Monday, December 31, 2012

89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio

Season's Givings: TreePeople restores nature with the help of volunteers


Amy Lieu/KPCC

Stephanie Nelson tells KPCC about her experience as a volunteer for TreePeople, an environmental non-profit organization.
This post is part of KPCC's "Season's Givings" series, chronicling volunteer experiences  and opportunities during the holiday season.View a full listing of charitable organizations seeking help this season and let us know your holiday volunteer story!

Los Angeles is often thought of as an urban jungle, but environmental nonprofit TreePeople sees the potential for greener spaces. Their mission is to reach out to local communities in order to restore wildlife in damaged or underused areas of Southern California. 
Their teams plant, restore and care for trees and plants in Angeles National Forest, the Santa Monica Mountains — even on individual school campuses.
Last year, TreePeople planted more than 14,000 trees. Since 1970, the organization has planted over 2 million trees, according to TreePeople. 
Volunteers play a major role in the organization, with more than 11,000 people donating their time in just last year.
Stephanie Nelson is one of them. In March 2011, she began volunteering after seeing the devastation that took place during a fire in the Angeles National Forest. Nearly two years later, she is a volunteer restoration supervisor. 
"I definitely feel like I am doing something good for the environment. I feel like I'm helping to restore areas, but really...I think the work changes me more than I'm changing anything," Nelson said. "I hope that I'm affecting change, but at the end of the day, what really keeps me coming back is that I feel good about what I've done that day. I feel like I've connected with people in my community."
In the next ten years, TreePeople hopes to provide more canopy tree coverage, more access to parks and improve air quality by planting trees and plants native to the area. But they need help.
The organization welcomes volunteers of all ages with a few restrictions. Find out more at their website.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Season's Givings 89.3 KPCC

Season's Givings: Sherman Oaks nonprofit 'The Help Group' provides support for children with special needs
Amy Lieu | 

Amy Lieu/KPCC

Andrea Lockhart is a volunteer with The Help Group's after-school improv program. She shares her experience with KPCC.

This post is part of KPCC's "Season's Givings" series, chronicling volunteer experiences  and opportunities during the holiday season.View a full listing of charitable organizations seeking help this season and let us know your holiday volunteer story!

Based in Sherman Oaks, The Help Group  operates nine day schools on seven campuses in the Los Angeles area to provide services for children with special needs related to autism, Asperger's Disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays and emotional problems.
“Typically, kids with autism have a difficult time with social skills. Through the improv games, we help kind of develop those," says Andrea Lockhart, a volunteer for The Help Group’s after-school program.
The improv workshop is only one of the after-school activities offered by The Help Group's Kids Like Me program. Designed to encourage kids with autism and other developmental challenges to laugh, play and interact with one another, the programs are located on The Help Group's Sherman Oaks and Culver City campuses and are open to the public. Other classes offered after school include social skills groups, Yoga Train, ballet, chess, basketball and karate.
Lockhart has been with the program since October. 
"A lot of kids with autism tend to be bullied more than neurotypical kids," she said. "Their self-esteem tends to be a little bit lower. Here at The Help Group, they have these amazing after-school programs that help to encourage, support and uplift these kids."
The program serves more than 1,500 pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students.  
“It's inspiring," said Lockhart. "It makes my week. Every week that I'm here. It’s so uplifting to be a part of this and hope that we're making a little bit of a difference.”
On Saturday, Dec. 15, The Help Group will host a Holiday Carnival at their Sherman Oaks campus for the families in need. The group is looking for more volunteers. For more information, go to their website.

Season's Givings: Pasadena Humane Society seeks helpers to work with animals, outreach | 89.3 KPCC

Season's Givings, Pasadena Humane Society Marilyn Hoyt

Amy Lieu/KPCC

Marilyn Hoyt, a volunteer at the Pasadena Humane Society, tells KPCC about what it's like working with dogs and what keeps her coming back.
This post is part of KPCC's "Season's Givings" series, chronicling volunteer experiences  and opportunities during the holiday season. View a full listing of volunteer opportunities and let us know your holiday volunteer story!

Each year the Pasadena Humane Society provides shelter and care for a number of abandoned or homeless animals. In 2011, the organization took in nearly 12,000 animals found in La Canada Flintridge, San Marino, Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Glendale, Pasadena and South Pasadena.
And each year, the PHS reunites over 1,600 lost pets with their owners. One of those owners includes KPCC’s own Patt Morrison, who found her lost dog, Edgar, at the local shelter.
Volunteers are an essential part of  the humane society.  Currently, the organization relies on more than 400 volunteers to help keep the pets active, assist in adoption outreach, work with the organization's veterinarians, and help out with clerical work.
Marilyn Hoyt, who was 2011's volunteer of the year, has been with the Humane Society for about 3 years. 
"Through the years I have been volunteering, there are obviously times when you become very attached to certain dogs … the dog really gets to know you," she said. "They know who you are because they know that you take them for the walks and you give them the treats and they respond to you. That’s a real rewarding part of all of this."
Once taken in, PHS works to socialize their animals to become more family-friendly so they'll be more attractive adoptees. "When [the dogs] get adopted, we all celebrate," Hoyt said.
Find out more about the Humane Society's volunteer program at their website