Category Archives: Recent News

Deborah Wang

VIP Volunteer Spotlight: Deborah Wang

Deborah Wang, a recent graduate from UCLA, was visiting a high school campus located in an affluent neighborhood when she immediately recognized a stark contrast to her own experience.

“When I played tennis they didn’t even have lights on the courts, so when it hits nighttime you’re done,” Deborah said. “Your match is over, because you can’t see.”

The recognition of these differences inspired Deborah to use her Physiological Science degree from UCLA to benefit future generations as a teacher.

“A lot of people that go into my [major] think, ‘I either become a doctor or a researcher’,” she said. “I wanted to turn around and give that same fascination in science to [others].”

Deborah’s overwhelming desire to help disadvantaged students gain a greater appreciation for science brought her to the Violence Intervention Program, where she recently taught a 1st grade girl how to do double digit addition and subtraction.

“That was a shining moment for both of us,” Deborah said.

At an early age, Deborah’s mother instilled in her a sense of moral responsibility, which she continues to honor through her work as a volunteer.

“What’s special about VIP is that you’re not only helping the community, but [also] children who need that little extra boost so they can excel at school,” she said.

Deborah hopes others will follow her example and invest their time in a cause they support.

“Dip your feet in and try it out,” Deborah said. “If it works out you’ll feel really proud of yourself.”

 

If you are interested in volunteering or have questions about VIP’s volunteer programs, please contact Manny Caro at volunteer@vip-cmhc.org.

Henry Brehman

VIP Volunteer Spotlight: Hank Brehman

Hank Brehman had spent 18 years of his life in Chicago when the opportunity to study abroad in India presented itself.

“The culture shock really opened my mind,” he said. “There is an entire world out there.”

Interacting with the people of India and immersing himself in their day-to-day struggles forced Hank to reexamine how his actions affected others.

“Now I think, ‘How does this impact the world?’,” Hank said. “I think from a global perspective.”

When he first arrived as a volunteer at the Violence Intervention Program, Hank began noticing many similarities between the children he met in India and Michael, a 5th grade student he currently tutors at the Mental Health Activity Center.

“At first [children] are reserved,” he said. “After weeks of teaching them, they start to open up.”

Each Friday, Hank exposes Michael to a myriad of topics that range from civic lessons on the roles of each branch of government to learning how to speak Chinese.

“I really like seeing the progress he makes,” Hank said. “He’ll relate what I’m teaching him to something I taught him before.”

Hank considers his work as a volunteer to be incredibly rewarding and credits VIP for helping him realize how much he enjoys teaching others. Currently a student at Santa Monica College, Hank hopes to pursue a career that allows him to see more of the world while leaving his mark on it.

 

If you are interested in volunteering or have questions about VIP’s volunteer programs, please contact Manny Caro at volunteer@vip-cmhc.org.

Van Chienh

VIP Volunteer Spotlight: Van Chienh

Prior to volunteering as a tutor at the Violence Intervention Program’s Mental Health Activity Center, Van Chienh struggled to make meaningful connections with children.

“I was never really good with kids in the beginning,” Van said.

Then she met Violet a quiet and shy 5-year-old girl who mirrored many of Van’s own tendencies when she and her family first arrived from Vietnam. Over time, Van began to recognize the signs of familiarity and comfort Violet exhibited during sessions of arts and crafts.

“We were able to talk a lot more and I was able to interact with her like a big sister,” Van said. “…[Children] know that they are safe [at VIP].”

Van’s experiences at VIP forced her out of her comfort zone, completely redefining how she perceives and approaches children.

“Honestly, what I learned from the kids here is that they are actually a lot smarter than we think they are,” Van said. “…It’s better to treat them as young adults and if they don’t know something, teach them.”

Only weeks away from graduating with a Psychology degree from Mount St. Mary’s University, Van hopes to channel what she’s learned at VIP and experienced in her own life to empower others to openly discuss issues vital to their psychological and emotional well-being.

“There are a lot more people out there…that went through the same thing they did,” Van said. “It is okay for [someone] to open up if they want to as long as they are comfortable with it.”

 

If you are interested in volunteering or have questions about VIP’s volunteer programs, please contact Manny Caro at volunteer@vip-cmhc.org.

Toy Room 4

VIP’s 2016 Annual Holiday Toy Drive is Here!

It’s time for VIP’s Annual Holiday Toy Drive! As the year comes to a close, one of our most favorite times of year begins. We cherish this time because we get to spread smiles to the hundreds of children and families we serve, many of whom have not had a reason to smile for quite some time. But we need your help to make this possible.

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IMG_1810

VIP Spotlight: Manny Caro, Community Engagement Coordinator

Manny Caro is the new Community Engagement Coordinator at the Violence Intervention Program, responsible for recruiting and supporting volunteers for all programs including mentoring, tutoring, child care, our Education Center, and special events. Since joining VIP in March, Manny has been committed to growing our volunteer programs in order to better serve the kids that walk through our doors every day.

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Shadows of a two children boys on street

A Mentor for Joshua

After losing his mother at just eight years old, Joshua fell into a major depression, becoming angry, disengaged, and began struggling in school. He had numerous physical fights with peers, refused to do school work, and was uncooperative with his teachers and adoptive grandparents. After coming to VIP earlier this year, Joshua worked with his therapist to process the loss of his mother and has been showing a more positive outlook at school and at home.

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Hooded boy silhouetted in an underground tunnel

Youth at the Edge

One recent Friday night, a 13-year-old boy spent 14 hours sleeping in a chair in our clinic waiting room. A desperate search was on to find a foster home, group home, a member of his family, someone who would take this boy and provide a safe place for him. Finally, another facility offered to let him wait in their lobby while they identified a place for him to sleep. The nights in our Children’s Village are filled with children who seek safety.

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Hope Center for Teens - Artist Rendering_CROPPED

Wynn Family Grants Matching Challenge

The Elaine P. Wynn and Family Foundation has announced a $250,000 Matching Grant for VIP’s Hope Center for Teens, now under construction. This generous challenge was presented by Elaine Wynn, her daughter Kevyn, and her other daughter and H.E.A.R.T. Board member, Gillian, with the caveat that VIP match this amount from individual and family foundations by June 30th.

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crop eunice

VIP Spotlight: Eunice Rios, MD

Dr. Eunice Rios serves as the Medical Director at the Adolescent Care & Transition (ACT) Clinic located within the VIP Children’s Medical Village. After graduating from Stanford Medical School, Dr. Rios trained at the competitive Internal Medicine-Pediatrics residency at LAC+USC Medical Center.

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Back2School

8th Annual Back to School Drive

It’s already time for VIP’s 8th Annual Back to School Drive! For children in foster care and families struggling with overcoming violence in their homes, finding the resources to go back to school prepared to succeed can be overwhelming. This is why each August, the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) collaborates with partners, like you, to give our clients and their siblings brand new backpacks full of school essentials.

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