Wednesday, June 15, 2016

And Another Year...

Somehow, even though my children are grown and grandchildren are headed that way too, June always signals the end of another year to me.  Sure, December 31 holds some meaning as well, but there is something about the end of a school year that gives me that slightly heady feeling that it's vacation time!  And so each year, in early June, we gather at Rocco's for our annual volunteer thank you dinner. While we chat about accomplishments and goals for the year ahead, we also just kick back and enjoy one another's company in a familiar Canyon setting. Two TWC angels, who prefer to remain anonymous, refused to let TWC pay for this event and quietly went and settled the tab. We are so lucky to have so many remarkably generous volunteers who never fail to impress me with their kind and open spirits. Next year, we hope to have the dinner a little before the end of the school year to avoid graduation parties and vacation conflicts.

We did manage to discuss a few things at the party and here's a brief run-down
  • Mother's Day was another huge success and we will continue with this tradition again next year! Noelle Berman prints the beautiful vellum inserts for us and we are so appreciative. Our booth at the Farmer's Market was successful and led to a discussion of...
  • First Friday's. This is an idea the Topanga Farmer's Mkt is considering where local crafts people, artists and charities could set up a booth. One idea for TWC is to make all occasion cards, birthday, sympathy, congratulations, new baby, etc and sell them for $5 each. Maybe Noelle could print these inserts for us too!
  • Thanks to Courtney Karp, who though a new Canyon resident has joined our merry band, hosting the annual Christmas non-perishable food drive that Patty Colvig started a few years back(Lower Encina) and working the booth at the Farmer's Mkt. 
  • Elaine Hanson deserves a big thanks, too, for printing the fliers!
  • Karla Morrison continues to make strides towards improving TWC's visibility with Sheila Kuehl's office.
  • Thanks to Rebecca Franco for making the new welcome cards for each family. We love leaving them with a little note and a $25 Target gift card. Our gift cards will soon be gone, so if ever you have friends who want to know how they can help, suggest a $25 Target gift card!
  • In early September we will have to make the decision as to whether or not we renew our space at the storage facility in T.O. or can anyone think of a safe, secure, clean and dry Canyon space we could use for free? Catherine McClenahan offered her property as a location for a storage container. We will need to crunch some numbers as to the cost of a container, delivery, leveling, etc as opposed to a year's storage facility rental (which runs around $4,500).
  • A set builder friend made a generous donation to TWC (from a set that was being broken down) of towels, lamps, throw pillows, etc and suggested the studios might be a good source of donations for us.
  • Nancy reported that the Bin Committee was going strong and doing a great job with inventory, bundling and organizing.
  • Patty continues to manage the Non-Perishables group and is finding that purchasing Visa cards with TWC funds for NP purchases is working out well.
  • A reminder to the Perishable Committee that you are free to spend as much as you want for set-ups but if you want reimbursement, TWC can only spend a maximum of $50 per set-up. The generosity of the folks in this committee (Bonnie Graces, Andrea Palella, Wendy Skolfield, Debra Silbar, Sue Forbes, Randi Gottlieb...and I know I'm forgetting someone!) is amazing.
  • Karen introduced Judy Richards to us all and she talked about her fascinating group, Granny Squared, a community-based project that has collected thousands of crocheted squares which she has made available to TWC for stitching together to create colorful and warm bed covers for our intake families. Isabel Freeman would like to help Judy with this and Deborah Ackrich offered that her girls might be interested in helping as well.
  • When responding to emails sent to the whole charity, please do not hit reply all and also please try and avoid bringing anything extra to the set-ups without first checking with Teresa or me.
  • And finally, we're hoping the number of set-ups will slow down for a bit after our extraordinarily busy spring.
And now some photos from the last few months! For those of you who haven't taken part in a set-up before, each apartment that we turn into a home for a new family is a blank slate.  Each is different, depending upon what donations we've received, the make-up of the new family, number of bedrooms, etc.  But one thing remains the same...they always look warm and welcoming. These photos should give you an idea!

We load our cars and head down the mountain!

A blank slate.  Institutional, not too homey...we're ready to change that!
Arrival...lots to unpack, boxes to break down and loads of willing hands to help.

Parent's Bedroom.  This must feel so good after being in a shelter.
And another parents' bedroom...showing just how different they can be

A little guy's room.

We always try and include books for the children, as well as age-appropriate toys

More books, toys and artwork!

I love the way each table is set differently and how we always leave that
welcome card and gift certificate for each family.

Another beautifully set table.
And another!

A full fridge from a v. generous volunteer.

Bright colored living room rug and throw pillows is so welcoming.

Bright green for this apartment!

Pat Lester made this little doll carrier AND
the doll clothes. She is TWC's master crafter and
seamstress making everything from doll clothes to potholders!

All finished!  It was a big apartment and we needed every one of these volunteers.
Junior volunteer, Lizzie Scott (with mum, Cynthia) is a
great addition to our team!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

It's time to order your 2016 Mother's Day Cards.
This is Topanga Women's Circle most important fundraiser of the year and
for only a $25 donation we will mail a beautiful, personalized card to ANY mother
(mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins & friends) who you would like to 
recognize or to a special lady whose memory you would like to honor.

For timely mailing of cards
(Mother's Day is May 8th this year),
all orders must be placed with us by May 1st at the latest.
We are happy to mail the card with your special message or you can
place an order with us for cards that you would like to personalize and mail yourself.

We will also have a beautiful selection of cards available for sale at the
Topanga Farmer's Market on
April 22, 29 and May 6.

Two simple ways to pay:
Either go to our website: and click on the
'How You Can Help" Contribute Button.  We take Amex, Mastercard, Visa or Paypal or
Send your check for $25 for each card payable to:
Community Partners fbo Topanga Women's Circle
c/o Linda Ilsley
2670 Topanga Skyline Drive
Topanga, CA  90290
Any questions, or for further information, contact Linda at

If we are mailing the card for you, please include your name as you would like it to appear on the card, your personal message and the name and address of each recipient.

Photo choices follow.  In addition to these lovely photos, we also have a large selection of beautiful flower photos. If you would like us to choose a card for you, that too is fine!

We have some tried and true images below in addition to some lovely new ones.  Of special interest are the silkscreen images by TWC volunteer, Linda Bolhuis.

Impressionism:  Pansies

Goddess of Compassion

Raindrops and Roses
Linda Bolhuis Silkscreen 1

Linda Bolhuis Silkscreen 2

Linda Bolhuis Silkscreen 3

Mother Tree

Poppies and Amish Barn

Orange Butterfly and Lantana

Mother and Child: Nepal


Hummingbirds at  Home in Topanga


Lupines, Old Canyon, Topanga


Pride of Madeira & Butterfly

Topanga through Mustard


Irish Cows

Irish Horses

Pure Joy

Study in Pinks

Sunday, February 28, 2016

February Meeting at Tuscali & Annual Mother's Day Fundraiser

HARMONY HELPS!  Who would like a FREE ticket/s to what promises to be a fabulous evening at Royce Hall this coming Thursday, March 3?  Only expense is $12 for parking. Please contact me or Karen ( for ticket information. This benefits Westwood Transitional Village…a cause near and dear to all of us. So, if you love listening to a great symphony playing some fabulous show tunes and classics, an emerging young diva singing a couple of arias, a fabulous young singer belting out the classics and Carol Lawrence, Ed Asner and Fritz Coleman leading the way, let us know ASAP! 
Tickets will be waiting for you at will call at Royce Hall.

Tuesday night at Teresa’s lovely Tuscali Mountain Inn was a beautiful evening and here are the pictures to prove it! Many thanks to all of you who were able to join us and hopefully this posting will update those of you who were unable to come. We chatted aout a lot, including our annual Mother's Day card drive (such an integral part of our annual fundraising), committee updates, Harmony Helps Fundraiser and, of course, Karen's big news. 

Loads of wonderful donations!
Delicious food, as always

Fellow Tango(ers) Andrea and Lorna

Karla and Debra

Talk, talk, talk...

Lots to talk about

Wendy & Ruth!


A big thank you goes out to the kindergartners at Topanga Elementary in TWC volunteer, Linda Handler’s class, who collected 100 cans of food for their first 100 days of school.  Linda has done this for a few years now and it is always a success!

Thank you to Bonnie Graves’ two little ones who joined in their annual neighborhood  rummage sale by having a coffee/hot chocolate/doughnuts sale where they raised over $70 for TWC.  They are putting the monies towards perishable foods for the set-ups.  Love this.

Thank you to little Charlotte, a frequent presence with mom, Amy, at our set-ups.  Not only does Charlotte help with creating cozy homes for our move-ins, but she had a toy/stuffed animal drive with some of her home-schooler friends in a special class they attend and she’s going to do it again…this time asking specifically for art supplies and stuffed toys. 

And thank you to Cynthia Scott and her daughter Lizzie for joining Nancy’s Open Bin group. Teens love sleeping in on Saturday mornings, so we super appreciate Lizzie's presence at the Bin!

Special request:  We have not had art boxes for incoming families for some time now. If you have children who are in a group (Brownies, Girl Scouts, Mother-Daughter groups or a service club at school) this is a great way to contribute to TWC.  Deborah Ackrich had her Brownie troop make some great art boxes a couple of years ago and I know Lizzie Scott made some, too, as well as Annie Gabbert’s mother-daughter group.  Art boxes are simple and fun to make:  grab a sturdy shoe box, decorate it on the outside and fill it with arts and crafts supplies. We love leaving one for each family who have gone through so much. What a terrific way for these kids to express themselves.

TWC is always happy to welcome new volunteers and last week Karen and I met with Holly & Sophie Hanson of Harmony Financial Strategies who relocated from Santa Monica to offices above Topanga Table…they’re also Canyon residents and would like to become further involved with our group.  They’d hoped to join us on Tuesday but got caught up at another meeting. It was great to see Ruth Lundi at the meeting, too, and I know her energy and enthusiasm will be a great addition to the group.  Debra Silbar was also at her first meeting, fresh off a set-up where she generously also provided the perishables for the move-in family.  We have other new volunteers who have signed up and hopefully they will join us for future meetings and endeavors.

TWC has enjoyed a wonderful association with the Canyon Sages who have supported us in the past with non-perishable food drives, but now they are doing something extra special to benefit the children we serve.  Every other week a group of dedicated gals meets at the Library for a sewing circle where they make wonderful stuffed animals  to include at each set-up.  They really are very special and Karla brought a bag full of some teddies she has recently finished and they are absolutely darling.
Lee Kelly & Rebecca Andrews in action

How great are these snakes!

Karla's Kids! Sages offerings!!!

And now onto Mother’s Day, always a big event for TWC and becoming one that lots of folks in the Canyon recognize.  Debra Skelton was unable to come to the meeting, but has volunteered to write an article for the Messenger so we can get the word out in a timely manner about this very important, annual fundraiser.  Remember, if you or your friends would like to use some of your photos on the cards (as Patty Colvig does every year), we can provide the card stock with beautiful vellum insert and you can personalize them even more.  In a few weeks I’ll create a new blog posting with images that we use for Mother’s Day cards and include other photos you would like included. Please submit them to us pretty soon for consideration and I’ll send you all a link to that blog posting with many of the choices for MD cards. If you are selling cards to friends (and we really encourage you to offer these cards for sale besides sending cards of your own) this page will be available to everyone so they can choose their order. Some folks have requested fewer flower pictures and more animals/nature/ocean/Canyon shots so if you have some particularly super ones and are willing to share, scoot them our way! These cards are frequently sent to friends and family honoring them as a mom or to friends in memory of their mom. And for those still lucky enough to have their mother, you know that most of them don’t want any more stuff…so these cards are perfect! Cost is still $25.

Important Dates for Mother’s Day (May 8)

Early April:  Card stock and vellum inserts ready for folks who want to use their own photos.

Sat, April 16:  Gather to make cards/bring your own photos if you want to use them

Fridays, April 22 & 29 & May 6:  Topanga Farmer’s Mkt (volunteers?)

Cards will also be available for sale at our open Bin on Saturday mornings, 9 to 10:30

About a month ago a good friend of mine, Elaine Arama, lost her mother, Ruth Halloran, aged 101.  I was lucky to have met Ruth when she was around 98 and what a dynamic, intelligent, curious lady she was.  She wanted to know more about TWC and already knew a little about us because Elaine has sent her a TWC MD card for years.  I shared our website with her while she sipped her cup of tea and she was just so impressed with what we do. I never saw her again, but was kept up to date with stories of her robust good health and intellect via her daughter. There was a wonderful obituary about Ruth in the Boston Globe…a big one…for she had a long and varied life, filled with volunteerism, teaching and family.  At the end of the article, I was so surprised to read that donations in Ruth’s memory could be made to two organizations dear to her heart:  The Framingham Heart Study and Topanga Women’s Circle.  I was beyond touched and honored by this and only wish I could thank her in person.

Committee Updates 

Please contact me or Teresa ( if you would like to be included on any of these committees. 

Andrea Palella gave a run-down on how this committee is working and it has been decided it will be a back-up committee. First option for providing perishables to a move-in family will go to anyone who volunteers and if no one is available, the perishable committee will provide them. 
New committee members:  Debra Silbar & Ruth Lundi

Patty Colvig gave us an update on perishables, including Visa cash cards for those times when volunteers go out to replenish our dwindling stock. All receipts must be kept for accounting purposes.  Patty has seen to the management of this committee for some time now and includes a non-perishable drive at Christmas time in her Entrada neighborhood and is now spearheading a drive each year at Topanga Elementary.
New volunteer:  Pat Rice

Bin Committee
Nancy has been pleased with the volunteers stepping up to help and Karen keeps our Bin in great organizational order.
New Volunteers:  Janaki Welch and Heather Tehrani

Shopping Comimttee
Teresa is happy that she has a couple of new volunteers helping her on this one.  Karen determines the shortfall and sends the list to Teresa. Donations always welcome, but Linda will reimburse folks for any expenses.
New Volunteers: Andrea Palella and Heather Tehrani

Fundraising Committee
Rather than being responsible for actually organizing a fundraiser, this committee is for ideas people who are willing to meet and just hash out ideas for potential fundraisers. Creative folks, please consider joining up.
Volunteers:  Wendy Skolfield and Ruth Lundi

Mother’s Day Table at Topanga Farmer’s Market
Come on ladies…this is SO MUCH FUN!  You get to chatter to potential new volunteers and community friends and sell our beautiful Mother’s Day cards.  We have the table and our great sandwich board (made by Foster Sherwood!) and it really is fun.
Volunteers: Linda Bolhuis, Debra Silbar, Linda Ilsley

Grant Writing
I’m not surprised (because who wants to write a grant proposal!!?) but no one signed up for this one.  I have some templates for grants written in the past and am happy to help on this one but we also need folks who are willing to research grant opportunities for us.

These two photos are special because we don't often get to see the folks for whom we create these welcoming homes but Margarita shared a couple of photos of new families (permission granted to post).

And finally, Karen has decided to step down from her co-chairmanship of Topanga Women's Circle.  Eight years of dedication on her part is not coming to an end though...she will still be on our Advisory Board and keeping a close watch on the Bin (!) but with a mom in failing health some distance away and other activities she would like to pursue, she has decided to step back.  Teresa Rosati-Royer will be joining me at the help and I couldn't be more delighted that she decided to accept this role.