Tag Archives: Penn Serves LA

Penn Serves LA Beautifies Roof for The Skid Row Housing Trust

By Michelle Wattana, C’09, and Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering

On Saturday, April 21st, the Penn Serves LA crew partnered with The Skid Row Housing Trust, where our very own Anne Dobson, C’08, serves as the Vice President of Philanthropy! Spearheaded by Penn Serves board members Jane Gutman and Irene Park, we met at the ground level of The Six Apartments in the Westlake/MacArthur Park neighborhood. Our team gathered water, snacks, and tools and listened to Anne’s informative pep talk for the day’s activities before we headed up to beautify the building’s rooftop through re-planting drought-resistant succulents.

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust volunteering Los Angeles

The Six building where we planted on the rooftop.

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering

Our group of Penn Serves LA volunteers

The Skid Row Housing Trust provides permanent supportive housing so that people who have experienced homelessness, prolonged extreme poverty, poor health, disabilities, mental illness and/or addiction can lead safe, stable lives in wellness. Many of these tenants are formerly homeless veterans. The Trust develops, manages, and operates permanent and supportive housing for its residents, and while a number of its buildings such as The Six are not actually on Skid Row itself, these buildings are beautiful, light-filled, open structures that in their very essence, exude what The Trust aims to provide – not only a place to get a safe night’s sleep, but hope, calm, and positivity during one’s greatest time of need.

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering

Penn Serves LA volunteers plant succulents

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering

On the roof planting succulents

The Six houses 55 tenants. All units in the building were single tenant units, as the targeted tenant is the single adult, with the average age of a tenant being 52-53 years of age. The units in the Trust’s buildings are subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”). The accommodations are provided for as long as a tenant needs, allowing as much time as necessary to heal, and various support services are provided, depending on each tenant’s need. Such services include case management, medical care, substance abuse counseling, technology assistance, benefits support, and full support for relocating from the streets or emergency shelters, and into housing. It is paramount that those who have been homeless can receive all the support they need to make the transition from homelessness to independence.

With this in mind, our team eagerly headed up to the rooftop where we were met with gorgeous views of Los Angeles – from the downtown skyline to the Hollywood sign and everything in between. As hot as it was, we got down to business! Armed with gloves and shovels, the Penn Serves crew planted a vast array of succulents into squares of soil that spanned the entire length of the rooftop. Everyone was hard at work, and some residents even stopped by to chat and help!

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering

Beautiful views of downtown Los Angeles from the roof.

In-hand with our previous event, making mosaic art through Piece by Piece, some pieces were brought to further beautify the rooftop garden. A few pieces were made fresh by volunteers on-site at the rooftop, and it was really wonderful to be able to link our events for the same cause. The beads and tiles used to make the mosaics really glistened and sparkled in the sun, adding a really cheerful touch to the little garden we had just created!

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering Piece by Piece

Making mosaics for the garden with Piece by Piece

Our crew had a wonderful time working our hearts out, chatting with one another while planting those succulents and piecing mosaics together. Before we knew it, we finished our tasks with time to spare! As our work came to an end, we were able to enjoy a fantastic view and the fruits of our labor. The little plants and mosaics added just the right touch to spruce up the space! The succulents, in particular, were the perfect plant for the job, as they are symbols of resilience, perseverance, and hope, and possess the ability to thrive under tough conditions. We were all reminded that afternoon, that all of us have a right to live in peace and beauty, and that even just a little light in our day can brighten things up immensely. And it was our sincerest wish that the residents of The Six would be able to enjoy the serene rooftop whenever they needed.

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering Piece by Piece mosaics

Working on mosaics for the garden

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering Piece by Piece mosaics

Penn Serves LA The Skid Row Housing Trust Los Angeles volunteering Piece by Piece mosaics

The finished mosaic ball for the garden

Penn Serves LA logo volunteering with Penn Alumni in Los Angeles

Upcoming Events

About Penn Serves LA

 

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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Penn Serves LA Makes Mosaics with Piece by Piece

By Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’ 14, PAR’16

Inspired by a 2006 visit to a micro-finance enterprise, training and employing women with HIV to make animals and dolls using seed beads in South Africa, Piece by Piece founder, artist Sophie Alpert, returned home with a desire to replicate this model as a mosaic workshop to empower people in underserved areas of Los Angeles.

IMG_6485

Detail of a mosaic piece the Penn Serves LA volunteers worked on during their visit.

People seeking new skills from South Central, Skid Row or other parts of LA can take training and certification classes in mosaic arts, free of charge, through Piece by Piece.  The artisans primarily use recycled materials (broken tiles, china, and glass) to create mirrors, trivets, wall décor, etc.  In March at our day to volunteer with Piece by Piece, the Penn Serves LA group received their own brief instruction in mosaic making: breaking up and chipping china, using thinset and other adherents, and basic design, before charging ahead with their own creations.

Our enthusiastic Quakers worked in groups on designs for decorating flower pots, and also took turns applying mosaic fragments on a large birdbath.  Reticent at the start, everyone found their rhythm and enthusiastically worked through lunch….but food ultimately beckoned, and fortunately, Piece by Piece has their showroom at Mercado La Paloma, an inviting space in the Figueroa Corridor which was once a garment factory.   This wonderful community revitalization project today provides affordable cultural, retail and culinary opportunities and serves as a vital hub for the area.

The Penn volunteers learned a new skill, made friends across the decades, enjoyed Vegan Ethiopian food (for example) and shopped for handmade copper bowls, embroidered blouses or woven satchels.  I came home with a magnificent mosaic wall hanging with a huge heart made up of white stones, surrounded pieces of blue and white pottery…this creation, made b a master mosaic artist,  will long remind me of the heart-filled joint venture between Penn Serves LA volunteers and the Piece by Piece community.

To learn more, shop or volunteer your time, please go to piecebypiece.org.

Penn Serves LA Piece by Piece

The Penn Serves LA volunteers pose with their mosaic pieces

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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Penn Serves LA at Homeboy Industries, Homegirl Café, and the Guadalupe Homeless Shelter

By Michelle Wattana, C’09

Following our January social, the Penn Serves crew launched into 2018 with a full day of service! Planned by our very own Ellie Hidalgo, C’87,  and Michal Clements, W’84, we started the day by touring Homeboy Industries, having a delicious lunch at the Homegirl Café, and finishing off by preparing dinner for the Guadalupe Homeless Project at the Dolores Mission Parish.

Homeboy Industries Tour

“Nothing stops a bullet like a job.” – Father Greg Boyle

IMG_5467

HomeBoy Industries in downtown Los Angeles

We first gathered at the Homeboy headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. As we walked in, there were smiling faces everywhere and the atmosphere was bustling with a sense of optimism, hope, and productivity! We split off into two groups, headed by our phenomenal tour guides Garry and Omar, who are both working on completing the Homeboy program themselves. Kind enough to share their personal stories with us, Garry and Omar are so well-spoken, they could’ve passed as professional motivational speakers!

Founded by Father Greg Boyle and members of the Dolores Mission Church in 1988, Homeboy Industries is now the largest and most successful gang intervention and re-entry program in the world. Thousands of men and women have since walked through its doors, and this wonderful organization offers several programs to assist them in rehabilitation – it’s a holistic approach, offering resources for the healing of the mind, soul, and body. Programs cover areas including education, workforce development, mental health, legal services, substance abuse, domestic violence, and tattoo removal. To give some idea of the incredible time, energy, and work provided by the organization, Homeboy Industries had 35 volunteer physicians, some of whom are based across the country, perform 11,834 tattoo removal treatments for free in the last year alone!

Homeboy Industries also offers several social enterprises to foster workforce development, including electronics recycling, silkscreen and embroidery, Homegirl Café, a bakery, an online market (homeboyfoods.com), catering, and groceries. At every turn, it was clear that the Homeboy and Homegirl programs were here to provide full care and support every step of the way, for its men and women looking to start a new chapter in life.

Lunch at Homegirl Cafe

Once we completed our tours, we headed into the Homegirl Café for a delicious lunch. We began with chips, salsa and guacamole, and our tables quickly filled with flavorful tacos, salads, and sandwiches.

Their website says it best – as one of Homeboy’s many social enterprises, Homegirl Café and Catering assists high-risk and formerly gang-involved young women, and a few young men, through an 18-month training program in restaurant service and culinary arts. Often times, this training serves as their first “real job”, as they learn to work alongside their former enemies and gain fundamental job skills in a supportive environment.

As you can see, our group enjoyed every bite! This fantastic café is a place where you can receive mouthwatering meals, baked goods, and support the empowerment of trainees and their families, all at the same time.

As we concluded our lunch, we reflected on how grateful we were for the chance to listen to Garry and Omar, feast on the delicious meals prepared at the café, and see for ourselves the incredible impact that the programs have on the community youth who need it most. Simply put, the Homeboy and Homegirl programs are a place to heal and find peace, offering the chance to begin again with open arms.

…and onto the Guadalupe Homeless Shelter!

Pumped up from the tour and well-fueled by lunch, the Penn Serves group then headed off to the Dolores Mission Parish to prepare dinner for the homeless community in Boyle Heights. The Dolores Mission Parish, established in 1925 for the underserved Spanish-speaking immigrants of the community, saw Jesuit priests arrive in 1980 to serve a neighborhood wrought by poverty and the effects of 7-9 gangs in the two-square-mile parish. Today, there are now only three gangs, some of which are inactive – a testament to the strength and perseverance of the parish and the surrounding community. And a fun Penn fact? Our very own Ellie Hidalgo, C’87, serves as Pastoral Associate for the parish’s church and school!

The Guadalupe Homeless Project (“GHP”) provides breakfast and dinner, as well as nightly shelter, to 45 men and 15 senior-aged women. Founded partly in response to those fleeing the Salvadoran Crisis, the men’s shelter first opened its doors in 1989, with the women’s shelter starting in 2015.  GHP and its volunteers also provide assistance through coordinating workshops, providing gently-used clothing, and helping with transitioning into emergency, transitional, or permanent housing.

On our tour of the grounds, we saw the communal gathering area, sleeping quarters (the light beds are stacked neatly every morning!), clothing center, nearby affiliated school, and of course, the church where members come for services and prayer. Beautifully decorated with Christian and Salvadoran motifs, we were reminded that the church has served as a healing ground for a community riddled with violence over the past decades. Sadly, many have lost at least one family member to incarceration or violence, and the church provides a place where families can receive hope, healing, and a sense of community together, in the face of hardship.

Following the tour, it was time for us to roll up our sleeves and prepare dinner. Our board members and volunteers alike spent the previous days preparing delicious foods in bulk for the evening meal. As diners came lining up, many of whom were fresh off a long day’s work and still in their uniforms, we served roasted chicken, salad, roasted potatoes, fresh fruit, desserts, and ice-cold beverages.

 

Once everybody had enough food, a few of us were able to sit down and chat with diners. To get to know who they are, hear their stories, and even listen to some songs from their homeland. All in all, it was a wonderful day of service for the Penn Serves community. We are so thankful to everyone who joined – onto the next!

 

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Penn Serves LA volunteers at the Guadalupe Shelter

**

Click on these links for more information on Homeboy Industries and Father Greg Boyle’s bestselling books Tattoos on the Heart and Barking to the Choir.

Click for more information on the Dolores Mission Parish and the Guadalupe Homeless Project.

Listen to NPR’s Fresh Air host Terry Gross interview Father Boyle here.

IMG_5466

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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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, 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.

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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