The holidays are here and as our thoughts turn to family, parties and presents, it also turns to giving back. We recently connected with some of our favorite Westchester/Playa area nonprofit leaders to learn more about their organizations and find out how people can get involved to support these worthwhile causes. Below are our Q&As with the executive directors or board presidents of 7 groups that are passionate about their missions and supporting the community.
Music, Art & Community Combine at Westchester’s All-Day Block Party
Enjoy the last
weekend of summer by heading down to Emerson Avenue for one of the community’s
most popular family-friendly events—the Westchester Arts and Music Block Party
(WAM)! Featuring more than a dozen musical acts, food trucks, kids activities,
community booths, a beer & wine garden and more, the event is a chance for
an all-day hang-out session with friends you bring with you, and people you
meet along the way.
“We’re stoked for this year’s event,”
said event producer John Sharpe. “We have some great music and entertainment
acts lined up, a bunch of great food options and the best beer & wine
garden around! Make sure you don’t miss out. You’re bound to run into your
friends and neighbors, whether you’re rocking out to a band or doing arts &
crafts with your kids. The event is all about celebrating our community and
supporting the Emerson Avenue Community Garden, and in our fourth year, we’re
thrilled that WAM is becoming a Westchester tradition.”
Interested in participating in the 20th anniversary of the Fourth of July Parade? Organizers are looking for community support to help make this Westchester tradition the best parade yet.
Hosted by the LAX Coastal Chamber, organizers are putting out the call for entries, volunteers and sponsors for this year’s celebration.
“The Fourth of July Parade was only supposed to be a one-time event to celebrate the millennium,” said LAX Coastal Chamber President/CEO Christina Davis. “So the fact that we’re now celebrating our 20th anniversary says a lot about the dedication of our volunteers and our community that supports this tradition year after year. It’s a special feeling to see Loyola Blvd. lined every July 4th with families, neighbors and people from across the city, and we’re dedicated to putting on an entertaining event for them.”
Applications to participate in the parade are due by May 17. Floats are especially encouraged, as well as entries with musical numbers. As this is a milestone year for the event, organizers are asking potential participants to put extra thought and creativity into their applications.
The theme for the 2019 parade is “America…Better Together” and symbolizes the importance of working together and focusing on what unites us to make a stronger community and nation.
More than 2,000 families, students and community members came out to support local schools at the LAX Coastal Education Foundation’s (LAXCEF) 2nd Annual Rock Roll & Run in collaboration with Loyola Marymount University on Saturday, March 9.
The event raised funds for 21 participating K-12 schools and featured a 5K run around the beautiful campus of LMU, a 1K kid’s race and a lively expo. More than 40 community organizations, businesses and sponsors had booths at the event, which featured free food, a photo booth, arts & crafts, kids’ activities and giveaways, while music from classic rock tribute band Ab-soul-ute played in the background.
The Rock Roll & Run is the ed foundation’s premier fundraiser and is the only event that brings together all interested local schools for a chance to raise money for programs like P.E., art and field trips.
“We hope everyone had a great time at the event, whether they had a chance to participate in the 5K or 1K, or attended the expo,” said LAXCEF President Andrew Chereck. “We’re proud to have raised more than $80,000 that will go back to our local schools who increasingly need the support of the community and partners like our foundation to be able to fund important school programs. We look forward to continuing to raise more money in the future.”
The foundation, which launched in 2017, supports all local schools–public, private, charter and parochial–in the Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista and Marina del Rey areas. The foundation’s primary goals include aiding schools through fundraising, distributing grants and creating strategic partnerships. Since its inception, the foundation has given back more than $165,000 to local schools in direct funds and grants. Most recently, $15,000 in arts and beautification grants were awarded to nine schools. The foundation is kicking off the spring season accepting applications for STEM grants in partnership with SoCalGas and will announce literacy and teacher development grants in the coming months.
LAXCEF also supports the Teacher Eddy Awards, Teacher Mini-Grants, hosts the School Expo and is always looking for partners to collaborate with for future projects.
For more information, please visit laxcef.org or email email@example.com.
Check out page 22-23 of the April HomeTown News for more photos from the race!
Sign-ups are now open for the Second Annual Rock Roll & Run for Education presented by the LAX Coastal Education Foundation in partnership with Loyola Marymount University. The event will take place on Saturday, March 9 starting at 8 a.m. on the campus of LMU.
This timed fun run (with a music theme) brings together 21 local schools for a festive day of friendly-competition with the proceeds benefiting education. Last year, $60,000 was raised and organizers are hoping to surpass this number in 2019. More than just a race, the community event also features a race expo with community booths, free food,giveaways, live music, a costume contest and more. Organizers also say there are a few new additions and surprises for the 2019 race.Continue reading →
After more than 70 years of serving the youth of the community, the Westchester Townhouse will finally get the makeover it deserves courtesy of the Rotary Club of Westchester.
Since opening in 1945, the Townhouse, located on Emerson Ave. next to Kentwood Elementary School, has been a hub for youth-focused nonprofit groups, including the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, schools and theater group, Music West, who are able to use the space free of charge. Without the budget for upkeep, the Townhouse has had maintenance deferred, leaving the charming space in bad need of upgrades. Looking for the support of the community and to bring awareness to their situation, Townhouse board member and Girl Scout troop leader, Anne-Marie Ross, suggested the group hold its first fundraiser in recent memory last April. The open house style event brought out hundreds to support the Townhouse and as luck would have it, Westchester Rotarians also stopped by. After viewing the space, their wheels starting spinning– the Townhouse would make an excellent location for the club’s next Makeover Project.Continue reading →
Jess Echeverry is no stranger to a life of transience. Now a mother of five, living with her family in Westchester, she spent much of her youth on the streets in and out of motels and homeless shelters in her hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She endured her parents’ divorces at a young age, sexual abuse as a child, and at 16, she was pregnant and homeless, and eventually forced to give up her baby.
But by 25, her life had changed dramatically for the better: She was married and ready for a new adventure in California. In her new city, Echeverry and her husband began taking notice of the large homeless population in West Los Angeles, particularly on the streets of Santa Monica. The hardships and tribulations Echeverry had endured growing up made her very empathetic towards the homeless she witnessed there, so she began volunteering her time to give back to a community she felt a connection with.Continue reading →
For more than five decades, John Ruhlen has been a fixture in the Westchester community. He has been involved with Westchester Vitalization Corporation, the local chamber of commerce and the Westchester Town Center Business Improvement District, but more than anything, his name has become synonymous with the incredible beautification efforts along Sepulveda Boulevard.
On December 4, the Westchester Streetscape Improvement Association and the BID honored Ruhlen with a plaque that will be placed along the street to commemorate his efforts that have helped transform the street into what it looks like today. Continue reading →
Interested in donating to a collection drive or giving back this holiday season? Consider checking out these local groups that are working to make a positive impact in the lives of others:
St. Margaret’s Center
Just a stone’s throw away from Westchester, St. Margaret’s Center is collecting toys for its annual Christmas program. Every year, the center distributes thousands of toys to children in need. Locally, there are two drop-off locations. Head to Toe Salon, located at 6310 W. 89th St. in Westchester, is collecting toys through December 10 during regular business hours. Miss Haircut Salon, located at 8733 La Tijera Blvd. in Westchester, is collecting toys through noon on Friday, December 14. Toys can be dropped off Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Interested in donating online? Visit amazon.com, choose “Find a List or Registry,” type in St. Margaret’s Center and browse their wish list. Purchased items will be sent directly to the center. St. Margaret’s Christmas Program will take place on Saturday, December 15 at Lennox Middle School. Continue reading →
The LAX Coastal Education Foundation is offering its first round of grants to help support arts and beautification efforts at local schools! The grants are intended to help enhance all forms of arts education and/or the beautification of campuses, classrooms, etc. Grants are in support of specific activities, projects and programs for the school year, including but not limited to: materials, new or ongoing curriculum, supplies and instruction.