New School Based Mental Health Showing Immediate Results
For struggling families with limited transportation options, it can be a challenge to get to VIP for weekly appointments. To try and ease this burden and expand our impact on the community, staff at VIP’s Community Mental Health Center have worked out an agreement with the Department of Mental Health and the Los Angeles Unified School District to begin offering mental health services at area schools.

Instead of children trying to come into VIP after school, our therapists are traveling out to school sites and spending a portion of their day on campus seeing clients. Right now this program is being offered at four campuses in the neighborhoods around VIP – two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. Staff is negotiating to expand the program soon, and the demand for services on the current campuses continues to rise.

Kristin Martin, LMFT, who supervises the school-based programs, says it is going extremely well and the children are responding very positively. Children meet with their therapists once a week, just as if they were coming to VIP. But instead of having to travel here after school, they can just walk down the hall. Children are being referred for services by school staff, and each week the children’s appointment time changes so they don’t miss the same class every time.

Martin says that by going out to the schools, therapists can better assess just how well a child is doing in their real world environment and see if they are actually making progress. In the short time the service has been offered, in addition to dealing with their trauma children are also showing improved attendance and better grades. As Martin explained, having that extra set of eyes and ears on a child makes them a little more cautious and helps them make better decisions.

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In the News: VIP Gets a Visit from Patt Morrison

VIP Executive Director, Dr. Astrid Heger, recently spent some time giving the Patt Morrison radio show a tour of VIP's clinics and talking about the services that we provide and how they can be of help and support to community development efforts. A portion of the interview was included in a documentary about the Boyle Heights community that aired on Wednesday, March 30. She also participated in a panel discussion in front of a live audience of Boyle Heights community members that aired on Friday, April 1.

You can listen to portions of all of these interviews as well as interviews with other VIP partners and collaborators in the Building a Healthy Boyle Heights initiative being funded by The California Endowment on Patt Morrison's page at the KPCC website.

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Medical Students Take to the Stage to Support VIP
For the ninth consecutive year, the branch of the American Medical Women’s Association at the USC Keck School of Medicine produced a very special two night performance of the world-renowned play The Vagina Monologues to benefit VIP. Produced by and starring already very busy medical students, this special event helped raise awareness about gender based violence and the work that VIP does to protect women and children. In addition to ticket sales, this year AMWA added a silent auction to benefit VIP.

The annual play is only one way in which the women of USC’s AMWA help VIP. Many volunteer as mentors and tutors. They coordinate special monthly arts and crafts activities for the children at the Community Mental Health Center , and organize special drives to collect much needed items for the families that come to VIP. We are very grateful for their generosity and continued commitment.

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VIP Welcomes New Board Chair
At its regular meeting in March, the VIP Board of Directors unanimously elected Birgitta Granberg as its new Chairperson. Ms. Granberg has a long and distinguished career in fundraising and development for nonprofit organizations and major universities. Ms. Granberg has served on the Board since 2007, but has been an active volunteer and supporter for many years. She first met Dr. Heger when she was working in development at the USC Keck School of Medicine and was instrumental in the move to create the VIP Community Mental Health Center as an independent nonprofit organization and in the creation of VIP’s key support group – H.E.A.R.T. – which raises close to $100,000 each year to provide direct support to children and families in need at VIP. Ms. Granberg currently works as the Director of Development for the College of Business Administration at Loyola Marymount University.

At this same meeting, the Board said goodbye to longtime member, Lou Mele, who has served three consecutive terms on the Board and has served as the Chair for the past several years. Mr. Mele has been on the Board since the inception and incorporation of VIP as a nonprofit organization in 2002. Mr. Mele has been a powerful advocate for the best interests of children and other victims VIP serves, and his passion and sincerity will be missed. While Mr. Mele had reached his term limit with the Board, VIP looks forward to his continued involvement and support.

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