Elevating the standard of care
For more than 30 years, the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) has elevated the standard of care for victims of child abuse, family violence and sexual assault in Los Angeles County. VIP functions as a public-private partnership between VIP Children’s Medical Village at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and VIP’s Community Mental Health Center. The nonprofit cares for over 20,000 victims of all ages, every year.
A wide range of issues and specific focus
The VIP approach to care is a time-tested, effective model for intervention, treatment and prevention. VIP programs cover child abuse, as well as adult, elderly and LGBTQ needs throughout Los Angeles County. Staff and Community Engagement Coordinator Joseph Garza says while programs cover a wide range of issues, they also have a specific focus. “We treat victims of violence with particular attention to high-risk children who’ve been abused, and are likely candidates for foster care,” Garza explains. In fact, many of the victims the organization works with already have existing cases with county services; VIP oversees about 70% of children going into foster care.
The contribution of a credit union
SCE Credit Union’s relationship with VIP began with a fortuitous meeting, appropriately at a Community Resource Center in August of 2021. This was when Joseph Garza and our Community Development Executive in Southern California, Ricardo Flores met for the first time. It was a “cause meets community commitment” moment, and a collaboration was born.
SCE Credit Union began conducting financial workshops for VIP the next month. “What made the workshops special was opening them up to the community of Lincoln Heights,” says Garza. “It was financial literacy-101, for everyone!”
The workshops covered basics like savings, borrowing, and credit and were made available to caregivers for abused children and sexual assault victims. Adults, parents, grandparents, foster parents, teachers and other educators attended. VIP’s internal staff was also able to take advantage of the dollars and sense education.
In addition to our practical participation, SCE Credit Union also helped with the year-end holiday toy drive. “SCE Credit Union collected toys at multiple branches. Parents, grandparents, and caregivers of victims, got to select toys and wrap them. Those toys put big smiles on a lot of small faces,” Garza recalls, adding, “If that doesn’t tug at the heartstrings, I’m not sure what would.”
Damage and restoration
Violent abuse in any form is ugly and difficult to talk about, and a myriad of sad statistics reveal the reasons organizations like VIP are so important. Nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S annually. About one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. About 90% of children who are victims of abuse know their abuser. While the numbers can damage your faith in society, organizations like VIP can help restore it. SCE Credit Union stands with the Violence Intervention Program and is proud to contribute to this organization’s work.