RMT’ers, have you cleaned out your closets recently? I did a few weeks ago. It was long overdue and apparently sorely needed. My three-hour long morning effort (that quick thanks to a good friend who told me to “get rid of it!” when I hemmed and hawed over nostalgic items; everyone needs that friend when cleaning out their closet, by the way), I gathered up three trash bags full of stuff I no longer need, want, and/or wear. Most of this stuff went to a friend who I call my “hand me down twin” but a handful of the items were pieces she neither wanted nor needed, namely gently used or hardly worn semi-formal gowns and more professional office-type attire.
The fact I even had these clothes spoke to just how long this stuff had been hanging around; I haven’t been to a semi-formal anything in at least two years, and I haven’t worked in an office setting for almost 10 (!). Yeah, time to say bye-bye… but given the condition these items were in (some only worn once or twice, some even still had tags on it!), where should I take them? Who could really use and want them? Some of these items were quite special to me in a past life, but I knew they still had some life left in them for someone else who could really use them. I also didn’t want to just drop them off anywhere.
Earlier this week I contacted Star View Community Services here in Long Beach (CA). This is a local non-profit mental health and social services organization operated under the Stars Behavioral Health Group dedicated to serving youths and families with severe mental health and behavioral needs. I’d learned from a fellow mom in our playgroup that they have formal and job coaching programs where the clothes would be given directly to families in immediate need. What a perfect fit!
When I arrived at the Long Beach Office, I was greeted by Noel, whom I’d been in touch with a few days before in email and by phone. She was sincerely grateful for the small bag of clothes and eager to tell me more about their organization when I asked. I admitted that I hadn’t heard much about them other than they could use the clothes. I simply trusted my friend that this would be a great place to support; after talking with Noel for just five minutes, I learned it was not just a great place to support for the people being helped but for those doing the helping. It was easy to tell from speaking with her that she’s passionate about the work Star View does. I am so glad to have found this group in our local community.
From the thank you letter I received: “Star View serves over 1,500 youth between 5-to-19 years of age, and they are referred primarily through the Departments of Mental Health and Children and Family Services, Special Education, and Probation. Many of our youth have been removed from their biological families due to neglect, drug use, physical and/or sexual abuse and abandonment.
“Star View offers a unique team approach to treatment that is based on establishing relationships with family, foster families, teachers, psychiatrists, social workers, probation officers, therapists, and other community-based programs to provide the highest quality of care to our clients. Our goal is to stabilize youth in a permanent home maintained by community services and supports which further allows for a strong and sustainable partnership between families, communities, and professionals.”
The group also works with local school districts throughout Los Angeles County. You can find a link to their school-based programs here.
I’m passing along this information today because I support our local youth, ALL of our local youth. While our family does not need Star View’s services at this time, maybe you, someone else you know, or another organization you work with (your school perhaps?) needs to know that they exist and are there to help. And even if you don’t need them, they for sure need all of us behind them in their efforts, be it through a bag of clothes or other donations. I know if I ever hear of their funding being cut I’ll be at their door with a check in hand (again small like the bag of clothes, but it’s something).
I know that talking about mental health isn’t always easy, but it’s so necessary, not just for those who need the help directly but for our community in whole. The healthier we all strive to become, the better our community’s potential overall. What better way to begin than with our youngest and potentially brightest stars?
Thanks again to Star View Community Services’ Steve Albrecht in the Regional Office and to Noel Benjamin-Barrera in the Long Beach Office for coordinating the drop-off of my very small donation. If you have your own clothing or other items for donation in the Long Beach area, please contact Noel (562-427-6818, ext. 114; firstname.lastname@example.org). Dr. Natalie Spiteri (email@example.com; 310 373 4556 ext. 123) is another administrator involved with the Formal and Job Training programs and is available also for further questions or to make arrangements regarding donations . Star View Community Services is at 100 E. Wardlow Rd., Long Beach, CA 90807; you can find more locations throughout California here. For more about Star View’s core values and goals, please go here.