The Guidance Center Celebrating 70 Years of Service

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Since 1946, The Guidance Center has broken down barriers and pioneered new ways to meet the unique and ever-growing mental health needs of the urban community’s most vulnerable population – children.

The vision to build healthy, safe communities and a passion to lead children toward positive, productive futures has driven The Guidance Center’s continued growth over the course of its 70-year history. To lay the foundation for its next generation of healing care, the agency has planned a series of events throughout the next fiscal year. The first of which will be its annual fundraising event: Sunset Sip.

The Sept. 10 event is hosted by Los Angeles Kings alumnus and television color analyst, Jim Fox, and sponsored by passionate mental health advocates like Alexandria and Luke Bergstrom, who are this year’s Healing and Hope Sponsor. Festivities will be held at the Museum of Latin American Art in downtown Long Beach and will include a wine tasting contest, light hors d’oeuvres, and a live and silent auction. Funds raised from Sunset Sip will support programs and services at The Guidance Center.

“We’re proud of The Guidance Center’s rich history and feel honored to serve so many brave children and their families every day,” said Patricia Costales, LCSW, CEO of The Guidance Center. “Our vision as an agency is about access – a community where all children have the help they need to be healthy and happy. We’re continuing to work toward making that a reality, and we’ve made great progress. But as we plan for the future, we know there is still so much more that needs to be done.”

Due to the visionary leadership of The Guidance Center’s volunteer board of directors, the agency has been able to anticipate the needs of the community over the years and adapt as an organization to meet them. The board, which comprises influential leadership from various segments of the communities The Guidance Center serves, have championed programs and services that would not otherwise be available.

At its first location in the basement of the old Seaside Hospital in Long Beach, The Guidance Center, then called Long Beach Mental Hygiene Clinic, focused its services on individual, group, family and play therapy especially tailored to treat each child’s unique needs. These services continue to be offered and have paved the way for the agency to provide additional services that address and care for the needs of the entire family.

Today, The Guidance Center is a major community mental health service provider, with its own nearly 40,000-square-foot headquarters in Long Beach and clinics in San Pedro and Compton. Each location is strategically located within the heart of the community it serves to further eliminate barriers to treatment, like transportation. Under the thoughtful governance of the 19-member board, The Guidance Center employs more than 150 mental health professionals, support staff, administrators, and interns, and serves nearly 3,000 children and families annually across Long Beach, Compton, Lynwood, Paramount, San Pedro and Catalina Island.

Key partnerships with various community organizations and institutions have also provided opportunities to meet clients wherever they are – and at every stage of development. Partnerships with Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital that began in the 1960s continue to flourish to this day through client referrals, a pre-doctoral psychology internship program and a collaborative full-time pediatric postdoctoral fellowship at Miller.

A collaboration with Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) as early as the 1970s later led to the creation of The Guidance Center’s School-Based Services, which places therapists at more than 20 schools within the district. Similar collaborations have been formed with the school districts in Paramount and Lynwood through The Guidance Center’s Compton clinic and with Los Angeles Unified School District through the San Pedro clinic.

Under the leadership of Costales, The Guidance Center continues to seek new opportunities to partner with civic leaders and local organizations, educate the community about the complexities of mental illness and implement healing solutions.

“At The Guidance Center, we don’t just provide services to our communities; we are a part of the communities we serve,” said Costales. “Change is possible – one child, one family and one community at a time.”

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