An Eventful May at Penny Lane Centers- Past Events

June 6, 2024

The AV-TAY Center Gets a Visit from the Kirikiriroa Family Service Trust Team

Greetings from the TAY Center!

Our TAY team recently had the pleasure of meeting with members of the Kirikiriroa Family Service Trust team. Dr. Nicole Coupe and Sara Farmer traveled to the US from Hamilton, New Zealand looking collaborate with other social service programs like our TAY Drop-in Center.

The Kirikiriroa Family Service Trust extends its embrace to families facing adversity, offering a lifeline of support and solidarity. From counseling services and transitional housing, to parenting workshops and their youth led Hub, Kirikiriroa is a sanctuary of empathy and understanding.  With their services individuals and families find the strength to overcome challenges and chart a course towards brighter tomorrows. With its roots firmly planted in the community soil, Kirikiriroa fosters connections that nourish the soul and sow the seeds of resilience.

Penny Lane and Kirikiriro share a vision of a world where every individual is valued, supported, and empowered to thrive. The Penny Lane TAY Drop-in Center and Kirikiriroa Family Service Trust are excited to see what future collaboration is in store and create opportunities to empower our youth to build their dreams, resilience, and fulfillment.

During our visit it was apparent that when hearts unite in service to others, wonders can unfold, and communities can flourish. The TAY team felt blessed to have been able to spend some time with Nic and Sara, learning about their culture, creating friendship, and becoming a part of each other’s story.

-Alyssa Humphrey, Penny Lane Centers

Relative Support Service (RSS) Shines at SPA 2 Resource Parent Appreciation Luncheon

On May 21st, our Relative Support Service (RSS) program proudly attended the SPA 2 Resource Parent Appreciation Luncheon at Shepard Church. This heartfelt event was a collaboration between the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and community partners to honor and celebrate the dedication and hard work of our Resource Parents.

The day was packed with enriching activities, including mindfulness practices, a delicious lunch, and exciting raffle giveaways. One of the standout moments was when Penny Lane Centers’ Relative Support Service Program received a Certificate of Recognition from DCFS. This certificate recognized the RSS program’s outstanding teamwork, support, and services provided to LA County Resource Families and the Resource Family Support Liaison Unit.

We were also delighted to recognize one of our own Penny Lane Resource Parents—a dedicated grandfather of five. Despite numerous challenges, he has shown unwavering commitment to the care of his grandchildren. Caregivers like him truly embody the spirit and mission of our program.

-Christy Anaya, Penny Lane Centers

Check out some more photos below!

Crocheting- Full Circle

I learned to crochet at age 12.  Gosh, that feels like one hundred years ago…lol.  During that time, schooling and extracurricular activities were better supported by government dollars.  This was needed for a young girl growing up in a rough South-Central neighborhood.

However, it wasn’t public assistance that taught me to crochet.  It was a sweet little volunteer grandmother who’d come to our afterschool program. Now, I AM that grandma’ -sometimes sweet, sometimes not so much…lol.

Seriously, I am privileged to pay things forwards as I engage our Sun Commons (SC) community in this art.  We had our first session recently, and what a full circle of joy it was for me.  Participants seemed to enjoy the activity as well. Though, it was frustrating for beginners. We baby -stepped our way as we covered the basic stitch. Witnessing the relationship and community building aspect was nice too.  It’s exciting watching the community bond over many activities led by our amazingly creative Activities Coordinator, Evelyn Pacheco and equally talented, Janey Valdez, Case Manager. Our newest addition, Laura Galvan (MSW intern), joined the fun as well. She has committed to having a scarf crafted before she completes internship.

Participants received an attendance booklet which is stamped “handmade” each time they come.  When they reach five stamps, we hope to reward them with a little crochet kit of their own- TBS showing up at SC. We welcome donated yarn, needles etc., that you no longer need. 😊

We’d like to grow this activity to the level of creating scarves, blankets and hats- that would be something’ to see! Did you know that crocheting is not just fun, it also facilitates self-regulation? Well, that’s once you get past the learning phase. It’s like meditating which increases serotine in the brain. What?!  Yep.  That’s why those in my household have received birth blankets (with matching scarves and hats), Christmas blankets, and going away to college blankets. 😊

So, as we build from one single stitch, we’d like to keep you posted with our progress. But for now, look at a few photos that captured the fun we had a few weeks ago, all while learning a good behavioral skill - self-regulation.

-Cynthia Shackelford, Penny Lane Centers

Check out some more photos below!

The Penny Lane SUD Team "Takes Action!"

Penny Lane Centers Substance Use Disorder (SUD)  program was part of various outreach tabling events in the month of May with the Department of Mental Health’s (DMH) - “The Take Action LA.” During one of our tabling events, I met Melesia Higuera from 3rd Step Ministry, she invited us to attend their conference and table at their Resource Fair to showcase our services. Thank you, Melesia!

Their goal was to provide mental health strategies and practices for those that serve the communities. Service providers were able to learn the essential components of the Trust-Base Relational Intervention (TBRI), as an effective, evidence-based model for providing support of and treatment to individuals who have experienced trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that often lead to destructive behaviors.

3rd Step Ministry focuses on these principles to assist with better connecting with clients. TBRI is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention designed to meet the needs of vulnerable individuals; it can be used immediately to strengthen relationships with clients and improve client connections with their children. Throughout the conference, on every table, in goodie bags, and on decorations, these words stood out-Empowering, Connecting & Correcting. 3rd Step Ministry seeks to restore women from brokenness to wholeness by connecting them to life-changing opportunities and resources.

They are a nonprofit that has been supporting women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction for over 20 years. Providing support groups, workshops, workwear, scholarships, events and tools to assist women on their journey of sobriety. Melesia shared “we believe when you change the woman of the home, you change the family, you change the city, you change society and in turn you change the world.”  

Thank you, 3rd Step Ministry, for the invitation to be part of an amazing conference, it was a pleasure to be part of such a beautiful event. We look forward to collaborating in the future.

-Jeniffer Barraza-Garcia, Penny Lane Centers

Check out some more photos below!

Chess Tournament Triumphs in the AV: A Grand Success!

In honor of mental health awareness month, the AV Outpatient Clinic held their second annual Chess Tournament for youth on May 21st, 2024.

The turnout was great and several youths of different ages, ranging from 6 to 15 -years-old, were able to attend and put their chess skills to the test in a 16-person-double-elimination tournament (almost doubling our turnout from last year)!

In the past year we have noticed some clients benefited by playing chess, They seem to have improved engagement in sessions, improved focus, and reduced anger outbursts. I personally had a client last year that displayed anger outbursts during our sessions. Once I introduced chess into our sessions, I noticed the client’s outbursts decreased, and both his engagement in the sessions and his mood improved.  

According to, playing chess enhances brain function, boosts memory and cognitive skills, fosters strategic thinking, sharpens attention, and may even stave off dementia.  Additionally, highlights further advantages of chess, such as boosting confidence, promoting calmness under pressure, teaching children how to handle wins and losses, improving problem-solving skills.

AV Chess Club president Steve Custodio attended the event to provide a basic chess tutorial to those interested in learning how to play the game of chess.

At the end of the tournament, the winners were Nathan (1st Place), Theseus (2nd Place), and Edmond (3rd Place), each receiving a trophy and brand-new chess board to commemorate their achievements. The participants demonstrated respect for the game and each other by shaking hands before and after the matches, regardless of the outcome. Families had the opportunity to cheer for their children as they enjoyed some pizza, beverages and raffle prizes!

Our families thoroughly enjoyed the Chess Tournament and are eagerly looking forward to participating in next year's event and other future activities!

-Mario Cruz-Martinez, Penny Lane Centers

Check out some more photos below!

Aaron Schwartzbart Gives Back to Our Foster Youth

It was great to see Aaron this weekend at the Warner Center car show put on by LAPD. Aaron runs Motor Gospel ministries who operates a 501 C3  an anti- street racing campaign in cooperation with LAPD . His message is, how can we influence the next generation to make the community a safer place? His simple prayer is that speed belongs at the track and not on the street. This Saturday I met a lot of the foster youth who are participating in his street racing events.

Thank you Aaron for giving back to our community.

-Erik Ingebrigtsen, Penny Lane Centers

Check out some more photos below!