Category Archives: Penn Serves

Penn Serves LA Toasts the New Year

By Irene Park, C’05

Tucked away in the warm and welcoming home of alumna, Christine Belgrad, Penn  alumni from a cross-section of backgrounds, interests, professions, schools, and years gathered to celebrate the work of, and welcome interested new members to the Penn Serves LA New Year Social in late January.

Guests chatted easily over wine, beers, and light refreshment provided by Penn Serves LA board members, which lent to an elegant yet homey feel. The highlight, of course, being alumna Kiera Reilly’s “P” for Penn shaped sugar cookies! Herein lies the very nature and appeal that is so unique to Penn Serves LA: Started by a small group of alumni who have always been philanthropically inclined whose passion was to serve their community while connecting with other alumni made this organization a true grassroots effort. It was a void that they met outside of the mandate of other existing alumni groups and the University; one that the LA alumni community and its community partners had no idea was missing until the need was met.

sugar cookies baked by Kiera Reilly, C'93 for Penn Serves LA New Year Social

Home baked sugar cookies from Kiera Reilly, C’93 – Red and Blue P’s for Penn of course

Once a majority of the guests arrived, everyone gathered in the living room and shared their experience at Penn and what brought them to the Penn Serves Social that evening. Over the sounds of a roaring fireplace, the room was brimming with a fellowship between friends and strangers alike with one shared history and love, Penn. All jokes about the oldest alumnus in the room and on-campus curfews aside, the genuine excitement over projects they’ve participated in with Penn Serves LA since its inception in 2012 (in a ‘meet cute’ facilitated by Kiera who brought together alumni superstars, Jane Gutman, Leanne Huebner, Aileen Level, and Denise Winner) was palpable.

Penn LA alumni introduce themselves at the Penn Serves LA New Year Social

Penn LA alumni introduce themselves at the Penn Serves LA New Year Social

Much of what has captivated the alumni community is Penn Serves LA’s disregard for the geographical boundaries generally defined by popularity and traffic. Additionally, instead of marrying itself to one particular organization, cause, or issue, Penn Serves LA addresses a broad-spectrum of needs throughout the community. Penn Serves LA has fed the homeless, built homes, refurbished schools, knitted blankets for babies and new mothers in need, and gardened for Vets just to name few of their projects. This inclusive approach not only means alumni have the opportunity to deepen or discover new organizations, causes, or skills, but it also means more organizations are getting the help they need. Some Penn Serves LA members have gone from a single day volunteer to a regular volunteer to become an organization’s Board member.

Learning about Penn Serves LA

Learning more about Penn Serves LA

From the South Bay to Downtown LA, from the west side to East LA, our alumni are happily committing their weekends to regroup from the buzzy focus of their careers and daily responsibilities to meet new alumni, strengthen existing relationships, connect with people and places they may never have organically met, while serving the community. Though many of the organizations and communities served by Penn Serves LA are ones that its committee is already familiar, they also welcome and have partnered with organizations suggested by alumni volunteers.

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

The moment that solidified the evening for me, and the reason I’ve committed to the organization since its inception was when an alumnus that I had met, perhaps once at another volunteer event, gave me a familial hug after his eyes lit up at the idea of being able to bring his professional resources to Penn Serves LA. Though we all had our own private pursuits, professionally and personally, we felt as though we were unified for the common purpose of doing good. Truly the Quaker way.

It wouldn't be a Penn LA without a great spread of food and wine!

It wouldn’t be a Penn LA without a great spread of food and wine!

About Penn Serves LA

pennservesla_logo_final-1

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

  • March, 2017 – Food Forward Harvesting – Date and Location TBA
  • 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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Filed under Guest blogger, Los Angeles, Penn Serves, Penn Serves LA, Volunteering

Blankets of Love

By Denise Winner, W’83

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/.

About Penn Serves LA

pennservesla_logo_final-1

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

  • 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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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

pennservesla_logo_final-1

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 Rescued Rabbits

Penn Serves LA assisted at a bunny rescue adoption event on March 12, 2016. Here is the report of their day by Denise Winner, W’83

Rabbit 4 the bunny

Did you know there are more than 5,000 bunnies seeking homes in the Los Angeles? And, did you know that rabbits can be house trained and make wonderful pets? Penn Serves spent an afternoon nuzzling, cuddling, playing and socializing with the abandoned bunnies. Alumni nestled in the crates with one to three bunnies, each bunny having its unique personality – bashful, adorable, playful, and super huggable!

The Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation battles the escalating over population of bunnies. Its mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and place abandoned rabbits. Weekly, the Foundation hosts rescue events at Centinela Feed in Los Angeles. The rescue is always looking for volunteers. And, for those of you interested in trying out a bunny, consider fostering a rabbit. For more information, contact losangelesrabbits@earthlink.net.

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

Upcoming Penn Serves LA events:

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!

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

Read about our previous events:

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Filed under Alumni Programming, Penn Serves, 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.

Penn Serves room 2

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