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Staff Spotlight - Alison Popovich



Name: Alison Popovich (Ali)

What do you do for Project Access?
Marketing Director, oversee all marketing activities and events.

What are you most looking forward to working here at Project Access?
I am looking forward to working with all of the great staff at Project Access and working towards helping a great cause.

What do you like to do for fun or if you have free time? 
Hiking, crossfit, watching Sports (on TV or live, hockey is my favorite!), playing with my silly cats or hanging out with friends and family.  I love my entire family, but right now my 3 year old niece is my favorite to spend time with.

What is something most people don't know about you?
I love my sandals.  If I could wear rainbow sandals every day of my life, I would =)

Describe your dream vacation.
Anywhere with great scenery that you can relax and enjoy your surroundings.  I love to travel and not have set plans for the day so you can go out and explore.

Chocolate, Vanilla, or Strawberry?
Chocolate (and peanut butter) 

Isabel Fowler Honored at OneOC's Spirit of Volunteerism Awards


IsabelOn April 9, 2014, Project Access honored Isabel Fowler at OneOC's Spirit of Volunteerism Awards.

Isabel is a volunteer at our Senior Resource Center at Golden West Tower in Torrance. She provides support to onsite staff Christine Choi and Paul Hwang which includes assisting with field trips, birthday parties, and daily activities for the residents. Her involvement in the center's activities help our seniors maintain an independent lifestyle. Further, Isabel has a personal passion in photography and has used this skill to offer photo prints to the residents and even created a DVD reel of highlights for the seniors to enjoy.

Isabel has seen the value of Project Access in the time she has volunteered with us--"Project Access is an important part of our community. For me, what counts most is the friendship, love, and pure joy to share and work together."

Again, we are happy to be able to recognize Isabel for her efforts in improving the lives of our residents.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer yourself, please visit:


From the OneOC website:

The Spirit of Volunteerism Awards Luncheon provides an annual forum and non-competitive opportunity to recognize individual, group and corporate team volunteers for their dedicated service to Orange County.

Volunteers build a stronger, more vibrant community, brightening the lives of our children, families, seniors, and neighborhoods.   In addition to celebrating excellence in community volunteerism, our prestigious Giving is Living Honoree will be given to an outstanding Corporate-Nonprofit partnership that demonstrates how volunteerism can improve our community in the area of safety net services, health care, education or environment.

You can learn more by visiting:

Staff Spotlight - Nasser Salame


photoName: Nasser Salame

What do you do for Project Access?
Service Coordinator

What are you most looking forward to working here at
Project Access?

I am looking forward to building relationships with my residents in the community and provide them with adequate help and support.

What do you do for yourself (for fun/hobbies/side business/etc.)?
I am a very outdoors person, I enjoy going camping, fishing and hunting in the summer. I love to play basketball on my free-time and I also enjoy cooking.

What is something most people don't know about you?
One thing people don’t know about me is that I played basketball for Occidental College as a freshman and ended my collegiate career after breaking my ankle halfway through the season.

Describe your dream home.
My dream home would be simple, I want it to be in a quiet neighborhood, and close to all my favorite stores and restaurants. It would be two stories with high ceilings. A big backyard with an endless pool, and an awesome bbq island b/c I love to bbq.

If you had to be stuck on a 8 hour plane ride sitting next to Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber, who would you choose and why?
Ideally with neither of them but if I had no choice I would say Miley Cyrus because she would probably be more fun to talk to.

Success Story - Life Changing Sessions for a Resident


Here is a letter submitted by one of our residents who participates in the Project Access case management program. The program is possible through USC, who places MSW interns at our resource centers.


I have been having personal development sessions with Samantha (MSW intern) for a few months now and it has been exceptional. We go over a range of things from financial planning and budgeting, to personal development and parental skill and relationship building. From the first day, Samantha listened attentively to my needs and then planned a whole lesson devoted to my specific situations. Her lessons compel me to do some soul searching and confront the real me, making it easy to progress toward the positive change I need in my life.

uscmswFrom left, USC MSW intern Samantha Steen with resident Marinisha Dillion

Being a single mother, it is sometimes difficult to manage work and school all while trying to be the perfect mother and Samantha is helping me write realistic goals, and work effectively to achieve them. She is really a blessing to me and is a breath of fresh air to be around.



In the fall of 2012, we piloted a new case management program in partnership with USC. MSW interns are placed at Resource Centers to help residents reach their personal goals through increased access and utilization of resources, supportive coaching and advocacy with the long term goal of ultimately improving their quality of life. This program adds the much needed intensive services for those families and individuals who need more support and is an exciting addition to our already comprehensive services. 

10 Happy Ways to Celebrate the International Day of Happiness



The International Day of Happiness is celebrated throughout the world on 20 March. It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012. Here are 10 ideas for celebrating happiness in ways that will make you happier by doing them.

1. Be kind to yourself: 
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."Dalai Lama. Being kind rather than critical towards yourself boosts happiness more than anything else I know. If you do one thing today, do this. Wish yourself well. Treat yourself as kindly as you would a small child.

2. Be grateful: 
Gratitude is one of life's most vitalising ingredients. Research has shown that practicing gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person's life. This can be accepting anther person's kindness, appreciating nature, or recognising the gifts in one's own life. Beyond these benefits, it feels good in its own right to appreciate that we have been "the beneficiary of freely and generously bestowed kindness." In my course "Six weeks to a happier you," we have just finished the session on gratitude and the most popular homework assignment was the pleasure walk. More ideas for experiencing the happiness effect of gratitude can be found in my previous post on an Aussie Thanksgiving experiment.

3. Be curious: 
Ben Dean Ph.D., tells us that "Curious people have an ongoing, intrinsic interest in both their inner experience and the world around them. Curious people tend to be attracted to new people, new things, and new experiences, and they are rarely bored. Everyone possesses curiosity to some degree." It is the antidote to judging ourselves and others and opens us up to everyday sources of happiness.

4. Take in the good: 
One of my favorite practices from Rick Hanson. Make good facts become experiences by noticing them, savoring them for 15 to 30 seconds and really letting them sink in to your body. That way your brain and body really registers that happy moment and you override the brains tendency to be velcro for bad experiences and teflon for good.

5. Connect with someone: 
Drop your agenda and really tune in to that person. Listen with your whole body. Notice how happy and energised you can feel to share a moment of understanding and ease really connecting with another person ands savour the warmth, respect and goodwill.

6. Read Love 2.0: Really. It will change how you see your opportunities for happiness and connection with others. It will really help with the suggestion above too!

7. Laugh: 
We know laughter feels good, so find the joy in life today. Its good to know that thescience backs us up and that humour is intimately related to quality of life. Even smiling will usually make you feel happier.

8. Breathe: 
Just breathing slowly in and out, slower out than in, for two minutes can reduce your stress and bring on a physiological relaxation response regardless of what your head is caught up in. Its portable stress management that works. And you are more likely to notice happy things around you after breathing this way. Give it a go.

9. Do one thing at a time: 
I have written before about the madness of multitasking. And yet it is so seductive in our busy lives to try to do a few things at once. But research has shown that we are far less happy when we do. Even boring tasks are more enjoyable if we focus on them rather than let our mind wander.

10. Sleep: 
So when you have celebrated international day in all these ways, have a good night's sleep. According to the American Psychological Association, more than 35 percent of Americans get less sleep than they need. A good nights sleep improves memory, increases people's ability to concentrate, strengthens the immune system and decreases people's risk of being killed in accidents. Mindful breathing for a few minutes before sleep can really help and more good ideas can be found here. Happy International Day of Happiness to you all.

Follow Kellie Edwards on Twitter:


Partnership Highlight - PBS SoCaL


PBS SoCaL's Ready to Learn Coordinator Susie Grimm working with youth at Laguna Canyon to help them draft their stories for the Writers Contest.

Curious George, Cat in the Hat, TV shows. These are the first things that typically come to mind when you think of PBS SoCaL. Try this instead: community partnership, education for youth, and technology.

“It’s one of our best partnerships,” says Belinda Rodriguez, our Service Coordinator at Hermosa Village in Anaheim, CA. “Most people think of a big TV network, but they reach out to non-profits and build community connections.”

PBS SoCaL first joined Hermosa Village's Annual Health Fair on September 11, 2013 where they set up a booth, providing resources and giving away prizes to our residents. Because they were such a hit at the Health Fair, Belinda invited PBS SoCaL back to Hermosa Village to give parents a presentation about the importance of electronics for kids. They brought a tablet for every participant and taught them how to use it to download educational apps. Typically, these apps cost $1.99 at the app store, but PBS SoCaL offered it to our residents with a special code for free.

“They’re so flexible and will do anything to accommodate our needs. They’ve even created a curriculum to help our residents with the use of technology,” Belinda explains.

In the future, PBS SoCaL will be attending more of Hermosa Village’s events and will bring along a few characters, like Curious George and Cat in the Hat. And Hermosa Village isn’t the only site benefiting from our partnership with PBS SoCaL. Other Project Access sites welcomed Susie Grimm, PBS SoCaL's Ready to Learn Coordinator, where she held a creative writing workshop with kids. Kindergarten through third graders had a chance to enter their stories into a nationwide contest in the hopes to win an iPad and to meet Cat in the Hat.

And Susie can’t wait to work with Project Access even more! “I love the mission of Project Access and its purpose to make sure families, children and seniors get resources to improve their quality life. By providing a space to families and children to learn financial literacy, get resources on literacy and STEM and so on, they are ensuring they become self-sufficient and have a better chance at a better life.”

Last month, PBS SoCaL also invited Project Access to partcipate in the American Graduate Community Town Hall, an opportunity to share some of the challenges our youth are facing graduating high school and entering college. You can view the full show at:

Project Access Celebrates World Compliment Day!


After 8 successful editions of  “National Compliment Day” in the Netherlands (this year also spreading into Belgium and Norway) the initiators wonder why the event should not become a ‘World Compliment Day’ and thus create ‘The Most Positive Day in the World’?

The reasoning behind it makes sense. The initiative, in contrast to Valentine's Day, Secretaries' Day, and Mother and Father's Days, is not commercially oriented, so everyone can afford to participate. ‘World Compliment Day’ simply addresses the basic human need for recognition and appreciation. Nobody wins commercially, but everybody gains emotionally. And therein lies its power.

IMG 5201Project Access youth took part in World Compliment Day by writing positive messages to each other.

March 1st is just about consciously reflecting on what someone in your area does well and letting that person know he/she is sincerely appreciated for that. It should be done through words instead of gifts. "A sincere and personal compliment costs nothing, but the impact on the recipient is huge," says Hans Poortvliet, recognition professional and the driving force behind the annual event in the Netherlands. "Nothing stimulates more, gives more energy and, as far as business is concerned, increases productivity and commitment faster than sincere appreciation. So why not use it a little bit more?"

For global promotion of the initiative Poortvliet counts on his own extensive international network among which RPI (Recognition Professionals International) and the ‘’ initiative. "And of course it is my sincere hope that Twitter & Facebook will prove their incredible strength as social media once again. After all: What is more social than showing sincere appreciation for another human being? If on Tuesday, March 1st, every person pays at least three people in his/her environment or (social) network a genuine and sincere compliment we will definitely create the Most Positive Day in the World!”

For more information and an overview of compliments going around the world please go to:

Please help promote by following and retweet its message. Facebook:

Press release taken from:

Bowling for a Cause - Every Strike Counts


Whether you roll like a pro or are strictly a novice, nonprofit Project Access invites you to its annual Bowling for a Cause – Every Strike Counts! fundraiser. Don’t miss the fun! Project Access strives to be the leading provider of vital health, education and employment services to families, children and seniors living in low-income housing communities.  

The event is set for Tuesday, April 29 from 5:30 until 8 PM at Bowlmor Lanes at The District at Tustin at 2405 Park Avenue in Tustin.  There is a $180 registration fee per team, and it is requested that each team member raise at least $100 through personal fundraising.  All proceeds support Project Access.

To create a team of six bowlers, visit

Each participant will receive complimentary shoe rental, bowling time and refreshments. There will also be an opportunity drawing for prizes, recognition for the high scorers and top fundraisers.

Opportunities to sponsor the event range from $500 to $5,000 and include various levels of recognition, signage at the event and the chance for a team to bowl. Project Access is also looking for companies interested in making a donation for every strike bowled. These firms will receive significant day-of brand exposure, as we celebrate and tally each strike! Potential sponsors are invited to contact Jennifer Bates, Marketing Coordinator, at 949/253-6200 ext. 305 or at

“Project Access served nearly 11,000 people last year alone,” said CEO and President Kristin Byrnes.  “The funds raised from this event will support our Education for Youth Initiative, which includes school readiness for preschool-age children, after-school tutoring & enrichment programs for youth and teen programs. By participating, you can not only have fun, but also make a positive impact on the lives of the residents we serve every day.”

Over 50 Resource Centers are operated by Project Access in California and Colorado fostering a culture of change by assisting residents from a broad range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds to improve their lives through education, employment, wellness, and financial capability, among other programs.

More information is available at

Capacity Building for Adults - Maria Formed a Habit of Saving

Maria Granados

Maria Granados is a resident of Hermosa Village Apartments in Anaheim, California. Maria is among 1 of 72 residents who completed our Capacity Building and Savings Program in 2013- congratulations Maria on this awesome feat!

This program taught residents how to form a habit of saving. We accomplished this by working with financial institutions, banks, and other service providers to teach our residents how to effectively budget and therefore save.

Residents like Maria who were able to save $25 for 6 consecutive months were rewarded with $50 to further increase their financial assets. Among the 129 residents who participated in the Capacity Building and Savings Program, 98% strongly believed the financial services they received would help them in large or small ways to save money and reduce their debt. 

Project Access is happy to bring back this program so we can continue to stress the importance of savings to our residents.

Please check out our Capacity Building for Adults Pinterest Board where we periodically pin updates related to savings:

Independent Living for Seniors - A Limitless World


Ipad Class

Mr. Chen thought he would never see his friend again. A senior living at Golden West Tower, Mr. Chen was cut off from his friend by distance – a distance he thought was too great to overcome. But something changed.

During the 2012 holidays, Mr. Chen and many other seniors were given iPads by their adult children. Although an excellent tool for keeping in touch, Mr. Chen didn’t know how to use an iPad. He held the key to seeing his friend again in his hands, but couldn’t use it.

Recognizing the need, Project Access implemented an iPad class for the seniors of Golden West Tower. Mr. Chen learned how to use his iPad and he regularly sees his long distance friend using the iPad Face Time application.

Mr. Chen now has the confidence to learn new technologies. He satisfies his curiosity of the world by reading online newspapers. And his memory loss is compensated for by the Reminder App on the iPad. He puts Reminders in his iPad about Project Access’ ESL Chinese Class and free hair cut services. Now he doesn’t forget to receive any Project Access services.

 “My world was only limited within my home, but Project Access allowed me to see the broader world.” – Mr. Chen

To learn more about the different types of programs offered to our seniors, please visit: Key Initiatives

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