How to Donate and Volunteer in Los Angeles During the Coronavirus

Updated 5/6 It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 2 months since the Los Angeles Mayor told us we’d be Safer at Home – because it feels like it’s been this way for a thousand years. There are many ways people can volunteer and help out people in need in Los Angeles. Thousands of kids are going without the regular meals they get from schools and many parents are without a paycheck. 

If you’re looking for ways to help, here is a list of organizations collecting everything from food to diapers to money. Please let everyone know about any other volunteer or donation opportunities in the comments. 

Los Angeles Regional Food Bank

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is asking for monetary donations to help feed everyone that needs assistance. The coronavirus closures are disproportionately impacting lower-income families. “The Food Bank is working hard to meet this extra need, but we need your help. School closures, quarantines, business shut-downs and reduced work schedules all impact access to food.” For more information, click here.

No Kid Hungry is helping kids during the cononavirus pandemic.

No Kid Hungry

No Kid Hungry is asking families to help ask Congress pass emergency SNAP funding for low-income families and donate to help feed kids missing out meals provided at school. No Kid Hungry is diverting resources to the hardest-hit communities, providing emergency grants for the hardest-hit communities and helping get information out to families. More information can be found here.

City of Los Angeles COVID-19 Response and Relief Fund

The City of Los Angeles has set up the COVID-19 Response and Relief Fund to help provide support for families, relief for healthcare workers, equipment for health response, services for unhoused neighbors and research. More information can be found here.

Project Angel Food has an urgent call for donations due to coronavirus.

Project Angel Food urgent call for volunteers and donations

Project Angel Food is asking for volunteers to help out during the COVID-19 crisis. More than 60 percent of their clients are over 60 and need help getting meals and some of their volunteers have canceled shifts. They are also asking for donations to meet the needs of more people requiring assistance. You’ll find more information including safety procedures here.

United Way of Greater Los Angeles Pandemic Relief Fund

The United Way of Greater Los Angeles has set up a Pandemic Relief Fund “to support L.A. County’s unsheltered residents who are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, and low-income individuals, students and families at imminent risk of homelessness and hardships due to health and economic impacts of coronavirus. Currently, an estimated 59,000 people are experiencing homelessness on any given night, without the ability to obtain consistent shelter or health care, and 1.7 million working families in L.A. struggle in poverty.” Donations will help support public health programs, prevent homelessness, provide support for low-income students and support for nonprofits. For more information, click here.

Cedars Sinai needs blood donations

Cedars Sinai is asking people to donate blood due to cancelations of local blood drives. They said this in an email. “Due to a decline in community blood drives, we are asking that our generous blood donors continue to share their good health and help us maintain adequate blood inventories during this uncertain time.” Click here to learn more and see if you are eligible to donate and information about visiting the donation center.

A Place Called Home, which provides services for young people in South Central Los Angeles, has had to close to visitors due to the COVID-19 outbreak and had to reschedule a bowling fundraiser – Stars & Strikes. But don’t worry, it’s now a virtual fundraiser. For more information, click here. 

World Health Organization Solidarity Fundraiser

The United Nations Foundation announced a $20 million matching donations to support global relief efforts for COVID-19. ” The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fundraiser supports WHO’s global efforts to track the outbreak, help patients and frontline workers, and speed up vaccine and treatment development.” Click here for more information.

LA Works is asking for in person and virtual volunteers to help during the stay at home order in Los Angeles due to coronavirus.

L.A. Works virtual volunteer opportunites

L.A. Works organizes volunteers to do good things for people all over Los Angeles. Here’s what they have to say, ” Now, more than ever, we need one another to help get through these unprecedented times. The L.A. Works team has been working tirelessly with our partners to identify critical needs and determine how to best connect volunteers to address and meet those needs.” They are asking for virtual volunteers to set up groups and help seniors. If you have any tech or social media skills, please consider reaching out here to L.A. Works.

L.A. Works hunger-relief volunteer opportunities

L.A. Works is also looking for volunteers to help with hunger relief. Here’s what they say, “The “Safer at Home” order allows food banks to operate so your hungry and homebound neighbors can get what they need.  These food banks desperately need your volunteer help to sort donations, package food kits, or deliver meals.  All banks have incorporated thorough distancing and hygiene procedures.” Follow this link and find out if you can help.

Help a Mother Out diaper drive

The families served by the nonprofit Help a Mother Out are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus crisis. ” We are working with our community partners to anticipate and address the significant increase in diaper need, especially from families who do not receive any form of public assistance, including service employees and undocumented immigrants.” For more information, click here.

Los Angeles Unified School District

LAUSD will open 60 grab & go food centers throughout Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 18 for students in need. They can take home two meals on weekdays. I will update if any donation information becomes available about donations. For a list of Grab & go centers, check here.

There are other ways to help as well as the ones listed above. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged residents to check in on each other especially the elderly. And maybe call someone you haven’t talked to in a while and make sure they’re okay.

It’s been an unsettling couple of weeks with so much information coming at us from all over the place. I hope everyone out there is safe and healthy and your kids aren’t driving you crazy. Take care of yourself.

Experiencing a New Los Angeles

My DMs are blowing up. Birthday parties, festivals, concerts – every weekend there’s something super fun to do and lots of people to do it with. No, I’m not a 25-year-old that just arrived in Los Angeles, but I feel like I’m new in town. 

I moved to LA 14 years ago with a newborn and a toddler and, other than my husband, I only knew one person. Since then I’ve made wonderful friends – all of them through a connection to my kids or from being a mom blogger. Everything I did for so long was about momming.

As a family, we went to neighborhood potlucks, camping trips and even vacations with our new friends, and kids were always at the center, “Mom, Mommy, Mom, Mama, momomomommmmmm.”  And as a blogger, I went to every museum, every festival and countless family-centric events all over Los Angeles with my kids.

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Whenever an older woman would stop me on the street when my boys were freaking out (or doing something adorable) and say that I should cherish this time because it goes by so fast, I would scoff. I was young, my kids were babies and I had plenty of time.

But then when I wasn’t paying attention, it happened just like the ladies said; time passed more quickly than I ever thought it could.

My boys are teenagers now and they have their own lives. They don’t want to hang out with their mom. When we do the neighborhood potluck thing, the parents have to coax the kids to come out of whatever cave they’re playing video games in or text them wherever they are to come and get something to eat. If we’re lucky, they might stop to talk to us for a few minutes.

Sometimes I wonder if I will look back on those years when my boys were little and think that those were the best of times…

But there’s no use in dwelling on that (as a I brush the tears off my keyboard) because not doing as many things with my kids has freed up a lot of time. I’m finding that there’s a whole other Los Angeles to explore and it starts after 6 pm. 

I was thinking about this recently while I looked for last-minute tickets to see Lizzo. Why? Because I love Lizzo so much and my kids had plans and it didn’t want to miss out.

Back in 2011, Prince played 12 shows at the Forum and it only cost $25! Did I go? No, because I am an idiot. I mentioned that to a friend recently who had no kids at the time and had gone to several of the shows. She asked the obvious question, “What the hell else were you doing that was better than that?” 

Nothing. I wasn’t doing anything that was remotely better than that. I have a husband who was perfectly capable of taking care of our kids so I could go out, but I just couldn’t get my mind around it at that point in my momming career. Plus, I was just too tired to go out. Working and having small kids is exhausting. And we did so much together as a family. There wasn’t time left for me.

Well, now it’s all about me because my kids don’t want it to be all about them anymore. So I’m experiencing LA like I’m new in town because I can’t sit at home crying about how I can’t turn back time.

Outside of Beauty and Essex in Hollywood

So on nights when my kids are out with their friends, I’m going out, too. My husband and I get cheap, last-minute tickets to shows. I spontaneously meet people for dinner at new and interesting restaurants. And I go to the movies with a group of ladies on a weeknight ($5 Tuesdays at AMC) without worrying about getting kids to bed because now they can do that their own selves.

So whoever wants to join me, I’m researching all the fun things to do in LA for ladies of a certain age. If anyone knows a fun place to go dancing where you don’t have to arrive after 9 pm, let me know!

It’s possible that I’m having a midlife crisis or I’m worried that I’ll soon be an empty-nester, but I can’t think about that right now because I’m late for happy hour.

Bill Esparza’s Picks for Best Mexican Restaurants in LA for Families

The book L.A. Mexicano* by food writer Bill Esparza is so many things; it’s a cookbook with recipes from  local chefs, a guide to Los Angeles Mexican restaurants by neighborhood, and a history of Mexican food in a city the author clearly loves.

“LA has a vibrant scene of people that make this food. It’s not just what’s on your plate, it’s who is there. People are bringing a piece of themselves (to their food),” Esparza said. He knows the food scene so well because he’s been writing about it for years on his popular blog, Street Gourmet LA, and in the LA Times and other publications.

Review of Bill Esparza's book, LA Mexicano and his picks for best Los Angeles restaurants for familis.

The best part of the book is reading about the people behind the food. You’ll read inspiring stories of people like Ray Garcia, who grew up poor and went on to open Broken Spanish and B.S. Taqueria and be named the 2015 Esquire’s Chef of the year.  You may have had taquitos with avocado sauce from Cielito Lindo on Olvera Street, but you may not know that Aurora Guerrero opened it in 1934 and it’s now run by her granddaughter Susana McManus. The book includes a history of the street popular with tourists and also recipes for Cielito Lindo’s taquitos and avocado sauce.

Not only can you learn about people and get recipes to make the food, you can go to the restaurants and try the dishes. The restaurant guide in the back of L.A. Mexicano is perfect for anyone who loves Mexican food and wants to try more. It’s broken out by neighborhood and the type of cuisine including Pocho (which is “the food that many second- and third-generation Mexican Americans grew up eating, and the dishes that everyone in LA considered truly Mexican until we started knowing better in the 1990s.”), Regional, Alta (a blend of Mexican and California cuisine), Bebidas (drinks) and Ambulantes (food trucks and takeout).

After reading the book, I told my boys that it’s going to be our goal to go to every restaurant in the book. We started that very night at Sonorita’s Prime Tacos on Sawtelle in West LA. I grew up on Sonoran Mexican food and I was thrilled to find this gem in my neighborhood. My older son is 13 and hungry all the time, which means that sometimes he has more than one dinner. I knew Sonorita’s was good because he had a burrito, loved it and wasn’t hungry for more food.

I asked Bill for his recommendations of the best Los Angeles restaurants for families. I asked for sit down restaurants – so no food trucks – because when my boys were younger, asking them to stand in line always led to disaster. Here are his picks:

Downtown LA
Chichén Itza, 3655 S Grand Ave. #C6, Los Angeles, CA

“Nice and causal, not too expensive and really great food,” he said.  From the book, “It’s only a matter of time until more food writers catch on to these trailblazers, who have been giving Los Angeles a superb culinary experience for many years.”

Sonoratown, 208 E. 8th St., Los Angeles, CA 90064

I tried to go there once on a Saturday and drove around for a half hour and couldn’t find parking. If you go, take the metro or a car service or be prepared to walk a bit. Bill said it’s a great place where you can “have real street tacos and your kids don’t have to sit on the street.”

San Gabriel Valley
Burritos La Palma, 5120 N Peck Road, El Monte CA 91732

From the book – “Here in the City of Angels, you may be able to get kombucha, green juice, and fancy doughnuts in just about every neighborhood, but it’s really all about the Mexican food – and the burritos at Burritos La Palma might be the greatest single expression of that. They’re simply unforgettable.”

East LA
Manny’s El Tepeyac Cafe
812 N Evergreen Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033

Known for giant wet burritos. “It’s where your kid can eat a burrito the size of them,” he said.

Bell Gardens
Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen
7891 Garfield Ave, Bell Gardens, CA 90201

From the book – “Handmade tortillas come with snips of chaya leaf in the masa, tacos are made with Oaxacan stews, and the rest of the tight menu showcases traditional moles, classic chiles rellenos with tomato sauce and chileajo, and a rapturous chile-based pork stew reminiscent of the ones served at the central market in Huahuapan de León.”

Huntington Park
La Casita Mexicana
4030 East Gage Ave. Bell, CA 90201

From the book – “One of L.A.’s most treasured institutions.”

Inglewood 
ConíSeafood
3544 West Imperial Highway, Inglewood, CA 90303

“The neighborhood’s not fancy, but the restaurant’s really nice,” Bill said. From the book – One “of  the most important Mexican Seafood restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area.”

West LA
Monte Alban Restaurant,
11929 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025

“It’s great.” From the book, recommended dishes are Moletes, mole negro, caldo de res.

Disclosure: I was given a book for review purposes. All opinions are my own. This post first appeared on MomsLA.

The Best Mexican Restaurants for Families in Los Angeles. #food #losangeles #LosAngelesFood #Mexicanfood #wheretoeatlosangeles

Conquer the Overlook – 5k and 282 Step Climb

Conquer the Overlook 5k and 282 Step Challenge

Conquer the Overlook 5k and 282 Step Challenge

Every race should end with beer and tacos. Especially if you have to climb 282 steps to end the race. The Conquer the Overlook 5k and 282 Step Climb at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City on August 19th was brutal for sure, but it was worth it to eat delicious tacos and drink craft beer with friends.

It’s also easier to convince people to enter if it sounds more like a party. I invited the tough and awesome CrossFit ladies to enter the race with me. I don’t know what I thought, but it was harder than I thought it would be. Partly because I didn’t know the course ahead of time. I did know, from past hikes that we’d need to climb these stairs.

Part of the race was on a dirt trails and part on the road. It started out downhill. Because it was a short race most people were going fast and the trail was a bit narrow. At one point I faceplanted into a sign, but that was my own fault for not looking up and trying to pass someone in a tight space. We went down and around Culver City Park and then back up the hill, down again until we got to the stairs.

I had hoped that I would run walk the stairs, but I walked them, which I was more than happy about. It was amazing just to finish the race. The view from the top was worth it all.

The view from the top of the Baldwin Hills Overlook

Oh, wait. The cold beer and delicious tacos at the race party made it worth it all.

 

Hiking The Los Liones Trail To The Parker Mesa Overlook

The Parker Mesa Overlook at the top of the Los Leones Canyon Trail

I should have known that when I suggested that this year’s New Year’s Day hike should be short and easy that it would be long and difficult. For as long as my boys could walk on a trail we’ve done a New Year’s Day hike somewhere in Los Angeles. This year we chose Los Liones Trail that begins in Pacific Palisades and we took it all the way to the Parker Mesa Overlook. (The trail is spelled Los Liones and the canyon is Los Leones – I couldn’t find any explanation for this)

The beginning of the Los Leones Canyon Trail in Pacific Palisades

It was a gorgeous day. Cold but clear and no wind. We were lucky to find a parking space right by the bathrooms and drinking fountains.

Bathrooms and drinking fountains at the trailhead of Los Leones Canyon

The trail was crowded at the beginning as we started the climb up. It was a beautiful, shady trail. We ran into a group of women – a daughter, mother and grandmother – doing the new year hike together. The mother was having a hard time. I told her to take it slow because it was going to get more strenuous. And boy did it.

After we got out of the shady area,  we reached the fire road where it was uphill and sunny.

 

It’s one of those hikes that looks like you’re almost to the top until you go around another bend. My husband kept saying that it was just another half mile.

We were exhausted by the time we got to the Parker Mesa Overlook, but the view made it all worth it.


It was crowded at the top, but we ran into the woman who had started the hike with her mother and grandmother. I don’t know if they made it, but the woman was happy to climb a mountain on the first day of the new year. And so were we.

It was fun, fast walk down.

The hike ended up being one our favorite even though my younger son and I complained the first two miles. Once we got into a groove it was great.

Los Leones Canyon Trail to the Parker Mesa Overlook
Bathrooms: Yes, pit toilet bathrooms near the trailhead
Dogs allowed: Yes, on leash
Strenuous: Very, if you do the trail all the way to the overlook
Distance: About 7 miles round trip

KCRW Sound in Focus and CicLAvia

One of the best things about living in Los Angeles is all of the free events happening around town throughout the year. This weekend, we took advantage of two of them.

On Saturday, my husband and I got a babysitter and went to KCRW’s outdoor summer concert series, Sound in Focus. Dwight Yoakum was the headliner and X was the opening band. It was a beautiful night and Dwight Yoakum was great – I love me some country music and no one does it better (except Willie of course).

It was in Century City park, which is the center of an office plaza that also houses the Annenberg Space for Photography. We not only saw a concert, but toured the gallery’s latest exhibit “Emerging.” It featured emerging photographers and it was unbelievably good, especially the video about the young photographers.

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On Sunday, the entire family and friends went out to CicLAvia. CicLAvia is an occasional outdoor festival where the streets are blocked off for bike riders, rollerbladers, jog strollers – anything on wheels that isn’t a car – and pedestrians. It was a fantastic day filled with bikers, food trucks, farmers markets, and happy people. We had an excellent time riding from downtown Culver City to Venice Beach.

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Dia de los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Saturday, Nov. 1st is Dia de los Muertos, the day when families celebrate their loved ones who have passed away, and when Hollywood Forever Cemetery opens its doors for its 15th annual festival. This year’s theme is Quinceañera and includes performances by La Santa Cecilia and Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea.

It starts at noon and ends at midnight. We went early last year because it can get crowded and because kids 8 years old and under are free before 4 p.m. Adult tickets are $20. If you’ve never been, you should check it out. There’s beautiful altars, fun entertainment, and delicious food to buy.

Here are some pictures from last year.

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Entrance

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LongAltar

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Summer at the Hollywood Bowl

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What I love about living in Los Angeles is that there is so much to do in the summer and that includes concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. There’s nothing like it and I can’t wait to take my kids back there this summer.

Below are a list of family concerts and latin concerts. Check here for a full season schedule. But first, check out our video, Is It Worth a Babysitter, to find out if it’s worth paying a babysitter to go to the Bowl without your kids. 

The 2014 Hollywood Bowl season promises to be another memorable summer under the stars:

Family Concerts and Weekend Spectacular

Latin Concerts

  • American & American Concerts: (Gilberto Santa Rosa, Gloria Estefan, Ruben Blades, Gustavo Dudamel) More Info
  • Bring your own food and wine!Picnicking before your concert is a time-honored Hollywood Bowl tradition. Make your night underneath the starts unforgettable with a picnic in one of our designated areas, or enjoy a picnic at your seat.
  • Gilberto Santa Rosa · Sheila E. on July 23, 2014
  • Gloria Estefan on July 25-26
  • Rubén Blades, Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil July 29
  • Noche de Cine, Gustavo Santaolalla (Amores Perros, Motorcycle Diaries) July 31
  • Caetano Veloso  Sep 21

Leave the driving to us! Arrive at your concert refreshed with our Park & Ride or Bowl Shuttle services. Park for free and let us do the rest!

Make it a family affair!Gather a group of family and friends of 10 or more and get discounted tickets and other benefits. Ask for details when placing your order.

Tickets available as lows as $20!**  Order today by calling 323.850.2000 or visit HollywoodBowl.com. And don’t forget to follow on  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

 

What's New At Dodger Stadium

DodgerGiantBobbleHead

It’s summer and that means it’s time for Dodger Baseball! I’m not from a city with a major league baseball team so I’m excited that my boys will grow up going to games and supporting their home team. We were guests of the Dodgers on Friday night to learn about what’s new at the stadium.

Sign-Dodger-Stadium-Photo-by-Yvonne-Condes

The new owners, an investment group that includes former LA Laker Magic Johnson, have poured $150 million into upgrading the stadium. In the upper reserve level, the concourse area has been expanded, there’s two new concession areas, new and bigger restrooms, and a new team store with ticket windows attached.

The upgrades on the reserve level include two new food stands – the Elysian Park Grill and the LA Taqueria. The Taqueria (which uses Chef Merito seasonings, the official seasonings of the Dodgers!) is next to the new kids play areas on the left field side. The play area was great and I enjoyed watching my boys run around as I ate garlic french fries. They had a great time playing with the life-size bobble heads. Watch the short video below to see what it does.

One of the enhancements I care most about is the food. Think Blue BBQ looks amazing and is new this year. Last season, my husband discovered the Healthy Marketplace food carts around the stadium that serve gluten-free hotdogs and beer. We ate some healthy food along with our nachos and fries. The corn on the cob with chile, queso fresco, cilantro and cream was excellent.

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And the gluten-free spring roll was pretty good, too.

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One cool feature that’s new this year is the fenced walkway that fans on field level can use to get from one side of the stadium to the other. This allows fans to walk the entire stadium for the first time and also have easy access to the plazas that host different activities depending on the game.

We were lucky to be there for Friday Night Fireworks. Fans are allowed to go down to the field and watch as long as the game ends early enough. It was really cool and a great way to end the game (even though the Dodgers lost!).

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We’re hoping to go back for the Father’s Day game on Sunday, June 15 because the first 40,000 people get this Dodgers Duffle bag. Plus there’s a Viva Los Dodgers pre-game festival.

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For a complete list of all of the promotions and giveaways including “Bobblehead Nights” and “Kids Run the Bases” check out the Dodgers Schedule. To read the Top 5 Reasons to Visit Dodger Stadium This Summer check out MomsLA.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, but was given tickets and food for my family for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own especially that we love the Dodgers!

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Watts Tower

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The Wordless Wednesday theme this week is trees. I was looking through my photos and found this one taken on my son’s 2nd grad field trip to Watts Tower. The “tower” is a series of 17 sculptures built over 34 years by one man, Simon Rodia, out of steel and mortar. It sits in the backyard of what was his house (it has since burned down) in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. It’s incredible to see and one of the best field trips I’ve gone on with my boys. If you can make it out there, it’s well worth it. It reminded me of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and unlike anything you’ll see in Los Angeles. Plus, there’s a tour and a museum with modern art from local artists.

Here are a few more pictures.

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