Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Last Month


Final Meeting until Mid-September $10 Contribution towards dinner
We'd love to see as many of you as can  make it
RSVP so I can let Rocco's know how many tables to set up

It's been a busy couple of weeks and, for the most part, we've been able to meet the needs of the new families moving in.  Actually, that's not quite true.  We have been able to meet the needs of the new folks, though at times it has been difficult to roust up the volunteers necessary to do the job.  It's a busy time of year, especially for the young families with children finishing up an academic year and moms seeing double from all the little extras which suddenly are required of them.

Karen and Mary have been holding down the fort at the Bin, ably organizing everything for multiple set-ups.  Teresa and Karen have been busy shopping and keeping our stores at the ready and Patty Colvig and Catherine Grasso have taken care of the non-perishables...keeping the 'pantry' stocked and the Perishable Committee has been beyond generous, filling the fridges of these weary families.

One set-up had four of our terrific volunteers (Teresa Royer, Rebecca Franco, Linda Bolhuis and Randi Gottlieb) responding to my call for help. Two families were moving in that day, one of whom did not need the assistance of TWC.  Rebecca and Linda had a meeting on that side of town later in the morning, Randi had an early Westside meeting and Teresa was doing double duty as always (wearing her innkeeper hat and all the other ones she dons!).  I love how every home we create is so different (and especially love this post-set-up selfie that Teresa took!).

And then there was the mom and young adult daughter.  This was an emergency move-in and we were unable to do anything (with only 12 hours notice) until a couple of days after they had settled in. I'd asked the case manager in the office if she would chat to this pair before we came with a simple request.  Please strip the beds and make sure the kitchen and bath are clean.  They were, and we were able to get in there and do our magic. Follow-up: When we arrived to do yet another set-up, a mom and daughter passed us...the ones who had moved in the prior week.  The mom hugged Catherine McClenahan and then me and with such excitement and gratitude told us they couldn't believe how beautiful we had made their home.  She mentioned her daughter's cat was also happy. I guess I looked surprised and she said her daughter was allowed a therapy pet as she had been bullied in school (quite badly) and at 20 was just beginning to come out of her shell.

And another set-up at Venice had a really touching moment.  Andrea Palella and Pat Lester joined me on this one and as were hauling stuff in from our cars, Levi approached us, with her sweet little 12 week old baby boy contentedly sleeping in his stroller.  He was covered in his favorite blanket and guess who had made it...yep, Pat Lester.  It made her day (her year!) to see him cozied up in this.

And then the wonderful set-up last week when Deborah Ackrich and her little boy, Ezra (aged 6) and Heather Tehrani helped out.  Ezra was of particular help because there were two little ones moving with their mom to this unit and one of them was a 6 y.o. boy.  Perfect!  He even brought along some things to share from home, a picture and some books.  Ezra took it all very seriously, just like all the children who help on these set-ups and I could tell that he was proud of what he was doing from hauling bags up to the third floor, to putting books on the shelves.

But today was a full-circle day which you will understand better below.  It was one of those very rare times (thankfully!) when not one volunteer was able to join me at a small set-up at the Transitional Living Center in Venice.  I wrote to the social worker in Venice and asked her if her aide, Lucia, might be available to help, explaining that I had offers from Lorna Bank to help me on either Thursday or Friday, but no one was free today.  Turns out Lucia was happy to help.  There were workmen who met me out front and hefted all the bags upstairs and the back gate had been opened to allow me to park off-street since it was street cleaning day.  Lucia, who is six months pregnant, was positively glowing and so happy to offer assistance. You see, four years ago, she and her two children, then aged 6 and 12, had arrived at the Transitional Living Center with little more than the clothes on their backs and she remembered what we had done for her. Lucia is a bright woman and took advantage of everything VCH could offer.  Further education, parenting classes...she was keen to do it all.  And in these four years, she has accomplished a lot from working full-time for VCH, moving into her own apartment, marriage to a terrific man who loves her children as his own to excitement at the prospect of one more little one to round out their family. Today couldn't have gone any better and I was delighted to share the load with such a terrific woman.

Busy times in front of us.  There should be another couple of set-ups in Venice in the next two weeks and Westwood will continue to be busy so any help you can offer is always appreciated.