collaborative project for Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning (actually went on for 5 months instead of one day!)
  • Youth service project partnered with Habitat for Humanity
  • Join Hands Day activities received national recognition
  • Organized community projects for Martin Luther King Day, Cesar Chavez Day, Join Hands Day, National Youth Service Week, Make a Difference Day, National Family Volunteer Week and USA Initiative


  • Bauer/Honda Funded Nonprofit Library & Resource Center opened
  • Dedication of renovation of parking lot
  • Organized Senior Prom as youth project
  • Held 22nd Annual Corporate Volunteer Awards Banquet, “Make a Difference” theme
  • Implemented Harbor Area Child Safety Awareness Program
  • Budget $860,000 – value of services to the community estimated to be over 14 million dollars annually.


  • Celebrated 40th Anniversary and congratulated ‘Operation Teddy Bearers’ at a Mardi Gras party!
  • Operating budget topped $1,000,000
  • Center chosen to participate in national LeadershipPlenty training
  • Held 23rd Annual Corporate Awards Banquet, sports theme
  • Volunteer Center received POLF 2003 Communications Excellence Award, Technology category


  • Awarded nine Durfee scholarships to High School seniors
  • For National Youth Service Day, Youth Coalition hosted “Day of Fun for Everyone”
  • “Kids at Heart” themed Corporate Volunteer Awards Banquet honored Tom Sullivan
  • Volunteer Center received POLF 2004 Communications Excellence Award, Special Events category
  • De De Hicks attended George Bush’s 80th Birthday Bash
  • Volunteer Center hosted a “circus” themed Operation Teddy Bear party to thank donors
  • 4,000 backpacks given to first graders for Operation Teddy Bear program
  • 15 high schools participated in Youth Coalition
  • 12 cities proclaim December 11, 2003 as Operation Teddy Bear Day
  • Corporate Volunteer Council (CVC) members spruced up Torrance Children’s Center


  • Court Referral Program introduced a new Teen Project
  • Operation Teddy Bear fundraiser honored Pete Carroll, U.S.C. football coach
  • Operation Teddy Bear program distributed a record 5,000 backpacks
  • Operation Teddy Bear fundraiser hosted in Long Beach at Long Beach Yacht Club
  • 25th Corporate Volunteer Awards Banquet, sponsored by ExxonMobil, “You Oughta Be in Pictures” theme
  • Youth Program received Human Relations Award
  • Donors thanked at Operation Teddy Bear’s “Mission Impossible” rather “Possible” party
  • Volunteer Center Youth Coalition organized “Laps of Love” walk-a-thon
  • Six youth service projects addressed community needs from MLK Day to Cesar Chavez Day


  • Operation Teddy Bear party thanked donors, themed “You Gotta Have Heart….and You Have”.
  • De De attended Regional Conference in San Diego
  • 26th Corporate Volunteer Awards Banquet themed “American Idol”
  • Affinity Group started and hosted several recruitment teas
  • Attended Governor & First Lady Awards Luncheon in Long Beach
  • Corporate Volunteer Council (CVC) participated in joint project to paint and clean-up the Wilmington Teen Center
  • Operation Teddy Bear distributed 5,600 backpacks


  • Operation Teddy Bear party themed “Teddy Bears Picnic”
  • 27th Corporate Volunteer Awards Banquet themed  “Mythical Journey to the Land of Gods & Goddesses”
  • ‘Legends’ fundraiser at the Negri home
  • De De travels to Philadelphia for National Volunteer Conference
  • VIVA summer program includes more than 40 students at Volunteer Center
  • Implemented training program with Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Expanded Corporate Volunteer Council and service activities
  • De De honored for Van Dine Americanism award at Palos Verdes Estates Fourth of July celebration
  • Operation Teddy Bear fundraiser at Long Beach Yacht Club
  • Recruited more than 250 volunteers for First Lady Playground Build in Long Beach
  • Volunteer Center participated in Palos Verdes Chamber Citiopoly game fundraiser
  • Best Nonprofit awarded by Palos Verdes Chamber of Commerce, Salute to Business 2007


  • PVP Chamber named Operation Teddy Bear as Best Nonprofit Program
  • 28th Corporate Banquet, theme: “We’re Wild about Volunteers, Safari Style”
  • Hosted CA Volunteers “Listening Tour” and was reported one of the best sites
  • Hosted Volunteer Center’s 45th Anniversary celebration at Ed & Susie Beall’s home
  • Five Ev Durfee scholarships granted to deserving local high school students
  • Corporate Volunteer Council held membership drive at Toyota’s Automotive Museum
  • Interfaced with 34,658 individuals within its programs


  • 29th Corporate Volunteer Awards Banquet – theme: “Volunteers Are Out of This World” – Boeing sponsored
  • VCYC hosts a Global Youth Service Day Project – April 18
  • Affinity’s “Legends In Our Time” – fundraiser for Operation Teddy Bear
  • Scholarships awarded to students at Leuzinger High School
  • Reps attended National Conference in San Francisco
  • VIVA – Summer Service Learning Program expands to 56 students
  • End of fiscal year report for Court Referral program celebrated its ‘best year ever’.
  • Conducted a bus Tour for board members and others to visit 5 satellite Volunteer Center offices
  • Started Food For Kids program in October
  • Started an after-school art program for underserved elementary school children
  • Connected with over 44,000 individuals/groups for the year
  • Long Beach office's Mary Manos presented with Outstanding Volunteer Award for volunteers in Long Beach


  • Volunteer Center Youth Coalition held MLK Day event
  • De De attended large Volunteer Centers meeting in Dallas
  • Palos Verdes Coordinating Council presents the 2010 Community Service Award to the Volunteer Center
  • Volunteer Center Youth Coalition Day of Service in Long Beach partnered with Peace 4 Kids
  • 30th Corporate Banquet held at Dave’s Garage, theme: “Celebrating Volunteers with a Fifties’ Flair”
  • Global Youth Service Day, “Hooked on Books” Literary Fair at Meyler Elementary School put on by Volunteer Center Youth Coalition
  • Attended National Conference in New York
  • Opened new court referral office in Bellflower


  • Volunteer Center Youth Coalition held MLK Day event at LMU to benefit foster youth
  • Corporate Banquet held at the Torrance Marriott Hotel, “Broadway Bound….Volunteers Take the Stage”
  • Volunteer Center Youth Coalition held Literacy Fair at Meyler Family Learning Center for Global Youth Service Day
  • Affinity Group hosted ‘Legends’ party held to celebrate four Palos Verdes women volunteers
  • ‘Food For Kids’ program feeds 8,100th individual since inception
  • Long Beach Food For Kids support group formed called Team 100
  • Served 44,965 people through our many programs


  • Volunteer Center Youth Coalition held MLK Day event to benefit foster kids at Loyola Marymount University
  • Volunteer Center Youth Coalition held Global Youth Service Day at American Martyrs in Manhattan Beach
  • Volunteer Center Youth Coalition ‘Day of Magic’ for kids with cancer at TMMC
  • ‘Art to Go’ thrives and volunteers trained others in order to expand the program
  • Corporate Banquet held at Torrance Marriott Hotel,”Volunteers Make a World of Difference”.
  • Affinity Group held the Legends event at the Yellow Vase in Palos Verdes Estates to honor four Palos Verdes women who volunteer
  • Held the first annual Blue Martini Ball in Long Beach to raise funds for Food For Kids
  • Volunteer Center Youth Coalition held ‘End of the Year Celebration’ in Volunteer Center’s parking lot
  • CVC (Corporate Volunteer Council) volunteered at Toyota Village for Special Olympics in Long Beach

2013 - 50th Anniversary

  • Volunteer Center Youth Coalition MLK Day, January 26, at Richstone Center
  • Held Art To Go trainings in boardroom at Volunteer Center, in March
  • Nonprofit trainings begin in March through June at the Volunteer Center
  • Affinity Tea at Heinsheimer’s home
  • Corporate Banquet, “Volunteers Make Magic Happen in the French Quarter”, April 25th
  • Legends In Our Time event at Yellow Vase in P.V.
  • Volunteer Center Youth Coalition Global Youth Service Day, “Rumor Has It” event
  • 50th Anniversary Tea in Long Beach to thank Junior League of Long Beach for founding the Volunteer Center
  • Blue Martini Ball in Long Beach, Food For Kids fundraiser put on by Team 100
  • 50th Anniversary Celebration, September 21 at the Volunteer Center - James Bond theme


  • VCYC MLK Day at Friendship Circle
  • Art to Go training in board room, February 21
  • Corporate Volunteer Awards Banquet, April 24,”Volunteers Are Music to Our Ears!”
  • VCYC “Rumor Has It” event for Global Youth Service Day, April 29
  • Affinity Group, Legends In Our Time, June 1 at the Buxton’s
  • Blue Martini Ball, June 7 in Long Beach
  • VCYC 9/11 event held on September 21 at the Midnight Mission in L.A.
  • VCYC Harvest Festival at Toberman Neighborhood Center, November 6
  • Corporate Volunteer Council Christmas luncheon held at Toyota Automotive Museum, December 2


  • VCYC MLK Day Science Fair in collaboration with the Friendship Circle
  • VCYC – Senior Prom at Bartlett Center, April 10 for Global Youth Service Day
  • Affinity, Legends in Our Time fundraiser – June 14 at Norris Pavilion
  • CVC – Special Olympics, Toyota Village, June 13 & 14 at CSU Long Beach
  • Pantry Partners support group founded to support Food For Kids
  • Summer Fest 2015 – August 9, held in front of Depot Restaurant
  • De De honored as ‘Citizen of the Year’, presented at Torrance State of the City Luncheon
  • PV Chamber, Outstanding Nonprofit Awards honored the Volunteer Center at Terranea Resort, October 23
  • VCYC Harvest Festival, Toberman Neighborhood Center, October 30Sara Meyers takes the helm January 1, 2016
  • Legacy Thank You Party for donors, December 3, and celebration of the renaming of the building to the De De Hicks Building
  • Torrance office dedicated to De De Hicks
  • De De Hicks retired after 29 years


  • Sara Myers becomes President/CEO (pictured to the right)

The Original Volunteer Center Building

The original building as built in 1928. Picture taken in 1929.

The original building as built in 1928.
Picture taken in 1929.

Inside of the original building as built in 1928. PIcture taken in 1929.

Inside of the original building as built in 1928.
Picture taken in 1929.