Since 2012, Penn Serves LA has been dedicated to the mission of providing Penn alumni with vetted opportunities for meaningful community service in the Los Angeles area. We work with a diverse mix of community organizations, with hands-on programs in a variety of locations throughout the city, all under our motto of SERVE, LEARN and HAVE FUN too. In some cases, Penn alumni become involved with the organizations we serve on an ongoing basis.
The projects and the impact of Penn Serves LA, along with the engagement of our participants, during 2016-2017 are described below. This past year, Penn Alumni, along with their families and friends, participated in a broad array of service activities across a wide swath of the LA region. Our projects included home building, fruit picking, blanket crocheting, food re-purposing, fluorescent painting, and literacy celebrating.
We have already kicked off our 2017 – 2018 year of activities with several events:
- Restoring the Ballona Wetlands
- Planting Trees with Tree People
- Serving a Thanksgiving Dinner on Skid Row
A calendar of impactful activities and projects for the year ahead is scheduled, and we look forward to working alongside Penn alumni, families and friends in 2018. Confirmed events for 2018 include:
- January 27 – Penn Serves New Year Social
- February 16 – Homeboy Industries
- March – Piece by Piece
- April – Skid Row Housing
- June 2 – Gentle Barn
We welcome all Penn alumni and their families and friends to participate at our events and are deeply grateful to the many people who participated in our projects last year, whether one time or frequently. Through active engagement, Penn Serves LA builds bonds among our alumni, across all years and schools, while contributing to the strength of our great city.
Penn Serves LA 2016 – 2017 Year in Review
Read about all the people and animals that have benefited from the efforts of our Penn Serves LA volunteers during the last academic year (click on the date to read about our event and on the organization name to learn more about the organizations we helped).
October 2016: Got Books? Led by CEO and Penn alumnus Parker Hudnut, ICEF Public Schools is a Los Angeles based charter operator that oversees nine inner-city charter schools serving over 3,500 K-12 students. Penn volunteers staffed a wonderful literacy day, helping with craft projects, reading to kids, and generally sharing their love of books with the eager young students and their families.
November 2016: Alumni made a visit to LA Kitchen, an organization working to empower, nourish and engage our community by reclaiming and repurposing healthy, local food that would otherwise be discarded. Alumni donned aprons and wielded large knives to convert bruised fruits and vegetables into healthy meals for seniors and the disadvantaged.
January 2017: Penn Serves volunteers were trained in the art of crocheting with the lofty goal of creating soft, cheerful handmade blankets. Blankets of Love donates these works of love to bring some sense of security and joy to babies leaving Martin Luther King, and other area hospitals, with mothers and families who have little or no means, or who are living on the street.
January 2017: We toasted Ben Franklin’s birthday and the New Year at a festive cocktail party. Our attendees took a moment to share a bit of their Penn story and their motivation for engaging with Penn Serves LA. As is true at all events, a wonderful cross-section of Penn schools and years were represented and hearing the stories about people choosing to commit time and energy to improve our city was most inspiring.
April 2017: For the second time, Penn alumni partnered with Habitat for Humanity for a lengthy, exhausting and most memorable day of working on a new home side by side with the family that will live there. People caulked, sawed, framed, installed siding and generally felt terrific about learning new skills and contributing to creating a lovely home for a family in need.
May 2017: On a very hot day, alumni drove great distances to Orcutt Farm to work with Food Forward, an organization that has “rescued” over 100 million servings of fresh local produce in the past eight years. We spent the afternoon in an orange grove with other volunteers and picked 6500 pounds of fresh oranges, which would be delivered that very day to some of the 300 shelters, senior centers, and agencies Food Forward serves.
July 2017: It was a happy day when Penn Serves volunteers spent an afternoon using fantastic fluorescent colors to paint flowers on enormous disks. Portraits of Hope was started in 1995 to develop motivational art projects to provide creative therapy for children with special needs, and civic education for students, by producing dynamic public artworks. The 1000 disks we helped to create will be distributed to adorn and brighten animal shelters throughout the city.
August 2017: For our final project of the academic year, our volunteers assisted LA Works, an umbrella organization that, like Penn Serves, strives to empower Angelenos to address pressing social issues through volunteerism and community collaborations. The activities this day were focused entirely on the pressing issue of family and youth homelessness, and we listened to first-hand stories, created fleece blankets, packed necessity kits and the like.
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.
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.
Questions? Want to join our email list? Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
- October, 2017 – Penn Serves LA and TreePeople at the Audubon Center
- September, 2017 – Penn Serves LA Restores the Ballona Wetlands
- August, 2017- LA Works Pop-Up Day of Service
- July, 2017 – Portraits of Hope
- May, 2017 – Food Forward
- April, 2017 – Habitat for Humanity
- January, 2017 – Penn Serves LA Toasts the New Year
- January, 2017 – Blankets of Love
- November, 2016 – L.A. Kitchen
- October, 2016 – Got Books? Penn Serves LA Staff’s ICEF First Literacy Festival
- March, 2016 – Rescue Rabbits
- October, 2015 – Penn Serves Picks Packs of Peppers at Westside Food Bank
- September, 2015 – Penn Serves LA Reads to Kids
- July, 2015 – Penn Serves LA: Harvesting a Garden for Veterans
- June, 2015 – Penn Serves LA Spruces up a New Charter School
- June, 2015 – Penn Serves LA Has the Giving Spirit
- August, 2014 – Penn Serves LA Strikes Again: This Time with Paint!
- December, 2013 – Holidays are a Time for Giving
- November, 2013 – Sending Holiday Warmth to our Troops
- August and September, 2013 – Serving the Environment and LA Leadership Academy
- May, 2013 – One on One Outreach
- March, 2013 – Habitat for Humanity
- January, 2013 – Inner City Arts
- September, 2012 – The Midnight Mission
- June, 2012 – Turning Point Shelter