May 17, 2024

Long Beach Expansion Celebration Recap

On Thursday May 16, 2024, Friends of the Children – Los Angeles gathered with supporters, community leaders, and friends to celebrate a significant milestone... the expansion of our program into South Los Angeles County!

The celebration marked an exciting chapter in our mission to provide long-term professional mentoring to children across Los Angeles facing the greatest obstacles.

A Warm Welcome

The celebration began with an enthusiastic welcome from Violet Fenton and Chynna Merritt, Program Director and Family Engagement Director respectively for our Long Beach / South Bay site. Together, they thanked everyone who contributed to this momentous occasion, emphasizing the collaborative effort required to make such growth possible.

"I joined the team because I believe every child deserves a champion who will never give up on them." 

Violet Fenton, Long Beach/South Bay Program Director

Keynote Speeches and Acknowledgments

Executive Director Jorie Das extended thanks to key supporters and partners present at the event, including representatives from:

  • Supervisor Holly Mitchell’s office
  • Supervisor Janice Hahn’s office
  • Councilwoman Mary Zendejas’s office
  • State Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal’s office
  • State Senator Lena Gonzalez’s office

Special thanks were also given to our event sponsors — AT&T, Umpqua Bank, and Metro — as well as our board of directors, the Hilton Foundation, the Department of Mental Health, and DCFS.

Honoring Our Supporters

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of a commemorative scroll by Nick Holden from Supervisor Janice Hahn’s office. This gesture symbolized the significant investment and support from local leaders and the Department of Mental Health, enabling Friends LA to expand into every Service Planning Area of LA County, starting with Long Beach.

Community Partnerships

Austin Metoyer from the Downtown Long Beach Alliance spoke briefly, expressing excitement about supporting Friends LA’s work in the community. His words highlighted the strong network of local partnerships essential to our mission’s success.


We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who attended and supported our expansion celebration! Your presence and enthusiasm demonstrated the community's unwavering support to seeing youth and families thrive in Long Beach and beyond.

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Forward Momentum

Moving forward, there are several ways you can continue to be involved and support Friends LA:

  • Make a donation: Your financial support ensures we can fulfill our 12-year commitment to the youth in Long Beach. If your company is philanthropic, click here to see if they will match your gift or discover how we can partner with companies.
  • Donate your time: We're seeking community leaders to join our Board of Directors and South Bay community committee. Additionally, we have local team positions available.
  • Follow us @friendsla and spread the word: Help us reach more individuals and families by sharing our mission with your friends and community. Follow us on social media and share our posts.

Once again, thank you for celebrating this milestone with us and for your ongoing support! Together, we're making a lasting impact on the lives of youth and families across Los Angeles County.