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Fall 2023 Report

"Touching Hearts and Opening Minds"

Letter From Our President/CEO

It has been a busy summer and back-to-school season at the Volunteer Center. We want to share how our community continues to unite and volunteer where care is needed most. We are so honored to welcome our newest board members, Hon. Bridgett Lewis and Lili Trujillo Puckett, to our incredible board of directors, and Silas Cole joined us on October 4th as Director of Programs.


The Volunteer Center remains committed to meeting the evolving needs of our community because even today, more than 30% of our community members are dealing with food insecurity, a hunger crisis that keeps going in the wrong direction according to calmatter.org.


While we know the challenges we see are overwhelming, volunteerism is a proven way to make a difference. We invite you to join us this winter season to support kids and families in need and put your empathy into action:

  • Join our Nov 9th Food Drive by dropping off donations or by organizing a donation drive Here
  • Join the Cycle of Care through volunteering opportunities Here
  • Become a monthly Loyal Hearts donor Here


We are also happy to announce that Impact Makers - Building Skills For Life launched our fall '23 cohort last week, we are thrilled to see high-school students engaging in this immersive social-emotional wellness and service-learning program for 12 weeks. We know there is much work to be done and we are grateful to each of you for your continued support and impact.


With gratitude,


Josh Gezahegn

President/CEO

 

Welcome On Board

Hon. Bridgett Lewis


Meet Bridgett Lewis, a multifaceted leader making waves in the world of homeland security and community service. As the Manager of Homeland Security at the bustling Port of Long Beach, Bridgett wears a dual hat, overseeing security operations at the nation's busiest seaport and serving as the Director of Operations at the Central California Maritime Coordination Center (MCC).


Beyond her maritime security endeavors, Bridgett is deeply involved in her community. As a Councilmember for the City of Torrance District 2, she chairs the Strategic Planning Committee and actively contributes to Torrance's Transportation Committee and Public Safety and Emergency Management Committee to name a few.


Bridgett shares her knowledge as a part-time Maritime Homeland Security instructor at California State University-Long Beach. With Bridgett's diverse expertise and unwavering commitment to both security and community, we are delighted to welcome her as a valuable addition to the Volunteer Center Board. 

Lili Trujillo Puckett 


Meet Lili, a dynamic force behind STREET RACING KILLS (SRK), a remarkable non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding our youth from the perilous world of street racing and reckless driving. As the founder and Executive Director of SRK, Lili has transformed a grassroots initiative into a nationwide movement, partnering with influential organizations like law enforcement and the Auto Club of Southern California (AAA). Lili's journey began as a certified interpreter and marketer proficient in Spanish and Italian, but her true passion lies in educating and mentoring young minds.


Beyond her tireless efforts with SRK, Lili is a driving force in her community. Her work has garnered attention from media outlets across the USA, Europe, and Asia. She currently serves as Vice President, Key Club Advisor, and Speaker Chair at the Torrance Kiwanis Club, where she found her life partner. Lili also generously donates her time to traffic safety organizations like Streets are for Everyone, Los Angeles Walks, MADD, and numerous others. We are thrilled to announce Lili's addition to the Volunteer Center Board.

Silas Cole, MA

Director of Programs


We are thrilled to welcome Silas to the team - Silas brings over 10 years of experience in program development and project management. He was most recently at ICAN California Abilities Network as a Program Manager and also worked at Sharefest and The Friendship Foundation to name a few.


As a behavior interventionist, teacher, and mentor, Silas has dedicated his career to empowering our youth and spreading empathy and wellness through education and support.


Please help us extend a warm welcome to Silas Cole

~ silas@volcenter.org ~


What drew you to the Volunteer Center?

I have worked in the nonprofit sector for over a decade and deeply value making a positive impact on our surrounding community. I aspired to join the Volunteer Center team because of my passion for working with students and equipping them to make a positive impact on their own communities. I believe the Volunteer Center plays a crucial role in a highly necessary area, and I am excited to contribute to their efforts. 


Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Japan. I grew up in Nagano prefecture and went to high school in Tokyo. I then moved to California for college. For the most part, I have lived in the Los Angeles region ever since.


Any fun facts about you? 

 I have had the privilege of traveling to 23 countries and deeply value opportunities to learn about other people’s cultures and customs. I believe that my own understanding and perspective continue to evolve as I am exposed to different viewpoints and experiences. 


Favorite food and hobbies? 

I love all kinds of food! Specifically, I enjoy Japanese, Thai, and some good ol’ bar food. I enjoy hiking, live music, breweries, and exploring new cities. 

Upcoming Events

We're not quite done celebrating our 60th celebration just yet... Join us for our Food Drive-thru and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony taking place November 9th from 2:30pm - 6:30pm. You can drop off shelf-stable items, volunteer, and help us celebrate upgrades to our center in downtown Torrance.


We will also be honoring a special volunteer of the year along with a Torrance Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3:30 pm.


Please email us for special sponsorship opportunities - info@volcenter.org.

Urgent Food Needs This Year:


  • Canned Fruit
  • Canned Meats
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Pasta 
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Boxes of Cereal


RSVP

Stroll Magazine Feature


Thank you Stroll Rolling Hills and our former board member Bob Gold for this wonderful article and free ad about the Volunteer Center. Check out their October 2023 publication.

Volunteer Group Spotlight

Providence Medical Center Caregivers Make a Difference Through Volunteer Work


Providence Medical Center, a healthcare institution known for its commitment to community wellness, continues to exemplify its dedication by encouraging Caregivers to volunteer where care is needed most. Their commitment to community service was prominently on display on June 7th, as the Volunteer Center hosted a group of over 20 Caregivers who generously offered their time and effort to support Operation Teddy Bear and Food For Kids programs.


The Caregivers worked diligently to assemble the educational kits, knowing that each one would soon find its way into the hands of a student eager to learn. Those kits will be placed in the backups distributed to over 4,000 students in selected schools. They also dedicated their time to packing over 3,000 meals. Their dedication was commendable and exemplified Providence Medical Center's commitment to making a positive impact beyond the hospital's walls. 


Looking forward, the Volunteer Center eagerly anticipates the return of Providence's Caregivers to our programs. We are grateful for their commitment to making an enduring and positive difference in our community.

Greater Good Health Volunteers Come Together for a Team Building Community Service Activity


The Greater Good Health team demonstrated their unwavering dedication to their community as over 30 volunteers came together for a remarkable Team Building Community Service Activity. Rather than the typical meetings or team-building exercise, this gathering was designed with a higher purpose in mind - to give back to the community that sustains us all.


The results were nothing short of inspiring. Not only did these compassionate individuals donate a remarkable 616 meals to the Volunteer Center's Food for Kids Program, but they also lent a helping hand in assembling educational kits for the Operation Teddy Bear Program. In doing so, they directly impacted the lives of countless children and families in need. We are truly grateful for the infectious enthusiasm of the Greater Good Health team members and their unwavering commitment to volunteerism. 


This collaboration between the Volunteer Center and Greater Good Health is a shining example of how businesses and organizations can come together to create a positive impact. When we come together, we can achieve even greater heights of community support and engagement.

Together - We're Feeding Our Community!

Affinity Group - 802 meals

Anonymous - 1,139 meals

Carson Lions Club - 748

Ginger Lai - School Supplies - 46

Girl Scout Troop - 34 meals

Greater Good Health - 616 meals

Griselda Ancona - 220 Thomas the Train Bags 

Jean Adelsman & Friends - 94 meals

Jennifer Scharfman - 190 meals

JOF - 10,294 meals

Kevin Morrow - 84 meals

Meg Greenwood - 108 meals

MOOG - 487 meals

National Charity League Inc. South Bay Chapter - 20 lbs of Books & 26 meals

Revival Center Tried-stone Church of God In Christ - 492 meals

Sandpipers - 376 meals

South Bay Food Initiative - 341 meals

Sterzick Family - 97 meals

Temple Menorah - Social Action Committee - 1,887 meals

Torrance Woman's Club - 703 meals


Total Meals Donated: 18,563 

Our Amazon Wishlist

Thank You to Our Loving Hearts Donors:

The following supporters have given $300 or more since June 2023:

Jean Adelsman

Pauline Beecroft

Denise & Vince Beggs

Dianne & Hans Bozler

in loving memory of our nephew

Colin Tyler Arbuckle

Debra Cepeda

Patrick Furey

Rosa Guerrero


Bob Gold

Jane and Jim Isomoto

The Holt Family

Ellen and Bob Kircher

Lea Ann King

Fern Ruiz

Kay Wardell

Las Vecinas Group

Steve Yeager & Samuel Sampson


Thank You to Our Loyal Hearts Donors:

The following supporters make an automatic donation every month to support our programs

Anonymous

in honor of all the children and families

Jean Adelsman

Barbazette Family Trust

Pauline Beecroft

Denise & Vince Beggs

Dianne & Hans Bozler

in loving memory of our nephew

Colin Tyler Arbuckle

Anne & Ray Destabelle

in honor of Dianne and Hans Bozler

Sue Herbers

The Holt Family

Jane & Jim Isomoto



Mildred Jones

Susan Kettel

in honor of Richard Kettel

Ellen and Bob Kircher

Sherry Kramer

in honor of Lilyanna Kramer

Trish Krusee

in honor of Adam Heath

Cari Lesser

Sue Munson

Pamela Popovich

Liz Reinhardt

Susan Rubio

Fern Ruiz

Steve Yeager & Samuel Sampson


Thank You to Our Major Corporate and Foundation Grantors:

(Gifts Made in Support of VC Programs July 2023 - Sept 2023)

Las Vecinas

The Volunteer Center galvanizes the community to create an umbrella of care where it is needed most. We use six decades of collaboration and partnerships to broaden our impact and truly understand the most urgent needs. Right now, those needs are youth mental health, food insecurity, and social inequality. We offer programs that use the power of empathy to touch hearts and open minds through meaningful volunteer experiences and service. We know that a community of lifelong, resilient volunteers will create a more kind, connected, and equitable world where we all can thrive.


To learn more about our programs and impact, visit volcenter.org

The Volunteer Center South Bay/Harbor/Long Beach

310-212-5009 | 1230 Cravens Avenue Torrance, CA 90501 | volcenter.org

EIN: 95-2301600