As I prepared my thoughts for this letter, I revisited the words I wrote to you last year. In reading them, I recalled the relief I felt that 2020 was over and we were entering a more hopeful 2021. This year didn’t turn out to be the relief we anticipated, with ongoing COVID-19 struggles and a sense of continued uncertainty about what the future would bring.
That uncertainty is hard for everyone. I see the impact of this in my own loved ones, in the tired faces of Guidance Center staff and, very clearly, in the struggles our children and families bring to us at TGC. Despite all this, I could not be prouder of this organization I have the honor of leading. The staff rallied, as always, and we continued to be there for the children, families and communities that needed us most in important and innovative ways.
As an agency …
• we continued meeting the needs of our clients, over Zoom or telephone and for our most vulnerable children, seeing them in person, safely and masked but still together. We treated 3,250 children over 81,283 hours of care.
• we provided more than $50,000 in emergency assistance to our clients who struggled to meet the most basic needs such as food, utilities or rent. We helped keep families together, housed, fed and safe thanks to grants and contributions from our supporters.
• we partnered with the Long Beach Unified School District, through the efforts of our External Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force, and hired two bilingual therapists to implement a district-wide, emergency response team to decrease police presence on school campuses, decrease suspensions and expulsions, and increase safety and emotional wellness for all students. This is a first of its kind partnership between schools, law enforcement and mental health to bring much needed supportive services to our children.
• our External DEI Task Force also created an implicit bias training program that has been piloted at a local Los Angeles area school, with the goal of expanding to other local schools. We were able to utilize our relationships with local schools to support community efforts toward equity for our most disenfranchised populations.
• we launched First Response Mental Health Training for first responders nationwide. In partnership with the Los Angeles Area Training Group (LAATG), Los Angeles Area Fire Chiefs Association (LAAFCA), and the Long Beach Fire Department, this eight-video training series provides first responders across the country with the tools to readily identify the signs of mental illness in the field and de-escalate these encounters.
• we provided support groups specifically designed for healthcare workers and first responders thanks to a generous grant from the Long Beach Community Foundation. It is our hope that these groups brought community, belonging and healing to those who have been in the pandemic since the beginning and who are most regularly experiencing the devastating impact of COVID-19.
I am so incredibly grateful to the wonderful Guidance Center staff who come to work every day, giving their all to support our mission of bringing vital mental health support where it is most needed. I am equally grateful to the friends and supporters who help us to do our work. In difficult times, it is more important than ever to find hope wherever you can. I find it in the Guidance Center family.
Happy holidays, and best wishes for the restorative 2022.
Patricia Costales, LCSW
Chief Executive Officer