JUNE 2015

The full scoop on our people, programs & progress

Dear Friends,
This June, we celebrate the achievements of the 13th cycle of Venice YouthBuild! Venice YouthBuild provides youth ages 18-24 an opportunity to earn their high school diploma, learn valuable employment skills, and redirect their futures.
The students in this year's program have worked tirelessly to achieve their goals and they deserve plenty of recognition. 

Please join us in congratulating the 2015 Class of Venice YouthBuild! 

Support Venice YouthBuild
The success of Venice YouthBuild would not be possible without your support. Contributions to the program ensure that the program remain as successful and comprehensive as past years. 

Make a donation today to support this year's graduation and future generations of YouthBuilders to come. 
Mirror Mirror Recap
Mirror Mirror, John Muir Charter School, & Venice YouthBuild's culminating art show event and open mic/book release fundraiser for student enrichment activities was a huge success! The fundraiser was one of YouthBuild's most successful and student participation and community turnout was wonderful.

PEN USA/JMCS/VYB workshops culminated in this 2nd open mic and book release of Hear Me Out, original student work created during a 3 month poetry workshop series led by Malaika James through PEN USA.


Mirror Mirror (Rachel Bujalski!) helped to connect many artists, musicians, dancers, photographers, and spoken word artists with our students in one-on-one creative workshops. 


Alondra Vasquez, current YouthBuild student who participated in many painting, stenciling, and water color workshops, says, "Mirror Mirror experience was an opportunity to collaborate with different artists to make art pieces... I enjoyed meeting new people who I connected with... people who helped me keep going and keep painting because painting takes away my stress." 

Gabriel Sanchez, current YouthBuild student who worked with photographer Mark Lord over several weeks says, "at first it felt strange because Mark Lord trusted me with his camera to take it for a whole week and I was really psyched and happy... I guess what I got out of it was confidence and photography skills... I learned that I can make people smile with a picture and that makes me feel happiness. I might take it as a career in the future."

Giovany Martinez, current YouthBuild student and soon to be high school graduate says, "to me it was the best experience to work with different people in photography and art because it opens the mind and doors... Doing all that you can feel relief for whatever you're going through... it's not just for fun but a way to relieve what's going on in your life... helps you to feel happiness and move forward in life..."


In regards to the PEN USA poetry workshops "I felt comfortable in the poetry workshops to speak on whatever topics we wrote about like things that were going on in my life, the person I am now, my love life, and I can say how different people can be without a father or a mother... it was a great experience because I never really spoke on what I wrote that was so personal before... it was uplifting to hear that I wasn't the only one experiencing certain things... poetry is healing because without that a lot of people would be able to speak on their experiences and be open about that... This is my first time getting published and it is exciting."

Celebrate with Us! Graduation on June 26th



A special thank you to our graduation host & program partner, Santa Monica College and Debra Joseph-Locke from the EOPS/CARE Program, as well as our volunteer tutor Ali Amin for a generous donation to the event.  The graduation is fast approaching - June 26 - and we're excited for our graduates, their families, and partners to share in this momentous occasion. 

The More the Merrier

Venice Community Housing and Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services formalized a partnership to address the mental health needs of YouthBuild students.  A therapist from their Mar Vista Child and Family Program provided a presentation on transition prep and discussed mental health and substance abuse prevention resources available for students during this time of major change.


Venice YouthBuild's Life Skills partners, the CLARE Foundation and Westside Family Health Center, closed out their Life Skills classes this month. Many youth received a Certificate of Completion for Westside Family Health Center's 12-hour "Peer Health Educator Training".  


Case Managers have helped students prep for their CA written Driver's License exam including scheduling the exam and reviewing test materials. Many of our YouthBuild students will be taking this exam over the next month. 

Award Winning Community Service
Students serving meals at the Union Rescue Mission

When entering the program, all students recited the AmeriCorps pledge and joined 80,000 Americans in national service. 19 members have already completed over 450 hours of community service and been awarded the Segal Education Award for college. This year's class has done an amazing job building affordable housing and installing free solar panels. They also fought to improve food access by volunteering at community gardens and food banks, distributing food to the unhoused community and VCH's 195 units of affordable housing. They protected beaches through Heal the Bay beach cleanups, and supported animals at Found Animals. Program participants also served meals at Union Rescue Mission and helped paint and beautify Safe Place for Youth. With the help of mentors, they culminated by advocating around issues including homelessness, workers' rights, youth justice, public art and community gardens. Members complete their service knowing that they're a valuable resource to their communities.


Many thanks to all of our service learning mentors!

Students volunteering at Found Animals 
Volunteer Spotlight

One of the keys to the success of Venice YouthBuild trainees is its support network. We would like to thank all of the tutors and mentors who lend their talent, resources and compassion to our students every week! This includes long-time volunteer tutors David Borden and Ali Amin and new contributors Dan Genetti, Amy York Rubin, Judy Branfman and Fatima Rider. Your one-on-one and group support led to many students overcoming obstacles to earn their high school diplomas and improving their skills for their futures. Also thanks to Karen Henry who has been a long-term support for students and alumni as they prepare for college and careers. Volunteers open doors!

For volunteer opportunities with Venice YouthBuild, please contact Sarah Norman at snorman@vchcorp.org
Transitioning On... 

The YouthBuild students completed a comprehensive job readiness life skills curriculum this year. They built on their computer literacy skills by learning Microsoft Office and establishing a professional email address. 29 students successfully completed the entire computer literacy training. With a strong foundation in computer literacy, the students began undertaking a full Workplace Harassment and Safety training and certification process. For many of the students in the program, the training was their first exposure to understanding different protected classes. After the training was completed, 32 students retained the material from the certification, passing their assessment tests.

Moving forward with the job readiness curriculum, the YouthBuild students continued their training to ensure they:

  • Are ready for the workplace and entry-level employment
  • Have the initiative to prepare themselves for a job
  • Have a professional resume and cover letter
  • Can fill out and submit a job application
  • Maintain punctuality and professionalism
  • Have the public speaking skills to interview for a job
  • Know how to conduct effective job searches


Venice YouthBuild also partnered with John Muir Charter School and HIRE LA Youth to assist students achieving a Work Readiness Certificate.  Similar to the goals of Venice YouthBuild, the Work Readiness Certificate validates the students' work experience, job skills training, workplace preparation, and eligibility for entry-level job placements and internship opportunities.  A total of 9 students were certified for the Work Readiness Certificate. Throughout the year students were also exposed to a variety of post-secondary opportunities through college tours, job fairs, and different local Unions. 


Thus far, 13 students have already found part time, or full-time employment and 5 students currently enrolled in local community colleges with the goal of all YouthBuild graduates continuing to work towards a career path.

Building a Better Future

At Venice YouthBuild, students spend 40% of their time in construction and job skills training. Students work to earn their Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Training (PACT) certificates. There are four key components in the PACT training, which must be completed in order for our students to obtain a certificate. These key components are:

1. Basic Safety
2. Hand Tools
3. Power Tools
4. Basic Construction Framing

This year, 30 students passed the test and are PACT certified.


YouthBuild students at on-site construction training


Throughout the year, Venice YouthBuild students get a chance to work with one of our partners, GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit organization that installs solar panels for low income families all over LA County. Our students get hands on experience and learn what it takes to install a solar system in homes. They also learn about how to save energy and how it helps the environment.


We also take our students to visit and learn about different unions that are also committed to help our student get in the union track or on a union path.


2nd Successful Year with EnerPath

June marks the end of our 2nd successful EnerPath year where alumni have outreached to small businesses throughout West Los Angeles and beyond on behalf of LADWP to sign them up for free energy upgrades.  Emanating from the RePower LA Campaign, some of our alumni, as well as a few other community based organizations, have been working hard to help green the city through the SBDI Program (Small Business Direct Install Program) as they outreach to small business owners and sign them up for free energy upgrades through LADWP. This year, our organization has been able to upgrade about 30 small businesses alone, and amongst the other CBOs over 200 small businesses throughout Los Angeles have been upgraded.  Because of this success, we will be continuing this work through the RePower LA Campaign and EnerPath through January 2016, and this will allow us to train and employ new graduates from this cycle.


EnerPath employees working
Case Management

The Venice YouthBuild students come to the program with aspirations of overcoming personal, academic, and professional obstacles. Most come from low income households and had to sacrifice their own education to help provide financially or help with younger siblings.  Many youth come in with no long term goals, no professional skills, or even an idea of what they want to do aside from earn a High school Diploma and find a job.  In addition to the personalized curriculum the program provides, two case managers meet individually with students to help them set long term goals to overcoming adversity. In order to do this, we meet with each youth at the beginning of the program to set short and long term goals.  We provide a support system that participants have never had to encourage their success.  Case managers meet with each student a minimum of once a month to support progress in the achievement of set goals and also collaborate with other departments to help map out the student's success. 


Case Manager Jonah Katende speaking to a student


By Barbara Milliken



As shown below, evaluation of the highly successful, inaugural Venice Design Series by its organizing committee was serious business.  The effort, enhanced by a potluck of great dishes provided by committee members, got down to the pluses and minuses with a view to improving next year's VDS.   

            Despite the overwhelming kudos and very high net income for VCH, important suggestions were noted and will be considered in planning the next event.  The committee consists entirely of volunteers, except for Linda Lucks, staff Community Outreach and Special Events, and event expert, Barbara Baumann, who also hosted the meeting.



Organizing Committee.  Miriam Zarraga, Linda Lucks, Lynne Southerland, Sheila Goldberg, Susan Moore, Barbara Milliken, Nancy Griffin, Tom Paris, Sylvia Aroth, Donna Manders, Barbara Bauman;  Not pictured:  Jay Griffith, Tiffany Rochelle, Jennifer Hughes.




The committee discusses VDS events.




            Six gung-ho Google volunteers responded to Max Harris' call for help and dug in May 9, 2015 to contribute their muscle power and enthusiasm to help VCH's clients.  They showed up at VCH's Inglewood Blvd. property and, under the direction of Max's supervisors, including Clarence Dorsey, accomplished a number of projects, including painting, soil preparation for an outdoor patio, construction of planters and tables.  The area looks great as a result! The finished patio will feature a barbeque and picnic tables and be a welcome asset for VCH's tenants.  Thanks to Google and these great volunteers!


The Google Crew:  Ed Coyne, Jaron Daugherty, Henry Kim, Laura Lamb, Scott Fang, Kyle Morton, l. to r.  Photo:  Jack Prichett


Ed Coyne and VCH's Francisco Urias construct a new planter box, l. to r., while VCH's Clarence Dorsey looks on.   Photo:  Jack Prichett

Jaron Daughtery and Kyle Morton, l. to r., man the paint rollers on patio walls.  Photo:  Jack Prichett

If you're interested in volunteering, learn more about our volunteer opportunities by clicking

here and/or contacting Volunteer Coordinator Barbara Milliken at bmilliken@vchcorp.org or (424) 268-5121.
Until next month,




The mission of Venice Community Housing is to preserve the economic, racial and social diversity of Venice and the surrounding area by maximizing affordable housing and economic development opportunities and providing needed social services to the area's low-income population.  

Support Our Donation Center

Open the 3rd Friday of every month

Our Donation Center is open to all low-income and homeless individuals for "Shop Day" every third Friday of the month. Please consider donating your gently used clothing, small household items, personal hygiene, and cleaning products to those in need. 

Upcoming Shop Days:
June 19
July 17
August 14

Please bring donations to our office located at 720 Rose Avenue in Venice, Mon - Fri 10am-2pm. 
The Los Angeles Unified School District student drop out rate is 17%, compared to California's statewide drop out rate of only 11.6%, according to the California Department of Education.



Eva Grenier, one of Venice YouthBuild's Case Managers, comes with extensive experience working with formerly incarcerated individuals. Prior to VCH, Eva worked with juvenile justice involved youth and the prisoner re-entry population. 


Eva, a graduate of Vassar College for undergraduate studies and UCLA for her Master of Social Work, enjoys the unpredictability of her job. She says that no day is the same; there are always new and creative ways to approach needs that come out with positive outcomes.


When not at VCH, Eva can be found hiking, biking, surfing or spending time with her friends.

Quick Links

Wish List

From linens to laptops, Venice Community Housing is always seeking donations for our residents and programs. Please visit our online wish list to see if you can meet any of our current needs!


Our Advisory Board met again this year to strategize how to train and place participants into jobs and career paths. They have continued to be an instrumental resource for the program by providing job placements/leads, assisting with mock interviews and job prep, as well as with community service opportunities and mentorship. As we graduate this cycle, our AB members will continue to play a key role in helping our students get started in their career pathways and into booming industries. 


Advisory Board Members:

Laura Peterson
Hollywood Cinema Production Resources

Eddie De La Riva
YouthSource/Mayor of Maywood

Adewale OgunBadejo
GRID Alternatives

Samanta Quintero
UCLA Labor Occupational Safety & Health (LOSH)

Ana Alvarez
UCLA Labor Occupational Safety & Health (LOSH)

Frank Alvarez
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)

Gabe Dupin
Whole Foods Market Venice 
23rd Annual Jazz at Palms Court
On September 20th, 2015, Venice Community Housing is proud to host our 23rd annual champagne brunch fundraiser, Jazz at Palms Court. Join us for a gourmet brunch, champagne, live jazz, and popular silent auction.

For sponsorship, auction item donation, or advertising opportunities, please contact Development Director, Myrna Pappas at (310) 573-8407 or by email.
P: (310)399-4100 F: (310)399-1130
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