We Touch Hearts and Open Minds

Our Mission is to empower the community to practice empathy, spread kindness, and volunteer where care is needed most.

For 60 years, the Volunteer Center has been a trusted presence in the South Bay, Harbor, and Long Beach communities and beyond. We are known for leading and administering programs that include Food for Kids, Operation Teddy Bear, the Court-Referred Community Service program, and youth support initiatives such as Impact Makers. The core of our work is not the programs alone, but the creation of an umbrella of care with all of our efforts. Everything we do is designed to build empathy and resilience in our community through community service and volunteerism.

We serve not only children and families in need of assistance, but also those families with the means to assist. A hungry child from an under-resourced family who is fed through our programs gains the ability to focus and study for a better future, and learns that the community cares for them. A child whose parents engage them in volunteering learns to have empathy for the lives of others, and to seek personal well-being and healing through service.

Our Leadership Team

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Dr. Josh Gezahegn


Sandy Montalvo

Sandy Montalvo

Vice President

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Silas Cole

Director of Programs

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Jon Phelps

Program Coordinator

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Dr. Josh Gezahegn


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Sandy Montalvo
Vice President


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Jon Phelps
Program Coordinator


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Nicole Leal Hernandez
Program Assistant


Board Members

Kevin Morrow
Board Chair
State Farm

Dianne Bozler
Immediate Past Chair
USC, Retired

Steve Kovary
Steven A. Kovary CPA & Co.

Brenda Montgomery Williams
Fund Development
First Steps Strategic Planning

Denise Beggs Secretary
Boeing, Retired

Lea Ann King
Programs Chair
Community Organizer

Jean Adelsman

Sacha Ohara
Malaga Bank

Paula Cox-Marshall
TV and Radio Acct Executive, Retired

Laura Kauls
Certified Public Accountant, Retired

Connie Robinson
Information Technology

Hon. Betty C. Lieu, Esq.
Torrance Unified School District

Hon. Bridgett Lewis
Torrance City Council

Lili Trujillo Puckett
Street Racing Kills

Our Approach

Care for One,
Care for All

With our longstanding presence in the community, we have decades-long partnerships and relationships across the nonprofit, educational, government, and business sectors. Whether we are engaged in long-term planning, program evaluation, or mobilizing quickly due to an urgent need, our approach is to bring everyone to the table. Our current focus and strategic direction, Engaging Hearts & Minds (EH&M) is the result of significant research, evaluation, and discussion with partners and experts on where and how care is needed most.

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Our Nonprofit Partners

The Volunteer Center has established a Nonprofit Network of peer organizations that help us continually identify where care is needed most, and allow us to quickly mobilize and distribute large scale donations across our region.

Our Community Involvement

The Volunteer Center team also serves as part of numerous community task forces and coalitions. This allows us to better empathize with the needs of various communities in our service area and to support peer organizations in their efforts to improve the lives of families, while we continue to grow our stakeholder relationships.

Our History

Since 1963, when the Junior League of Long Beach first established the Volunteer Bureau (as we were then known), the Volunteer Center has been at the forefront of matching volunteers where care is needed most, creating and implementing essential community programs and engaging with the local and national service communities. Our initial purpose was to connect and match volunteers with volunteer opportunities. We placed 34 volunteers at 25 agencies in our first year. From the beginning, we have cultivated deeply-rooted relationships and a spirit of cooperation with community partners and stakeholders.

We began establishing our own service programs – Court Referral Community Service, Operation Teddy Bear, Food for Kids, VIVA and VCYC teen programs – which made a significant impact in our region throughout the decades. In 2006, after receiving much recognition over the years, the Volunteer Center was designated the #1 volunteer center in the country by the national Points of Light Foundation.

Over the years we have benefited from strong leadership and we celebrate the contribution of our longtime former executive director and CEO, De De Hicks, for whom our building is named.

The approach of volunteer organizations like ours has needed to change with the times, and in recognition of that need, we conducted a comprehensive strategic planning exercise in 2018 and adopted the Carver Model of board governance.

Our current focus, vision and mission prioritizes serving youth and families by touching their hearts and opening their minds so that they are ready and willing to step forward and serve in a complex world.

Stay connected.
Together we can touch hearts and open minds.

If you have any questions regarding community service, community labor, HAM, and/or MADD, you may contact us via email at Email: court-referral@volctr-sobay.org, call or visit one of our offices listed below.

Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 4pm

Bellflower Office
(Open M-W-F 8:30am to 4pm)
9849 Flower St., #B
Bellflower, CA 90706

Long Beach Office
1407 East 4th Street
Long Beach, CA 90802

LA Airport/So. LA Office
11701 So. La Cienega Blvd.,
Room 570F
Los Angeles, CA 90045

Torrance Office - Headquarters
1230 Cravens Ave.
Torrance, CA 90501

Stay Connected!

It’s the best way to learn more about the Volunteer Center and stay up-to-date with opportunities and events. Make sure you’re also following us on FacebookInstagram, Twitter and LinkedIn!