Founded in 1970, the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center, Inc. strives to improve the mental health of individuals and families. As part of its commitment to treating all people with dignity and helping enhance their quality of life, the center provides services to people of all ages with severe emotional disorders and mental illness, from infants to older adults.
The center's Cornerstone program serves individuals aged 26–59 experiencing mental-health issues and homelessness. Participants in the program can work with a case manager and nurses, plan for shelter and housing, and socialize with their peers. Alternatively, they can simply access showers, lockers, and laundry facilities and receive snacks and meals.
As a child in Buenos Aires, Angel Echeverria would sit on the porch of his family home and watch his aunt and uncle dance the tango. Music often spilled into the streets of his neighborhood, where many tango musicians lived. By the time he was a teenager in the early 1960s, Angel began studying the tango himself, and nearly 50 years later he founded The Tango Room Dance Center with Julie Friedgen. Like Angel, Julie grew up watching her parents’ Argentine friends dance tango at parties, and eventually became a ballet and flamenco dancer. Though she didn’t begin learning the tango until 13 years ago, once she started she immediately knew it was the dance to which she would devote the rest of her life.
Not surprisingly, The Tango Room is dedicated to the Argentine style of dance; many of the instructors hail from Argentina and lead classes in traditional, contemporary, waltz, and milonga variations. On Saturday nights the school transforms into El Encuentro—which translates to “the encounter”—a fast-paced dance party modeled after the tango clubs of Buenos Aires. Beyond tango, the school also hosts classes in salsa, belly dance, and R & B line dancing as well as Zumba and bujinkan, a Japanese martial art.
Food Forward connects people with food by harvesting excess produce from local farms and public spaces, which it distributes to more than 20 food banks and pantries across Southern California. After receiving an invitation, an all-volunteer force meets at a property and picks produce for one to two hours. A pick leader provides tools, organizes the group, and delivers the fruit to a vetted hunger-relief organization that serves it to clients within 72 hours. By conducting 15–20 picks every month, Food Forward aims to demonstrate the abundance of available food that goes to waste and to raise the issues of urban hunger and food justice in the community.
Harvesting Happiness for Heroes supports veterans and their loved ones through workshops and family training as well as online community support and one-on-one coaching. To help address each veteran as a whole person—mind, body, and emotions—HH4Heroes provides a range of therapeutic services including meditation, positive-psychology tools, yoga, and healing arts such as massage and aromatherapy.
Nothing can inspire change like the unfettered creativity of the young mind. Using this philosophy, David Kietzman and Whitney Kasserman developed an eight-week seminar in 2005, during which students could build solutions for their own communities. They explored local needs, wrote grant proposals, and fostered a grassroots movement to create a community pocket garden. With a $10,000 city grant, the youth planted 12 trees and 300 plants and installed benches and a mosaic trash can, creating a green space that was open to everyone.
After the garden’s success, Youth Speak Collective began promoting more “for youth, by youth” year-round programs to help students gain confidence, contribute to their communities, and develop skills they could use to find jobs once they leave school. Subsequently, the organization’s reach has grown. The program sponsors a career internship program, family support, and 24/7 Dad class, which teaches fathering skills and financial literacy to young dads. Additionally, youth can play a fast-paced version of soccer in Club Futbolito or document and address problems in the community with the youth council. For the artistically minded, the visual- and design-arts programs teach youth basic street-design concepts and how to create short films for local businesses.
See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand at the Groupon Grassroots blog.
The traveling coaches of Rise Up Basketball know that many virtues of great players are invisible—their work ethic, for example, or ability to cooperate with team members. So, when practicing with their clients, they focus on physical, mental, and social skills. Drills on shooting and passing merge with teamwork exercises and game-like scenarios that demand quick thinking, all of which occur at a local park or gym of the player's choosing. Whether they're guiding a single person, a group, or an active team, the instructors strive to build overall athleticism, no matter the student's age or initial skill level.