Tag Archives: Habitat for Humanity

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.

IMG_0214

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.

IMG_0215

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:

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Alumni Programming, Jane G., Los Angeles, Penn Serves, Penn Serves LA, Volunteering

Penn Serves LA Builds a Home with Habitat LA

By Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16

It was already warm at 8:00 am when our twenty Penn Serves LA volunteers showed up at the work site in Downey for our second Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles project. Shelter is such a basic need that most days we fortunate Penn alumni take for granted. Habitat LA, we learned, has constructed and rehabilitated almost 800 homes across the city since 1990. In Los Angeles, well known for soaring housing costs, Habitat serves people earning 30-80% of the median family income, who work alongside volunteers on the building process.

Penn Serves LA Habitat for Humanity Irene Park on scaffolding

Irene Park, C’05, on the scaffolding at Penn Serves LA’s Habitat LA event

It quickly became clear that we were expected to have a fun day, but also to make significant progress in completing the back of “our” house. Several people spent much of the day on rickety scaffolding, bent in half caulking windows and eaves. Others were busy with power tools; cutting boards, drilling holes, using nail-guns. The dedicated and gifted Habitat staff taught us a host of new and useful skills, and the Penn crowd dove in, like good Ivy League competitors, intent on getting the job done.

Penn Serves LA Habitat for Humanity build in Los Angeles with Penn Alumni and Habitat LA

It was a very social day, with people chatting while building a window frame or sharing photos while affixing siding to exterior walls. Over lunch the group shared their Penn stories: where they were raised, what they had studied at Penn, how they had landed in LA. Typical of Penn, it was a diverse group, with a broad spread of graduation years, and alumni working in law, medicine, education, social science, business, architecture and more. Our volunteers hailed from all parts of the country, and had traveled from San Diego, the Valley and the Westside Saturday morning to participate in our Habitat build day.

Penn Serves LA Habitat for Humanity helping Habitat LA build a home in Los Angeles with Penn Alumni

As the afternoon concluded, everyone was smiling and not a single band-aid had been issued – a fantastic success! After a long, dusty day of working with our hands in the hot sun, we felt really good: holes were filled, corners were smooth, siding was level, and the site was clean for the next crew. It was especially meaningful to have Christina working with us all day, as she will be living in the house we worked on. The Penn crowd looks forward to returning to our Downey site for the ribbon cutting on Christina’s completed home.

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

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.

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:

 

 

Leave a comment

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

Penn Cares with the Penn Club of Northern California – Habitat for Humanity

By Betty Huang, ENG’12, GEN’12, and Jenny Zhan, C’10, W’10

Donning hard hats at 8:30AM on a chilly and grey Saturday morning, volunteers from the Penn Club of Northern California joined in on ground-breaking work with Habitat for Humanity of Greater San Francisco. The work was more physically challenging than usual because we were doing foundation work, that is, a lot of shoveling, waterproofing, wheelbarrowing, and moving dirt around. Despite the difficulties, it was very gratifying getting in on a project from the very beginning: Habitat had just received permits for a 28-unit single family development named Habitat Terrace, an ambitious project in the Oceanview neighborhood and the organization’s largest development yet in San Francisco.

NoCal Penn Cares 2 - 1

We are proud to contribute to Habitat’s mission to provide a helping hand to families in need of improved living conditions. The homes that we helped lay the foundations for will be sold to families at no profit and financed with 0% interest mortgages. In addition, new owners will put 500 hours of work into their own homes. It will take over 100,000 volunteer hours to finish this Habitat Terrace development in the next 2 years, and the Penn Club of Northern California is looking forward to seeing the project through. Thank you to all our volunteers on August 17th, and if you live in the area, please join us in serving our community!

NorCal Penn Cares 2 - 2

NorCal Penn Cares 2 - 3

NorCal Penn Cares 2 - 4

Read about our experience helping at the San Francisco Food Bank here.

Read about Penn Serves LA helping at Habitat for Humanity here.

The Penn Softball team volunteered at Habitat for Humanity in New Jersey last year – here’s the link to a story and video about their experience.

Leave a comment

Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Clubs, Events, GAN, Guest blogger, Penn Clubs, Photos, Volunteering, West Coast Regional Office

Penn Serves LA: Habitat for Humanity

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @KieraReilly

On Saturday morning, March 9th, I drove to a house in Lynnwood, California, hoping to take photos of the Penn Serves LA group working on a Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles project. There was a dumpster in the driveway, and a work truck parked out front, so I assumed I had arrived at the proper place. As I walked toward the home, I noticed people on the roof wearing Penn gear. I guess I’m at the right place, but why are they all on the roof? It turns out our job wasn’t to paint, as many of the volunteers expected, but to remove the roof from the house!

I checked in with the Habitat for Humanity on-site managers, and they said, “Oh, sure you can help…just sign this waiver, put on some gloves, grab some goggles and head up the ladder!” Gulp. This wasn’t what I was expecting, but seeing that everyone else was on the roof, I took a deep breath and up I went to join twenty other Penn alumni and friends.

Penn Serves LA volunteers hard at work taking off the roof.

Penn Serves LA volunteers hard at work taking off the roof.

The Penn Serves LA volunteers were all busy working with tools to scrape and pull tiles and nails off of the roof. Others were filling buckets with broken-up roof pieces. That became my job, filling a big paint bucket with roof pieces, walking over to the edge, and flinging the contents over the side into the dumpster. On my first attempt, about half of the contents landed on the ground, and half in the dumpster. The bucket was heavy, and I felt like I might fling myself off the roof with it! The Habitat supervisor encouraged me to go closer to the edge of the roof, and if I felt the bucket going, just let it go. Pretty soon I got the hang of it, and wandered around the roof helping to collect and dump all the tiles everyone was helping to remove.

Back-breaking work.

Back-breaking work.

The Habitat staff stopped us for water breaks, making everyone climb down, drink some water and rest. And we enjoyed a long lunch break, with a beautifully displayed spread of sandwiches, tangerines, carrots, chips and cookies provided by Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16, one of Penn Serves LA’s directors. While we ate, our group talked about jobs, where we lived, and what we studied at Penn. Everyone seemed happy to be there and were enjoying the tough work since we were doing it together.

While most of us worked on the house, this group removed the roof from the garage.

While most of us worked on the house, this group removed the roof from the garage.

Happy Penn volunteers.

Happy Penn volunteers sporting trendy yellow safety goggles.

Now we had to move the tarp from the front lawn.

Now we had to move the tarp from the front lawn.

It was really, really heavy!

It was really, really heavy!

Habitat for Humanity currently has grants to work on homes in three areas of Los Angeles, and Lynwood is one.  The family we were completing the house for currently lives in 100 square feet of housing.   Recipients of homes are asked to contribute “sweat equity” of 250 or 500 hours, depending on whether their home was remodeled or whether they were receiving a newly built home.  They get 30-year mortgages with no interest, and only one person has ever defaulted because the folks who get the houses are all hard workers with good credit.

The roof our group removed was 1,600 square feet, and we worked alongside the woman and her family who will be living in the house. They were great and so excited about their future home.

“What a fantastic experience it was to work alongside so many terrific young Penn alums and their friends. We got crazy dirty doing really hard work, but it was so satisfying and the group was Quaker strong, determined and indefatigable,” said Jane Gutman.

Jane continued, “I am soooo tired and wait ‘til you see the photos showing how dirty we were…I probably won’t be able to walk or move tomorrow, but the Habitat guys were so encouraging and supportive and our group totally came together and just never stopped…an awesome day!”

Jane Gutman helping remove the roof pieces.

Jane Gutman helping remove the roof pieces.

Jane Gutman showing how dirty some of us got!

Jane Gutman showing how dirty some of us got!

The Habitat for Humanity event, which was co-sponsored by the Southern California Regional Advisory Board, Wharton Club of Southern California, and PennClubLA, was the fourth Penn Serves LA event since its launch in May 2012.

The Penn Serves LA Habitat for Humanity volunteers after removing the roof! Hurrah, Hurrah!

The Penn Serves LA Habitat for Humanity volunteers after removing the roof! Hurrah, Hurrah!

See all of the photos from our day here.

Are you active in community service? Want to get your favorite nonprofit involved? If you have a nonprofit in mind for a future Penn Serves LA event, let us know. Our initiative provides alumni with the unique opportunity to showcase their favorite charitable organization. Send us an email at pennservesla@gmail.com with your name and Penn affiliation, the organization you would like us to serve, why you got involved and how Penn Serves might help. The group would like to expand to other cities, so please contact us if you’d like to spearhead a similar effort in your town.

Penn Serves LA is an initiative to encourage Penn alumni, parents and family across all schools and all years to come together and serve those in need through established nonprofits working in underserved communities. Children and spouses of alumni and parents of current students are also invited to participate (please check age requirements). Penn Serves LA is regularly scheduling service events throughout the year. Penn Serves LA is working in partnership with PennClubLA, Wharton Club of Southern California, and SCRAB.

You can read about our first event at Turning Point Shelter in Santa Monica, our second event at the Midnight Mission, and our third event at Inner City Arts.

The Penn Softball team volunteered at Habitat for Humanity in New Jersey – here’s the link to a story and video about their experience.

3 Comments

Filed under Alumni Programming, Kiera R., Los Angeles, Penn Serves LA, Photos, Volunteering, West Coast Regional Office