Tag Archives: Penn Serves LA

Penn 1993 Continues Tradition of Community Service

By Lisa Nass Grabelle, C’93, L’96, and Kiera Reilly, C’93

Class of ’93 members have been rockstars when it comes to community service and giving back! The past five years as a class we have collectively worked to do good in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York.  What started out five years ago as just one month of service for our class in January, quickly extended to our three months of service every January, February and March! Not only do classmates gather in cities to perform community service, but we have had classmates from all over tell us about service projects they have performed in their own communities during this period.

PHILADELPHIA
For five years we have gathered at Penn’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships and made crafts to donate to children at CHOP and senior citizens.  Families of all ages have colored “get well” cards, created soft blankets, painted uplifting pictures, assembled goodie bags, made colorful tutus, and much more.  We have laughed, shared stories, been able to get to know each other better…all while making a difference in our community. Last year’s event at the Netter Center is summarized in this post.
Penn 1993 Community Service Day at the Netter Center - whole group photo
NEW YORK
Each February, Penn ‘93ers in New York participate in a skill-based volunteering event in partnership with PennPAC – Penn Pro bono Alumni Consulting (founded by classmate Jackie Einstein Astrof).  Over the years, the activities have included assisting low-income high school seniors with college and career advice and assisting highly-skilled new immigrants transition to the US workforce through mock interviews.  The evenings prove to be very rewarding as well as enjoyable for both the recipients and our classmates alike. Read about our event last year here.
Penn Class of 1993 members at the PennPac community service event in NYC, February, 2017

Penn 1993 classmates at the PennPAC event in New York City

LOS ANGELES
And for the past five years, our classmates have volunteered their time with Penn Serves LA (classmate Kiera Reilly is on the Penn Serves LA planning committee) at various events throughout Los Angeles. Clasmates participated at the Midnight Mission by preparing meals for the homeless, serving Thanksgiving Dinner in downtown LA, and preparing a dinner for the Guadalupe Homeless Shelter in February.
Penn Serves LA Fred Jordan Missions Thanksgiving Dinner

Penn Serves LA (and members of Penn Class of 1993) serve Thanksgiving Dinner to the homeless in downtown LA with the Fred Jordan Missions

In addition to the off-campus service we perform every year, we encourage classmates to participate in service activities during Alumni Weekend.

DONATE BOOKS ALUMNI WEEKEND

All Year Alumni Community Service Project – Book Drive
May 11, 2018 to May 13, 2018
This May when you come back to alumni weekend you have two options to contribute to our Class Community Literacy Service Project.  We are supporting Bags of Books and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships by donating new and gently used children’s books (pre-K to 12).  Each book donated will be provided to a student in West Philadelphia at a Netter Center supported school.
It’s so easy to donate:
  1. Either drop by the Penn bookstore, grab a children’s book on display right when you check out that is waiting to be purchased and add it to your purchase (give it to the cashier and say it is for donation)  ~OR~
  2. Bring books with you to donate at the Sweeten Alumni House (right across from the LOVE statute).
 Every book counts!!!

ATTEND NETTER CENTER EVENTS

The Netter Center 25th Anniversary
Saturday, May 12
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM – Children’s Basketball Skills & Drills Clinic
David Pottruck Health and Fitness Center, 3701 Walnut Street
Anthony Price, captain of Penn Men’s 1979 Final Four basketball team and founder of Paying the Price Foundation, partners with the Netter Center for Community Partnerships to host this Basketball Clinic for children of Penn alumni and West Philadelphia youth (ages 8-18). Proceeds from this event help support sports programming at West Philly schools operated by the Netter Center. Sponsored by the Netter Center, Class of 1978, and Penn’s 1979 Basketball Team. Cost: $15 For questions, please contact Rita Hodges at ritaa@upenn.edu.
3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
The Netter Center for Community Partnerships: 25 Years of Educating Penn Students as Civic Leaders 
Inn at Penn
Co-Sponsored by the Class of 1993
Hear from Provost Wendell Pritchett (GR’97), Netter Center founding director Ira Harkavy (C’70, GR’79), and Netter Center alumni about the lasting impact of civic and community engagement. Light reception to follow celebrating the Center’s 25th anniversary.

Register for these events on the Alumni Weekend website.

DONATE TO THE NETTER CENTER

One of our class’ chosen projects to support in honor of our 25th Reunion is The Netter Center, a fitting tribute since the Netter Center is celebrating it’s 25th Anniversary this year and because we have participated in service events there for the past five years.
Join us in making a gift to the Penn Fund in honor of our reunion. Your support of the Penn Fund will go towards our class gifts—funding the Class of 1993 Netter Center for Community Partnerships Internship and growing our Class of 1993 Endowed Scholarship Fund. Both of these priorities celebrate the undergraduate experience by making a current or future Quaker’s Penn experience possible, and offering opportunities for students to learn and engage. Furthermore, your gift (of any size) will help our class break the 25th reunion and all-time record of 1,047 donors!

 

Read more about the Netter Center in this recent Frankly Penn post.

As you can see, there are many ways to offer service to our community, and our class is committed every year to gathering together to offer our time, talent and treasure. We hope you will consider attending a Netter Center event, donating a book or making a donation to The Penn Fund during Alumni Weekend.

Penn Class of 1993 25th Reunion #93tothe25th

Penn Class of 1993 25th Reunion Countdown

The weekend of March 16 – 17, marked 8 weeks until the 25th Reunion of the Penn Class of 1993 (May 11 – 14, 2018)! Meet us at the Button!

Register NOW to attend our 25th Reunion!

Join us we count down the weeks to our reunion #93tothe25th:

  • Follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
  • Classmates are invited to join our Facebook and LinkedIn groups.
  • Donate to The Penn Fund in honor of our reunion! We want to break the 25th reunion participation giving record and every gift matters!
  • Do you have old photos or mementos from our time at Penn? Photos of Spring Fling? Football at Franklin Field? Classes at DRL? We are taking a trip down memory lane and would love for you to share your memories with our class in a future post. Please email us upenn1993@gmail.com!
  • Book your hotel room or AirBnB now! See our class website for details.

 

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Filed under 25th Reunion, Class of 1993, Kiera R., Penn Serves LA, Volunteering

Penn Serves LA Serves Thanksgiving Meals to the Homeless in Downtown LA

By Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16

It is difficult to imagine that in 1944 Fred Jordan came to Skid Row and found hungry people living in boxes with their meager possessions strewn around the asphalt.  Sadly very little has changed in the ensuing years.

But throughout that time the Fred Jordan Mission has been steadfast on Skid Row, “Loving the unloved, feeding the hungry and healing the hurting.”  The Jordan family continues to be involved in running this non-profit, faith-based and educational relief organization.

A large crowd of Penn volunteers of all ages showed up in two shifts on this exceedingly hot and sunny Thanksgiving.  There was no shortage of helpers. Crowds of single guests and families lined up patiently waiting for their meal, while city leaders and clergy spoke and music blasted from a stage.

Penn Serves LA Thanksgiving dinner at Fred Jordan Missions

Penn Serves LA volunteers arrive on Thanksgiving morning ready to help, photo courtesy of Justin Gordon.

Penn Serves LA Thanksgiving Fred Jordan Mission

The early morning crew gathers on an unusually warm Thanksgiving Day in LA. Photo courtesy of Kiera Reilly

The event was planned to create a festive, tasty and embracing Thanksgiving for the poor, the working poor and the homeless, and the Mission was prepared to serve 3000 people at their 73rd annual Street Banquet.

Penn Serves LA serves Thanksgiving Dinner at Fred Jordan Mission

Penn Alumni in front of the Fred Jordan Mission in downtown LA. Photo courtesy of Justin Gordon

Penn Serves LA volunteers helped set tables, arrange chairs, serve plates of food, pass out drinks and mingle with the crowds.  Rarely has one seen larger drumsticks or heartier portions of mashed potatoes, and the diners seemed grateful for the wonderful meal and the upbeat atmosphere.

Penn Serves LA Thanksgiving Dinner Fred Jordan Mission

Penn Serves LA volunteers setting up the dinner tables. Photo courtesy of Justin Gordon

 

Penn Serves LA Thanksgiving Dinner Fred Jordan Mission

Serving Thanksgiving Dinner at Fred Jordan Missions near Skid Row not far from downtown LA. Photo courtesy of Kiera Reilly

Some Penn volunteers helped to pack and hand out sizable bags of produce to guests after they finished their meals.  As the sun reached its peak, tables were cleared and folded up, bags of trash were taken inside the mission, and brooms were at work to leave the streets clean before evening set in.

The Penn volunteers headed back to their cars, home to families for their own Thanksgiving celebrations.  To get to our vehicles, we walked by tents on the sidewalks, various encampments and people returning to their lives on the streets.  Our “work” that day was easy, but one could not help but feel humbled by what we had observed and experienced.

Penn Serves LA Thanksgiving Dinner Fred Jordan Missions

Penn Serves LA volunteers hand out bags of food to guests as they leave after enjoying a Thanksgiving meal. Photo courtesy of Jane Gutman

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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Filed under Jane G., Penn Serves, Penn Serves LA, Volunteering

Penn Serves LA Annual Social

By Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16

 Penn really MUST be the oldest university in the United States!  Our Penn Serves LA community gathered to celebrate the 312th birthday of our founder, Ben Franklin…and also to toast one another and our volunteer efforts.

Penn Serves LA hosts eight or nine service events each year, and every January we gather for social purposes. We are grateful to Elizabeth Kopple for offering her home for our festivities, and to the thirty plus people who came together to share experiences and stories, and to connect with one another. As is often the case at our events, our attendees spanned over forty years and represented all undergraduate and many graduate and professional schools.

Over wine, appetizers, and dessert, the group socialized, and each person provided a thirty-second self-introduction. People gave a host of reasons for their commitment to service, some spoke of particularly affecting events they had attended and others described non-profits they had or planned to start.

We had the pleasure of a brief talk by Richard Walden, C’68, L’72 who started LA-based Operation USA, an international disaster relief, and development agency in 1979.  A terrific story-teller, Richard explained how one idea developed into something much larger, and how he managed to get planes, warehouses and endless medical supplies donated to deliver $400 million in aid in 100 countries over the past 38 years. It was inspiring to realize that by staying small and agile, by not accepting financial support from the government and by remaining focused (in this case on education and health), a non-profit can make a world of difference.

Our founder was a man full of terrific ideas and, like Ben, our Penn Serves alumni volunteers know how to have a good time and to motivate and encourage one another to do good work to make our city a little stronger and better.

 

Please join us for upcoming events, mark your calendars for Ben’s bash next January, and send in any ideas you have for future projects.

Hurrah Pennsylvania!

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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Filed under Jane G., Penn Serves, Penn Serves LA, Volunteering

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.

bol-2

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.

9.8.17 photo 1

 

 

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 and TreePeople at the Audubon Center

By Michelle Wattana, C’09

What a day for the Penn Serves crew! Over 25 Penn alumni, family, and friends arrived at the Audubon Center at Debs Park, ready to assist TreePeople for a day of restoration and fun! For the past 40 years, TreePeople has been gathering the people of Los Angeles to plant and care for trees, harvest rain, and renew depleted landscapes. We were grateful to join them at the Audubon Center, an environmental community hub located within the 282-acre Ernest R. Debs Regional Park in the heart of Los Angeles.

Penn Serves LA helps Treepeople in Los Angeles volunteering Penn Alumni

Some of the Penn Serves LA group ready to help TreePeople

Penn Serves LA helps with TreePeople Los Angeles volunteering Penn Alumni

More of the Penn Serves LA gang

With plenty of sunshine abound, we began by keeping the center courtyard of the park in good order, adding water and soil to surrounding plants, and raking old twigs and leaves off the ground. By the time we were finished, the courtyard looked spick and span, if we do say so ourselves!

Courtyard at Audobon Center Los Angeles cleaned up by Penn Serves LA penn alumni volunteers

A clean job well done by the volunteers

With our first task complete, the group took a short, but scenic hike to the restoration lands. With gardening gloves and tools in hand, we began clearing the land, making way for native plants such as the California buckwheat to grow and thrive. We worked up quite a sweat under the blazing sun, but had tons of fun chatting the morning away while pulling out a lot of old vegetation.

Penn Serves LA Tree People Los Angeles Penn Alumni volunteering

On the hike up to the restoration lands

Before we knew it, the small piles of weeds and dried up plants we had begun turned into large mounds before our eyes. All volunteers, big and small, had a terrific time doing their part in the great outdoors. We certainly enjoyed ourselves, getting to know one another while helping the surrounding community and environment!

TreePeople will welcome volunteers in the coming months to plant and nurture small trees.  This is essential to the work of TreePeople, as the planting of the trees will serve to help cool our city, slow the run off of rainwater, provide a habitat for animals, food for people and ultimately, make our air more breathable.

So please join TreePeople and stay tuned for more events from the Penn Serves LA crew! Email us to subscribe to our Penn Serves email list where are future service events are announced first.

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.

Our next event – feeding the homeless with the Fred Jordan Missions on Thanksgiving Day is already sold-out! Join the wait-list to see if any spaces open up for volunteering.

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

Read about our previous events:

 

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Filed under Alumni Programming, 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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Filed under Guest blogger, Los Angeles, Penn Serves, Penn Serves LA

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

9.8.17 photo 1

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).

9.8.17 photo 2

9.8.17 photo 3

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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