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.'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 ( 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.