Monday, February 23, 2015

February 11 2015 Meeting Notes...and more

We had a fun and lively meeting at Rocco's!  It was a thank you from TWC to all of you for what you do for the at-risk families in our community. Karen and I give many, many thanks, as always to our amazing group of volunteers for their outstanding generosity, not only through the entire year but especially over the Christmas holidays.  From gathering the wish lists in late October for the children at The Transitional Living Center (TLC) in Venice to making sure there is a gift card to Target and one to Ralph's for every family at the Bessie Pregerson Child Development Center (CDC) at Westwood Transitional Village, your contributions made Christmas very special for these children and their families.  A special thank you shout out to Jill Palethorpe for creates our online, interactive giving list for the Venice families.  It has made shopping SO much easier!

In years past, toys were given to the kids at the CDC  but this year we decided upon gift cards. Guadalupe Placencia, the fabulous director at this stellar pre-school, shared with us that many of the moms cried when they saw the gift cards, saying how it was now possible for them to create a special meal on Christmas Day.  Many agencies come through with toys, so this was a great way to help the entire family.  Beautiful thank you notes were received from so many parents, many in Spanish, where the messages of gratitude came through loud and clear, even with our lack of fluency in the language.

The children at the TLC were also so, so happy with their gifts.  As always, having those wish lists early allows us a head-start in finding all the things that make Xmas so special for these kids. As we have said before, the families at the TLC are so very poor that they could not afford the heavily subsidized and sliding rent scale of the apartments in Westwood.  Without your generosity, there would not be much of a holiday for these kids. We also put together little gift bags for the moms.
Very heartfelt thank you notes arrived from the moms and kids not too long ago.

Ready to be delivered to the TLC in Venice.
Good work, Ladies!

Because of the success and absolute appreciation of the gift cards at BP, we will be collecting them throughout the year in any amount.  We ask for no dues and understand many of you cannot do set-ups due to work schedules, family obligations, etc.  How about, throughout the year and when finances allow, picking up a gift card to a grocery store and/or Target.  This year we used $1600 of TWC funds to purchase the cards so it would be super helpful if you kept this in mind when you go shopping.  Bring them to meetings and we will put them in our Xmas file.  Make sure you write the dollar amount on the card sleeve so we can ensure each family gets the same at the holidays.

Housing issues have continued the last year or so with the VA.  The reasons are many and complex, from issues as small as the fire extinguisher not being where they have determined it should be, BUT there is good news. They are being approved and apartments are being filled, which is why we've been pretty busy of late! A new property management company is being chosen and will be on board in April.  Because WTV so values everything that TWC does for them and for the new intake families, Karen and I were asked to sit on the committee to choose the new management company. Things are looking up!!!

Our website has now been updated.  Check out the new "How You Can Help" page and you will see how donating has never been easier.  It can be a one-time donation, monthly, bi-annually, annually…so much easier.  Thanks for encouraging me to agitate on this one, Nancy!  Also make sure to take a look at our new Donation Bin page.  This should make it a lot clearer to the community about what we accept (and do not accept!) and our hours. A special, heartfelt thanks to Joanna Gunst at Imagine Website Designs for the wonderful work she does with our website ( Not only does she do the work quickly but she never fails to give us the charity discount of 50%. Joanna is a treasure and she is right here in the Canyon. 

We have some important dates for you so please mark your calendars now. This is our primary annual fundraiser and every single one of our volunteers has a critical role in ensuring its success. Please remember that when selling or buying cards, the beautiful message inside is one that honors all mothers, not just our own. We send them to friends, sisters, aunts, cousins and our own mothers and in memory of a special mom, honoring her through remembrance to her children. The cards will remain at $25. Every penny of that charge (less the cost of the card stock) goes to TWC.

If your Mom or the mother you want to honor lives abroad (where Mother's Day is earlier, often in March), let me know. I have plenty of cards ready right now.

Here are the dates:

APRIL 18:   Gather at a volunteer's home (who would like to volunteer...someone with a long dining room table please!) to assemble cards. Contact me if you can help out. Saturdays seem to work best and it usually takes four or five hours to work our magic. Remember, we have all the card stock and the vellum inserts. If you have a beautiful photo that you would like used, please bring copies to this get-together. Also, if you have photos of your children that you would like for cards you might be sending to your own moms/grandmothers, bring those. Patty Colvig takes photos throughout the year of her friends' children and then when she sends out the 10 or so cards she buys every year (yay Patty!) she creates a special card for her friends featuring a photo of their kids. Great idea and one to keep in mind.

APRIL 21:  This is our final meeting before Mother's Day and is especially important. We ask that each member take four cards and be responsible for their sale. We will be bringing all the cards created on April 18 and you can take your four (or more) cards at this time. Many of our mothers (and indeed our friends' mothers) do not want any more stuff, so encourage your friends to purchase a card for their moms. 

If you cannot make this meeting, please contact Karen or me and we will put the cards aside for you. We will also be selling exquisite, silk-screened tote bags.  There are beautifully made by a good friend of Linda Bolhuis and the artist has generously donated them to TWC with 100% of the proceeds staying with us.  

APRIL 24 & MAY 1: We will be selling cards at the Topanga Farmer's Market on these dates. Who can help with this?Please let me know so we can create a rotating list of volunteers to (wo)man our table. These could be one-hour shifts or longer.  

If anyone knows how to contact the folks who green light charity tables at the Calabasas, Malibu and Pacific Palisades markets, could you take it upon yourself to contact them and see if we can sell on one or both of the above dates? Calabasas is on Saturday and Malibu & PP are on Sundays, I think.


The formation of these committees has allowed Karen and me a chance to breathe a little more deeply and we appreciate (beyond measure) everything that you are all doing for these families in need (and for us!). Please, please, please think about volunteering for one of these groups, if you have not already done so. Sharing the load makes it easier for all of us.

Perishables Committee: They continue to provide wonderful, fresh food for each set-up.  Andrea Palella ( can answer any questions you might about what they do. We had a little bit of a break for a couple of months due to problems with the existing property management company at Westwood and the VA...but we are on the right track again.

Non-Perishable Committee: They keep our stockpile ready for each set-up.  Please remember to contact Patty Colvig ( or Catherine Grasso ( if you have questions or want to know just what to get or what we're short on.  Offhand, I can tell you we are always running out of peanut butter and jelly! Patty can also share with you how to incorporate a non-perishable collection at any parties or gathering you might be having!

Pulling Committee: Karen ( and Mary do most of the pulling for set-ups and do a great job, but this is a committee and the other volunteers are ready to step up when the need arises. Karen and Mary know the Bin backwards, forwards and sideways and pretty much always know of shortfalls, info they share with the Shopping and Non-Perishable Committees. Contact Karen if you would like to join!

Shopping Committee:  Teresa Royer ( heads up this group of dedicated shoppers.  When a shortfall arises, Karen notifies Teresa who then shares what is needed with her gang and they go into action.  Remember to keep all receipts and I ( promise to reimburse you!  

Set-up Committee:  Every single member of TWC is on this committee whether you know it or not! I ( send out the notices of upcoming set-ups and give you a general idea of how many volunteers are needed. Once I hear from you and the required number of folks say YES to my request, I will send out another notice letting you know we are good to go.  Sorry to bombard your inboxes with such regularity but it keeps you all abreast of things.  I do appreciate the effort it takes in committing to this, but we have become so good at it than it rarely takes longer than two hours, even when we have a four bedroom-two bath unit!

And finally, just because, here are some photos from recent set-ups!

Love it when the kids get involved

Never too young to help! Thanks, Chloe!

Creating a holiday table! Big grin from Aurora!

Elves hard at work!

Nancy Hanson's friend donated these lovely satin robes. So generous.

Little Chloe was so proud of her crib decorations

Sometimes the donations color coordinate so well!

Welcoming a new family. Fresh fruit and sunshine.

Becca Barkin brought this fruit, some fresh from her tree. So beautiful.

Bathroom by Catherine McClenahan!