If you've ever stood on the second floor of the Los Angeles Central Public Library and marveled at the explosion of color within the rotunda or the 12 adjacent murals depicting California history, then you have the Los Angeles Conservancy to thank. When the library was scheduled for demolition in the mid-1970s, concerned citizens formed the Conservancy to save the rotunda, the exterior limestone sculptures, and the library's many other architectural treasures. The group finally convinced the City Council to preserve the library in 1983, after years of public discussion, debate, and book-sniffing sit-ins. Ever since, it has advocated for greater Los Angeles's historic sites and educated people about the city's architectural heritage. The Conservancy is responsible for saving and revitalizing landmarks such as the former Cathedral of St. Vibiana, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, and the world’s oldest remaining McDonald’s restaurant.
To accomplish its mission, the membership-based nonprofit offers a number of ways people can experience these beautiful and storied places. The Last Remaining Seats series earned a Reader Recommendation for Best Film Series and Best Downtown Event in the Los Angeles Downtown News' 2012 poll, in which the conservancy’s walking tours also earned the title of Best Downtown Tour. But the organization does more than save grandiose public buildings: increasingly, it also focuses on smaller community projects such as garden apartments and sites that reflect the area's rich Latino culture.
Executive director and 20-year Conservancy veteran Linda Dishman explained to Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times, "People are becoming more vocal. …That's one of the great secrets about Los Angeles: People really identify with their neighborhoods." The Conservancy also presents annual preservation awards to honor the efforts of individuals who fight to save places such as Pann’s Coffee Shop and Griffith Observatory.
Carolyn Sargent used art to escape the isolation of hearing loss as a child. Art therapist Elda Unger discovered the power of the arts to help emotionally heal abused children. Together they founded Free Arts for Abused Children, which promotes artistic expression for children who are homeless, have been abused, or are living in foster care. Free Arts maintains four programs, each designed to engage youth in creative self-expression and provide an outlet for strong emotions and troubling experiences. Long-term lessons with role models help youth learn from trustworthy adults; art days empower students to connect with peers and express themselves through new mediums; family art projects encourage interaction within the household; and arts and crafts sessions help distract youth waiting on proceedings at local courthouses.
Grilled or chilled, layered or wrapped, the chefs at The Original Sandbag's Gourmet Sandwiches uphold the age-old art of bread bundling as they craft a mélange of classic sandwiches alongside a complement of classic soups, sides, and desserts. Staffers load up the shop’s fluffy rolls or toasty bread slices with spiced cuts of turkey, saucy meatballs, and veggies before pairing each creation with a homemade chocolate-chip cookie, imbuing senses with nostalgia for days at mom’s house or late-night shindigs at Cookie Monster's mansion. Diners can take their bounty to go or linger at the restaurant, which features a lineup of indoor seating and a collection of patio tables soaking in the warm rays of the noonday sun.
United Friends of the Children’s College Sponsorship program provides financial and emotional support to youth attending colleges across the country. This assistance helps more than 70% of program participants to graduate with a degree. To ease their transition into college-dorm living, United Friends of the Children provides young people who have emerged from foster care with dorm kits, which contain items students will use on a daily basis. Each dorm kit includes a flash drive for school assignments, sheet set and comforter, shower caddy, bath towel and washcloth, and an alarm clock. The items are packaged in a new piece of luggage to enable students to carry all of their belongings to their new dorm room.
The majority of children assisted by After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles are from low-income families that often cannot afford to purchase the school supplies necessary to keep kids confident and well-equipped. To help students succeed academically, ASAS-LA distributes academic kits filled with donated supplies to students in need. Each kit contains essential tools such as a backpack, notebook, folders, writing utensils, and a pencil box, helping students to stay organized and focused in school.
The creative-writing workshops at 826LA’s centers foster the imaginations of young students, helping them to unleash their creative potential and refine their diligently written pieces. Each day, students ages 6 to 18 work with an experienced volunteer tutor to respond to writing prompts or polish previous drafts. In the afternoon, children are fed a nutritious nibble of the vegetable, fruit, or grain variety, ensuring that focus stays on the work at hand, and not on rumbling bellies. Volunteers also spend time talking to eager learners about proper eating habits and healthy life choices, inspiring students to maintain wholesome habits after each day's activities.