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Our History


A Legacy of Compassion: The Journey of Toberman Neighborhood Center


In the heart of Los Angeles, a story of compassion, leadership, and community transformation unfolds—a story that began with James Toberman, a visionary leader whose life's work would lay the foundation for a lasting legacy. Called to the region by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864, Toberman's journey from U.S. Revenue Assessor to a six-term Mayor of Los Angeles was marked by a profound commitment to public service.


Driven by a personal tragedy and a deep sense of community, James and his wife, Emma Toberman, turned their grief into a beacon of hope. In 1903, in memory of their son, Homer, they established the Toberman Settlement House. This haven was not just a building; it was a promise—a promise to protect, educate, and nurture the most vulnerable members of their community.


The Toberman Settlement House quickly became a cornerstone for social service in Los Angeles, embodying the spirit of community care and support. Recognizing the profound impact of their work, the Tobermans entrusted their mission to the dedicated hands of the Women’s Society of Christian Service, now known as the United Methodist Women. This pivotal moment ensured that the torch of service and compassion would continue to burn brightly, guided by a mission that still illuminates our path today.


In 1937, embracing the ever-evolving needs of the community, the organization found a new home in the Harbor community of San Pedro, returning to its roots as the Toberman Settlement House. This move marked a new chapter in our story, deepening our commitment to the families and youth we serve.


The dawn of the 21st century heralded a transformative era for Toberman. In 2007, after 104 years of unwavering service, our journey took a monumental leap forward. Through the generosity of our supporters and the dedication of our community, we launched the Toberman Neighborhood Center, ushering in a new era with the completion of an $8 million capital campaign. Our modern 36,000-square-foot campus stands as a testament to our enduring legacy and our promise to the community.


Today, the Toberman Neighborhood Center is not just a place; it's a living legacy of James and Emma Toberman's vision—a vision that has grown and evolved but remains rooted in the belief that together, we can create a world of hope, opportunity, and empowerment for all.


Join Us in Continuing the Legacy: As we look to the future, we invite you to become part of our continuing story. Together, we can build on the Toberman legacy, transforming lives and strengthening our community for generations to come.

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