Heal One World empowers people with the knowledge and techniques to help themselves. Through classes, the organization teaches people skills and natural, noninvasive treatments they can use to ameliorate illness and injury and prevent further ailments from arising. Most of these classes impart self-help techniques and are therefore not covered by insurance, so the organization provides them on a sliding scale. Its programs range from yoga and tai chi to acupuncture and Feldenkrais treatments, drawing from ancient, time-tested practices that have often been cast to the wayside by Western culture. Heal One World also maintains a database of care providers who help people from low-income backgrounds attain stability of mind and body.
Yet beyond the individual, Heal One World focuses on strengthening the community. On weekends, it organizes vegan potlucks and film screenings on green opportunities and charity projects, and every May it holds a film, music, and arts festival in order to raise awareness of pressing environmental issues and include the community in artistic endeavors.
From 7 p.m. to midnight on Thursday, September 13, celebrities will play poker and party with guests 21 and older on the Petersen Automotive Museum’s rooftop overlooking the Hollywood Hills. Former NFL player Warren Sapp and actor Josh Henderson host the event, which in the past has featured such celebrities as Jason Alexander, Karina Smirnoff, and Slash from Guns N’ Roses. As DJ duo KimKat spins music, attendees mingle with the stars over complimentary finger foods and drinks, and compete in a poker tournament to see whose cards best soak up spilled beer. All proceeds from the fourth-annual event, which includes a silent auction, help benefit Lupus LA, a foundation dedicated to combatting lupus through research, awareness, and family services.
After Susan Burton’s 5-year-old son was accidentally hit and killed by a car, she numbed herself with drugs and alcohol. Over the next 20 years, she floated through the criminal-justice system, finding herself in and out of jail and without work or housing when she was free. Finally, in 1997, she gained permanent freedom and sobriety, but she chose not to let the lessons of those years fade into the past. Mobilized by her hardships, Susan began meeting women as they stepped off the prison bus. She brought them into her home and worked with them to rebuild their lives. Confronting the institutional barriers that denied employment, housing, and public assistance to formerly incarcerated women, Susan created a grassroots organization to halt these discriminatory practices. For her courage and efforts to break the cycle of incarceration, CNN named her one of its Top Ten Heroes of 2010.
Today, her organization, A New Way of Life Reentry Project (ANWOL), helps rehabilitate formerly incarcerated women through a multidimensional network of housing and support. Women self-identify goals that will help them reintegrate into the community and work to achieve them with help from support staff. They live in safe residential environments while performing chores, attending school and recovery meetings, and searching for employment. ANWOL also advocates for the legal and civil rights of all formerly incarcerated people and trains women how to represent themselves and other formerly incarcerated women through the Women Organizing for Justice leadership project.
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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.
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.
A volunteer-based organization, EnrichLA helps promote thoughtful, healthful eating habits by building gardens at public schools. After working with the city to get permits, EnrichLA volunteers work with school employees to determine the best uses of the garden, and then raise funds for the garden's construction and subsequent school-gardening classes.
To prepare for planting, EnrichLA volunteers install sinks with running water, outdoor kitchens, and drip systems to water the garden, and build picnic tables, trellises, and raised garden beds. Once a school garden and fundraising is complete, the volunteers teach weekly classes where students can learn everything from composting and cooking to beekeeping. Students can also enjoy nutritious snacks straight from the garden.