Thursday, February 9, 2017

February 7 Meeting at Annie's

Another Meeting! Every couple of months, a meeting notice goes out and then the search for a volunteer willing to host the event begins. We've been in big houses, small houses, new houses and old and the bottom line is, size doesn't matter. The number of chairs available doesn't matter. It's a gathering of women who are happy to see one another and who always bring the tastiest of treats to share with one another. This last meeting was hosted by Annie Gabbert and her home couldn't have been more beautiful, comfortable or perfect for our latest get-together. Plus it had AMAZING parking!!

Socializing and food and maybe a glass or two of wine take precedence and then we get down to the business of TWC. As is usual, Nancy Hanson took some great notes and any omissions are my errors. For those of you unable to make the meeting, here's a brief synopsis of what we covered.

Christmas...it's a wrap: As always, TWC volunteers provided a most extraordinary Christmas for the children at the Transitional Living Center at Venice Community Housing. As we've said before, these children have grown up amid great turmoil with few treats and the Christmas we provide for them is indeed something they will remember forever. Thanks to all of you for your generosity and for turning out to help wrap the gifts. The children were delighted with their bounty and we did get some thank you notes from the them and moms which I've put someplace safe and now can't find. I will, though (before our next meeting!).

This year each family at the Bessie Pregerson Child Development Center at Westwood Transitional Village received a beautiful quilt/throw handmade by The Linus Project and a Target gift card. Karen did a beautiful job wrapping and ribboning the over 40 bags for the families which she and Teresa (am I forgetting anyone?) delivered.

Challenge Grant: New Board Member, Debra Silbar, gave us the final tally which was $13,143 PLUS the $6,000 donation (from four couples). We raised just under $20,000 in total. Coldwell Banker, Malibu, pledged $1,000 but because their charitable funding came in late, gifted us with $2,000 as their donation came in after the end of the campaign. A special thank you to Christine Rodgers of Coldwell Banker, for championing our cause. Also, thank you, Debra, for spearheading this campaign and for all your hard work. And she's already thinking about next year!

If anyone has names and email addresses that they would like us to add to our fundraising list, we will be sure to include them in the future if you just send them to me. Patty Colvig suggests we use social media a bit more and that Topanga Next Door is a good place to start and Karla suggests an article be written for the new newspaper to spread the word of our drive.

More on Fundraising:  While Karla's connection at Sheila Kuehl's office has moved on, she will still write a grant proposal to Sheila's office with some help from a template used in the past. This needs to be submitted this month, so time is racing on. If anyone has any other ideas (I know Debra has one she's thinking about), I am happy to help with any details that might be needed.

Donations and Storage: Everyone agreed that adding lamps to the set-ups really makes a big difference, especially since they're often missing at Westwood and there's little to no overhead lighting.  While lamp donations are really tough to store safely and take up a lot of room, Catherine Grasso and Emma Murray do have storage space here in Topanga which would be most helpful to use in the future. Catherine's space is not quite as watertight as she'd like, so after the rains we can store things there.

TWC's storage is located between three free facilities: Topanga and Brewery Arts (thanks to Leslie Carlson) and Bell Shelter (thanks to the Salvation Army) and our $450/month facility in Thousand Oaks. Our first goal regarding this is to move things out of the most inconvenient...Bell. Hopefully, by the summertime that will be achieved.

Any teens needing community service hours? Our food needs shelving and sorting at the Thousand Oaks container. It's not a hard job, but it will take an hour or two of a teen's time. Contact Teresa or me if your child is interested in helping out. All of this fabulous non-perishable food is courtesy of Patty Colvig's annual neighborhood Xmas party and Topanga Elementary school (thanks, Patty!) and Manzanita School (thanks, Gail!).

And then a massive donation came in via Deborah Ackrich's cousin who works with MEND (http://mendpoverty.org/). Ninety-five percent of these donations are in our T.O. facility. Help!

And speaking of Deborah, congratulations to Bat Mitzvah girl, Eden Ackrich, who as part of her Bat Mitzvah project has written a little cookbook for the families we help. Eden includes one of her cookbooks for each set-up as well as a highlighted recipe, for which she (and her Mom) provide all the ingredients. (Note: Deborah said Albertson's is pretty generous if anyone wants to approach them regarding donations to TWC).

And Linda Handler Kort's little kindergarteners have once again donated over 100 cans of non-perishables...for the first 100 days of school. Linda sent a darling photo of the kids which we all ooo'd and aah'd over at our meeting. And speaking of Linda, she and her new hubs had a holiday party and instead of hostess gifts, she asked those attending to bring small kitchen items (such as measuring cups and spoons, whisks, wooden spoons, etc). Thanks, Linda!

Changes in Transitional Housing: We discussed at length the change in Southern California from Transitional to Bridge Housing. Teresa, Deborah Silbar and I will meet with Diane Good at Westwood next week to discuss these changes in more detail and how they will affect Topanga Women's Circle and what we do. One thing we do know for sure is there will be quicker turnover (every three to six months). We want to hang on to our upfront three day notice rule, but I can see this getting tougher and tougher.

Do we drop off items for the families if it's an emergency move-in? If that's the case, we'd better buy more big blue Ikea bags. We won't be purchasing big ticket items like microwaves and big vacuums,  but we want to help the families as much as possible. We talked about tea kettles instead of coffee makers and toaster ovens instead of microwaves. Stick vacuums instead of big heavy ones...and the list goes on.

We will definitely suffer from some uncertainty and growing pains in the next few months. I'm practicing breathing for now...until we know more!

Greeting Cards: With a generous printing contribution from Noelle Berman, who prints all of our vellum inserts (for free!!!) and Nancy Hanson's work at putting cards together, we will now offer cards for sale at our meetings. These all have a beautiful vellum insert and simple messages such as: Happy Birthday, With Deepest Sympathy, Congratulations, etc. Cards sell for $5. We only had 18 at this last meeting, as we wanted to see if folks liked the idea, and we sold every one. We will put together some 'boxed' sets and individual cards for future sales. If anyone would like to help Nancy, please let her know.

Committee Reports
Saturday Open Bin: Nancy's cadre of volunteers continue to do great work but with travel schedules and family needs, she would love to have a few more ladies on board to help out. If you need more information, please contact her.

Non-Perishables: Thanks to Patty's efforts and the other donations mentioned above, nothing needs to be done...for now!

Perishables: This committee continues to do a great job but because of the expense, we like to ask at each set-up if someone would like to do the perishables. If no takers, then I let the Perishable Committee know and they spring into action. I will reimburse (but only with receipts) up to $50 for purchases. If you have questions, please contact Randi Gottlieb or Andrea Palella.

Pulling for Set-ups: Karen is happy to train anyone who is keen to get involved. Karla Morrison helped her out last week and said she was happy to learn, but there's a real system (and a checklist) and if you keep your thinking ordered and let your creativity soar, it's fun!

Set-Ups: Thank you to all of you for responding so readily and with such open hearts to my frequent emails that I send out asking for help. You arrive with smiles on your faces and usually bearing generous contributions for future set-ups.  It's rare that we are 'short staffed' and your willingness to offer support to these needy families is commendable.  It doesn't always go quite as smoothly as one would like (just ask Lizzie Kipner, Piper Norwood and Emma Murray how this week's set-up went!), but as we always say, "Homelessness is not tidy." That said, Teresa and I will do our best to keep this train rolling, regardless of what is thrown our way in the near future.

Mother's Day: And finally, Mother's Day is May 14 this year which means our next meeting will most likely be in late March, very early April. If you have any images you would like used for the cards, that would be great. I'm hoping Linda Bolhuis will let us use some of her fantastic images again this year because they were big sellers.

Ommissions: If I've forgotten anything, please let me know and I'll be sure to make a note.







Wednesday, September 21, 2016

End of Summer/Back to School Meeting

Welcome to all who were able to attend the lively, and always fun TWC gathering after a slight summer recess. Though we did have a few set-ups in July and August, it was mostly quiet...which was a welcome break after the extremely busy prior months. It was particularly nice to meet our new volunteers and a special thanks goes to Debra Silbar for being such an incredible recruiter!

Firstly many thanks to Leslie and Steve Carlson for hosting our September meeting, something they've done for the past four years, this being the first time we didn't need the heat lamps. It was like an east coast evening, warm and unusually humid and just perfect for sitting outside...waterfall tumbling behind us and Koi jumping! Steve did a stellar job grilling the salmon and, as always, they made us feel so comfortable and welcome in their most magical setting. Gorgeous, big boy, Osso, was beautifully behaved and was super easy with a house full of ladies.

Good chatter over dinner

And the other end of the table!



Some things don't change and one of our volunteers commented (was it Gail Thomas?) that the best dining in Topanga routinely happens at these potluck dinners. What a great group of cooks...imaginative, nutritious and delicious with just the right amount of naughtiness (the desserts were divine!).





















Perishables Committee                                                       Non Perishables
Randi Gottlieb, Chair                                                            Patty Colvig, Chair
Andrea Palella                                                                       Geraldine Flaxman
Bonnie Graves                                                                       Piper Norwood
Randi Gottlieb                                                                       Deborah Ackrich
Debra Silbar                                                                           Randi DenBesten
Wendy Skolfield
Sue Forbes

Shopping Committee                                                           Pull Committee
Teresa Rosati-Royer, Chair                                                    Karen Sherwood, Chair
Karen Sherwood                                                                     Mary Morley
Piper Norwood                                                                        Piper Norwood
Randi DenBesten                                                                    Carrie Rheinfrank
Emma Murray                                                                         Emma Murray
Janaki Welch                                                                           Nancy Hanson
Deborah Ackrich
Linda Ilsley

Fundraising Committee                                                       Set-Up Committee
Debra Silbar, Chair                                                                 Lin Ilsley, Chair
Karla Morrison                                                                      All TWC volunteers
Janaki Welch
Teresa Rosati-Royer                                                                      
Lin Ilsley

Saturday Morning Bin Goddess Committee
Nancy Hanson, Chair
Rebecca Franco                 Deborah Kashinsky
Cynthia Scott       and        Lizzie Scott
Catherine McClenahan      Pat Lester
Linda Mann                       Gail Thomas
Carrie Rheinfrank              Terry Welles
Ann Grant
                                   

A quick thank you to all our volunteers, especially those of you who help with so many set-ups and work quietly behind the scenes shopping and pulling and Bin Goddessing and fundraising. It is so appreciated. Here are a few extra thank you's going out to: Debra Silbar for bringing a breath of fresh air and some lovely new (younger) volunteers to us who have been so generous thus far and for kickstarting our fundraising committee with energy and ideas; thanks to Cynthia Scott for popping over from work to deliver fresh flowers when we're working our magic in Westwood; Bonnie Graves for her homemade ice cream sandwich sale; Pat Lester for her fabulous, magical way with a needle and thread...potholders, American Girl doll clothes, etc; Rebecca Franco for her lovely welcome cards; Eden Ackrich (and mom Deborah) for thinking of TWC and working towards helping those in need for her Bat Mitzvah project; and all who are so generously donating to our Giving Fund Challenge Grant (more details to follow!).

We touched briefly on Christmas and what we will do which is Christmas for the kids at Venice Community Housing which is usually around 10 children. We will put the wish list out in November and plan on wrapping and delivering before the middle of December. A great way to contribute is by asking friends and colleagues for $25 gift cards to Target which we will give to each family at the Bessie Pregerson Child Development Center at Westwood Transitional Village, as well as a beautiful hand crocheted throw hand made by Project Linus. We also like to include a gift card to each new move-in family.

Fundraising Update: 

  • Giving Fund Challenge details will be coming but the match grant has already grown to $6,000!
  • We're going to have a raffle in the New Year with...drum roll... a Thanksgiving  2017 week long vacation in Cabo, donated very generously by Teresa and Bruce Royer! Details to follow.
  • We'll still be having our annual Mother's Day Fundraiser with our beautiful handmade cards
  • Perhaps a fundraiser with one special entertainer or a variety show using some of the great talent we have here in the Canyon
  • After our Giving Fund drive has been completed, we will be contacting Sheila Kuehl's office, perhaps looking for matching grants.
So, loads of things on the horizon and lots to be excited about. Here are some photos of the beautiful homes we've created in the last few months for those in transition, including many Veterans and their families.

Color coordinated!



Welcome place setting with welcome card and a $25 gift card to Target


Darling boy's bedroom with fabulous bedding donated by
Randi DenBesten

This is a full fridge for a large family move-in



Bonnie Graves and little Sophie putting a lot of thought
into a little girl's bedroom

Bonnie Grave's little boy, Sawyer, hauling things (enthusiastically) upstairs to one of the bedrooms.
T
his little guy never stopped!


How welcoming is this for a little girl

Welcome flowers, a beautiful lamp and a lovely message.


 A serene master bedroom

Another fabulous boy's bedroom.




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: topangawomenscircle.org 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 linilsley@gmail.com

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

Poppies


Hummingbirds at  Home in Topanga


Artichoke


Lupines, Old Canyon, Topanga

Lavender

Pride of Madeira & Butterfly

Topanga through Mustard

Giverny

Irish Cows

Irish Horses


Pure Joy

Study in Pinks