Nonprofit organizations centered in the West San Fernando Valley received a boost from hundreds of people on Sunday, April 3, during a “day of service.”
They gathered during the early morning at Pierce College and had a variety of projects to select from. The first large service event since the pandemic began, organized by the office of Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), brought large teams of volunteers by partnering with Valley organizations.
“This was an effort to connect the San Fernando Valley to help those in need after two difficult years,” said a spokesperson for Gabriel.
Gabriel’s office said when they first started they only expected to get “50-100 volunteers,” but more than 40 community organizations participated with over 800 volunteers, who fanned out to various locations.
When volunteers adhered to stay-at-home mandates, the need for economic and social support increased for nonprofit organizations that provide assistance for those who are disadvantaged.
Now, as in-person events are being held, there is a high demand for those who are willing to lend a helping hand.
Volunteering is recommended as a positive action that can be taken that can provide a sense of purpose, and help to connect with others outside of your household. During the pandemic, a work-from-home economy was established that some companies are now maintaining as more cost effective.
But this arrangement can also limit social interaction. During 2020, 31 percent of people surveyed by the US Census reported symptoms of anxiety or depression which increased to 42 percent the following year.
Various health surveys gauging the mental health impact during the pandemic cited the challenges for those who’ve experienced loss and isolation during the pandemic which, according to healthcare providers, can linger post pandemic.
During the First Annual Day of Service, outreach kits were packed for the unhoused for LA Family Housing. A mural was painted at Garden Grove Elementary School in Reseda. Thank you packages were assembled for healthcare workers at Tarzana Cedars Sinai. Essential items for domestic violence survivors were packaged for Connecting a Caring Community and Haven Hills.
A cleanup was held for neighborhoods and the LA River in Woodland Hills and Canoga Park by the Overdue and Volunteers Cleaning Communities. Graffiti was removed at the Vanalden Cave Trail with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. And a blood drive was held with Cedars Sinai on the Pierce College campus.
By the end of the day much had been accomplished. Volunteers appeared as satisfied as the organizations which had received their help.
“It’s been a complicated and difficult two years, and people are eager to be back together again and do something to make a difference,” Gabriel said. “It was great to see so many friends and to partner with so many amazing people and organizations to serve our community.”