As we continue our slow emergence from a global pandemic, life is beginning to feel more like normal. Schools across Southern California have returned to some form of in-person instruction, and we are now looking forward to graduations and other end-of-the-year celebrations. While these events are greatly modified from the parties of years past, at least we get to have some sort of middle between the Covid car parades of 2020 and the traditions of yesteryear.
Even as we look forward to the elusive end of restrictions and wonder what life will be like following the supposed full opening of the state on June 15, there is still struggle and uncertainty. I know of families in our district who have suffered loss of employment, whether by business closures and layoffs, or the painful decision to leave a job because of childcare or medical considerations. With job loss for some has also come issues with health insurance coverage, food and financial insecurity, and housing uncertainty. With the loss of structure and routine, as well as the strain caused by “safer-at-home” orders, issues of domestic violence have increased and mental health in general has suffered. My own family was not immune to the stress of the seemingly never-ending orders. We have gone through depression and anxiety, and have struggled through an extended period of grief. As we head toward the light at the end of this million mile tunnel, we are still dealing with the effects of the social isolation. All that said, there is hope in the future. And I would also like to encourage that if you are struggling, you do not have to go through the trials of life alone. There is help.
The list below are resources that are available in Los Angeles County. I am familiar with many of the organizations I have linked below, either by my work as a teacher and school board member in the San Gabriel Valley or as a grateful recipient of their assistance at different points in my life.
Mental Health Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 877-726-4727– SAMHSA’s mission is to “reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.” This government-run site is kind of a central site providing information on substance abuse and rehabilitation, mental health provider searches by region, and other related resources. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also linked on the site.
LifeStance Health– LifeStance Health is a network of licensed mental health providers who provide telehealth services. LifeStance is available in 26 states and accepts most health insurance with behavioral health benefits. For us, it was very difficult to find a psychiatrist or therapist who was taking new patients in our area because mental health services are so impacted at the time of writing. LifeStance made this search much easier, and we were happy to find that they accepted our insurance. While appointments are all conducted online, we are able to consistently access services, and this has had a positive impact.
USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work– 866-740-6502– The USC School of Social Work Master of Social Work program offers 12 weeks of free telehealth services to people ages 12 and up seeking counseling services. The program utilizes MSW interns who are supervised by licensed clinical social workers, and who have completed a rigorous program of coursework as well as their semester-long practicum focused on therapeutic methods including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This is one program that we have recommended for many of our families, and my own kids have benefitted from this program early on in the pandemic. To apply for telehealth services, call the number above to begin the registration process with a client navigator.
Food and Housing Assistance
Foothill Unity Center– The Foothill Unity Center does so much more than food distribution. This volunteer organization provides assistance with job assistance, housing, and health resources. There are two food distribution sites in Monrovia and Pasadena, and they even provide pet food assistance for those who need it. On a personal level, the summer before my senior year of high school was particularly difficult financially, and the Foothill Unity Center provided for our back to school needs in an extraordinarily generous manner. I will forever be thankful for the kindness and nonjudgment of the volunteers who made that possible.
San Gabriel Mission– 254 1/2 S. Santa Anita, San Gabriel 91776– The historic San Gabriel Mission Church is not only a popular fourth grade field trip, but it provides food for residents within its parish boundaries. If you live in San Gabriel and need food assistance, the Mission is able to provide it during designated distribution hours, regardless of religious affiliation. The food pantry is currently running on Sundays from 7 am-9 am and is drive-thru only.
Family Promise of San Gabriel Valley– 1005 E. Las Tunas Blvd #525, San Gabriel, California 91776, 626-569-0991– Family Promise is an organization that networks with local churches to provide shelter services for homeless families. Families are housed at different locations each week until they are able find permanent housing. Family Promise also provides a day center where families receive case management services to assess and address their needs, as well as link them to wraparound services through community partnerships. This is an organization that my daughter has volunteered with while she was in her Scout crew, and provides a valuable service to families going through difficult circumstances. Another cool program through Family Promise is the Alhambra Promise. This is a collaboration between the Alhambra Unified School District and Family Promise of San Gabriel Valley, in order to provide housing stability to families within the district who are homeless or at high risk of homelessness.
Medical and Dental Services
Herald Christian Health Center San Gabriel– 923 S. San Gabriel Blvd. San Gabriel, CA 91776,
626-286-8700- This organization has been wonderful in providing Covid19 vaccines to members of the San Gabriel Community. In what seemed like a miracle, they were able to provide enough vaccines for the entire San Gabriel school staff back in March, which was a key step in getting students back to campus for the last quarter of instruction. In addition to their city partnerships, Herald Christian provides medical and dental care, as well as behavioral health and health education services at low or no cost to residents via the following programs: Los Angeles County healthcare programs, Medi-Cal, Medi-Care, and HMO commercial plans. There are also discounted services for qualifying cash patients. In addition to the clinic in San Gabriel, there are community clinics in Rosemead, City of Industry, and San Diego.
El Monte Comprehensive Health Center– 10953 Ramona Blvd, El Monte, CA 91731, 626-434-2500– Run by the Health Services Ambulatory Care Network, the El Monte Comprehensive Health Center provides primary care services to residents living in the San Gabriel Valley. According to WebMD, the center has 23 doctors who cover 16 medical specialties, including dentistry and optometry. Financial services can work with qualifying patients to apply for Medi-Cal and other low-cost Los Angeles County medical coverage. The health center has been there at least since I moved to California. My first memory of the health center was from when I was in fourth grade. We were there to get head lice shampoo. Fun times.
USC School of Dentistry– 925 W 34th St, Los Angeles, CA 90089, 213-740-2800- Being a UCLA fan, I hate to admit that the University of Southern California actually does some wonderful things to help its students and provide community resources. The USC Ostrow School of Dentistry Clinics provide low cost dental services. They also accept Denti-Cal and Delta Dental, and they can work with you to submit claims to other private insurance companies. The student clinic has dental students supervised by expert dentistry faculty to provide quality care at a fraction of the cost of a private dental practice. In addition to the regular clinic and specialties such as endodontics, there is also pediatric dentistry and a special needs clinic.
Academic Supports and After School Programs
Asian Youth Center– 100 W Clary Ave, San Gabriel, CA 91776– The Asian Youth Center has partnered with San Gabriel Unified School District on numerous occasions to provide quality after school programs. My own students have been beneficiaries of some of these programs, but the Asian Youth Center does so much more. Their motto is “Helping Youth Succeed at School, in Work, and in Life!” To that end, the center partners with community agencies as well as generous donors to provide resources to the youth of the San Gabriel area ranging from academic tutoring to food assistance and family support services. They even have programs to address high-promise situations such as gang involvement and other high risk activities that may result in delinquency. The goal is to help youth see the potential for their own success and remove those obstacles to that success.
Boy Scouts of America, GLAAC– For over 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been preparing young men for life. With the creation of co-ed Venturing Crews in 1969, young women have also had the opportunity to learn leadership skills and experience high adventure. Three of my four kids have participated in Scouts, and my eldest earned his Eagle rank at the end of 2019. My husband and I both have been active leaders in Cub Scouts, and I continue to counsel for science and school-related merit badges. We have seen the benefits of a well-run Scouting program both at home and in our schools. Students take pride in their Scout-led service projects and being outdoors is shown to have a positive effect on self-esteem and mental health. For more information, or to find a local pack, troop, or crew in your area, visit Scouting.org. Many Scouting organizations are connected to local schools and churches. In my opinion, the best programs are those that collaborate well with their sponsoring organization. This was our experience serving at our local elementary school. Our pack benefitted from the support of the school and our principal, and the school benefitted from Scout service and students who took pride in their pack and their school.
There are many more resources available in the Los Angeles Area. If you are struggling, please reach out to your clergy, counselor, or even a trusted friend. Honest talk over coffee can be a huge help when with the right person. As we come out of this pandemic, after more than a year of isolation and loss, I hope that not only are you well, but that you will thrive.
For a general resource line, 211la.org is a link to multiple resources. The phone number is 800-339-6993.
The featured image was taken in Washoe County, Nevada in September 2020. There is a story behind the photo. One day I hope to be able to tell it.