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 member of the Pet Care Services Association (formerly the American Boarding Kennel Association), K9 Loft is devoted to offering the best in dog-care services. The large, state-of-the-art facility is kept clean and safe for dogs of any shape, size, and ratio of robot to animal parts. With the daycare service, customers can store their terriers, salukis, or affenpinschers for a full day ($35) in a climate-controlled environment that is constantly supervised by trained staff. The best friends of best friends maintain sanitary conditions throughout the day through use of biodegradable cleaning products. As animal friends socialize with other barkers and snack on Natural Balance hors d’oeuvres, streaming webcams make it possible to view them in action, or inaction, from afar. All dogs are screened and organized into separate groups—including designated areas for non-social dogs—depending on their size and personality.
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.
TreePeople fosters environmental awareness in children from struggling public schools who might otherwise never have the opportunity to experience the beauty of nature. Each year, the organization guides 10,000 elementary school students through a charming urban forest in Coldwater Canyon Park, with more than 1,000 acres of canopied trails and native plantings. Spending time outside among living trees forges a connection with nature that can profoundly improve the quality of life of children residing in an urban landscape. Eco-tours invest students with a greater appreciation for the connections between trees, water, air, and soil and demonstrate that they can bring the calming simplicity and environmental benefits of the forest to their communities.