Women Against Gun Violence was founded during a national seminar on guns and gun violence, which brought together women's organizations in recognition of their historic leadership roles on community issues. Today, WAGV aims to prevent gun violence across the country by educating communities about the consequences of violence and advocating for legislation that promotes public health. WAGV's outreach programs aim to engage all citizens, from school children to adult members of the community and politicians. Its programming includes the Keepin' Them Safe program, which teaches parents how to implement safety precautions for guns in homes through role-playing activities, and the GunsSuck initiative, which combats ads that depict and glamorize gun violence, particularly those that are close to schools.
In 1998, 8-year-old Brandon was staying home from school with a cold. His mom took him to a board of directors meeting at the Hollygrove children’s home, where people were discussing how to build a library for the 60 youths who lived there. Once he got back to school, he started telling his friends that kids at the orphanage needed books, and asked them to donate the ones they had outgrown. On the last day of school before winter break, Brandon surprised his mom as she drove to pick him up—he was standing on the sidewalk surrounded by hundreds of books for the kids. Because they had more books than the children’s home needed, Brandon’s mom started knocking on doors to give the extra books away to children without books. Their combined efforts started BookEnds to help all children experience the joy of reading.
Today, Bookends gathers recycled children’s books and distributes them through student-run book drives at local schools. The students select only high-quality books that will inspire youth to read, then sort and personally deliver the donations. Since its inception, more than 220,000 students have been involved in organizing drives, delivering more than 2.1 million books to 520,000 underserved children.
Students enrolled in the GAP program attend a full semester at Santa Monica College, receiving individual attention from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. five days per week and assistance with signing up for classes and extracurricular activities. GAP program attendees also gain opportunities to work at local companies and volunteer with AmeriCorps or the Red Cross, based on their preferences. The emphasis on each student making choices for him or herself helps enrollees to gain important personal and social skills for independent living later in life. By the program's end, students find themselves in greatly improved positions to secure stable long-term employment.
In 1996, Food on Foot set up on the steps of the Hollywood Post Office, delivering its first chicken dinner out of the trunk of a car to neighbors experiencing homelessness. The organization quickly expanded and began serving meals every Sunday to increase food security among underserved residents. Today, Food on Foot serves that same meal of chicken, rice, and tortillas every week, as well as a variety of healthy snacks including granola bars, baby carrots, fresh fruit, and bottled water. It also distributes gently used clothing, shoes, and sleeping bags and business clothes for clients who have secured job interviews.
In 1999, Food on Foot began its Work for Food program, wherein volunteers pick up trash in the Hollywood area. Each volunteer fills two garbage bags and receives a $10 grocery-store gift card, healthy snacks, and a chicken dinner in return. After participating in the program for two months, volunteers are placed on a daily route to pick up trash while the program staff works to help them acquire a full-time job. Once participants find a job, Food on Foot funds an apartment, utilities, and transportation for three months while they become established in their new position. During this time, workers continue their daily trash route and turn in their paychecks to Food on Foot. At the end of the three-month period, they receive the uncashed checks to open a savings account.
In addition to medically eliminating the reproductive capacities of the dogs it rescues—a procedure required by law in Los Angeles—Ace of Hearts provides the animals with veterinary care and places them in foster homes where trained individuals feed and nurture the dogs until they’re adopted. Ace of Hearts supplies these foster homes with canine essentials, including food, bedding, collars, and toys. Since its inception in 2001, the organization has rescued more than 2,000 dogs in the Los Angeles area, with more than 50 pups currently awaiting adoption.