BY MATTHEW HALL
In a city known for its wealth and prosperity, City Hall wants residents to think about giving back.
City staff have specifically singled out homelessness and hunger as areas of need this season and the City has a list of nonprofits that need help posted to its website. Information about seasonal volunteer opportunities was presented to Council earlier this month.
“Santa Monica is a diverse community with many strengths so it may be surprising to hear that 10,000 residents live below the federal poverty level,” said Brian Hardgrave, administrative analyst with the city Human Services Division. “40 percent of these individuals and families may experience uncertainty about where they find their next meal.”
Hardgrave said there are several programs within Santa Monica addressing hunger including subsidized meals for students, matching funds at local farmers markets and local food pantries.
Hardgrave said hunger can be difficult to detect but homelessness is visible every day and it’s a subject receiving unprecedented attention county wide.
Los Angeles voters overwhelmingly passed Measure HHH that will put billions into the City’s coffers for construction of new affordable housing units and Hardgrave said the Santa Monica community continues towards solutions to homelessness at the local level.
He said county figures show about 47,000 homeless individuals living in Los Angeles County and about 728 in Santa Monica.
Hardgrave encouraged residents to volunteer for the 2017 Homeless Count because the event is one of the most important tools available to measure homelessness and the count is directly connected to the kind of services available.
In 2017, the count will be held on Jan. 25 at 10:30 p.m. starting at St. Monica’s. Residents can sign up and find more information at www.santamonicahomelesscount.com.
“It’s one of the most exhausting but meaningful things that I’ve done here in Santa Monica and I’ve done a lot of things here in Santa Monica,” said Councilwoman Sue Himmelrich. “It is an amazing chance to get to people you’ve never met, to work with people you never met to see the great community we have that cares about these issues and I really encourage all of you to come out.”
Hardgrave said many providers have holiday specific needs but if those needs are met, locals should think about volunteering during other parts of the year.
“Many holiday events fill up early, but if you’re turned away, don’t’ be discouraged, think about sharing your time and compassion in March or July when the need is just as great,” he said.
City Hall has a list of volunteer opportunities available online at www.smgov.net/volunteer.
2016 Holiday Opportunities include:
St. Monica Catholic Community — 725 California Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90403 Contact: Christine Gerety – (310) 566-1531 or www.stmonica.net/holidayoutreach. Adopt-a-Family – teamed with the St. Joseph Center, provide over 300 families with a family household gift, gift certificates for a holiday meal, and presents for the children (Nov. 26-Dec. 11) Angel Toy Drive – provide Christmas toys and gifts to children and teenagers in need at local public schools and agencies (Nov. 26-Dec. 18) Holiday Carnival/Party—for the families from St. Joseph Center (Dec. 17)
Connections for Children Holiday Angels Program — 2701 Ocean Park Blvd. #253, Santa Monica Contact: Judy Laureano at (310) 452-3325 ext. 210. Holiday Angels Program provides gifts to homeless & low-income families need volunteers – shifts 2.5 to 4 hours. Dec. 16, 17, 19.
Meals on Wheels — 1823-A Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404 Contact Rebecca Siu-Adler at (310) 394-7558 or (310) 394-5133, ext. 2, http://www.mealsonwheelswest.org/volunteer/. Help deliver meals. Flexible schedule—you can deliver every day, once a week, or once a month.
OPCC — 503 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401, www.opcc.net. Volunteer with OPCC and Lamp Community Donate food and clothing
One Voice Holiday Food Program — The Barker Hangar (aka The Santa Monica Air Center) 3021 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica Airport, Santa Monica, CA 90405, www.onevoice-la.org/volunteer. Their Holiday Food Program provides Christmas food baskets, toys and books to 2,500 families (12,500 people) living in poverty in the Los Angeles area. Need volunteers Dec. 15 – 18 to help prepare and deliver baskets. Dec. 15 – 7:30 – 11 p.m. -sort & package food for gift baskets. Dec. 16 7:30 -11 p.m. -box & load food baskets. Dec. 17 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. – food basket delivery to distribution centers. Dec. 18 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. – gift basket giveaway.
St. Joseph Center — 404 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, CA 90291 (310) 396-6468 ext. 336, www.stjosephctr.org/volunteers.html, www.stjosephctr.org/donations.html. Donate food, clothing for adults & children & unwrapped toys Adopt-A-Family Program—to assist with a variety of family needs.
Upward Bound House — 1104 Washington Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 458-7779, http://www.upwardboundhouse.org/contact-us.html. Adopt-A-Family Program—to help families during the holidays.
Westside Food Bank — 1710 22nd St., Santa Monica, CA 90404 Contact: Allison Griffith at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 828-6016, ext. 12, www.westsidefoodbankca.org. Donate food and diapers. Help sort food at food bank warehouse Holiday Volunteer & Donation Opportunities December 2016.