At the Volunteer Center, we believe in the difference one person can make.
We believe in kindness, empathy and compassion.
We believe that together we can change the world, starting with our own community.
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 discover these needs by 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 or Food For Kids, offering members of our community the opportunity to contribute to the solution.
We love that moment when community members join together and give their precious time to a worthy cause, and our partnerships within the community allow us to have an even further reach. Whether it's families, teens, seniors, professionals or court-referred volunteers, we serve EVERY member of our community. That is what has kept us "at the heart of helping" for more than 50 years!
Former President/CEO De De Hicks served at the heart of this community for 29 years, with her finger on the pulse of what donors and families needed most. Upon her retirement in 2015, the Board of Directors hired Sara Myers as the new President/CEO and together, she and the board embarked on a multi-year strategic planning process to determine how the Volunteer Center could best serve the community now and in the future. The plan included an evaluation of our current programs created to keep the organization at the heart of responding to the community's needs, including Operation Teddy Bear (addressing educational inequity) and Food For Kids (addressing food insecurity).
More importantly, the assessment identified the critical needs currently facing our community. After extensive research, which included combing through data and speaking with members of the community, their top concern became quite clear: the mental health crisis facing our youth. The community stated that some of the reasons for this crisis might be excessive screen time and social media addiction, combined with the inescapable pressure to be perfect at all costs. In addition, according to our research, empathy and resilience are at an all-time low.
We have folded all of our programs into a new initiative: Engaging Hearts and Minds designed to compassionately support community members' social and emotional needs, so we can look up, re-connect, empathize with each other, build resilience, express emotions and practice self-care. This includes programs that our volunteers have supported for decades, as well as new programs like Connect, our teen program for struggling youth.
Our Board of Directors is passionate about this new focus. They’ve shown a commitment to it by updating our mission to "encourage and support social and emotional wellness for youth and families in our community."
We are looking for teens, parents and mental health professionals to serve on various committees and focus groups. If you are interested in volunteering, please email Sara Myers.
Stay up-to-date with the Volunteer Center and our new focus:
Just like it says in our name, our service area consists of the South Bay, Harbor and Long Beach areas.
We also serve 44 cities through our Court Referral Community Service Program, stretching north to Santa Monica and Beverly Hills and south to Long Beach and Bellflower.
The Volunteer Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization funded through program fees, grants, fundraisers and donations from you, our generous community of supporters. Click here to make a gift to support the social and emotional needs of local children and families.