Thursday, September 29, 2011

TWC Updates

It's been a busy few weeks since our last meeting.  Lots of proposed set-ups, lots of shopping to make sure we have enough for them, plus new ideas thrown our way, as well as a few actual set-ups!  As always, thanks to all of you for making TWC work as well as it does.  As we all understand, the nature of our service is last minute but it sure makes for some fast and furious footwork when the call comes in. 

As always, for ease of understanding and because it eliminates the need for me to smoothly transition from one thought to another, here's what's going on!

Next Meeting Date:  Wednesday, November 16
We would really like to have a big turn-out for this meeting as we will have loads to discuss regarding Christmas.  Krista Stilley, the young, enthusiastic and amazingly focused and effective director at Westwood Transitional Village has expressed interest in attending one of our get-togethers and Karen and I thought this would be a perfect one.  We will meet at my house (2670 Topanga Skyline Drive) at 7 PM.  Reminders will be sent out, but please try and clear your calendars so you can attend this gathering.

This has been a very good year (with Zev's contribution) for TWC and with that in mind, Karen and I talked to Cynthia Freeman (Isabel's daughter and our Community Partners [CP] guru),  about the idea of gifting monies to Westwood Transitional Village to help with their back-to-school expenses.  When we were doing a set-up a few weeks ago, Krista stopped by to see our progress and was chatting about how their discretionary funds were running super low because of the expense of getting kids all their school supplies (and new shoes!).  Krista knows that TWC operates on a shoestring budget so she was in no way asking for anything from us...just stating a fact.  Karen and I mulled this over and then contacted CP, asking if a 501(c)(3) can give monies to another 501(c)(3) and their answer was yes.  So we gifted Westwood Transitional Village $1,000 and their response and gratitude has been heart-warming.  This may not be something we can do with any regularity, but we could do it this year and so we did.  Our Advisory Board agreed that this gift was a good thing and to quote Wendy Skolfield's mother, Mimi, "Money like manure starts to stink if it's not spread around." 

Monday, September 26 Set-Up
Karen was joined by Paulette, Ildy and Pia for this set-up and while doing their work, the Metro Board for the Los Angeles Salvation Army (who were having a meeting at Westwood) stopped by to see the work that Topanga Women's Circle does.  I don't know the exact numbers, but there were at least 10 board members, as well as our volunteers in the small apartment.  To say that they were blown away is an understatement.  Karen was excited to share the reaction of the group with me and it was gratifying to receive this level of appreciation for our work.  As you can see from the pictures, they did a terrific job.  Have a look at that striking red rug in the living room.  Last week, Karen and I found several on sale at Target for $12.99 and I think you'll agree that it really helps 'pop' the room.  If you happen to see similar rugs on sale when you're out and about, please grab them for us (as many as you can) and we'll reimburse you.  They make a huge difference.

Volunteer Request
TWC friend and Topanga Chamber President Bruce Royer suggested to Karen and I that we may want to consider putting an insert that explains just what TWC is in their "Guide to Topanga" which goes to press in a few days time.  We agreed that this would be a great way to get the message out to the entire community about who we are, what we do, when and where people can contribute to our group and how they can contact us.  Bruce also suggested that perhaps Jennifer Babcock of Jennifer Babcock Design and Chamber Vice-President, could help us with this.  She has given us a greatly discounted rate and we've provided her with the copy and photos so be sure to check out our contribution to this Topanga publication that has area business contact info and good local maps. 

Now onto the volunteer request part of this!  Three thousand of these guides will be mailed and we are looking for four volunteers to help slip our insert into each guide.  Bruce will be there working alongside us so if any of you could help, please contact Karen or me ASAP.  It will most likely be another week or so from now.  We don't yet have the date.  Thanks!

Open Bin
Don't forget we will have our weekly Open Bin this Friday, September 30th from 10:30 to Noon.  Patty Colvig and Karen or I will be there so combine a trip to our local Farmer's Market with a donation to TWC and encourage your friends and neighbors to stop by and see just what we're up to.   

And speaking of our Open Bin, get a load of our resident Bin Goddess Lisa O'Laughlin and her darling Teddy Bear.  They were there last week and while it was a quiet morning for donations, we did get some clothing sorted and bagged.  We did get a nice donation of teen girl's clothing from Bouboulina, so a big thank you goes out to them.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Set-Up: September 20, 2011

Well, this week started off with a big SOS about multiple possible set-ups but has ended quietly.  All move-ins, aside from the one on the 20th, have been pushed off to next week.  Thanks so all who answered our cry for help and you know we'll be getting in touch with you very soon.

Before I get any further, don't forget to pop by the Open Bin tomorrow and say hi to Lisa!

As you all know, most of our energy in this past year has been spent at Westwood Transitional Village and through our attendance at Advisory Board meetings, we hear of the many programs and activities that they do on a continuing basis, particularly with the children who live there.  Back-to-school clothing, shoes, supplies and extra-curricular activities all cost money and we thought that since this year has been good for TWC we would like to share something with them.  We approached Community Partners asking if a 501(c)(3) can gift money to another 501(c)(3) and with their approval, Topanga Women's Circle has given WTV a check for $1,000 to be used for their back-to-school needs.  Our Advisory Board agreed with us that this was a good move and to quote Wendy Scolfield's Mom Mimi, "Money is like manure, unless it's spread around it starts to stink!"  This is a departure from anything TWC has done before but we hope you agree that it was a good sound donation on our part.

The set-up on the 20th went well, thanks to the terrific help of Noelle Berman, Pia Christensen and Teresa Rosati-Royer.  Karen and I marveled afterwards that we were pretty much finished in an hour and a half.  Thank you ladies.   Here are some photos to show you what it looked like, all taken by Karen with her fancy new camera.  Remember, three little girls are sleeping in that one small bedroom.  I'm sure you'll all agree that it looked pretty special by the time TWC was finished with it.

 Noelle always brings a tea kettle and this set-up was no exception!

 Three little girls will share this room and I'm sure they'll love it.  The older two will have the bunkbed with the single bed reserved for the two-year old.  Teresa bought brand new pjs for the girls.
 Pia put the magnetic letters on the fridge with the special "At Home" message.  If any of you have these from when your kids were small, pass them our way.  They look terrific.
 A bowl of fresh fruit is always welcoming
 Games and books in the living room
 And pretty cushions on the couch, courtesy of Pia.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Meeting Notes: September 13, 2011

We had a terrific meeting at Catherine McClenahan’s home last Wednesday evening and a few notes follow so that those of you unable to attend are up to date on TWC happenings.  A beautiful home, a gracious hostess, unbelievable volunteers who brought absolutely delicious food and a full moon all conspired to create a perfect evening.  

Our brand new TWC Coordinator, Nancy Hanson, took meeting notes.  Thank you Nancy for keeping us on target and for agreeing to do a host of duties for us.  It is beyond appreciated.

Meeting Attendees: Isabel Freeman, Toni Colvin, Sue Forbes, Paulette Rapp, Deborah Kashinsky,  Patty Colvig, Catherine McClenahan, Ildy Lewis, Linda Mann,  Lisa O’Laughlin, Geraldine Flaxman, Nancy Hanson, April and Ashley Hinkle, Karen Sherwood and Linda Ilsley

We chatted about a lot and appreciate all the excellent input from those present.  It never fails to amaze me how productive these meetings are and the creativity and enthusiasm of TWC volunteers.

The Bin: We created a sign-up sheet for ‘bin duty’ since we’re going to have an ‘Open Bin’ every Friday between 10:30 and Noon and notices are now running in The Messenger.  Our Bin Goddess, Lisa O’Laughlin, will continue with her incredibly generous every other Friday schedule and TWC volunteers at the meeting signed up to help on many of the Fridays between now and the New Year. There are still lots of dates open for helping, so please drop me a line if you’re interested in helping. Thank you, thank you, thank you.  This is a great community outreach time and good fun and if everyone knows we’re open for business every Friday, more folks will get in the mindset of us being there and contributing, I’m sure.  This is also a perfect time for TWC volunteers to drop off any donations they may have been hauling around in their cars, such as non-perishable food items, etc.  Karen and Deborah Kashinsky were there this past Friday.  Remember to stop on by and say hi if you’re at the Farmer’s Market.

Laundry/Sorting of Donations:  We often have donations that need a little freshening and this includes infants’ and children’s’ clothing as well as bed linens and towels.  If you would be willing to help with this, please drop me a line.  Ildy, Isabel and Linda Mann volunteered to help Karen and I with this chore and we couldn’t be happier!  Karen is happy to make small repairs to donations so if the repair isn’t major, we’ll still be able to use it because of her skill with a needle.  If anyone else would like to help in this way, let us know.

Cookbook for Incoming Families:  Annie Gabbert wasn’t able to make the meeting due to her husband’s work schedule, but she will be our cookbook coordinator.  The recipes are slowly coming in.  Remember all recipes should ideally be simple and a family favorite, have a few lines explaining its importance to your family, a recipe name, accurate ingredients, cooking time and temp and how many it should serve. 

Isabel wrote the following about her chocolate cake recipe that I thought was just perfect: “Here’s an easy chocolate cake recipe with no clean up because it’s made in the pan.  It always gets raves and can also be used to make 12 cupcakes or easily doubled for a larger cake.  It’s been a birthday party favorite at my house for 3 generations.”

Perhaps at a later date we could create a Topanga Women’s Circle Cookbook as a fundraiser, but let’s start small and do an initial one for the families we serve.  April brought along a sample cookbook from a recent wedding she’d attended. Wedding guests had contributed favorite recipes and a book was created for the bride and groom (and for all the guests to take home)!

TWC Cards:  All ideas and photographs are welcome.  We will continue with our Mother’s Day Fundraising Event but how about doing cards for the Holidays, Birthdays, etc.  Deborah Kashinsky shared the proofs of some beautiful cards she has created for TWC.  These can be sold individually or in bundles and are just exquisite.  Can’t wait to share them with all of you.  April emailed us some photos of collages she’s done and they’re pretty terrific, too.

Classes for Moms:  We’re still working on this and talking with the powers that be at Venice and Westwood.  Whatever we do will start after the Christmas break so put your thinking caps on.  Yoga, cooking, health, nutrition, etc.  These are all ideas.  Ildy would love to teach a cooking class that subtly combines good nutrition with simple and tasty recipes.  What ideas do you have? 

Yoga Mats:  Westwood Transitional Village is looking for yoga mats.  Any ideas?

Sewing Kits: All of this chat of classes led to Patty Colvig talking about sewing kits for the families.  At each set-up, how about including a basic sewing kit?  She talked a bit about perhaps getting local Girl Scout/Brownie troops involved with putting these together.  Karen thought a clear, sturdy zippered bag would be perfect for holding thread, needles, scissors, etc.  A little start-up kit that would have items for quick repairs/sewing on buttons, etc.  Your ideas would be appreciated.

Ink Cartridges:  Remember, Sophie Kipner established a connection for us so that all donated cartridges go to a recycling center where we are paid for what we send their way.  If any of you work in an environment that generates a fair number of cartridges, please collect them for us, as well as any you use at home.  Stick in a plastic bag, though, so you don’t get ink over everything!  We’ll take care of the mailing.

Feed the Fish:  We’ll have our fish bowl at each meeting.  Deborah reminded our group that any donation, no matter how small, would be appreciated. 

Food Drives:  Patty Colvig reminded the group that if you’re entertaining, especially over the holidays, include a TWC non-perishable food drive request in your invitation!  We will get lists together of the foods we like to provide for the families we serve and this way you can give your guests a little guidance if you feel they need it!

Christmas:  It’s coming up…only two more months, eight weeks (YIKES!).  In the past, Kelly Radinsky and Mariposa School have done so much for the children in the Transitional Living Center at Venice Community Housing but Kelly mentioned earlier in the summer that things were a little different at Mariposa this year and she wasn’t sure if it would be possible to continue with this gift drive.  Put your thinking caps on, TWC volunteers, and send all ideas our way.  We will again be giving a gift to each child and their siblings at The Bessie Pregerson Child Development Center at Westwood as well as the children at the TLC at Venice.  

Please send Karen ( and Linda ( any ideas or suggestions you may have. 

Next Meeting:  We will need to have another meeting in November…around the 8th or 9th (or the following week at the latest) to discuss the holidays.  Please, please, please send me all ideas you may have about toy drives, etc., before then.

If you’d like to have the next meeting at your home and can accommodate about a dozen or so cars, let us know.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday, September 2 Set-Up

Today's set-up went really smoothly thanks to two of our newest volunteers, Linda Mann and April Hinkle,  joining me today for the set-up in Westwood.  The family moving in including a veteran and her two teenage children, Jon (19) and Brittany (15) and their three bedroom, two bath flat is going to be a comfortable home for them after all the uncertainty in their lives.  Linda and April needed very little guidance and once I'd gone over the the core basic...make it as pretty as you can with what we have...they were off and running.  The pictures will show you what a great job they did.

Krista Stilley, the director of Westwood Transitional Village stopped by not long before we finished and it was nice to be able to introduce Linda and April to her and to hear a little story she had about the family moving out of the unit we were 'decorating.'  Krista said the family living there was one we had helped two years prior, a mom and her three young children who Krista said had become real favorites of hers.  The mother availed herself of every service available and studied and worked and saved, all while parenting her children with grace and energy and here's the good part...she managed to save $13,000 while living there and was moving into a brand new apartment with her kids and getting ready to start her new job at Cedars Sinai in the medical records department.  These are the stories we love to hear.

After setting up the apartment, I took Linda and April over to the Bessie Pregerson CDC so they could meet Sandra Menendez, the director, and also have a quick tour of the wonderful facility that is so critical to the development of the little ones at Westwood.  It was lunchtime and the children were all seated and eating their nutritious lunches, prepared onsite, when we went in.  So much cuteness is hard to leave, but we were proving a distraction so headed out.

I encourage anyone who hasn't yet done a set-up to try and join us for one this year.  It really feels good to see how inexpensive and quickly we can transform a bare-bones apartment into a home.  Here are some pictures that give you a better example of what we did.  See if you can see some of your donations.

 A corner of the living room

 Bathroom #2

 Jon's bedroom

 The Master Bath

 Master Bedroom
 Brittany's Bedroom