Keri Bowers is an autism advocate. She’s a speaker, author, filmmaker, mother, and the founder of Pause4Kids. Normal People Scare Me—her 2006 film made in conjunction with her son, an aspiring filmmaker with autism—interviewed 65 people with autism, exploring seldom-asked questions such as “Do you like being autistic?” and “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Through her films, Keri has spread awareness about autism-spectrum disorders and other disabilities, but her work gets far more hands-on as well.
Pause4Kids aims to improve the quality of special education, empowers parents to support their children, and advocates for children’s legal and civil rights. Following a whole-child philosophy, the organization’s volunteers believe that special education should cover a variety of disciplines, including the academic, social-communication, emotional, and recreation realms to enable youth with disabilities to thrive among their peers. Staff members also sponsor a monthly advocacy group and regular recreational activities, such as Art-A-Thons and Abilities Awareness events.
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American Tortoise Rescue was founded by husband-and-wife team Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, who began advocating for the humane treatment of animals after adopting a pair of desert-tortoise hatchlings. Since that first adoption, American Tortoise Rescue has rescued more than 3,000 turtles and tortoises of various land and water species, focusing efforts on abused turtles or those with special needs, and has expanded its scope to the treatment of these animals worldwide.
At American Tortoise Rescue's facility, approximately 100 animals live in an enclosure that mimics the wild, having freedom to play on the ground or in the water. Sick turtles receive medical care and stay in the house until they are healthy enough to go outside. To supplement its rescue efforts, the organization also provides information and awareness about the care and rehabilitation of tortoises for the public, and works to prevent the sale of hatchlings, the importation and live-market slaughter of adult turtles, and the destruction of the desert-tortoise habitat.
Food Forward connects people with food by harvesting excess produce from local farms and public spaces, which it distributes to more than 20 food banks and pantries across Southern California. After receiving an invitation, an all-volunteer force meets at a property and picks produce for one to two hours. A pick leader provides tools, organizes the group, and delivers the fruit to a vetted hunger-relief organization that serves it to clients within 72 hours. By conducting 15–20 picks every month, Food Forward aims to demonstrate the abundance of available food that goes to waste and to raise the issues of urban hunger and food justice in the community.
talentorium is a performance and production studio that specializes in working with young actors. it provides the kind of training that helps students develop artistically, while imparting great leadership skills. we work with both newcomers and seasoned actors alike.
Maria D'Angelo believes in the Hope Effect. She arrived to America on a freighter from Italy, searching for a better life with her family, and to this day she remembers how much hope filled her at that moment. To share this sense of positive possibility, she began The Children's Lifesaving Foundation, which through countless acts has improved the lives of families and children living below the poverty level. The organization assists homeless families in finding apartments, provides tutoring services, and raises money for college tuition. And the team's works are so renowned that they've been featured in People magazine and on CNN, and were voted the 2013 Non-Profit of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Although today The CLF works to establish housing and educational opportunities for underserved families, Maria's quest began with a much simpler gesture. In 1992, while volunteering at a homeless shelter, she met an 8-year-old boy who never attended school because his mother couldn't afford to get him a physical. So Maria took him to a doctor. That one act, blossomed into other simple acts, which blossomed into the founding of The CLF, but the spirit of that simplicity remains. To improve homeless kids' quality of life, the organization runs a summer camp with surfing lessons, which leave children with a good memory and a bit of hope.
Step inside Naam Yoga LA and immediately breathe in the healing energy. Around every corner, sunlight pours down from the 17-foot ceilings, and beautiful photographs and paintings of temples from all over the world provide inspiration. In the upstairs sanctuary, healers offer acupuncture, massage, and Kabbalah consultations.
But the jewel in the crown is the main yoga studio, a massive space with room for 310 practitioners. Cutting-edge Whisperwave sound panels hang from the ceiling, preventing obtrusive echoes during group chants and improving acoustics during the studio's concert events.