For the members of the Westchester Mental Health Guild, November is an exciting time as they gear up for the Holiday Home Tour. Celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, the annual event gives people the OK to be looky-loos for the day and tour some of the area’s most fabulous homes all for a good cause.
“This event is really a community effort,” said Westchester Mental Health Guild President Linda Peterson. “We have people donating their homes, over 100 volunteers working in shifts and help from neighbors and Boy Scouts. People really look forward to attending each year, and we are happy to host this event.”
The Annual Holiday Home Tour will take place on Sunday, November 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Westchester Mental Health Guild, which was formed in 1962 to promote and support the Airport Marina Counseling Service (AMCS). AMCS provides low-cost counseling and group therapy in Westchester, as well as provides training for mental health professionals. Since its inception, the nonprofit has raised more than an estimated million dollars to aid AMCS’ efforts, which over the years have grown to include an immediate intervention program, an at-risk kids program and expanded group offerings.
“The Westchester Mental Health Guild is AMCS’s fundraising arm. They raise much-needed dollars so that AMCS can continue providing comprehensive mental health services at low-cost,” said AMCS executive director Eden Garcia-Balis. “Supporting the Home Tour ensures that those that need mental health services in our community can get the help they need.”
More than just a group that raises funds, however, the Westchester Mental Health Guild is also part social club, with many of the members becoming lifelong friends after joining the organization. Many formed bonds after volunteering at the Guilded Cage Gift Shop, which closed last fall after 41 years in business in Westchester.
“You really treasure the friendships. It’s one of the biggest benefits of membership,” said Second Vice President Ylla De Leon. “A lot of us wouldn’t know each other if it wasn’t for the organization.”
Echoed Recording Secretary Candy Yip, “It’s a wonderful group of women who have formed lasting friendships, while benefiting our community.”
While the Guild is made up of a group of enthusiastic volunteers, membership numbers have declined in recent years due to an aging membership, something that the current board is working to turn around. Membership is open to community members, with annual tax-deductible dues ranging from $25 to $100 a year. New members are always welcomed and are seen as a big boost to the organization, with membership numbers hovering around 150.
“We are always looking for new members and board members,” said Yip. “We love new members who bring in great new ideas that we hadn’t thought of before. They’re like a shot in the arm for our group.”
For its 35th year, the Home Tour Committee has set an ambitious goal of raising $50,000 for AMCS and is looking for the community’s support to reach their goal. Thanks to generous sponsors and those that have purchased an ad in the program booklet, the group is well on their way, but they will depend on ticket sales to get them to their final goal.
Featured on this year’s home tour in Playa del Rey is a castle-like three-story home, decorated for Christmas and a two-story home that doubles as an art gallery for the owner’s work, decorated for Thanksgiving. In Westchester, Home Tour attendees will tour a one-story bungalow with guest house, decorated for Halloween; a newly renovated two-story craftsman home, decorated in tranquil colors for fall; and a totally modified two-story “smart” home with a pool house, decorated to entertain for New Year’s.
Westchester resident, Megan Edmonds, is one of the homeowners offering her house for this year’s tour. After being persuaded by one of her neighbors to open up her home for the event, Edmonds learned more about AMCS and the Westchester Mental Health Guild’s mission and was happy to participate.
“I have a soft side for this,” said Edmonds who has family member with schizophrenia. “So I am happy helping any way I can. Everyone is buying tickets for a good cause, and I even got my husband to finish a few projects around the house. I also think it will be really nice to tour the other homes. ”
Guild President, Linda Peterson, says while the tour is a fun way to meet your neighbors and socialize while supporting a good cause, it’s also a great opportunity to get ideas on remodeling, color schemes, decorating and landscaping.
After the tour, attendees are invited to the Westchester Elks Lodge for a special one-day marketplace and reception. Vendors will be on hand selling a variety of items like holiday decor, chocolate, pillows and jewelry. The Guild Crafters will also be selling their handmade items. For the first time this year, the Westchester Mental Health Guild will raffle off a week-long vacation to Hawaii, with airfare included, courtesy of the William H. Hannon Foundation.
Peterson hopes that the Westchester Mental Health Guild reaches their goal this year and the neighborhood comes out to support this fun event, that also has the added benefit of giving back to a nonprofit that provides such valuable services to the community and the larger Los Angeles area.
“It’s great that we can support mental health and think of new ways to support AMCS,” said Peterson. “AMCS is not government funded, so anything we can do to help support their mission is great.”
Tickets for the 35th Annual Holiday Home Tour are available through November 4 for $35 at wmhgtour2017.eventbrite.com or on the Guild’s website at westchestermhg.org. Tickets will also be available on November 5, the day of the tour, for $40 at the Westchester Elks Lodge, located at 8025 Manchester Ave. in Playa del Rey. Children under 12 will not need tickets if they are accompanied by an adult.
Major sponsors of this year’s tour include Platinum Sponsors Jane St. John of Re/Max Estate Properties, Alex & Kate Real Estate and Stephanie Younger of Compass; Gold Sponsors Fineman Suarez, The Real Estate Consultants and Coldwell Banker; and Silver Sponsors Amy Frelinger of Teles Properties, Nancy & John Edwards and the HomeTown News.
Pictured: Westchester Mental Health Guild members pose in front of the Halloween decorated home that will be featured on their 35th Annual Home Tour on November 5th.
Posted November 2017.