Friday, October 18, 2019

Photos from Today's Set-up for a Family of Five

Today’s set-for a mom and her four daughters, ranging in age from 17 down to 12 months, went really well. Teresa and Wendy coordinated it so beautifully that packing all five of them into a two-bedroom, one-bath unit seemed the perfect fit.

Joining me today were Mary Cleveland, Andrea Palella, Isabel Freeman and Noelle Berman. Noelle brought some thoughtful additions to the set-up, Andrea brought some yummy soup from her freezer, and Annie Gabbert shopped VERY generously (her children went shopping with her and were insistent that these children moving in needed the fancy extras!). Terry Welles donated a great high chair so the entire family can all sit comfortably in the little dining area and Isabel Freeman brought two great trick or treat buckets. I know I'm forgetting to thank someone, so please forgive me!

This is just a short posting because I wanted you all to see the gorgeous ‘stuff’ that Teresa and Wendy pulled together for this family.

And just a little reminder, our Challenge Grant campaign is on right now. If you have questions, please contact Debra Silbar at and she will help you with setting up your own personalized fundraising page.

And here are the photos from today. I have tried repeatedly to change the order of these photos, but no luck, but you'll get a good idea of how it all looked, irregardless of order!

Mom & Baby Girl are sharing the room.

Tight squeeze...three girls in one room, but it turned out beautifully
and I know these children will be happy to have a bed to
call their own.
Lovely crib for the baby and someone donated these darling wall decals. It defined
the baby's space just perfectly and sweetly.

Beautiful quilt made by The Linus Project and special items for the teen
from Noelle Berman.

Three girls sharing the room

I love this pink lamp and the gorgeous print that Wendy Skolfield gave us.

Another Linus Project throw on the couch, a fabulous rug that Teresa
found from a new source and loads of magazines for the family.

Fresh fruit and a welcome gift card. And that great high chair in the
corner donated by Terry Welles. 

A full cupboard!

Love the Halloween buckets! Thanks, Isabel Freeman!

Annie Gabbert packed the fridge with things I know the family will love.

Noelle, how do you still look so purty after working
so hard!?

Aren't the colors in this bathroom just perfect!?

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

September 19 General Meeting

We had a lively meeting at Teresa Royer’s lovely home last Thursday evening with 20 TWC volunteers in attendance. As usual, the food and company were fantastic. If you’ve never been able to make a TWC evening potluck, please try and join us in the future. It’s a nice way to spend a couple of hours and helps you understand just what it is that we’ve been up to between meetings.

Nancy Hanson kindly took notes so I’d like to share them with you so you’ll all be up to date with TWC happenings. Any omissions are mine.

It’s Been a Busy Year!
Firstly, we’ve been busy. At the meeting we mentioned that we’ve had 41 set-ups since January.  Well, this week has been busy and we’re now (as of Friday) up to 45. And that, as you all know, takes some organizing and a fair amount of money. While we’re happy that so many families are being moved along into permanent housing, we also know we can’t let up for a minute on our fundraising efforts.

2019 Challenge Grant Campaign
To that end, Debra Silbar and Karla Morrison have been hard at work on our 2019 Challenge Grant Campaign. Debra, working hard with Network for Good, has put together a great, easy-to-navigate fundraising page. Karla has secured $10,000 in matching funds so we need to raise that amount to ensure we get it all! We have sent all volunteers the information on how you can set up your own fundraising page and Debra is happy to answer any questions you might have. Remember, you can change the wording, personalize it with photos of you on a set-up or if you need photos drop me an email and I’ll help find photos for you. Then, scoot your personalized page to Deb for approval and then you’re up and running! Our goal is to raise enough money to furnish 40 apartments. Hopefully you can get your friends and family to support you in this endeavor.

Let’s make this year super successful, as next year, with the upcoming election, might be a slow year for garnering donations.

This is something that TWC has in abundance! It’s amazing how things just seem to come together, though not without a lot of behind the scenes activity. Teresa and Emma spend a lot of time shopping and pulling for the set-ups, taking inventory at the Bin and making sure we never completely run out of things. It’s a fine-tuned dance and they do a great job.  Teresa shared a story of how she was at Wal-Mart t’other week and one of the employees, who had served her before, was looking for an open register so he could pay for his soda (he was on his break). Teresa told him she’d get it for him so he swiped his employee card and thanked her profusely. What she didn’t realize was that card swipe gave her the employee discount and she got $54 off her total order!

Patty Colvig is our non-perishable gal and when supplies are running low, Teresa scoots her a shopping list and off she goes. She’s got a good eye for bargains and is a familiar face at Smart and Final where she does most of her shopping!

Lorna and Nancy are constantly making new cards and ensuring that we have fresh images. The ‘Inspire’ series, Patty Colvig’s inspiration, has been a best seller, as well as the all the other cards we stock.

Noelle Berman is an angel for doing ALL the printing of the vellum inserts for all our cards. She’s been doing this for us for years and we are beyond appreciative.

Nancy and her merry team of Bin Goddesses never fail to show up for their Saturday morning duties (9 to 10:30 unless it’s a holiday weekend or raining or just too hot). They keep the bin tidy and organized and are the beautiful public face of TWC. Stop on by and say hi if you see them.

Years ago, Sue Forbes went to her dentist and asked for some toothbrushes. He gave her a few, but she kept her hand out until he’d given her dozens…along with floss and toothpaste. Consider asking your dentist if he could help out in this way.

For the past few years Jill Palethorpe has been putting together our interactive holiday gift list so I’ll be asking her soon if she’s willing to help us again this year.

I know I’m forgetting to thank some of you, so please forgive me. Any omissions are my own.

Topanga Elementary School
We’d like to have another school-wide food drive, perhaps near the Thanksgiving holiday. Patty Colvig, who has organized a number of food drives at the school and in her neighborhood in past years, is going to approach the school, but if we have any TWC volunteers who have children at the school, perhaps you’d like to help coordinate this.

Upcoming Project
It’s been over 10 years since we last painted our bin so that’s something we will be organizing in the near future. We’ll keep the river rock wall that Liz Dupuy painted and keep the color scheme much like it is, but we’ll also be organizing new signage.

Messenger Article/Ad
We have a wonderful community newspaper that is offering us special rates for advertising and is happy to print articles we might submit. Let’s make our community profile more visible. This organization is open to all!

Welcome to new volunteer, Jax Tatro. We’re happy to have you on board!

Two important dates to add to your calendar:

November 23: Holiday and All Occasion Cards for Sale at Lin’s House. I’ll send out a reminder closer to the date with some of the gorgeous images we’re using this year.

December 14: Holiday Wrapping at Lin’s house. Each year we get a wish list from the children (with help from parents) at Venice Community Housing’s Transitional Living Center. This includes things the children really want and things they really need.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Four Move-Ins in One problem!

Last week was busy...four move-ins; two in Venice and two at Westwood. None of them were huge, but all required lots of forethought. Fortunately, Teresa keeps a running inventory of just what's in the bin. Occasionally we run low, but it's rare and this is where the generosity of our donors and volunteers is most apparent. If non-perishables run a little low, Teresa gets a list to Patty Colvig, and out she goes, restocking our bin. Because of the goodness of your hearts and your generous spirits, we are able to purchase what we need and when we need it.

And speaking of generosity of our volunteers, Linda Kort dropped me a line last night saying she and her hubs had a housewarming party and instead of asking for anything for themselves, they requested canned food or kitchen utensils. Here's the haul!

The 'haul' from Linda Kort's Open House!

Every move-in has a story and while they aren't always shared with us, be assured that their path to housing has been long and difficult. Imagine trying to keep all your paperwork in one place, easily accessible, when you don't have a room to call your own. Imagine making all the right choices when life is throwing challenges at you that few of us have experienced or will ever experience. And then think of the joy these families must experience when they move in. Clean, fresh bedding and bath items, a kitchen filled with everything you need to create a meal...perishable and non-perishable food, drawers filled with everything including new pots and pans, cutlery, measuring cups and spoons, tea towels and cleaning supplies.

We are always in need of personal care items, especially for moms. When you're out shopping, please consider picking up some tampax or sanitary napkins for the moms and teens. These products are so expensive.

What follows are photos in no particular order of some of the work we did last week.

This flat at Westwood had a brand new kitchen
because of flood damage

It all starts with bags and confusion but quickly
sorts itself out!

Full fridges. Thank you, Lizzie!! Can you imagine
how great it feels not having to go grocery
shopping after the exhaustion of a move.
We like to fill the cupboards as well!

Bathroom ready for new move-in to the TLC
in Venice

Bunkbeds...not much fun to make but kids love them!

Mom & kids share a bedroom at the TLC
in Venice. Sometimes it gets crowded but still
much better than a shelter or a relative's couch or
sleeping rough.

At Westwood, some of the units are small. This is a one bedroom
and Mom and Baby are sharing. Nice robe for Mom.

Venice or Westwood, we always include a welcome card
made even more special with a Target gift card.

So good for these families to have new
personal care products.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Xmas Giving and First Move In of 2019

Topanga Women's Circle volunteers had a well-deserved break over the holidays and it felt good. Between preparing the donation bags for each child at the Bessie Pregerson Child Development Center at Westwood, all made possible by the generosity of Nancy and Charlie Hanson and The Linus Project, and providing a full Christmas for the children resident at Venice Community Housing's Transitional Living Center, we were ready for a some TWC downtime.

Here are a few photos from the Venice delivery. A good turn-out of TWC elves wrapped everything beautifully and through the generosity of TWC volunteers who gave so generously to these needy children and Jill Palethorpe who yet again prepared the interactive, online gift giving list of wants and needs for these kids, we were able to create a magical holiday for these families who have suffered so many hardships.
Car loaded and ready for delivery

Packed car!

Safely delivered to the Community Room at the TLC. Each mom took her child's sack
up to their room so the gifts were opened privately.

And now our first move-in of 2019. Just a small, dad and baby but life will feel a whole lot more comfortable for them now that they are out of the shelter and into their new home. The only unit available for this family was a one-bedroom unit and when we arrived at the apartment, the crib and bed were all crammed into that small room. I think we can all remember that wonderful moment when baby finally went to bed and as exhausted parents we'd collapse on the couch. With that in mind, and only one bedroom, I asked Anthony and Nicholas (who work at Westwood), if they'd set-up the parents' bed in the living room and have the crib in the little bedroom. They agreed but the bed wasn't fully assembled until after we left which is why it isn't 'dressed.'

Many thanks to Lizzie Kipner for filling the fridge for this family, to Cynthia Scott for the lovely flowers, to Wendy Skolfield for going shopping for diapers, etc., to Teresa and Emma who gathered everything together for this family and to Teresa, Lizzie & Isabel Freeman who joined me in creating a comfortable little home for these new folks.

Baby's bedroom

Large bathroom

Jolly shower curtain

Lovely Arbonne products from Margaret French Isaac

Had to rearrange the living room to accommodate the bed

Dining room table with lovely flowers courtesy of Cynthia Scott
and welcome card including a gift card for Target

Anthony, always cheerful and helpful with my fabulous co-chair Teresa Royer on the
right and the lovely Lizzie Kipner on the left.

A full fridge. Thank you Lizzie!

Donations of table cloths really make these scarred
and well-used tables far more attractive!
Anthony texted me this picture of the bed in the
living room. It will give the parents and the
baby a little privacy at night. Needs must...

Saturday, October 6, 2018

General Meeting: October 4, 2018``

I'm just dusting this old blog off for one last entry before we launch our new newsletter in the next week. It's been a good run, but TWC is moving forward with a better way to communicate with volunteers and those interested in our organization. We'll have more frequent postings for our volunteer base and perhaps a quarterly newsletter for friends of TWC.

We had a great meeting at Teresa's beautiful home on Thursday evening with a good turn-out. As always the food and company were unbeatable. Lorna Bank kindly took notes as our official note-taker, Nancy Hanson, is traveling just now.  For a quick recap of our meeting, see below.

1. Lorna set up our beautiful general greeting cards for sale ($5 to members!) and sales were brisk. Many thanks to Lorna, Nancy Hanson, Sue Forbes and Judith Haut for working so hard on this project and to our printing angel, Noelle Berman, who does all our printing on vellum at her office.

2.  Teresa thanked all of you who work so tirelessly for this little charity. You do make a difference and there are so many ways to help.

3.  Debra Silbar & Karla Morrison have worked on our 2018 Challenge Grant Campaign which will go live shortly. Details on this will be in our new newsletter but donations are coming in and we already have over $10,000 pledged. Bridge housing, as opposed to transitional housing, has increased our workload. Families no longer stay for two years, but are moved into permanent housing after three to six months. It's why we have to fundraise!

Bonnie Graves has done a fair amount of fundraising and has offered her help to the group. Bonnie and her family have raised $$'s for TWC in so many ways from popcorn and wine sales at movie nights to selling ice-cream sandwiches on the boulevard!

Teresa discussed multi-level marketing...i.e., send our your request for donations to everyone. TWC has special appeal to many because we have no overhead.  She stressed that you will not get anything if you do not ask. Just let people know what we elevator pitches. Janaki did just that, last year, and a professional group she belongs to chose TWC as one of their donor charities and one of her sub-contractors, who had been homeless for a while when young, sent us a check for $1,000. So generous.

4.  We also discussed the difficulties of actually being awarded financial grants. Much work goes into writing these grants but the awards frequently go to larger charities. It was discussed that perhaps we might have more luck in securing actual donations of stuff. Wendy Skolfield is going to be our go-to gal for investigating possible corporate donations of the things TWC most needs on a regular basis and Bruce Royer is going to approach Walmart on our behalf.

4.  Leslie Carlson shared the news that Pine Tree Circle has now sold. If the new owners won't allow us to keep the Bin in that location, Leslie has offered another bin, free of charge, down at the Brewery. Many thanks to the Carlsons for all the good years we've been able to have a presence at Pine Tree Circle.

5.  On a positive note, communications between Westwood (via Nicholas) and Venice (via Rachel) are at an all-time high which really makes our work so much easier.

6.  We will again take care of the children at Venice this Christmas and I will approach Jill Palethorpe, with hopes that she will help us with our interactive gift giving list. I've sent an email to Rachel in Venice and she will get the list to me later this month. Also, it would be great if we could again give each family at the Bessie Pregerson Child Development Center a $25 Target gift card. Patty Colvig is going to approach Topanga Elementary regarding a non-perishable food drive. Linda Handler Kort always does this with her little kindergarten students and it would be great if we could get it going again with the fourth graders who used to have an active gives-back program.

7.  Adrian Wright offered to write any articles that we'd like for the Messenger and perhaps other Topanga websites.

8.  Randi Gottlieb, who heads up the perishable committee, noted that her small group of volunteers is rarely called upon any more to provide perishables. That's because our generous volunteers often jump in and say they'll get them...and that makes me happy because those perishable committee gals were doing a lot of shopping and were spending an awful lot of money (rarely asking for reimbursement). Teresa said she'd sent out a sample 'list' to volunteers of items that are good to include if they're doing a perishable shop.

9. Wendy Skolfield thanked Cynthia Scott for bringing fresh flowers to the set-ups. They make such a difference and it's so good of Cynthia to take time off work to deliver and arrange them!

10.  Teresa is making Patty Colvig's job of purchasing non-perishables much easier by doing an inventory at the bin every couple of weeks and then sending Patty info on shortfalls. Teresa also does this for all non-food items we need as well.

11.  Teresa formally thanked Karen Sherwood, on behalf of TWC, for all her invaluable work over the years from co-chairing with me for so long to then serving on our Advisory Board. Karen is stepping down from the Board but is still an active volunteer. Thank you, Karen xo.

12.  And finally...our work continues. We have a set-up this Monday and one in Venice on Friday. If you've not been to Venice yet and would like to help, drop me a line.

And keep your eyes open for our new newsletter! It's going to be light on words (bet you're happy about that!) and heavy on pictures!! If you have a story or idea that you would like included in the newsletter, let us know!

Friday, August 3, 2018

August 3, 2018 Set-up

I'm going to make this more about the pictures and not about me being all wordy! Today's set-up went really well thanks to our great volunteers Piper Norwood, Amy Farber (and her able daughter, Charlotte), Isabel Freeman & Bonnie Graves. Heather Tehrani met Isabel and me at the Bin first thing this morning with perishable groceries for this family and fabulous co-chair, Teresa Royer and Board member Wendy Skolfield pulled together everything we needed. Many thanks to Cynthia Scott for taking time of work at UCLA to bring fresh flowers for the move-in family.

Even though the living room furniture had not arrived yet, the apartment was clean and ready for us and we set to work, finishing in about an hour and a half. Miracle workers!!!

Here's one funny story that still has me laughing. The information that I'm sent regarding the upcoming move-in family always gives an apartment number (in addition to family size, apt. size, etc) and while this sometimes changes, it's usually pretty solid. So Bonnie Graves tripped on over to the apartment on the info sheet, knocked on the door and when a young teen answered, Bonnie said she was there to help. The teen invited her in (probably thinking, okayyy). Bonnie didn't see us anywhere and thought, well, they've moved everything in, but it's kind of a mess so...I'll do the dishes. Then she mentioned to the young girl, "Where are the other ladies?" The young girl looked at her, totally puzzled. Then she asked, "Is Lin around?" And the girl basically said "Who's Lin?" At this point, Bonnie realized this was not the new move-in and she quickly scooted down to the office where she was told the unit number had changed and where we were.

Anyway, once Bonnie found us, she was a great addition, as always (side note: Bonnie and her kids, Sophie & Sawyer are getting set to make their AMAZING ice cream sandwiches which they sell to benefit TWC!).

And here are a few shots from today.

The kitchen is empty. Isabel is changing that.
The fridge now has loads of fresh produce, milk, cheese,
juice, makings for dinner, etc.

Amy welcoming Bonnie (after her adventures!)

Bathroom #1

Teen boy's room

Dad's bathroom

Dad's bedroom

Charlotte, proud of the 'privacy' screen she made for the lower bunk.
A 12 y.o. girl and her grandmother will share this room.

Charlotte putting finishing touches on the top bunk.

Charlotte's arrangement for the young girl

Isabel, Bonnie, Piper, Lin & Charlotte

Flowers courtesy of Cynthia Scott and TWC welcome card.
Inside is a gift card to Target.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Thank You to All Our Volunteers

There are so many ways that all of you, our volunteers, help keep this little charity ticking over as successfully as it does. Many of you are behind the scenes working your magic in a variety of ways. Here are just a few of them:

  • Our Shoppers keep our non-perishable containers filled (thank you Patty Colvig) and know just where to shop for the best deals. Teresa and Emma and many others make frequent treks down to the Valley to get the best deals on everything from mattress pads to cutlery trays. Our needs are never-ending.
  • All of you perishable shoppers who step up to the plate when we send out a request before each set-up make it so much easier for these weary families to settle in to their new home. Randi Gottlieb will send out notes to her committee when we don't have an offer to help, but that is becoming rarer and rarer because of the generosity of so many of you.
  • All of you who respond to our call for help at set-ups. You never fail to amaze me with your giving spirits.
  • Cynthia Scott taking time off work to brighten most set-ups with fresh flowers.
  • Our Bin Goddesses, open the able guidance of Nancy Hanson, make sure our Bin is open on Saturday mornings and besides keeping it organised and tidy, perform  a vital community outreach program simply by chatting to interested folks. Having a visable presence is a vital link to those who want to learn more about TWC and what we do.
  • Bonnie Graves always organizing little neighborhood events with her children, raising vital dollars and, again, community awareness for TWC.
  • The Carlson's for making our lives forever easier with our Pine Tree Circle storage bin.
  • All of your help with making our beautiful Mother's Day and all occasion cards (thank you Lorna Bank for handling so many aspects of our card sales and production). All the gorgeous images our volunteers donate which make these cards so special.
  • Those of you who help Teresa pull for so many of our set-ups (I'm looking at you Emma Murray and Wendy Skolfield!). It can get pretty cramped and uncomfortable in that Bin and you ladies do an amazing job. Each set-up is different and beautiful in its own way because of you.
  • Organizing our annual Challenge Grant...thank you Debra Silbar and Karla Morrison. Your vision and understanding that this charity doesn't run on air has helped keep our coffers in the black, thus enabling us to continue turning a bare-bones space into a home for so many families who have gone through so much hardship.
  • Wendy Skolfield for investigating all avenues for donations from luggage shops to newspaper articles that might potentially feature TWC to local shops. And check out the beautiful rose below...she brought one for every volunteer at the dinner.
  • To all of you volunteers who help us in any way you can...thank you.
And to all of you who wonder just how you can help, there are a myriad of ways (as you can see above). Your time is as important to us as any financial contribution and we love hearing your ideas so never hold back. Let us know your suggestions.

Here are just a few photos from our annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner at Rocco's. (Thanks for thinking to take a few pix, Teresa!). I wish more of you amazing ladies could have joined us, but June is a busy month.