Category Archives: Los Angeles

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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LA Penn Women in Tech Panel Highlights Importance of Women and Other Underrepresented Groups in Growing Field and Shares Career Insights 

By Joanna Popper WG’00Global Head of Virtual Reality for Location Based Entertainment at HP

 

Thanks to the Trustees’ Council Women of University of Pennsylvania and Headspace Inc. for hosting a great conversation on Working in Tech in Los Angeles on June 12, 2018. What a great group with HPSpaceXHyperloop OneFandango and AutoGravity represented. It was fun with fellow panelists, moderator and hosts Meesh Pierce W93 WG98Shari Wakiyama WG’04Stella Latscha ENG13 GEN13Diana Zhou WG’16,Michal Clements W’84WG’89 and Sean Brecker WG’03.

 

What did we learn: 

  • It is important to create an inclusive environment in this fast-growing field as data shows that women and other underrepresented groups in leadership lead to better products, financials, stock prices, decision-making, and leadership 
  • Careers are often a winding path and it is about learning along the way.
  • There are lots of ways to work in tech. Cutting edge VR, space, media/film, transportation, finance, and meditation industries were all represented at this event as well as engineering, strategy, marketing, business development, operations and more.
  • Always negotiate for a job/ raise/ promotion. Then negotiate more. 
  • Not every culture and company fits every person. That’s OK. Find what works for you. 
  • We also contribute to the culture of a company. Draw your lines in the sand. 
  • Meditation is good for us. 

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Penn Serves LA 2016 – 2017 Year in Review

Penn Serves LA logo volunteering with Penn Alumni in Los Angeles

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:

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:

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.

Please Email us to be added to our Penn Serves email list. And Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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.

Penn Serves LA volunteers at ICEF public schools

Penn Serves LA volunteers and ICEF staff with books

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.

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.

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.

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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.

A great crowd of alumni of all ages and backgrounds coming to learn about Penn Serves LA

A great crowd of alumni of all ages and backgrounds coming to learn about Penn Serves LA

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.

Penn Serves LA helps Habitat for Humanity Los Angeles - volunteering Penn Alumni with Habitat LA

The Penn Serves LA group – proudly wearing the Red and the Blue – after helping Habitat LA

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.

Penn Serves LA at Food Forward

Penn Serves LA ready to help pick fruit for Food Forward

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.

Penn Serves LA Paints at Portraits of Hope in El Segundo

Penn Serves LA at Portraits of Hope

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.

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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 Alumni Programming, Jane G., Kiera R., Los Angeles, Michal Clements, Penn Serves, Penn Serves LA, Volunteering

Penn Serves LA Restores the Ballona Wetlands

By Michelle Wattana, C’09

Penn Serves LA at the Ballona Wetlands

Penn Serves LA at the Ballona Wetlands

It was a terrific day all around for the environment, community, and the twenty-six Penn volunteers who came out to help preserve native vegetation with Friends of Ballona Wetlands in Marina Del Rey! Donning hats and sunscreen, we started the morning off with a quick but informative overview on the local plants, insects, and animals found in the wetlands that are crucial to maintaining a healthy ecosystem. We learned that over the last century, invasive plant species have made their way into the wetlands (some from as far as New Zealand and South Africa!), slowly encroaching upon the beneficial species and detrimentally altering the balance of the local ecosystem. With every plant we pulled, we were going to make change that had positive lasting impacts!  And with that, we set out into the sunny outdoors to make way for the native plants that needed room to thrive, and for the insects and animals that depended on them.

Penn Serves LA Restores Ballona Wetland Acres of Vegetation to Preserve

Acres of Vegetation to Preserve

The Ballona Wetlands spans approximately 800 acres, and is one of Southern California’s precious remaining aquatic ecosystems. With only 10% of California’s original wetlands remaining today, restoration and preservation of local, beneficial species is more important than ever, as the wetlands are crucial to everything from air purification, flood protection, and fueling for the 240+ species of migrant birds that make the trek on the Pacific Flyway every year. Since 1978, Friends of Ballona Wetlands has been leading the effort to save and restore the area, working with environmental agencies, businesses, and over 95,000 volunteers to bring attention and resources toward preserving the wetlands.

Penn Serves LA Restores Ballona Wetlands volunteers learn to recognize invasive plants

Volunteers learning how to recognize invasive plants

Penn Serves LA Restores Ballona Wetlands

Penn Serves LA Restores Ballona Wetlands - family volunteering

Volunteering a family affair!

With just a pair of gloves each, Penn volunteers got right to work, pulling everything from ice plants to soft tumbleweed – adults and children alike had a great time helping the environment and getting to know one another better, while also receiving a nice morning workout! We took turns pulling, bagging, and carting off the invasive vegetation, and a few of us were lucky enough to catch sight of a hummingbird or butterfly, or two!

Penn Serves LA Restores Ballona Wetlands - smiles during break

All smiles during a well deserved break!

Penn Serves LA Restores Ballona Wetlands

Penn Serves LA board member Jane Gutman CW’73 and volunteers stacking the fruits of their labor

Penn Serves LA board member Jane Gutman CW’73 and volunteers stacking the fruits of their labor

Towards the end of the event, we stood back and marveled at our work – a good chunk of land was cleared for beneficial plants to thrive, and for seeding to take place in the Fall. We were then rewarded with a cool breeze and a beautiful view overlooking the salt marsh, reminding us just how important it is to keep the wetlands thriving. It was a true pleasure to do our part for mother nature!

Penn Serves LA restores Ballona Wetlands

The beautiful salt marsh

Penn Serves LA's Michal Clements, W'84, Jane Gutman, CW'73, XXX, and Michelle Wattana C'09

Penn Serves LA’s Michal Clements, W’84, Jane Gutman, CW’73, Elizabeth Gourlis, GED’08, and Michelle Wattana C’09 (impressive line-up of Penn attire ladies!)

Jane Gutman, CW'73, helps to clear out invasive vegetation

Jane Gutman, CW’73, helps to clear out invasive vegetation

Stay tuned for more fun, upcoming events with Penn Serves LA!

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 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.

Stay tuned for additional fall events which will be announced soon!

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 | Michelle Wattana, C’09 | Denise Winner, W’83

Read about our previous events:

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Penn Serves LA Assists with L.A. Works Pop Up Day of Service Focused on Family and Youth Homelessness (August 2017)

by Michal Clements, W’84

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On a hot Saturday morning, fourteen Penn Serves LA volunteers turned out bright and early to assist with L.A. Works Pop Up Day of Service in Griffith Park.  L.A. Works  mission is “to empower Angelenos to address pressing social issues through volunteerism and community collaboration.”  While L.A. Works  (http://www.laworks.com) offers a variety of hands-on community service projects intended to benefit different groups, the focus of this particular day was the important issue of family and youth homelessness.   In 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s report to Congress found that LA had the most chronically homeless people in the nation (13,000) and the most homeless veterans (2,800) and unaccompanied homeless youth (more than 3,000).

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After a brief overview from L.A. Works leaders, Penn Serves volunteers swung into action, with each Penn Serves volunteer assigned to a specific cohort (e.g., 4B) of fifteen to twenty-five other volunteers.   We led our assigned cohort to work stations in tents and then joined them in participating in the hands-on activities.  Activities included making sandwiches, making quilts for the homeless, assembling toiletry/self-care kits that included handmade origami with encouraging notes, and more.  After about twenty to thirty minutes for a given experience, the Penn Serves volunteer led the cohort to their next assignment.

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We also had the opportunity to learn from experts about the many initiatives underway to address L.A.’s Homeless at the Advocacy tents.  We heard personal histories from members of the stories of Skid Row community.  One woman mentioned that Skid Row is dramatically under represented for toilets (perhaps six hundred to one) and that there is an opportunity to address this basic, perhaps with temporary structures. We also heard from Meg Barclay, City of Los Angeles Homeless Coordinator about LA’s Prop HHH efforts to build and encourage the creation of 10,000 permanent housing units for the chronically homeless.

This was the last in the Penn Serves LA 2016-2017 year programming.  Looking back over the year, it’s satisfying to reflect on the many different opportunities we had to serve this year and to consider the impact we have made.   In addition to L.A. Works, our Penn Serves LA activities included feeding the hungry and reducing food waste with L.A. Kitchen, staffing ICEF’s first literacy festival, crocheting with Blankets of Love, building a home with Habitat LA, painting with Portraits of Hope, harvesting fruit with Food Forward.    It’s worth noting that the deliberate choice of the Penn Serves LA board is for the group to serve multiple not for profits, in different geographies, with different focuses, rather than to repeat or to concentrate on a particular organization.  This is because Penn alumni are attracted to different service opportunities, live in geographically diverse parts of LA, and this allows them to see if they are attracted to any particular one on an going basis.

I look forward to another great year in 2017-2018!

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Filed under Los Angeles, Penn Serves LA, Penn Spectrum

Penn Serves Picks Fruit with Food Forward LA

By Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16

It was a scorching day in the Valley (95 degrees!), but twenty some hearty and enthusiastic Penn Serves LA alumni and family gathered at lovely Orcutt Farm (where two of our volunteers had gotten married) to spend Saturday afternoon assiting Food Forward. Since its start almost eight years ago, Food Forward has “rescued” over 25 million pounds (or 100 million servings) of fresh local produce. The math is quite simple: using volunteers, Food Forward connects surplus food produce with food insecure people in our community.

Penn Serves LA ready to help pick fruit for Food Forward

Penn Serves LA ready to help pick fruit for Food Forward, photo courtesy of Jane Gutman

Penn Serves LA gets instructions from Food Forward, photo by Kiera Reilly

Penn Serves LA gets instructions from Food Forward, photo by Kiera Reilly

Armed with long tools resembling lacrosse sticks with metal baskets, we went into a beautiful and shady grove of orange trees and chatted about our Penn experiences, families and work while carefully catching oranges and filling boxes – a very social and productive time. It was all so easy and so much fun to make a little difference for our community!

Penn Serves LA picks fruit for Food Forward

Getting to work picking fruit, photo by Jane Gutman.

Picking fruit for Food Forwardy, photo by Kiera Reilly

Picking fruit for Food Forward, photo by Kiera Reilly

Our Food Forward team leader Jane Gutman with another Penn alumna volunteer, photo by Kiera Reilly

Our Food Forward team leader Jane Gutman with another Penn alumna volunteer, photo by Kiera Reilly

The morning group had picked 6,000 pounds of oranges and, as slightly competitive Ivy Leaguers (with a few other groups out there helping too), we were delighted to learn our final count was more than 6,400 pounds of gorgeous, juicy oranges. Given that Food Forward is such a well oiled machine, we were informed that later that very day the fruit we picked would be enjoyed by people at some of the more than 300 hunger relief agencies they serve across eight counties in Southern California.

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Lots of Red and Blue shirts helping pick fruit for Food Forward, photo by Kiera Reilly

Lots of Red and Blue shirts helping pick fruit for Food Forward, photo by Kiera Reilly

Food insecurity is one of the most devastating issues facing our community, especially given the natural abundance surrounding us. Penn Serves LA has had volunteer opportunities addressing this immense need from various angles through our work with: the Westside Food Bank, the Veteran’s Garden, the Midnight Mission, Turning Point Shelter, The Giving Spirit, Meals on Wheels, LA Kitchen and more.

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Love this shirt: Lancaster Ave., the Rodeo Drive of West Philadelphia. Photo by Kiera Reilly

Love this shirt: Lancaster Ave., the Rodeo Drive of West Philadelphia. Photo by Kiera Reilly

Penn Serves LA are great events for Penn families!

Penn Serves LA are great events for Penn families!

As always, our Food Forward Penn Serves LA volunteers represented a broad cross section of schools and years at the Red and the Blue. Once again, we were thrilled to meet many new volunteers and to see other familiar faces. The Penn Serves LA community continues to grow, as we add to the list of extraordinary non-profit organizations we are fortunate to serve in Los Angeles.

Thank you…see you next time!! Our next event? September 23.

For more information or to volunteer with Food Forward, go to: https://foodforward.org.

Penn Serves LA after picking 6,400 pounds of fruit with Food Forward

6,400 pounds of fruit later! Photo courtesy of Jane Gutman

6,400 pounds of fruit that Penn Serves LA helped pick for Food Forward, photo by Kiera Reilly

6,400 pounds of fruit that Penn Serves LA helped pick for Food Forward, photo by Kiera Reilly

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.

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.

Our next event – September 23. We will be helping to restore the Ballona Creek Wetlands. For more information and to register, click here.

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, Jane G., Los Angeles, Penn Serves, Penn Serves LA, Volunteering

An Evening to Remember: Trustees’ Council of Penn Women (TCPW) Los Angeles Career Women’s Networking Event 2017 “Women in Entertainment”

By Michal Clements

Photo Credit: Moises Vazquez, Los Angeles. Instagram: @moisview  – Photo Gallery

The Trustees’ Council of Penn Women (TCPW) held the Los Angeles summer women’s career networking event in Santa Monica on Wednesday June 7, 2017.  Approximately seventy-five Penn alumnae and guests gathered among the fruit trees and jacarandas in the gardens of our hostess, Meredith Stiehm. The alumnae met with TCPW members during the opening speed-networking portion of the program, and to learn from the all-star entertainment panel as the centerpiece of the evening.

tcpw1Elizabeth Kopple (Wharton Club of So Cal board) and Rebecca Zavaleta (Penn Club of LA board) welcomed guests to the event.  Guests were directed to high top tables where TCPW Members led the lightning rounds of speed networking. Members present and leading the tables were TCPW Chair, Hildegard Toth, Meesh Pierce, Julie Platt, Melissa Weiler, Leanne Heubner, Denise Winner, Abby Feinman, and Donna Nadel.

tcpw1.2tcpw1.3The entertainment industry panel was expertly moderated by Fiedling Edlow (C’95). Panelists included Jennifer Gwartz (C’90), Meredith Stiehm (C’90) Alison Hoffman, Allison Schroeder and Veena Sud.  The discussion was lively, and there were a number of key takeaways that applied across industries, as well as some that were entertainment specific.  Some highlights include:

What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?

  • Explore non-linear paths
  • Be kind to yourself. Remember nothing is wasted, and you are exactly where you need to be
  • There are no wrong jobs and no wrong experiences
  • Avoid thinking and writing about “how I ruined my career”
  • Have a lot more fun!

What’s an appropriate way to approach a mentor?

  • Research the mentor in advance, and if you make the ask, be really prepared
  • Invite them to an event. Instead of saying, “What can you do for me?” show them what you can do for them. Example: One Penn alumni sent an email for two years with a critique of the show
  • Let them know if you win an award, such as the Stanford playwriting award
  • Time your approach right. For example, avoid the middle of pilot season

How should you go about smart and effective networking?

  • Keep it casual and really light
  • Take them out for coffee
  • If it doesn’t work, move on, not all networking will
  • Never walk up to someone and say why they should NOT hire you or why others are not hiring you, e.g., people find me abrasive. Don’t belittle yourself

tcpw1.4How can you get the first job in entertainment?

  • Take a job as a PA (Production Assistant), which means you start at a really low level and get coffee and lunch
  • Be nice to the people around you
  • Whatever job you have, do a really good job of it
  • Be appreciative
  • You will likely have to get a second job or live at home, etc. to make ends meet with this first job

How can you get an agency that works for you?

  • Seek a smaller agency with someone that’s starting out. Suggestion is to find your peer as an agent. For example, one panelist had a “big name” agency, but realized that their “reps are not working for you” which was a painful realization
  • Make sure the agency has the right expertise, e.g., one panelist was given bad advice from a literary agent in New York because they weren’t knowledgeable on LA TV market

How did you deal with sexism in the industry?

  • Make your skin really, really tough
  • Look to your allies and make them aware. They can’t help if they don’t know
  • For example, if I (a woman) say something and nobody hears it, then a man says it and everyone notices, you have to call people on this. It happens all the time. Make your allies aware
  • Report actual sexual harassment. Don’t tolerate things like the “Fuck, Marry, Kill” game which asks, “Which of these three things should happen to a female colleague?”

How can you get by financially when at a low starting salary?

  • Live at home, share space and drive dad’s car or a used car. Live in the valley.
  • Supplement your income in one of several ways, e.g., by tutoring, being a script reader or an Uber or Lyft driver

What’s the next career milestone for the panelists?

  • Being the President of the United States
  • Running a network
  • Going back to the Academy Awards
  • Writing a novel
  • Continue having fun and working with others I enjoy

 

As a follow up from the event, alumni and student attendees were encouraged to consider forming writer’s groups, and to continue their involvement with Penn through alumni interviewing, Penn Serves LA community service, Penn Club LA and the Wharton Club of So Cal.

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Filed under Career Networking, Entertainment, Los Angeles, Michal Clements, TCPW