Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 25, 2012 Meeting

Our Tuesday night meeting at Leslie Carlson's lovely home was really quite magical and I am so sorry that some of you were unable to come due to family obligations.  I will try to give you some idea what happened by bullet points.  As I completely forgot to ask anyone to take notes I can pretty much guarantee that I will leave something important out of this recap!  But first, look how all 25 or so of us fit around the outdoor table. Six heat lamps kept us really comfortable

·       Kathy Goldberg's Pottery Sale:  Well this was pretty amazing.  In case you don’t know Kathy's work, it is rather fantastic and she donated all of her seconds (which look like firsts!) to TWC so we could sell them and help keep our bottom line a little less on the bottom.  What wasn’t sold will be brought to the next meeting and those of you who missed this great event will have another opportunity to get some lovely works of art.  Many found wonderful pieces for themselves as well as great holiday/hostess gifts.  Thank you so much, Linda Bolhuis, for facilitating this sale and alerting Kathy to TWC.  We are so appreciative of this very generous gift.

·       Teresa Rosati Royer:  Welcome to the Advisory Board, Teresa!  Keep on bringing your wonderful enthusiasm and great ideas to the group.  In case some of you don't know, Teresa and PSI, a group near and dear to her heart, have been amazing supporters of TWC.  Last year, under Julie Leaf and Teresa's direction, PSI had a fundraiser among fellow members and with the monies raised they purchased ALL of the Christmas gifts for the children at The Bessie Pregerson Child Development Center…all of the children and their siblings!  This was approximately 80 odd gifts…gifts that were requested on the children's wish list…lovely presents that any child would treasure.  And gift cards for the parents.  Truly generous.  And then after this major effort (all delivered to BP in Bruce and Teresa's big bus) they turned around and volunteered to do it again this year.  Amazing!

·       We welcomed our new members and gave them their new 'business' cards.  Welcome to Paula Dove, who has already so generously been giving to TWC through her association with parents at Paul Revere Middle School (all those hoodies that we bundled and sized are from Paula!).  Welcome to Rebecca Franco who has recently come back to the Canyon.  You may recall some of the absolutely, first-rate items at the big garage sale held in the summer; many of those items, including the fabulous cookbooks, were donated by Rebecca.  Donna Dorsey has joined our merry band and jumped right into the deep water.  She has already written a rough draft grant proposal for TWC, putting in numerous hours and we are so very thankful for this.  Thank you, Donna! And finally, welcome Barbara Waldman.  We look forward to getting to know you a lot better!

·       Nancy Hanson has really been investigating how we can set up our monthly giving button via our website.  We are almost there, but there are still a few fine points to straighten out.  The HTML instructions will be given to our web designer and it should be up and ready in a month or so.  Thank you Nancy!

·       Lisa O'Laughlin, our original Bin Goddess, gave us a Bin sign-up pep talk which made me want to put my name down…how about you?  It only takes 1½ hours on Saturday mornings, approximately once every five weeks or so, depending upon the number of volunteers.  And you won't be there alone.  If you are experienced (i.e., you know your way around the Bin) terrific; if you are a novice, you will have an experienced bin gal there with you.  Lisa, you may recall, came up with the brilliant idea of the Open Bin and it has worked out so well.  Thank you, Lisa!  Nancy brought the new sign-up sheet for Bin Duty and hopefully recruited a few more volunteers and sends out reminders to keep us on track!

·       Patty Colvig has been championing our sewing kit cause and this is such a terrific idea of hers which we want to keep bubbling along.  We are looking for a couple of volunteers to take over this project as Patty has a SUPER busy work schedule including a several month work gig in Madagascar!  There are some monies allocated for this and we are thinking, keep it simple.  But how great would it be to include a simple sewing kit (needles, thread, scissors, etc) in each set-up.

·       Leslie Carlson suggested a TWC shopping night at Topanga Home Grown for TWC members and friends.  All items will be at full price and ten percent of the evening's sales will be donated to TWC.  Once we have a firm date on this, we hope you all will spread the word.  Home Grown has the absolutely best holiday gifts so this is an event not to be missed.

·       A big thank you to all the TWC shoppers.  When I sent out word a while back that Karen and I were looking for some shopping help (we would provide the money from TWC funds), the response was really terrific.  So thanks go out to Catherine Grasso, Nancy Hanson, April Hinkle, Susan Lovell, Paulette Rapp and Janaki Welch. Susan also donated some of her CDs to be left with each set up. Thank you all!  

·       Linda Bolhuis came to the meeting with all sorts of great donations that she had schlepped back from her trip to Minnesota.  She drove across country with teddy bears and decorative pillows, throws, place mats and tablecloths.  I love it!  Always thinking of TWC!  Thanks also to all of you who brought donations to the meeting.  It is now all tucked away in the Bin. Thank you to all of you who brought donations to the meeting. Karen's car was jam-packed.

·       Patricia Mitchell has some fundraising ideas she will share with us at our next meeting and also she will talk to us about the volunteer work she has been doing with clients at Westwood Transitional Village.  What a great addition you are to TWC, Patricia.

·       With some self-consciousness, Karen and I shared a new video that a very young English family friend of mine did for us when she was visiting in the spring…for free!  She has been working on it at her studio in London and sent us the penultimate draft a few weeks ago.  Once it is finalized, we will have it on our website.

·       And finally, our sandwich board is now in the Bin…Foster Sherwood made this for us and it is pretty wonderful.  Folds flat, two sides., and ready for some artwork.  Karen brought a big tablet of paper and explained how anyone on Saturday duty can set up the sandwich board and put their own, ahem, art up to welcome anyone interested to stop by, make donations or just chat.  We are hoping to get some good, permanent signage for it in the near future.  

See you all soon, either at a set-up, at the Bin or in some discount store!  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dog Days of Sunmer...Lots of Heat and Lots of Set-ups

Even with TWC officially closed for business from August 25 through Labor Day, we still managed to set-up a lot of apartments for the families we serve.  I suspect many were rushed move-ins due to the housing authorities wanting to get people settled before school starts, but whatever the reasons, we have no photos of two family units that we gathered items for; one at the Transitional Living Center in Venice and the other in Westwood Transitional Village.  These were emergency move-ins for which we received very little notice. When that happens we can often do no more than gather the stuff together and drop it off.  I was able to do so for the Venice family just before our official closing and for a young mom and toddler at Westwood just after Labor Day.  While no decorating was involved, the intake families were both most appreciative.

While I was at Westwood, I saw a mom who I recognized from one of our set-ups last year and she was really keen to talk...wanting to check with me as to what she could take, what she had to leave because her big news was that she was moving.  When I told her everything that we left was hers for ever and ever she was so happy and got tears in her eyes.  I even had a vacuum to give her which a neighbor had just passed my way which really was just icing on the cake for her. She was so happy to share the news with me that she had a job, her daughter was doing well in school and she had just got an apartment in N. Hollywood via the Section 8 housing voucher program. Heres a little more info on what that is: (The housing choice voucher program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.
The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.
Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies (PHAs). The PHAs receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the voucher program.
A family that is issued a housing voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family's choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program. This unit may include the family's present residence. Rental units must meet minimum standards of health and safety, as determined by the PHA.
A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the PHA on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program. Under certain circumstances, if authorized by the PHA, a family may use its voucher to purchase a modest home.)  

Her joy was contagious and I left Westwood a happy woman, secure in the knowledge that what we do really does make a huge difference to these families.

Anyway, enough rambling.  Many thanks to all of you who helped with all these set-ups.  Without you and your incredible donations of time and stuff, none of this would ever happen.

And now for the picture evidence of the month!

Artificial flowers and a jolly cushion on the couch make a huge difference in a plain room.

Tea anyone!?

In Venice, moms and kids share a bedroom. Space is tight.

Because the bathrooms are usually shared with other families in Venice, 
we put their new towels on the bed so they could choose where to keep them.

This mom requested some clothing for her eight-y.o. son.
We got him back to school clothes, as well as new underwear and pjs. 
They were moving from a shelter and had very little.

New laundry basket. Karen found these at Ross for a 
really good price.

We love giving the children activity books, color books, markers and crayons and drawing paper.

This apartment is shared by three families.  They share the kitchen which has a remarkable
amount of cabinet space but no room for three fridges.  Two of them are in the dining room.

A couple of thank you notes from a mom and her daughter.
So thoughtful.

I think Ildy applied some real elbow grease to this sink and
left it sparkling!

We do love the Fourth Graders at Topanga Elementary,
the notes they write and the darling Cuties they make!

Linda Bolhuis putting the finishing touches on her toy display!

Every bathroom we do is different.

This room is shared by two children and looks fresh and welcoming

The master bedroom...finally, a good nights sleep for this mom and dad.

Every color scheme is different!

We like to give each family a bowl full of fresh fruit.

A toaster and a donated George Foreman grill.
Karen found these toasters for a good price, I think $10!
Great addition to every set-up.

Linda Bolhuis putting some decorating touches on her window treatment

Personal touches mean so much.