Innovation & Leadership: Penn Alumni on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List

By: Jorge Penado, C’19

Every year, the American business magazine, Forbes, publishes the 30 Under 30  list of over 600 business and industry figures that have become influential to some degree in their respective industries and are under the age of 30. They select 30 individuals for 20 different categories that range from industries like Hollywood & Entertainment, Venture Capital, Manufacturing & Industry, Law & Policy and many other categories. The list itself was started in 2011 and has grown through the years with 2016 seeing over 15,000 nominations. The list has even spread around the world with regional versions of the list in Asia, Africa and Europe. With it’s growing popularity, it is interesting to see the presence of Penn alumni on these lists, and this year’s list has seen one of the highest rates of Penn alumni.

As The Daily Pennsylvanian wrote on November 20, 25 graduates, including a current Ph.D. candidate, have been selected for the lists. This is the fourth highest number of honorees from a university on the list. The three other schools ahead of Penn include Stanford University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With over 15,000 nominations but only 600 slots to fill, the process is definitely rigorous as only 4% of those nominated are selected for the ultimate list. With regards to which industry Penn alumni are participating in most, Finance leads the way with 5 honorees in this category and Social Entrepreneurship follows with 3 honorees. As the DP article states, most honorees are from the Wharton School with 13 honorees followed by the College with 9. Though all of this information is truly interesting to get an overview, it’s just as fascinating to look at some of the work these alumni are doing in their respective fields.

 

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Source: Welligence Energy Analytics Twitter Account

One of the many honorees in this years list includes Seth Neel. Neel is one of the 30 honorees in the Energy sector who are recognized for “fueling a more sustainable future.” Neel is a current fourth year Ph.D. candidate in Statistics at the Wharton School, meaning that he’s the only current Penn attendee on the list. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Math from Harvard University in 2015. His research as a doctoral student in Wharton is focused on two general themes: the fairness in machine learning and the study of fundamental problems in differential privacy. He has published 11 different scholarly articles in the field and has spoken at various events. His participation in the field has even taken him to start his own company, Welligence, an independent oil and gas analytics firm focused on the Latin America upstream sector. Neel’s participation in the field is only growing and his recognignition in this year’s Forbes’ 30 Under 30 is greatly earned.

 

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Source: Amazon.com

Another Penn alumni who was selected as an honoree is Emerson Brooking. Brooking is one of 30 honorees in the Law & Policy sector who are recognized for “fighting for your rights Andrew’s better governments.” Brooking received his Bachelor of Arts in 2011 from the College with a major in Political Science and Classical Studies. While on campus, he was involved in clubs like Big Brother Big Sisters and the Penn Political Review. His participation on this year’s list is due largely to his debut book, Likewar: The Weaponization of Social Media. The book made the New York Time’s New & Noteworthy List, Amazon’s Best Seller List and was named Amazon’s Best Book of the Month. Besides these considerable achievements, the book has been featured on NPR, PBS, The New York Times, Time, Popular Science, Rolling Stone, Politico, Foreign Affairs and many more. The book was even praised as being “a magical combination of history, technology and early warning wrapped in a compelling narrative of how today’s information space can threaten the truth, our polity and our security,”  by former Director of the CIA and NSA, General Michael Hayden. With all of these accolades under his belt, Brooking has become an expert in the field of cyber warfare.

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Source: The Atlantic

The final Penn alumni selected as an honoree that this post will cover is Anna Wan. Wan is one of the 30 honorees in the Consumer Technology sector who are recognized for “seizing the moment of a personalized digital revolution.” Wan received her Bachelor of Science in Economics in 2012 from the Wharton School with a major in Operation & Information Management and Finance. During her time at Penn, she was notably involved in the Chi Omega Sorority. Her recognition on the list this year stems generally from her participation as a general manager of $2 billion Bird, a company dedicated to bringing scooters to cities east of the Mississippi River. Her position in this company has been a gradual growth as she has additionally worked at other companies like Ofo and AirBnB. While at Ofo, she notably managed over 20 teams and launched/ managed seven markets, which included the largest US market. At AirBnB, she supported executives with “strategic analysis and reporting” and worked “with Product Growth teams… to identify customer acquisition projects with greatest impact and ROI.” With all of this experience, her current position really goes to show her excellence in the field.

While there are 23 other Penn alumni who made the list and are pursuing equally wonderful endeavors in their respective fields, these three are just a quick example of the varying work that these alumni are engaging in and being recognized for. At a university like Penn, we’re lucky to have many great alumni, and this years Forbes’ 30 under 30 only shows a glimpse into the amazing things Penn alumni are doing around the world and in every field imaginable.

 

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Meet Gulnur Kukenova: Penn Alumni’s Newest Graduate Assistant

By: Gulnur Kukenova, GED19
Graduate Assistant for Penn Alumni Relations

Hey everybody! My name is Gulnur Kukenova and I am the new graduate assistant for Penn Alumni Office.

I just moved from Kazakhstan with my family a month ago and this month was full of new information and meeting with wonderful people. It took about 15 years to apply and become a part of Penn. And now I am HERE! (Woohoo!)

 

This year promises to be challenging as well as much enriched with knowledge for me. It is a great feeling of inspiration when I am sitting in one class with ones of the smartest and the most collaborative people from all around the world. This year I will definitely learn a lot both from my classmates who have wonderful backgrounds and different stories that shaped their lives and from the faculty who are a great source in shaping my choices and guiding me to my ideal career path.

I am very excited to get this great opportunity to explore and get to be familiar with the Penn community and especially with Penn Traditions! I am sure that the coming year will be one of the brightest and wonderful years of my life!

Let’s start the year and make it fruitful!

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The First Student Union: The Change Within Houston Hall

 

By: Jorge Penado, C’19
International Relations Major
Work-Study Student, Sweeten Alumni House

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Source: Fine Art America

At the center of Penn’s campus alongside iconic buildings like College Hall and landmarks like the Benjamin Franklin Statue, Houston Hall has had a long history at Penn as a center of social, recreational, educational and cultural activity, and in 2018, the hall has over 120 years of serving the Penn community. Quite recently, the Penn community has begun to adjust to the top-to-bottom renovation of the basement’s Houston Market, completed over Summer 2018. But, with all of this in mind, it seems right to look back at the long history of Houston Hall and how this year’s renovations are just an extension of the hall’s purpose and intention that it’s adopted since its conception.

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Source: University Archives & Record Center, Houston Club Booklet

 

As many Penn community members may be aware of, Houston Hall started as the first student union in the nation and opened on January 2, 1896. Generally, the student union was meant to serve as a university’s community center for recreation and socialization and often was the host of student affairs and even student governance which can be seen now. As the first student union in the United States, Houston had some liberty to gather influence and set the tone for what would eventually become a common center at any modern university. In particular, Houston drew its inspiration from Cambridge University and Oxford University, where the first union would be established in 1823. However, it wouldn’t be for another 70 years that Penn Trustees would decide to provide students with their own center.

After their decision, Trustee Charles Harrison would announce a competition amongst students and recent graduates who would have the opportunity to design the building. Soon after, two students, William C. Hays, and Milton Bennett Medary Jr. would win the competition and have their designs combined into the architectural style of college gothic and ultimately executed by Philadelphia-based architect, Frank Miles Day. It seemed only natural that the student center for the university would be designed by two architecture students. In order to finance the project, Trustee Harrison was luckily able to secure a donation of $100,000 from Trustee Henry Howard Houston and his wife Sallie S. Houston. Interestingly enough, the building is not technically named for Trustee Houston as it was actually named for his late son Henry Howard Houston Jr. who had unfortunately passed the year after his graduation from the university in 1878.

Once the hall was completed in 1896, the doors would eventually open to the student body. One significant activity that emerged at the beginning would have to be the Houston Club. This club was founded to, as stated in their constitution, “draw together students, officers, and alumni of all Departments of the University in a wholesome social life, and to provide for them suitable amusements and recreations.” The club would soon after establish an internal leadership which many accredit to the first semblance of student governance at Penn. Besides leadership, they also established three committees that were meant to help in the operation of Houston and included the House Committee, in charge of maintaining Houston’s various amenities, the Membership Committee, in charge of admission of new members, and the Library Committee, in charge of all reading material. Interestingly enough, Houston Club was only open to tuition-paying male students at the time, and thus, with the creation of Bennett Hall, the Bennet Club would be created as a female version of this club. As a club, this student group had much influence over the maintenance and usage of Houston Hall. However, this would only last until 1929 when it was replaced by the more inclusive Houston Hall Board, then in 1969 when it was replaced by the Penn Union Council and finally, transform into the modern Social Planning and Events Committee.

With this historical information in mind, it is possible to understand how the services that Houston Hall provides has changed over time. In particular, the original Houston Hall would be almost unrecognizable to many Penn students now and to some degree, would draw in a sense of awe for what was once provided. For example, the original Houston Hall of the late 19th century had such amenities as a billiards room, a chess room, a trophy room, a gym, a pool, and even bowling lanes! At first glance, it was amazing that Penn once had their own bowling lane which is something I’ve only ever occasionally heard in movies and would love to have on campus. But, then I consider what’s in its place now and realize that Houston Market takes up the area.

As I mentioned, Houston Market recently went through their own renovation, valued at around $15 million, and expanded the number of dining options available for everyone. Actually, the last renovation Houston Hall underwent was about 20 years ago. This renovated Houston Market now serves from eight different stations with expanded hours. While the response has been mostly positive, there has been some discussion on the ever-changing purpose of Houston Hall. In an article published on September 20 in the DP, one contributor noted the shift from Houston being purely about student socialization to being mostly a place to work and dine. This opinion piece noted how students nowadays find it harder to locate a central place to completely relax and meet in today’s busy community and believe socializing in Houston has changed. With all of this in mind, it’s clear that Houston Hall has remained a dynamic building on campus.

Overall, the new renovations of Summer 2018 seem to be a part of the constantly evolving intent of Houston Hall. While Houston is still a place where people congregate to eat and do work, the purpose has definitely changed since its conception in 1896 as recreational activities like pool tables and TV rooms mostly exist within college houses. Even though the conversation continues on campus, this walkthrough of Houston Hall’s history has only solidified its status as a staple of Penn’s campus.

 

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Caught In The Sun: A Reflection on Penn Students’ Summer Activity

By: Jorge Penado, C’19
International Relations Major
Work-Study Student, Sweeten Alumni House

While the heat begins to fade on campus, it is undeniable that the summer season is winding down for Penn students. Besides returning to Philadelphia, another significant stepping stone of the summer is the end of the various summer experiences Penn students participate in. As we all begin another year, everyone has to catch up on what they’ve been doing for the last three months. Whether it’s an internship, travel or simply heading back home, Penn students are sure to have exciting and interesting stories about their summers. But, the question always comes up: what do Penn students typically do over the summer? While we’re still fresh off the heels of Summer 2018, we can look back at previous years to see what Penn students tend to do over the summer.

Published in January 2018 by Career Services, their report presents a breakdown of the results of a questionnaire surveying students on their Summer 2017 activities. [Add link/source of the report.] For starters, with over 3,000 responses, over 70% of students in all three surveyed populations worked over the summer. The next two highest activities common amongst students include completing classes and traveling or taking time off. In particular, sophomores were more likely to complete classes or travel/ take time off. Interestingly, more than three-quarters of students had a paid position. Though the report does not clarify what types of positions were held, this is amazing because there’s always so much talk around unpaid internships and how difficult they can be for students to participate in. Overall, the numbers point to an overwhelmingly involved and active summer for many students.

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2017 Career Services Summer Survey

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2017 Career Services Summer Survey

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2017 Career Services Summer Survey

After understanding the general picture, the report additionally outlines where people were employed. For example, most Sophomores and Juniors stayed in Pennsylvania while Seniors mostly went to New York. However, most people who responded to the survey either were in New York, Pennsylvania or California. The summer destination of Penn students additionally makes sense when you consider what they were doing. Most Seniors and Juniors worked in Finance which is a clear reflection of the business-oriented mindset of many students at Penn. Most Sophomores were involved in the Education industry, though there is no detail as to what this entails. Similarly to the state, most surveyed students worked in three distinct industries: Finance, Education and Technology. With both the industry and geographic distribution in mind, the map of where people worked in becomes clearer.

If we dive deeper into the common employers for students, it’s easy to see that Penn employs the most students over the summer. Whether it’s doing research with a professor or working at the hospital, a summer in Philadelphia almost seems like a staple for many students for their time at Penn. Other than Penn, the employers tend to vary between years. Seniors worked with employers like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Juniors worked with employers like the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia or J.P. Morgan. Many Sophomores stayed within the university’s many departments such as the Perelman School of Medicine. Though there are definitely trends around what students did, there are still so many ways to diversify your experience. With this one report, it’s possible to get a picture of what students generally do, even if the results for Summer 2018 have yet to be published.

When considering that Penn is one of the largest summer employers, the scope of support from Penn becomes that much more noteworthy. Whether it’s providing research positions, opportunities abroad through organizations like the International Internship Program or On-Campus Recruiting, Penn provides many paths to finding positions over the summer. However, in addition to this, another valuable service the university has begun to provide would have to be funding for these summer opportunities. As a result of generous donors, Career Services was able to provide about $3,500 for a select amount of students to cover expenses for unpaid or underpaid experiences in the summer.

In particular, this service holds great significance to me because it funded my own summer experience. For the summer, I was fortunate enough to participate in the Department of State’s internship at the US Embassy in Lima, Peru under the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement section. For ten weeks, I was able to meet with high-ranking officials in the foreign service, participate in daily, embassy work, interact with Peruvians from all sectors, write and edit government reports and learn about regional and national politics hands-on and out in the field. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without funding from Penn to support my transportation, living expenses, and food. With their support, I had significantly less stress about financial logistics and was able to fully immerse myself in the experience, and I don’t doubt the funding made every other recipient’s summer experience that much less stressful.

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US Embassy in Lima, Peru (The place I spent my summer of 2018)

Overall, while the summer season has ended for Penn students, many come back to campus with great experiences working, taking classes or simply going home. The professional culture at Penn is a staple of the undergraduate experience, and it’s always best when Penn can help smoothen that process and provide an extensive list of resources!

 

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Penn Serves LA Beautifies Roof for The Skid Row Housing Trust

By Michelle Wattana, C’09, and Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering

On Saturday, April 21st, the Penn Serves LA crew partnered with The Skid Row Housing Trust, where our very own Anne Dobson, C’08, serves as the Vice President of Philanthropy! Spearheaded by Penn Serves board members Jane Gutman and Irene Park, we met at the ground level of The Six Apartments in the Westlake/MacArthur Park neighborhood. Our team gathered water, snacks, and tools and listened to Anne’s informative pep talk for the day’s activities before we headed up to beautify the building’s rooftop through re-planting drought-resistant succulents.

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust volunteering Los Angeles

The Six building where we planted on the rooftop.

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering

Our group of Penn Serves LA volunteers

The Skid Row Housing Trust provides permanent supportive housing so that people who have experienced homelessness, prolonged extreme poverty, poor health, disabilities, mental illness and/or addiction can lead safe, stable lives in wellness. Many of these tenants are formerly homeless veterans. The Trust develops, manages, and operates permanent and supportive housing for its residents, and while a number of its buildings such as The Six are not actually on Skid Row itself, these buildings are beautiful, light-filled, open structures that in their very essence, exude what The Trust aims to provide – not only a place to get a safe night’s sleep, but hope, calm, and positivity during one’s greatest time of need.

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering

Penn Serves LA volunteers plant succulents

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering

On the roof planting succulents

The Six houses 55 tenants. All units in the building were single tenant units, as the targeted tenant is the single adult, with the average age of a tenant being 52-53 years of age. The units in the Trust’s buildings are subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”). The accommodations are provided for as long as a tenant needs, allowing as much time as necessary to heal, and various support services are provided, depending on each tenant’s need. Such services include case management, medical care, substance abuse counseling, technology assistance, benefits support, and full support for relocating from the streets or emergency shelters, and into housing. It is paramount that those who have been homeless can receive all the support they need to make the transition from homelessness to independence.

With this in mind, our team eagerly headed up to the rooftop where we were met with gorgeous views of Los Angeles – from the downtown skyline to the Hollywood sign and everything in between. As hot as it was, we got down to business! Armed with gloves and shovels, the Penn Serves crew planted a vast array of succulents into squares of soil that spanned the entire length of the rooftop. Everyone was hard at work, and some residents even stopped by to chat and help!

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering

Beautiful views of downtown Los Angeles from the roof.

In-hand with our previous event, making mosaic art through Piece by Piece, some pieces were brought to further beautify the rooftop garden. A few pieces were made fresh by volunteers on-site at the rooftop, and it was really wonderful to be able to link our events for the same cause. The beads and tiles used to make the mosaics really glistened and sparkled in the sun, adding a really cheerful touch to the little garden we had just created!

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering Piece by Piece

Making mosaics for the garden with Piece by Piece

Our crew had a wonderful time working our hearts out, chatting with one another while planting those succulents and piecing mosaics together. Before we knew it, we finished our tasks with time to spare! As our work came to an end, we were able to enjoy a fantastic view and the fruits of our labor. The little plants and mosaics added just the right touch to spruce up the space! The succulents, in particular, were the perfect plant for the job, as they are symbols of resilience, perseverance, and hope, and possess the ability to thrive under tough conditions. We were all reminded that afternoon, that all of us have a right to live in peace and beauty, and that even just a little light in our day can brighten things up immensely. And it was our sincerest wish that the residents of The Six would be able to enjoy the serene rooftop whenever they needed.

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering Piece by Piece mosaics

Working on mosaics for the garden

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering Piece by Piece mosaics

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering Piece by Piece mosaics

The finished mosaic ball for the garden

Penn Serves LA logo volunteering with Penn Alumni in Los Angeles

Upcoming Events

About Penn Serves LA

 

Penn Serves LA impacts the Los Angeles community by engaging University of Pennsylvania alumni, parents and families in meaningful community service activities.

Since our founding in 2012, we have done everything from serving meals to the homeless to restoring the environment to fixing homes. Six times annually, we find another great opportunity to learn about interesting nonprofits, lend a hand and enjoy a fun experience with fellow alumni.

Join Us

We invite the Penn community in Los Angeles (alumni, parents, and kids) to join us at a future event, to help spread the word and to help us plan future activities. Join us, meet new Penn people, demonstrate what service means to your kids and friends, and help fellow Quakers make a little bit of difference in our complex city!

If you have an established nonprofit that you would like us to consider for future events or announcements, please let us know. We are looking for new nonprofits to serve in meaningful ways.

Contact Us

Questions? Want to join our email list? Reach us at pennserves@gmail.com.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter!

The Penn Serves LA Team

Christine Belgrad, W’85, PAR’15 | Michal Clements, W’84 | Justin Gordon, W’05 | Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16 | Leanne Huebner, W’90 | Jamie Kendall, W’04 | Irene Park, C’05 | Kiera Reilly, C’93 | Michelle Wattana, C’09 | Denise Winner, W’83, PAR’21

Read about our previous events:

 

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Penn Serves LA Makes Mosaics with Piece by Piece

By Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’ 14, PAR’16

Inspired by a 2006 visit to a micro-finance enterprise, training and employing women with HIV to make animals and dolls using seed beads in South Africa, Piece by Piece founder, artist Sophie Alpert, returned home with a desire to replicate this model as a mosaic workshop to empower people in underserved areas of Los Angeles.

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Detail of a mosaic piece the Penn Serves LA volunteers worked on during their visit.

People seeking new skills from South Central, Skid Row or other parts of LA can take training and certification classes in mosaic arts, free of charge, through Piece by Piece.  The artisans primarily use recycled materials (broken tiles, china, and glass) to create mirrors, trivets, wall décor, etc.  In March at our day to volunteer with Piece by Piece, the Penn Serves LA group received their own brief instruction in mosaic making: breaking up and chipping china, using thinset and other adherents, and basic design, before charging ahead with their own creations.

Our enthusiastic Quakers worked in groups on designs for decorating flower pots, and also took turns applying mosaic fragments on a large birdbath.  Reticent at the start, everyone found their rhythm and enthusiastically worked through lunch….but food ultimately beckoned, and fortunately, Piece by Piece has their showroom at Mercado La Paloma, an inviting space in the Figueroa Corridor which was once a garment factory.   This wonderful community revitalization project today provides affordable cultural, retail and culinary opportunities and serves as a vital hub for the area.

The Penn volunteers learned a new skill, made friends across the decades, enjoyed Vegan Ethiopian food (for example) and shopped for handmade copper bowls, embroidered blouses or woven satchels.  I came home with a magnificent mosaic wall hanging with a huge heart made up of white stones, surrounded pieces of blue and white pottery…this creation, made b a master mosaic artist,  will long remind me of the heart-filled joint venture between Penn Serves LA volunteers and the Piece by Piece community.

To learn more, shop or volunteer your time, please go to piecebypiece.org.

Penn Serves LA Piece by Piece

The Penn Serves LA volunteers pose with their mosaic pieces

Upcoming Events

About Penn Serves LA

Penn Serves LA logo volunteering with Penn Alumni in Los Angeles

Penn Serves LA impacts the Los Angeles community by engaging University of Pennsylvania alumni, parents and families in meaningful community service activities.

Since our founding in 2012, we have done everything from serving meals to the homeless to restoring the environment to fixing homes. Six times annually, we find another great opportunity to learn about interesting nonprofits, lend a hand and enjoy a fun experience with fellow alumni.

Join Us

We invite the Penn community in Los Angeles (alumni, parents, and kids) to join us at a future event, to help spread the word and to help us plan future activities. Join us, meet new Penn people, demonstrate what service means to your kids and friends, and help fellow Quakers make a little bit of difference in our complex city!

If you have an established nonprofit that you would like us to consider for future events or announcements, please let us know. We are looking for new nonprofits to serve in meaningful ways.

Contact Us

Questions? Want to join our email list? Reach us at pennserves@gmail.com.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter!

The Penn Serves LA Team

Christine Belgrad, W’85, PAR’15 | Michal Clements, W’84 | Justin Gordon, W’05 | Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16 | Leanne Huebner, W’90 | Jamie Kendall, W’04 | Irene Park, C’05 | Kiera Reilly, C’93 | Michelle Wattana, C’09 | Denise Winner, W’83, PAR’21

Read about our previous events:

 

 

 

 

 

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Penn Serves LA at Homeboy Industries, Homegirl Café, and the Guadalupe Homeless Shelter

By Michelle Wattana, C’09

Following our January social, the Penn Serves crew launched into 2018 with a full day of service! Planned by our very own Ellie Hidalgo, C’87,  and Michal Clements, W’84, we started the day by touring Homeboy Industries, having a delicious lunch at the Homegirl Café, and finishing off by preparing dinner for the Guadalupe Homeless Project at the Dolores Mission Parish.

Homeboy Industries Tour

“Nothing stops a bullet like a job.” – Father Greg Boyle

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HomeBoy Industries in downtown Los Angeles

We first gathered at the Homeboy headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. As we walked in, there were smiling faces everywhere and the atmosphere was bustling with a sense of optimism, hope, and productivity! We split off into two groups, headed by our phenomenal tour guides Garry and Omar, who are both working on completing the Homeboy program themselves. Kind enough to share their personal stories with us, Garry and Omar are so well-spoken, they could’ve passed as professional motivational speakers!

Founded by Father Greg Boyle and members of the Dolores Mission Church in 1988, Homeboy Industries is now the largest and most successful gang intervention and re-entry program in the world. Thousands of men and women have since walked through its doors, and this wonderful organization offers several programs to assist them in rehabilitation – it’s a holistic approach, offering resources for the healing of the mind, soul, and body. Programs cover areas including education, workforce development, mental health, legal services, substance abuse, domestic violence, and tattoo removal. To give some idea of the incredible time, energy, and work provided by the organization, Homeboy Industries had 35 volunteer physicians, some of whom are based across the country, perform 11,834 tattoo removal treatments for free in the last year alone!

Homeboy Industries also offers several social enterprises to foster workforce development, including electronics recycling, silkscreen and embroidery, Homegirl Café, a bakery, an online market (homeboyfoods.com), catering, and groceries. At every turn, it was clear that the Homeboy and Homegirl programs were here to provide full care and support every step of the way, for its men and women looking to start a new chapter in life.

Lunch at Homegirl Cafe

Once we completed our tours, we headed into the Homegirl Café for a delicious lunch. We began with chips, salsa and guacamole, and our tables quickly filled with flavorful tacos, salads, and sandwiches.

Their website says it best – as one of Homeboy’s many social enterprises, Homegirl Café and Catering assists high-risk and formerly gang-involved young women, and a few young men, through an 18-month training program in restaurant service and culinary arts. Often times, this training serves as their first “real job”, as they learn to work alongside their former enemies and gain fundamental job skills in a supportive environment.

As you can see, our group enjoyed every bite! This fantastic café is a place where you can receive mouthwatering meals, baked goods, and support the empowerment of trainees and their families, all at the same time.

As we concluded our lunch, we reflected on how grateful we were for the chance to listen to Garry and Omar, feast on the delicious meals prepared at the café, and see for ourselves the incredible impact that the programs have on the community youth who need it most. Simply put, the Homeboy and Homegirl programs are a place to heal and find peace, offering the chance to begin again with open arms.

…and onto the Guadalupe Homeless Shelter!

Pumped up from the tour and well-fueled by lunch, the Penn Serves group then headed off to the Dolores Mission Parish to prepare dinner for the homeless community in Boyle Heights. The Dolores Mission Parish, established in 1925 for the underserved Spanish-speaking immigrants of the community, saw Jesuit priests arrive in 1980 to serve a neighborhood wrought by poverty and the effects of 7-9 gangs in the two-square-mile parish. Today, there are now only three gangs, some of which are inactive – a testament to the strength and perseverance of the parish and the surrounding community. And a fun Penn fact? Our very own Ellie Hidalgo, C’87, serves as Pastoral Associate for the parish’s church and school!

The Guadalupe Homeless Project (“GHP”) provides breakfast and dinner, as well as nightly shelter, to 45 men and 15 senior-aged women. Founded partly in response to those fleeing the Salvadoran Crisis, the men’s shelter first opened its doors in 1989, with the women’s shelter starting in 2015.  GHP and its volunteers also provide assistance through coordinating workshops, providing gently-used clothing, and helping with transitioning into emergency, transitional, or permanent housing.

On our tour of the grounds, we saw the communal gathering area, sleeping quarters (the light beds are stacked neatly every morning!), clothing center, nearby affiliated school, and of course, the church where members come for services and prayer. Beautifully decorated with Christian and Salvadoran motifs, we were reminded that the church has served as a healing ground for a community riddled with violence over the past decades. Sadly, many have lost at least one family member to incarceration or violence, and the church provides a place where families can receive hope, healing, and a sense of community together, in the face of hardship.

Following the tour, it was time for us to roll up our sleeves and prepare dinner. Our board members and volunteers alike spent the previous days preparing delicious foods in bulk for the evening meal. As diners came lining up, many of whom were fresh off a long day’s work and still in their uniforms, we served roasted chicken, salad, roasted potatoes, fresh fruit, desserts, and ice-cold beverages.

 

Once everybody had enough food, a few of us were able to sit down and chat with diners. To get to know who they are, hear their stories, and even listen to some songs from their homeland. All in all, it was a wonderful day of service for the Penn Serves community. We are so thankful to everyone who joined – onto the next!

 

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Penn Serves LA volunteers at the Guadalupe Shelter

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Click on these links for more information on Homeboy Industries and Father Greg Boyle’s bestselling books Tattoos on the Heart and Barking to the Choir.

Click for more information on the Dolores Mission Parish and the Guadalupe Homeless Project.

Listen to NPR’s Fresh Air host Terry Gross interview Father Boyle here.

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Upcoming Events

About Penn Serves LA

Penn Serves LA logo volunteering with Penn Alumni in Los Angeles

Penn Serves LA impacts the Los Angeles community by engaging University of Pennsylvania alumni, parents and families in meaningful community service activities.

Since our founding in 2012, we have done everything from serving meals to the homeless to restoring the environment to fixing homes. Six times annually, we find another great opportunity to learn about interesting nonprofits, lend a hand and enjoy a fun experience with fellow alumni.

Join Us

We invite the Penn community in Los Angeles (alumni, parents, and kids) to join us at a future event, to help spread the word and to help us plan future activities. Join us, meet new Penn people, demonstrate what service means to your kids and friends, and help fellow Quakers make a little bit of difference in our complex city!

If you have an established nonprofit that you would like us to consider for future events or announcements, please let us know. We are looking for new nonprofits to serve in meaningful ways.

Contact Us

Questions? Want to join our email list? Reach us at pennserves@gmail.com.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter!

The Penn Serves LA Team

Christine Belgrad, W’85, PAR’15 | Michal Clements, W’84 | Justin Gordon, W’05 | Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16 | Leanne Huebner, W’90 | Jamie Kendall, W’04 | Irene Park, C’05 | Kiera Reilly, C’93 | Michelle Wattana, C’09 | Denise Winner, W’83, PAR’21

Read about our previous events:

 

 

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Filed under Los Angeles, Penn Serves, Volunteering