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.
Kimberly Garsed founded Urban Dog Playcare to provide dog owners with a place to put their pets when they were otherwise engaged with work or play, thus making it possible for more people to welcome dogs into their families. Kimberly has more than 20 years of experience training dogs, and her core staff draws on more than 10 years of experience when attending to the health and happiness of their clients? canines. During playcare, four-legged friends roam around a 5,000-square-foot facility with five distinct play areas, two of which have a rubber surface to cushion dogs? feet and better facilitate their self-directed gymnastics competitions. Owners can keep tabs on their pooches through the facility's webcam, unless the staff and their charges have embarked on one of the frequent custom field trips to exotic, pet-friendly locales such as the Santa Monica Mountains.
Boarders visiting the hospitable facility eat nutritious meals and tire themselves out during vigorous walks before being escorted to slumberland by a skilled dog wrangler who continues to watch pets into the wee hours. Dogs sleep atop beds or blankets in kennel runs or crates with housemates. Because the dog wrangler stays with the doggies all night, the animals are never alone.
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.
Outfitted with spas and treadmills, Pooch Hotels are nearly the same as human accommodations, with one key difference: your dog might get a tummy-rub with their turndown service. These venues were all designed by dog-lovers whose main priority was canine comfort, regardless of the length of each guest's stay.
Dogs on daycare visits, for example, are sorted by size and temperament before entering one of multiple play areas. Monitored by human "Pack Leaders," they socialize amidst toys, treats, and wading pools at select locations, or run outside if the weather and facilities permit. Those who have booked a room for the night can relax in a private suite, outfitted with a glass door rather than bars. These range from standard to presidential and even palace suites?rooms outfitted with luxury bedding and flat-screen televisions tuned to dog-friendly programming. Customers might also schedule a spa appointment for their pooch, choosing from services such as baths, "pawdicures," and even facials.
The hotels pursue peace of mind for owners as actively as they pamper their dogs. Certain locations have installed web cameras in the play areas and suites, enabling people to check in on their pets and guilt them about the time they napped instead of writing a postcard. Staff remain on-hand at all times to welcome newcomers and care for already-snoozing pups.