The challenges facing the homeless can seem staggering. There’s the
issue of shelter, of course. But there is so much more—from health
and nutrition to education and employment. Community’s Child Residential
Living and Personal Development Program, based in Lomita, addresses these
factors and more, providing an impressive array of services to fill the
pressing needs faced by homeless families. The organization’s goal
of assisting homeless and disadvantaged families is one shared by Torrance
Memorial Medical Center, which supports Community’s Child as part
of its Community Benefits program.
Community’s Child originated as an effort to help homeless young
children. “We were founded in 2005 when a group of citizens grew
concerned about the rising number of homeless women and children in the
South Bay area,” says executive director Tara Nierenhausen. “At
the time, I worked in a crisis maternity shelter. The women would have
to leave the shelter when their babies reached three months old, but they
had no place to go. It broke my heart.”
Nierenhausen and her husband rallied community members and raised $360,000
toward the purchase of a house in Lomita. Local contractors, suppliers
and retailers donated everything needed to transform the original 1,400-square-foot
property into a 3,400-square-foot home—with a beautiful yard and
play area—that could house up to six women and their children.
Nierenhausen soon found herself being called upon by other families, many
struggling to provide nutrition for their children. So Comunity’s
Child added a food pantry and also stocked it with school supplies.
To address the underlying causes of poverty, the organization began providing
educational resources including ESL classes, pre-vocational programs,
parenting classes and stipends for clients attending school to purchase
books, clothing and supplies. They introduced the Healthy Bag program,
which delivers grocery bags—stocked with healthy food designed to
feed a family over the weekend—to more than 700 elementary school-children
From its humble beginning as a shelter housing six women and their children,
Community’s Child has grown to an entity that last year served 2,157
families through its various programs.
Torrance Memorial began partnering with the organization in 2014 by participating
in a health fair and screening for families served by the organization.
The medical center provided nurses, technicians and an entire lab, performing
blood draws to screen for a range of conditions that often correlate with
poverty, such as anemia, diabetes and hypertension. Torrance Memorial
also performed BMI measurements and provided educational resources, including
a station featuring healthy menus and cooking demonstrations.
Approximately 225 people were screened, and many health problems were detected.
In fact, 27% of the children and 23% of the adults screened tested positive
for anemia. When problems were identified, Community’s Child and
the hospital were able to refer families to resources for follow-up.
“Participating in one health fair may lead us to a relationship for
many years to come,” notes Cathy Hargrove, RN, MSN, Torrance Memorial’s
health education manager. This has certainly been the case with Community’s
Child. Torrance Memorial has continued to provide health fair screenings
each year and this year hosted the Community’s Child health fair
at the medical center itself. Asthma screenings were added to the screening
Nierenhausen says the collaboration with her organization has generated
major benefits beyond the screenings. “Because Torrance Memorial
came on board, a lot of other partners were motivated to do so as well.
We now have additional hospitals, a dental program, an optometrist and
the nursing program from a local college. Torrance Memorial was the catalyst
for bringing all these entities to rally around these families.”
Community’s Child is located at 25520 Woodward Avenue in Lomita.
For more information, please call 310-534-4040 or visit