VISTAS Center Facing Housing Crisis
VISTAS, a not-for-profit center that has been housed at the Toluca Lake Methodist Church for the past quarter century has been presented with eviction papers, effective January, 2014.
VISTAS is a unique day program that offers educational, recreational, and vocational services to a population of young adults with developmental disabilities, such as autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and mental retardation.
Mary, a young and affable woman in her late 20’s witnessed her mother shoot herself in the head when she was 8. Harry, a fellow in his 30’s locked himself in the bathroom with his twin brother where they both took a toxic dose of painkillers which killed his brother and left him with a life-long disability. Alex, a tall and lanky young man with a boyish face received the wrong dosage of an immunization in the ex-Soviet Union which left him with brain damage for life. For these young people with life-long developmental disabilities, VISTAS is a life-saver and a daily chance to learn social skills and pre-vocational skills by volunteering at community non-profits, such as Pet Orphans, and at Operation Gratitude where they pack care packages for GI’s in Afghanistan.
Avi Leibovici, who has directed VISTAS since 1988, expressed dismay that the Methodist Church known for its outreach services to the community would evict VISTAS after 25 years of service and an excellent reputation in the Toluca Lake area. He stated “maybe the central council of the church will change their minds and let us stay as we do really good work here.”