Category Archives: Los Angeles

Blankets of Love

Penn Serves launched the New Year intertwining crocheting, wine and cheese, and Quaker spirit to support Blankets of Love. Over 25 alumni and friends (women and a couple of men too) joined together for a late afternoon training session to learn to crochet in Manhattan Beach. We began with a crochet hook, learned a split knot, made a bunch of loops, practiced on the first row, ripped it out, crocheted a second row (or in some cases ripped it out again) and eventually crocheted the beginnings of a wool scarf.

Blankets of Love was founded less than a year ago from love and hope for every newborn. The organization is in memory of the founders’ beautiful son, Justin Strand, who died way too early due to drug abuse and bad luck. “Babies are on loan from God – love them, raise them and release them”, shares Cyndi Strand, one of the founders. Whether circumstances are bleak or bright, the Strands look forward to creating handmade Blankets of Love to bring some sense of security and joy to babies leaving MLK and other hospitals with mothers and families who have little or no means, or who are living on the street.

 

The January Penn Serves event was the first organized training and crocheting session for this non-profit. Hopefully those who participated will embrace this new hobby, finish their scarves and move on to a 36 by 36 inch Blanket of Love.

For those interested in donating, blankets must be knit from acrylic or other washable yarns. Learn more about Blankets of Love: http://blanketsoflovesouthbay.com/.

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Filed under Los Angeles, Penn Serves, Penn Serves LA, Uncategorized, Volunteering

Got books? Penn Serves LA Staffs ICEF’s First Literacy Festival

By Leanne Huebner, W’90

Almost 100 students and family members joined the First Annual ICEF Literacy Festival, staffed by Penn Serves LA volunteers. The event was held at the newly-built View Park Preparatory Accelerated Charter Elementary School, one of the schools of ICEF Public Schools located on Crenshaw Boulevard in Inglewood.  

ICEF Public Schools

Led by CEO and Wharton graduate Parker Hudnut,  ICEF Public Schools is a Los Angeles based charter operator that operates nine inner-city charter schools serving over 3,500 K-12 students. ICEF’s goal is to prepare all students to attend and compete at the nation’s top 100 colleges and universities by focusing on the 3 As – Academics, Arts and Athletics.

Creating the Literacy Day with Penn Serves LA

When approached by Penn Serves co-founder Denise Winner, W’83, with how Penn Serves might assist ICEF, Parker jumped at the opportunity and worked with Denise to develop the concept of hosting a day around books and literacy. “We host an Arts Day and Sports Day, so a Literacy Festival was the perfect catalyst to connect Penn Serves and our mission,” shared Hudnut.

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These two students stopped by after their soccer games and checked in at the ICEF Literacy Festival

“At Penn Serves, we love to offer high impact volunteer days and jump on opportunities where we can impact an underserved, underresourced area,” shared Denise. “In the past, we have helped a Lincoln Heights charter school move to a new building, painted the classrooms of new charter school in South Gate, and hosted the first graduation celebration for Richstone. This year we were thrilled to work directly with students and focus on literacy.”

Students had access to a camping-themed reading room with tents and flashlights, a free book exchange, classrooms set for reading out loud, and book-themed arts and crafts tents.  Three local children book authors were on hand for impromptu readings and conversations on why they wrote their books.  Penn Alumni were encouraged to bring their own children to both celebrate literacy and provide a working hand.   Throughout the day, Penn alumni were offering their reading help to younger students and creating crafty projects with young students, while older elementary students demonstrated their reading skills by reading out loud.

“It was a great day for all – and fun to share our love of reading with the students,” shared Kiera Reilly, C’93, one of the Penn Serves board members.

ICEF team members hope to make the event an annual fall event and hope Penn Serves will continue to be part of its success going forward.

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Penn Serves LA volunteers, ICEF staff and students are excited about reading!

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ICEF Public Schools CEO Parker Hudnut (in purple shirt) poses with Penn Serves LA, students and one of the children’s book authors at the ICEF Literacy Festival

You can see more photos from the ICEF Public Schools Literacy day here.

About Penn Serves LA

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

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 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.

Upcoming Events

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 | Jeff Weston, C’05 | Denise Winner, W’83

Read about our previous events:

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Filed under Alumni Programming, Kiera R., Los Angeles, Penn Serves, Penn Serves LA, Volunteering

Penn Serves LA Helps L.A. Kitchen Feed the Hungry and Reduce Food Waste

By Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16

In Los Angeles, 18 million pounds of food are disposed of every day, most of which goes into incinerators or landfill. L.A. Kitchen wants to empower, nourish and engage our community. They achieve this by reclaiming and repurposing healthy, local food that would otherwise be discarded, converting bruised fruits and vegetables into healthy meals for seniors and the disadvantaged. On Saturday, November 12th, 35 Penn alumni and friends washed, chopped and prepped hundreds and hundreds of pounds of vegetables, while our kid volunteers created 200 gorgeous salads in cups. We worked alongside L.A. Kitchen’s fabulous staff and trainees, the formerly unemployed who are receiving superb training for jobs in the food industry.

We learned about the work and values of L.A. Kitchen, before our training in the proper use of lethal knives. The elderly need healthy meals, imperfect looking food can feed the multitudes, employees deserve a living wage…hunger is not about a lack of food!

Penn Serves LA instruction by LA Kitchen for knife use

Penn Serves LA volunteers watch as an L.A. Kitchen team member teaches the proper way to slice a potato with a sharp knife

Penn Serves LA volunteers with green beans at L.A. Kitchen

Penn Serves LA volunteers excited about opening these bags of green beans to prep them for salads at L.A. Kitchen

The Penn volunteers cried through onion chopping, carefully seasoned raw chicken, and transformed bushels of hideous potatoes into gorgeous tasty, diced bits. Everyone stayed and worked for hours, finally disinfecting all surfaces, washing all of our dishes, mopping the floors and readying L.A. Kitchen for the next shift. All of the Penn Serves LA volunteers left in awe of the dedicated crew at L.A. Kitchen and their noble mission to insure that neither food nor people should go to waste.

 

Salads prepared by Penn Serves LA volunteers at L.A. Kitchen

Fresh salads prepared by Penn Serves LA volunteers at L.A. Kitchen are ready to go

 

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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.

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 fun experience with fellow alumni.

Penn Serves LA volunteers with L.A. Kitchen after food prep

Penn Serves LA volunteers pose with members of L.A. Kitchen after a morning spent chopping, slicing and dicing food.

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.

Upcoming Events

  • January 7, 2017 – Blankets of Love (Manhattan Beach)
  • January 26, 2017 – Penn Serves Social
  • March, 2017 – Food Forward Harvesting
  • April, 29, 2017 – Habitat for Humanity

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 | Jeff Weston, C’05 | Denise Winner, W’83

Read about our previous events:

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Los Angeles Penn Women Build Career Networking Connections and Reflect on “Women in the Holocaust”

By Michal Clements W’84

On Tuesday, August 9th, approximately 50 Penn alumnae and current students (including an incoming Penn freshman) gathered on Tuesday August 9th for Trustees’ Council of Penn Women TCPW Speed Career Networking and a “Women in the Holocaust” Panel Discussion at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH) in Pan Pacific Park. Before our evening began, as an extra treat, LAMOTH Board Chair and TCPW Member Beth Kean led a private tour of the museum for interested alumni.

During the speed networking portion of the evening, Penn alumnae and students got to explore several rooms of the museum as the networking meeting locations were in different rooms.  Special highlights include the “Woman in Gold” room as well as the Tree of Testimony Room, among many others.

The speed networking table captains were TCPW’s Co Chair Lori Wachs, Christine Belgrad, Julie Platt and Beth Kean as well as several Los Angeles area Penn alumni: Elizabeth Kopple, Linda Rosenberg, and Lisa Niver.

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Next, Penn alumni and documentary filmmaker Jon Kean (“Swimming in Auschwitz”) expertly moderated the “Women in the Holocaust” panel discussion to focus on womens’ experiences and to include a mix of academic historical realities, as well as personal narratives and reflections. The panelists were Professor Sharon Gillerman of Hebrew Union College, LAMOTH Director Samara Hutman and LAMOTH Board Member and Survivor Dana Schwartz.

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The special evening was well summarized in a review that one of the attendees wrote”

“This was a lovely and inspiring place to hold an alumni event. Relatives of holocaust survivors and scholars spoke to our alumni group and provided heartfelt insight into one of the worst times in human history. The museum itself is deeply informative with photos and dialogue that capture pieces of the holocaust. The hors d’oeuvres and drinks was a nice addition to the event.

A heartfelt thank you to all who made a evening into a reality including the LAMOTH leadership and staff, especially Beth Kean and Lisa Barnet; Penn alumni relations, especially Molly Trimmer and Terri Welsh; Los Angeles area Penn women leaders, and our wonderful moderator and panelists, Jon Kean, Dana Schwartz, Sharon Gillerman and Samara Hutman.

 

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PennServes Picks Packs of Peppers at Westside Food Bank

Penn Serves LA visited the Westside Food Bank in Santa Monica on October 24 to lend a hand. Here is the report of their day by Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16.
18,000 pounds of fresh pears, apples and peppers arrived yesterday, to everyone’s surprise, at the Westside Food Bank.  In a few days it would rot… Quakers to the rescue!
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Feeling pumped following last night’s under-the-lights football win over Yale, over twenty-five members of the Penn family met at the Westside Food Bank to pitch in for another worthy and enjoyable Penn Serves LA project.  The food bank distributes 4.5 million pounds of food each year to 70 local social service agencies.  Half of this food is donated through collection drives by churches, synagogues, schools, the mail carriers, etc., and in addition, the Westside Food Bank purchases an average of $16,500 worth of nutritious food each week.  We were shown a moving video about the work of the Food Bank, the grateful recipients, and the importance of distributing healthy foods:  more produce and protein, less sugar and fat.
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We were shocked to learn that the beautiful food we gleaned and packed today would have been thrown out by farmers were it not for the Food Bank’s efforts to collect healthy produce to assist our food insecure friends in LA.  They pay a small amount to have this food trucked in, and whenever it arrives they need to quickly sort it and box it so that people can “shop” at local agencies for wonderful farm fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Quakers built and filled boxes and worked in the hot sun to get the job done.  As usual, we had all ages and all schools represented.  The time flew by and the last box of peppers found its way into the cooler – we took care of 18,000 pounds of produce and felt good knowing a few thousand people would enjoy healthy snacks this week because of our efforts.

About Penn Serves LA

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!

Upcoming Penn Serves LA events:

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 pennserves@gmail.com. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

The Penn Serves LA Team

Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16 | Denise Winner, W’83 | Christine Belgrad, W’85, PAR’15 | Leanne Huebner, W’90 | Kiera Reilly, C’93 | Aileen Level, C’99, GED’00 | Irene Park, C’05 | Jeff Weston, C’05

Penn Serves LA has many terrific projects for all ages on the calendar for the coming months.

Read about our previous events:

See the video about the WestSide Food Bank:

 

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Penn Serves LA: Harvesting a Garden for Veterans

By Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16

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In the midst of our intense and bustling city of somewhere between 13 and 18 million people, we find a few parks and refuges from the crowds. And for those whose budgets won’t allow for multi-thousand dollar initiation fees, there are also a handful of golf courses where anyone can pay to play. Penn Serves LA enjoyed the convergence of many treats for our recent project in July. We gathered at a wonderful, pastoral spot, which is also a golf course open to the public AND we had a bit of summer rain – a real slice of LA heaven.

With gardening gloves and trowels in hand, thirty-odd alumni, friends and children brought the raised bed gardens at the Veteran Administration’s Heroes Golf Course back to life. No special skills were needed to hoe, weed, trim, harvest, re-plant and re-stake these beds, and it was the most satisfying work. After less than three hours our Quakers had literally transformed the gardens from their sad state of affairs, to flourishing boxes of green glory…and in the process we picked basket after basket of zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, herbs and more.

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The Executive Director of the Heroes Golf Course, Bruce Rosen, provided the group with a wonderful history of the VA in Brentwood. The golf facility itself, a 9-hole 3-par course, is most inviting and now all the more so because it is ringed by healthy raised vegetable beds, the produce of which is offered to any veterans who choose to come by and partake.

We are grateful to Bruce and his associate Aviva for providing us with plentiful mulch, plants, tools and enthusiasm …and to the vets who worked alongside of our Penn volunteers. We hope people will support our veterans and this course by coming out to play a round, and meanwhile check out the fruits (and vegetables) of some fine Penn gardening labors…and let’s all hope for a little more rain!

About Penn Serves LA

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!

Upcoming Penn Serves LA events:

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? Reach us at pennserves@gmail.com. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

The Penn Serves LA Team

Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16 | Denise Winner, W’83 | Christine Belgrad, W’85, PAR’15 | Leanne Huebner, W’90 | Kiera Reilly, C’93 | Aileen Level, C’99, GED’00 | Irene Park, C’05 | Jeff Weston, C’05

Penn Serves LA has many terrific projects for all ages on the calendar for the coming months.

Read about our previous events:

 

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Kiera R., Los Angeles, Penn Serves LA, Volunteering

Penn Serves LA has The Giving Spirit

By Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16

Photos by Kiera Reilly, C’93

Wonderful Penn Serves LA volunteers joined in a fantastic effort on May 30th to provide a bit of summer relief for some of the 82,000 people in our city who are homeless on any given night. Founded in 1998, The Giving Spirit has raised over $2 million through small donations and served over 35,000 homeless. Twice a year this all-volunteer non-profit, the largest in the city, organizes the filling of backpacks and duffle bags with essential items (canned and fresh food, clean socks and hats, toiletries, etc. plus lists of available services) to help our friends on the street to survive and enjoy a bit of comfort during the hottest and coldest points in the year.

Volunteers of all ages helped to set up the assembly line, then fill the backpacks.

Volunteers of all ages helped to set up the assembly line, then fill the backpacks.

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Volunteers at the beginning of the assembly line to fill the backpacks.

But in addition to handing out these critical supplies, The Giving Spirit is unique in its approach:  the organization’s leaders know they cannot cure homelessness, but when volunteers hand bags full of help, and maybe hope, to homeless people, they also look them in the eyes, engage them when feasible and let these disenfranchised people know that someone is thinking about them. The formula is a moving one, and through a short, televised video our Penn Serves LA volunteers received a glimpse into its effectiveness.

Jane Gutman introduces The Giving Spirit's founder and Chairman Tom Bagamane to the Penn Serves LA group.

Jane Gutman introduces The Giving Spirit’s founder and Chairman Tom Bagamane to the Penn Serves LA group.

Tom talks to the group about the founding of The Giving Spirit and the work that they do to help the homeless in Los Angeles.

Tom talks to the group about the founding of The Giving Spirit and the work that they do to help the homeless in Los Angeles.

Penn Serves' Jeff Weston, C'05, helps load the filled backpacks into vans for distribution.

Penn Serves’ Jeff Weston, C’05, helps load the filled backpacks into vans for distribution.

One truck filled with backpacks ready to be distributed.

One truck filled with backpacks ready to be distributed.

Penn Serves volunteers at The Giving Spirit.

Penn Serves volunteers at The Giving Spirit.

 

Penn Serves LA has many terrific projects for all ages on the calendar for the coming months, including a day of painting on June 13th at Valiente College Preparatory Charter School, a brand new school for underserved kids opening this fall. Join us this Saturday – RSVP here.

 Join us, meet new Penn people, demonstrate what service means to your kids and friends, help us Quakers make a little bit of difference in our complex city!

Upcoming Penn Serves LA events:

  • Saturday, June 13, 2015 – Help paint Valiente College Preparatory Charter School – RSVP
  • Saturday, July 18, 2015 – Harvesting a Garden for Veterans – RSVP
  • Saturday, September 12, 2015 – Reading to Kids – Details coming soon
  • Sunday, December 6, 2015 – Midnight Mission: Serving Meals to the Homeless – Details coming soon

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? Reach us at pennserves@gmail.com.

Find us on the web, follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page!

Read about our previous events:

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

 

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Filed under Alumni Programming, Kiera R., Los Angeles, Penn Serves, Penn Serves LA, Volunteering