The holidays are here and as our thoughts turn to how our celebrations are going to look this year, they also turn to how we can support those in need and give back. Learn more about two of our favorite local nonprofits that are offering volunteer opportunities for the whole family and are looking for the community’s help this holiday season and all year round!
Grass Roots Neighbors
Since May, Playa del Rey’s Grass Roots Neighbors (GRN) has acted as a lifeline for the 55 households their volunteers visit every two-weeks with deliveries of food, fresh produce and household essentials. Most of the households they serve are single-parent families or seniors who have either lost their jobs due to the pandemic or are unable to work, says volunteer and board member Stephanie Popescu.
With a variety of ways for families to get involved including making deliveries, collecting donations or adding extra items to their shopping lists, the nonprofit is inspiring volunteers of all ages to help.
For volunteer Andrea Smoot, who has been helping the nonprofit since August by stocking shelves, packing food and making deliveries, spending time with GRN has been a great way to give back during this difficult time.
“For me, volunteering has helped me get through the pandemic,” said Smoot. “The community has really come together with donations, and it’s really amazing what Grass Roots Neighbors does. It has been food for my soul and my heart. It’s been something I’ve personally just really needed.”
She says volunteering has connected her with like-minded volunteers that are generous and supportive.
“The community is the best part,” she says. “I’m really grateful to have them in my life and looking forward to helping even more. It’s an easy, awesome opportunity to do something that can help the community.”
For volunteer Karis Campbell, who has been helping GRN since the summer, it feels good to be of service.
“I love getting to feel useful, especially through all this COVID stuff. There’s a lot that feels out of control right now, but to have this small piece of our lives that we can control and do something positive with is great,” said Campbell who volunteers with her children. “It’s helping nourish us physically and emotionally, and it feels like there’s a direct line to humanity here that fills me and my kids up. We are really proud to be part of this.”
This month, GRN is holding a drive-through food collection on Saturday, November 14 from 10 a.m. to noon at 200 Culver Blvd. in Playa del Rey. Community members are invited to pack up their vehicles with shelf-stable groceries (Thanksgiving fixings are encouraged), cleaning supplies and toiletries. Pop your trunk and volunteers will remove the items for you.
While every food and monetary donation is appreciated, the nonprofit is especially grateful for recurring monthly donations, which help them anticipate month-to-month how many families they can serve.
For more information on Grass Roots Neighbors, how to donate and volunteer opportunities, please visit grassrootsneighbors.org.
Westside Pacific Villages
On December 1, Westside Pacific Villages (WPV) will celebrate its 10-year anniversary of helping local seniors stay healthy, active and age in place. Since launching in 2010, WPV has filled more than 50,000 service requests to help seniors and had more than 1,500 volunteers donate approximately 75,000 hours of service.
Since launching their WPV Cares Program in late March in response to COVID-19, the organization has been an invaluable resource for seniors that are sheltering in place. With a large coalition of local nonprofits, including the Westchester Rotary Club, a team of approximately 300 volunteers is currently providing more than 200 seniors with weekly care packages, virtual activities/workshops, frequent phone calls, contact-less delivery of essential items and socially distanced friend visits.
For Playa del Rey resident Ahmanise Morgan, who started volunteering at the start of the pandemic, being able to volunteer with her kids to support WPV and its senior clients has been amazing. What started as making cards to include in lunch deliveries, quickly turned into wanting to help with the Friday meal delivery program.
The family has made quick friends with the people they visit with weekly, creating an enriching experience for all involved.
“My favorite part is not only that we can do this together as a family, but watching my kids racing to the steps of their friends, ready to make a delivery as ‘Westside Pacific Villages workers’ and then fully immersed into conversation with a population they don’t usually get the opportunity to communicate with is truly a gift,” said Morgan. “I often let them do everything, and it’s the most heartwarming experience to watch them build the courage to greet people, have the confidence to maintain a conversation with someone and learn the ability to build on that relationship week after week. In our world today, we need more of this. And as a result, I’m so grateful that my children take such joy in doing little things to make this world a better place.”
WPV is celebrating their anniversary on “Giving Tuesday,” which falls on December 1, with a virtual event featuring Dr. Raj Dasgupta.
For more information on getting involved with WPV, supporting their efforts to help seniors in the community and to RSVP for the event, please visit thewpv.org.
Posted November 2020.