Tag Archives: Leanne Huebner

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 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

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

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

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 Strikes Again; This Time With Paint

By Leanne Huebner, W’90

Photos by Kiera Reilly, C’93

Over thirty Penn Alumni and their children joined together for a fun beautification project for El Nido Family Centers in Mission Hills.  We were thrilled that Elizabeth Fields, Julie Gutowski and Kiera Reilly from the Penn Western Regional Office joined us. And we welcomed special guests in town from campus Penn Professor David Grossman, Ph.D., Director, Civic House and Civic Scholars Program, and Katie McCarthy from the Penn Development Office, both lending their painting skills for good.

All in all, the team completed the center’s foyer, a key event room, as well as a hallway in bright white.  The highlight for many participants was contributing to a full wall-sized canvas mural alongside the Pacoima mural artist.  Volunteers brought together her vision for a grand-scale masterpiece to add cheer and interest in the center’s main lobby area.

Stuart Berton, El Nido Board President and Wharton ’61 graduate, thanked the team and provided a great overview of the important work of El Nido, a nonprofit that has served Los Angeles for 89 years.  Each year, the centers reach over 11,000 Los Angelenos  through its community outreach, early education and teen pregnancy initiatives, and gang-prevention programming.  While many individuals come to the center, El Nido social workers are also in the field meeting individuals and assessing families in their homes and schools.

Penn Serves LA's Jane Gutman with El Nido's Stuart Berton

Penn Serves LA’s Jane Gutman with El Nido’s Stuart Berton

A few highlights of their work were shared.  For instance, their GRYD program for gang-prevention has experienced success rates of up to 98% working with at-risk youth.  Their teen pregnancy recidivism rate is 80% lower than the national average, with only 4% of teenage mothers they serve having a second child before they turn twenty years old.

Penn Serves LA's Leanne Huebner is thrilled with the event.

Penn Serves LA’s Leanne Huebner is thrilled with the event.

“We are excited to help El Nido with such a great, enthusiastic group of volunteers,” shares Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16, one of the Penn Serves LA Directors and coordinator of this event.  “And to have David and Katie here from Penn lending a hand makes our day of brightening the facility with fresh paint all the better.”

View all the photos from the day here.

The entire group poses to celebrate a job well done!

The entire group poses to celebrate a job well done!

The next Penn Serves’ event will be Saturday, August 9th from 9 a.m. to noon and you can reserve your spot here.  Penn will be serving LA Waterkeepers in an effort to help identify the impact of debris on our area’s water supply.  “It’s a great opportunity for your science-minded side as we will be surveying and collecting valuable data,” shares Christine Belgrad, W’87, PAR’15, PAR’17, event coordinator.
Many of the past Penn Serves sell out, so please reserve your spot quickly.

Read about our past events:

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 Perspective, Family Programming, Guest blogger, Kiera R., Los Angeles, Penn Serves LA, Photos, Volunteering, West Coast Regional Office

Penn Serves LA: Holidays are a Time for Giving

By Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16

Holidays are a time for giving, and also for giving back. Fourteen years ago a man named Tom Bagamane and his sister decided to pack forty grocery bags and hand them out to homeless people they saw near home and work. The weekend of December 12 – 15, 2013, volunteers with The Giving Spirit headed to all parts of Los Angeles and handed full duffle bags to 2,600 homeless people. The bags were not dropped off in parks or near shelters, rather The Giving Spirit volunteers found isolated people and interacted with them in the process of handing over a bag filled with fresh and canned food, socks, hats, rain gear, toiletries and the like, along with an industrial strength blanket.

Giving Spirit group Dec.13.2013

On the Friday night of that weekend, over fifty Penn Serves LA volunteers of all ages congregated at a church in West LA to help to make greeting cards and pack Tupperware and ziplocks with necessities for The Giving Spirit’s bags. As Mr. Bagamane told the Penn crowd, The Giving Spirit knows it cannot cure homelessness, but it hopes to make the holidays and the coldest part of winter just a little easier for “our friends living on the street.” He asked the Penn alumni how it would feel to never hear your name spoken or to line up with your kids just to have a roof over your head for a few hours.

Giving Spirit 1 Dec.13.2013

Giving Spirit 2 Dec.13.2013

The Penn group pitched in for a few hours – some hauling heavy boxes, some joining the assembly lines, some binding blankets. It was a cold night, but we had lots of company and warm food provided by local restaurants…and we were reminded yet again how very lucky we are not to live in a tent or a box on the street. After a fulfilling and collegial evening, our Penn alumni headed back to their cars and homes, and over the Penn shirts they had donned many wore The Giving Spirit t-shirt emblazoned with, “GIVE HOPE LOVE”…and that’s what the holidays are all about!

Giving Spirit 4 Dec.13.2013

Giving Spirit 3 Dec.13.2013

All alumni, Penn parents, families and their children are invited to the next Penn Serves LA event on Sunday, February 23, 2014, from 4:00 – 7:00 pm at One to One Outreach. Back by popular demand, we will return to assemble and deliver boxes of food to the low income, food-insecure of South Central Los Angeles. Children over 8 years are invited to attend. Bring a bit of joy and relief to those in need with us. Click here to sign up for this event.

About Penn Serves LA – Started in 2012, Penn Serves offers a way for direct community service for local Penn alumni and their children to serve Los Angeles’ most needy populations. We partner with established nonprofits and grassroots organizations for one-time volunteer opportunities. So far, we’ve served meals to the homeless, delivered food to low income families, planned activities with immigrant children, and so much more. Please contact us if you’d like to help at a future event via email at pennservesla@gmail.com or visit our website.

Read about our past events:

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, Guest blogger, Los Angeles, Penn Clubs, Penn Serves LA, Photos, Volunteering, West Coast Regional Office

Penn Serves LA Sending Holiday Warmth to Our Troops

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @KieraReilly

Do you remember receiving that handwritten or hand crafted card and feeling special?  That is exactly the sentiment Penn Serves volunteers hope to give to our troops serving overseas or those healing in hospitals this holiday season.

On November 17th, Penn Serves LA hosted a holiday card signing at the Los Angeles American Red Cross headquarters.  Every holiday season, the Red Cross hosts “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program where they organize volunteers to share their seasonal joy through greetings for veterans, military families and active duty service members at hospitals and installations around the world.

Penn volunteers received a special treat of their own, experiencing the Central Command room located at LA’s Red Cross facility.  The room is specifically designed to coordinate communications in case of a crisis, disaster, or other emergency.

Penn Alumni learn about Red Cross in LA's coveted Central Command Room.

Penn Alumni learn about Red Cross in LA’s coveted Central Command Room.

This holiday card signing event set a Penn Serves attendance record drawing more than 70 participants – alumni, children and relatives.  Proudly displaying the red and blue, Penn Serves’ participants put their Quaker creativity to work and designed cards and shared messages with our nation’s veterans. Glue sticks, scissors, stickers and markers provided both young and old the opportunity to draw and create fanciful cards.  For those who were challenged by the arts and crafts, Penn Serves LA cards were available to share inspiring messages with the troops through the written word — wishing a happy and peaceful holiday season. The cards provide a welcome Penn Serves LA “touch of home” for our troops during the holiday season.

“Seeing our generous Penn alums and their families so involved in supporting our troops really put us in the holiday spirit.  Thanks to everyone for helping the American Red Cross make a difference and fulfill its mission,” shares Jeff Sakaguchi, WG’89.  Jeff has been actively involved with the Red Cross, serving as a board member and past Chairman of the Los Angeles Region.

“It is great to see the Penn Serves’ momentum grow with insightful events. We look forward to seeing new faces at future events,” said Denise Winner, W’83, co-founder of Penn Serves LA, who organized this event.

“I know how important these cards, these words, can be to these guys,” shares Mark Lipis, W’70, a military veteran and Wharton graduate.  “I definitely wanted to be here today.”

Hard at Work, volunteers create joy through art and words.

Hard at Work, volunteers create joy through art and words.

Penn Alumni, Parents and children enjoyed sharing holiday uplifting messages for our troops.

Penn Alumni, Parents and children enjoyed sharing holiday uplifting messages for our troops.

All alumni, Penn Families and their children are invited to the next event on Friday, December 13th for The Giving Spirit.  At that event, Penn Serves will be assisting The Giving Spirit, an organization serving the homeless of Los Angeles through programs like distributing survival kits, in a critical time-sensitive mission as their supplies arrive for the holidays. Click here to sign up for this very special holiday event.

If you want to hear about more past and future events, either visit our website, like us on Facebook, or ask to be put on our mailing list by emailing pennserves@gmail.com.

Read about our past events:

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 Clubs, Penn Serves LA, Photos, Volunteering, West Coast Regional Office

Penn Serves LA: Serving the Environment and LA Leadership Academy

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @KieraReilly

Penn Serves LA, the community service initiative launched in 2012 by Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16, Leanne Pyott Huebner, W’90 and Denise Winner, W’83, continues to offer events to bring Penn Alumni in Los Angeles together to serve.

On August 24th, a group of Penn Alumni and their children gathered for a day of environmental cleanup and nature restoration at the Canyon at Chadwick School on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The group learned about the local habitat, wildlife, conservation and environmental challenges impacting the community from the leading Southern California bird expert and past President of the Southern California Audubon Society.

The Penn Serves LA crew as we start the day.

The Penn Serves LA crew as we start the day.

We started our efforts by bringing cleared brush up the canyon to a holding area at the top of a steep hill. It was steep and sometimes difficult to grab the prickly branches, but we developed an assembly line and quickly moved a huge pile to the top of the hill. Then, we hiked into the canyon for shade, a water and watermelon break (thank you Denise!) while we learned about efforts to bring back the natural habitat of the canyon and rid it of invasive vegetation. After our break, we set out with shears, clippers and other gardening tools to clear back plants, bushes and trees from the trail. I tasted some of the wild lemonade berries – tart and sweet. The sun was hot, but many hands made quick work.

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You can see more photos of our work that day here.

Next up, Penn Serves helped at the L.A. Leadership Academy in the Lincoln Heights area of Los Angeles on September 28th. Our mission was to help move classroom supplies into the new school building and interact with some of the college bound students and their families. The school is a charter school that is devoted almost solely to serving children in poverty, 95% of its student body is on free and reduced lunch.

How many Penn alumni does it take to lift this heavy desk onto a dolly?

How many Penn alumni does it take to lift this heavy desk onto a dolly?

Three plus one (representing the College, Wharton and Engineering no less!).

Three plus one (representing the College, Wharton and Engineering no less!).

Although we initially thought we’d be painting, it turned out that the school scheduled our Saturday to be a move day, and we would be helping the students, their families and school staff move fifteen classrooms worth of furniture and supplies from the front building into the new middle school in the back. The Penn group, which included many former Penn Serves participants, quickly got to work moving desks, chairs, books and science supplies. Down a long hall, then a flight of stairs and through the old school, into the courtyard and into the new building – things that seemed light when we started became heavy pretty quickly. But everyone was in good spirits. We stopped for a lunch break, and the school principal gave a special shout out to our group as other than the families that were there, we were the only ones helping. In the course of moving things up and down the stairs, we learned that the school’s founder, Roger Lowenstein, was the college roommate (at the University of Michigan) of Wharton Professor Michael Useem! What a small world. After lunch, we got to work setting up the science classroom (and reminiscing about our own science classes as we unpacked lots of glass beakers).

Everyone in the school community helped with the move.

Everyone in the school community helped with the move.

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Here some of us take a lunch break (the others were still moving!).

You can see more photos of the day here and on the Penn Club of Los Angeles’ Facebook page.

If you live in Los Angeles, I encourage you to join us at an upcoming Penn Serves LA event – the service activities planned benefit a variety of non-profits in the area, and each service project is in a different part of the city. This provides an opportunity for alumni to join in a project that is of particular interest, or in a more convenient location, and also offers the opportunity to learn about the many organizations serving the Los Angeles community.

The next event is planned for Sunday, November 17. We’ll be writing letters to American troops at the Red Cross. For more information and to RSVP, visit the PennClubLA website.

About Penn Serves LA – Started in 2012, Penn Serves offers a way for direct community service for local Penn alumni and their children to serve Los Angeles’ most needy populations. We partner with established nonprofits and grassroots organizations for one-time volunteer opportunities. So far, we’ve served meals to the homeless, delivered food to low income families, planned activities with immigrant children, and so much more. Please contact us if you’d like to help at a future event: pennservesla@gmail.com.

Read about our past events:

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 Perspective, Clubs, Events, GAN, Kiera R., Los Angeles, Penn Clubs, Penn Serves LA, Photos, Volunteering, West Coast Regional Office