COVID 19 has put extraordinary pressure on communities across the Los Angeles area, as our county had nearly 1.25 million infections and 24,000 deaths to date. While these figures are astronomical, they do not even begin to reveal the toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on families, the vulnerable, our collective well-being, and our overall way of life.
As a result, our network has been working around the clock to assist individuals across Los Angeles County, working night and day to provide services to those in-need. Listed below are a collection of stories of organizations we would like to highlight.
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army in Southern California provided essential services and emergency assistance on a massive scale since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We prioritized continuity and expansion for food assistance and shelter services. In the first 90 days of the crisis, we provided over 40,000 pieces of PPE and N95 masks to frontline healthcare workers and emergency response agencies in the city and county of Los Angeles. In partnership with Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, The Salvation Army rapidly opened four alternate shelters in Los Angeles County through Project Roomkey. In response to Safer At Home orders, we began drive-thru food distributions at our food pantries and held special events to distribute over 7 million meals to date.
Now, more than a year since the beginning of the pandemic, The Salvation Army service centers in Los Angeles are hosting pop-up vaccination clinics, providing accessible care for local residents. We continue to respond to the rising demand and changing needs of our communities and expand our services in Los Angeles.
Habitat for Humanity
In April 2020, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (Habitat LA) launched a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, with the initial intention of providing much needed PPE to frontline health care and emergency workers and nonprofit agencies, but as the economic effects of the pandemic took root, our efforts evolved into providing financial and material relief to low-income families living in the greater Los Angeles area.
Over the course of a year, Habitat LA has provided a broad array of relief. In addition to distributing more than 1 million pieces of PPE to frontline and emergency workers since April 2020, our COVID-19 Emergency Relief fund has provided nearly 2,100 local families with direct support. Because of the generosity of more than 200 donors to this relief fund, we have been able to provide more than 1,300 gift cards for groceries and basic needs, more than 275 baskets of household supplies to help keep families safe, 1,100 technology kits to kids struggling to navigate the world of online learning, more than 10,000 meals to homebound residents, and mortgage and rental assistance to nearly 70 low-income households struggling to stay in their homes. Our donors also helped us provide 50 families with a wholesome Thanksgiving dinner, and an additional 50 families with holiday baskets full of food, gifts, wreaths and gift cards during the month of December, as well as 145 baskets of toys to low-income families within the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Although we have seen a stabilization in many cases in Los Angeles County, there continue to be families in need of support, therefore we will continue to raise funds, and are planning another disbursement of financial and in-kind products, as well as non-perishable foods, during April 2021 and beyond. To make a contribution to this fund, or to learn more, please visit: https://www.habitatla.org/covid-19-emergency-relief-fund/ .
West Valley Counseling Center
West Valley Counseling Center (WVCC) has been providing high-quality, trauma-informed, direct mental health services since 2010. For the past decade, the center’s qualified therapists have worked with individuals, couples, children, traditional families, and non-traditional families to help ease life's burdens while promoting emotional wellness. West Valley Counseling Center has always prioritized serving the most vulnerable populations within our community in order to increase access to high-quality mental health services, at a rate that the community can afford. Historically, the center has prioritized tailoring its programs to focus on meeting the changing needs of the community.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increase in the on-going need for mental health services within our community, adversely impacting the most vulnerable populations at increasing rates. During this time of uncertainty, the clinical staff of WVCC has been available to provide emotional wellness services for individuals, couples, children and families via Telehealth, along with continuing to provide services in-person at both the Tarzana and Ventura location. Providing access to services by utilizing virtual capabilities has continued to increase access to mental services in time in which they are most needed. West Valley Counseling Center believes that resiliency lies within the community and aims to promote this belief through the work that is done, starting with each individual served.
In March 2020, following the outbreak of COVID-19, IsraAID U.S. immediately launched into emergency response mode by providing volunteer support to local food distribution centers across California (SF Bay Area, LA, OC, San Diego). In partnership with the Merage Institute and Team Rubicon, IsraAID tapped into its volunteer network roster, along with recruiting additional participants, to quickly and effectively respond locally by filling a critical volunteer shortage, normally filled by corporate volunteer programs and retirees. Given the large increase in food volume coming through distribution centers as a result of the sudden economic downturn due. IsraAID has stayed the course and remains committed to the communities we serve, with volunteer deployments continuing to the present day as the severity of the crisis is still ongoing. In LA County, for example, an estimated two million people already live with food insecurity. The Covid-19 pandemic further exacerbated the crisis, with an unprecedented estimated 300,00 additional job losses since March 2020 putting low-income families at an even higher risk of going hungry. IsraAID’s LA-based emergency response has now been in operation for six weeks, clocking over 480 volunteer hours to help deliver 80,000 packages. We anticipate the needs to be ongoing for at least the next two-three months and likely beyond.
Since first launching the COVID Emergency Response in March 2020, more than 330 volunteers have deployed to distribute over 125,000 food packages, serving more than 500,000 people across the country. IsraAID’s emergency response not only ensures that beneficiaries receive their food supplies and helps the food banks continue operations, but it also establishes a long-term cadre of locally-based IsraAID volunteers who are willing to step up and be the boots on the ground in the event of future disasters. Learn more and donate here: www.israaid.org
As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Greater Los Angeles area, BAPS Charities volunteers at the LA Hindu Temple mobilized relief and support for essential workers and those hardest hit by the pandemic. Operating under the motto of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Mahraj, “In the joy of others, lies our own,” volunteers embodied the spirit of service, humility and dedication to serve the Los Angeles community. Volunteers gathered and donated much needed PPE, packaged snacks and beverages and hot meals. Donations included:
- 104,000 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as KN95 masks, surgical masks, gloves and face shields.
- 17,000 fresh, hot vegetarian meals
- 8,000 packaged snacks and bottled beverages
- Over 1,000 essentials kits with toilet paper, canned & dry goods, fresh produce, bread and milk
- Over 5,000 pounds of fresh produce, dairy and bread
BAPS Charities and the LA Hindu Temple was honored to donate to and partner with over 30 entities that spanned area hospitals, homeless shelters, testing sites and public safety, city and county agencies. Some partners included: LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Los Angeles Emergency Management Department, LAC+USC Medical Center, Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), Pomona Valley Hospital and Medical Center, Los Angeles Surge Hospital, Dignity Health Care Center, MLK Jr. Community Hospital, LAX Emergency Operations Center, The Midnight Mission, Youth Emerging Stronger (YES) and many more.
BAPS Charities is the charitable arm of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (LA Hindu Temple) in Chino Hills, CA off the 71 freeway. Working in five key areas, BAPS Charities aims to express a spirit of selfless service through Health Awareness, Educational Services, Humanitarian Relief, Environmental Protection & Preservation, and Community Empowerment. For more about our work in the Los Angeles Area, please visit https://www.bapscharities.org/usa/losangeles/