SPONSORING A LOCAL MUSICAL INSTITUTION

We are proud to be among the sponsors for a local institution, dylanfest. For 26 years, this day-long celebration of the music of Bob Dylan has given LA-area musicians a showcase for sharing their talents and the community a place to gather and share their love of music.

LA musicians Andy and Renee launched the event in 1991, and their band, Hard Rain, is the “house band” for the day. Solo artists, full bands and instrumentalists join them throughout the day.

Join us on May 7 at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center in the Torino Plaza. To purchase tickets, please visit: http://www.andyandrenee.com/content.php?id=12

TRAINING ETHICAL AND EFFECTIVE LEADERS

We’re excited that we were able to help Coro Southern California celebrate its 60th Anniversary and launch the next 60 years. We helped develop the messaging and video presentation for its May 4 gala and will be a sponsor for the event. Coro is an experience-based leadership program that helps prepare people from diverse backgrounds to be leaders through hands-on training in public, private and nonprofit organizations. It works across traditional boundaries to tackle complex social, economic and political challenges. As proof of its invaluable training, some of LA’s top leaders were Coro fellows – and they’re proud to tell you that Coro was critical to their success.

HELPING RAISE FUNDS FOR BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH

Celebrating innovation that benefits patients is the theme for the LA BioMed Spirit of Innovation Gala on May 4. We are pleased to be among the sponsors who will be honoring the pioneering work of distinguished researchers Ruey-Kang Chang, MD; Richard Casaburi, PhD, MD, and Michael Yeaman, PhD, at the Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles. We are honoring Dr. Casaburi for his groundbreaking work to improve the lives of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients who suffer daily from shortness of breath, and Dr. Chang for his research to advance the heart health of infants and children.

Dr. Yeaman is being recognized for discovering, formulating and translating innovative approaches to meet the challenges of drug-resistant infections. He is an inventor on more than 15 issued patents and a founder of two biotech startups: NovaDigm Therapeutics, Inc., which has completed Phase II clinical trials of its initial vaccine candidate, and Tegos Therapeutics, which aims to develop new anti-infective biologics to defeat deadly infections. For more information and to attend the gala, please visit www.labiomed.org

 

 

TELLING OUR STORY TO INCREASE DIABETES RESEARCH FUNDING

We were proud to be among the 150 grassroots volunteer leaders from every JDRF chapter across the country to assemble in Washington, D.C., in March to meet with members of Congress and share our story about life with type 1 diabetes.

The goal of JDRF Government Day—which actually lasts for four jam-packed days—is to educate lawmakers and make the case for new legislation and federal research funding in support of the diabetes community. So far, the event’s track record is pretty amazing. According to Cynthia Rice, senior vice president of advocacy and policy at JDRF, participants’ efforts have resulted in Congress extending a $150 million per year Special Diabetes Program (SDP) multiple times, allowing for the continuation of promising ongoing clinical trials to find a cure for type 1 diabetes. Other accomplishments include the recent approval for Medicare to cover continuous glucose monitors (CGM), as well as the acceleration of FDA pathways for emerging therapies such as the artificial pancreas.

Just how do 150 volunteers from 50 different states and the District of Columbia make all this happen? The surprising secret to Government Day’s success, Rice believes, may lie in the stories that volunteers share about life with diabetes.

“After attending advocacy training sessions and other informational events, Government Day volunteers spend two days on Capitol Hill speaking with members of Congress. They are there to help Congress members and staffers get up to date on the latest initiatives and research funding needs,” Rice explains. “But they are also there to tell their stories … about what it’s like to live with diabetes or to care for a loved one with diabetes. Hearing these stories firsthand puts a face on diabetes and underscores why the programs we’re advocating for are so important.”

To learn more, please read our blog posts about the event here:http://www.jdrf.org/la/2017/02/27/los-angeles-advocates-arrive-in-dc-for-jdrf-government-day/; http://www.jdrf.org/la/2017/02/28/jdrf-la-team-lobbies-for-special-diabetes-program/; http://www.jdrf.org/la/2017/03/03/jdrf-la-team-finds-congressional-support-for-jdrf-legislative-priorities/

 

MAKING CHRISTMAS SPECIAL FOR KIDS IN NEED

Christmas is the season of giving, and it's a great time to make sure all children get to participate in the season. We love shopping for special gifts for those who may not otherwise have any presents.

This year, we bought gifts for girls through two of our favorite programs: Operation Christmas Child, which brings good news and great joy to children around the world, and Miracle on First Street Toy Give Away Program for Hollenbeck Youth Center in Los Angeles. Both programs serve children who wouldn't have gifts to enjoy without the generosity of donors.

When we all have so much of our own, sharing with others brings great joy in this season of joyful celebration.

You can still give gifts to at least one of the great organizations by visiting:  

https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/

BIKING TO BEAT DIABETES

This is our LA Ride Team and several of our supporters at the 2016 JDRF Lake Tahoe Ride to Cure Diabetes, one of seven rides around the country that will raise more than $6 million this year to fund vital research into improving the lives of those living with Type 1, or juvenile, diabetes (T1D). This devastating disease affects millions of people around the globe, requiring them to constantly monitor their blood glucose levels, exercise and food intake. 

On September 11,  we joined 135 riders from across the country in cycling all the way around the largest alpine lake in North America to raise money for a cure for T1D. The weather was terrific. The views were incredible, and the hills just about killed us.

But all the way, we kept thinking about the struggles our children and millions more face every day. We knew the physical challenges of completing 72 miles at high altitudes and climbing the seemingly insurmountable hills were nothing in comparison to what those living with T1D must do every day to stay healthy. We finished the ride but our fundraising goes on. Please join us in this fight to turn Type One into Type None by donating here.

CREATING ETHICAL CIVIC LEADERS

We have worked in the world of politics and public policy for more than two decades, and we recognize the importance of creating ethical civic leaders to ensure a better future for us all. We were proud to be among the sponsors for the Coro Foundation's Crystal Eagle 41st Annual Award Gala. For the Southern California chapter, this is its biggest fundraiser.

Coro trains ethical, diverse civic leaders nationwide. Coro leaders develop skills; master tools needed to engage and empower communities; gain experience in government, business, labor and not-for-profit community organizations; and participate in special community and political problem solving processes.

Over 10,000 Coro alumni are currently serving as leaders in local, regional and national/global businesses, non-profit organizations, governmental agencies and elected public office. These civic entrepreneurs and innovators use their Coro training to develop individual civic leadership skills, experience and confidence; solve tough community problems; and network with leaders across geographical and political jurisdictions to build civic coalitions, consensus and solutions. To learn more, please visit www.Coro.org.

BEATING BREAST CANCER

We have far too many friends and relatives who either have fought this disease or are battling it today. Breast cancer strikes approximately one in every eight women. So we are happy to support our long-time friend and colleague, Bill Eby, when he rides in the Texas Mamma Jamma Ride.He too is a cancer survivor who is just returning to his bike riding after his latest round of treatments. Bravo Bill!

Please join us in donating to Bill's ride and this wonderful organization that supports those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and their families. The ride is Sept. 24. Here's how you can donate to Bill: Go to http://mammajammaride.org/.Click on the “Donate” button up on the top toolbar.The drop-down menu will offer a “Donate to a Rider” option. Click on that. On the page that appears, type Bill Eby – into the search function and hit “enter.” On his fundraising page, click on “Donate.”

FUNDING VITAL BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH

LA BioMed has been a client for almost a decade, and we were pleased to be among the table sponsors for its 2016 Gala. As one of the country's leading nonprofit independent research institutes, LA BioMed has a long history of of science in the service of patients. It's responsible for many of the mainstays of today's healthcare, including the cholesterol test and the modern-day paramedic model of emergency care. It continues to pioneer innovations that can save lives here and around the world.

This year's gala was the most successful ever, raising more than $1.1 million. With more than 500 people in attendance, the institute presented its Spirit of Excellence Awards, honored the outstanding work of its scientists and celebrated the growing field of personalized medicine.

It presented awards to Steve Nissen, senior vice president of legal and government affairs at NBCUniversal and emeritus chairman of the LA BioMed Board of Directors, and George J. Mihlsten, a partner with Latham & Watkins LLP law firm who has played a leading role in securing the future of LA BioMed. It also presented an award to the California Community Foundation and its president and CEO, Antonia Hernández, for their strong support of LA BioMed. To learn more, please visit www.LABioMed.org

PAINTING A PRESCHOOL

We joined with this wonderful family and other volunteers, who spent a Saturday sprucing up a preschool and Sunday School classrooms at Journey of Faith. This beautiful mural now welcomes preschool students on the playground every day. It was a great opportunity to practice some long dormant painting skills and give back to the community.

RIDING TO CURE DIABETES

We wanted to help grow JDRF's fastest-growing fundraising program, the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes. We joined the Los Angeles ride team this year, and our president, Laura Mecoy, rode with several of the team members on the 74-mile ride around Lake Tahoe at an event that raised nearly $1 million for the cure.

Even though she'd been training for most of the year, she said it was the hardest physical activity she'd ever undertaken. But it was nothing compared to what her two kids, Ryan and Grace, and millions like them deal with every day because they have type 1 diabetes (T1D)

People with T1D work 24/7 to manage this disease with multiple blood sugar checks, insulin shots and infusions and constant balancing of activity levels and food. It's a never-ending struggle. So the ride is one way to honor the hard work they do and raise money to rid them of the daily toil and frustration of managing diabetes.

The ride was a life-changing event for many who rode. The JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes has raised more than $26 million for research to deliver life-changing therapies, and one day, a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D).

FILLING BACKPACKS WITH LOVE

We joined with hundreds of families across the South Bay of Los Angeles to fill backpacks with school supplies for children in time for the start of the new school year. Altogether, more than 1,000 children received backpacks filled with notebooks, paper, pencils and much more.

It would have been easier to just write a check for the backpack program. But we found taking the time to search out the supplies, select the backpack and fill it gave us a better idea of what a single mom with two or three children must go through just to be sure they have the supplies they need for school. One backpack and all the supplies cost about $90, and we spent a couple of hours driving, finding the exact supplies and putting it all together.

Imagine earning minimum wage and trying to scrape together the time and money for three children to get ready for the start of school? Please join us next year in this opportunity to help children in need. Please click here for more information.

LAUNCHING NEW WALK TO CURE DIABETES

We were so proud to play a role in launching the first-ever Walk to Cure Diabetes in Long Beach. Our president, Laura Mecoy, served as the new walk’s co-chair and helped garner substantial publicity and support for the event. The Walk raised nearly $100,000 and drew more than 1,000 walkers for a 2.6 mile stroll along Long Beach’s picturesque waterfront. The beneficiary is JDRF, the world's No. 1 charitable funder of Type 1 diabetes research. To see photos of the walk, please click here.

To read stories about the event, please click here and here.

BUILDING HOMES AND CREATING HOPE

We came prepared to paint and found only a concrete slab with half the walls framed. Clearly, the home under construction needed much more help than we were equipped to provide.

But, with a bit of instruction from the gregarious construction supervisor, our group of volunteers was soon framing walls, doors and windows on a new Habitat for Humanity home for a family in need.

We used a table saw to cut boards, nailed them together with powerful nail guns and hoisted heavy frames into place – tasks many of us never imagined being able to do. By the end of the day, we had completed the framing on the new home and felt we had made a significant contribution to a program that is changing lives around the world.

Habitat for Humanity relies on volunteers and donations to provide affordable housing for people around the world. It is not a giveaway. It is a leg up. Homeowners help build their homes and pay for their homes (with special low-rate mortgages making it possible).

Since 1976, Habitat has helped more than 5 million people through home construction, rehabilitation and repairs and by increasing access to improved shelter through products and services. As a nonprofit Christian housing organization, Habitat works in more than 70 countries and welcomes people of all races, religions and nationalities to partner in its mission. To learn more, donate or volunteer, visit habitat.org.

SPRUCING UP A SCHOOL CAMPUS

To support our local schools and create a livelier education environment, our group painted playground equipment and created beautiful murals for Washington Elementary in Redondo Beach on May 2. Our task was to take the photos, such as this one of one of the many children who helped.

The day-long volunteer event was part of Sharefest Workday, an annual community-building and service day that mobilizes thousands of volunteers of all ages to work on community projects designed to meet tangible needs.

Volunteers mobilize across South LA County to paint, clean, plant, refurbish and beautify schools, parks and public facilities at no cost to recipients, thanks to our donors and supporters. For 12 years, Sharefest has joined volunteers and organizations in the greater South Bay and L.A. Harbor areas to create positive change in their communities. To learn more and participate in the 2016 Sharefest, please visit http://www.sharefestinc.org/workday/

SERVING MEXICALI EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS

The 7.2 temblor struck on Easter Sunday in 2010, destroying homes and costing lives in Mexicali, a city just south of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Five years later, many of the families who lost their homes in the earthquake have new homes on the edge of Mexicali. The government supplied them with land on which to build their new homes.

The community is still taking shape, and we recently traveled there to help build a home for the local minister and his family and to host activities for the children in the neighborhood. The minister, his wife and three children are living in a small trailer on the site of the church. With more dedication than skills, we installed sheetrock and insulation in the family’s new home and hosted activities for more than 25 youngsters from the surrounding community.

For more photos, please visit: https://lmecoy.wordpress.com/

SEEKING A CURE FOR DIABETES

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes affect nearly 30 million Americans. They are a leading cause of heart disease, kidney disease, non-traumatic amputations and many other ailments. Improving the lives and health of people living with diabetes is important to our community, our healthcare system and those we love.

From our president, Laura Mecoy:

It was summer, so the excessive thirst and frequent trips to the restroom didn’t seem that odd for a 6-year-old boy. Then he woke up really sick. My husband picked him up and realized he had lost quite a bit of weight. We knew something was seriously wrong.

The doctors told us that our son, Ryan, had type 1 diabetes. We had little knowledge of the disease. While it has a genetic basis, we have no known family history of diabetes.

We quickly learned all we could and, two months later, we formed our first family walk team to participate in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. Since then, we have raised more than $200,000 to support JDRF, the No. 1 charitable funder of type 1 diabetes research. I serve on the JDRF LA Board and executive committee. I also serve as chair for its communications committee.

Nine years after our son’s diagnosis, our daughter, Grace, was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 13. We continue to work for better therapies and, one day, a cure. But in the meantime, we have sought to improve the lives of these young people living with diabetes.

We are strong supporters of Camp Conrad Chinnock, which provides great camping experiences for children and teens with diabetes, and the PADRE Foundation, an Orange County organization that provides education and assistance to children and teens with diabetes.

We benefitted from some great mentors at the outset, so I’ve served as a mentor to families with children newly diagnosed with diabetes, and I started the South Bay parents group, which meets monthly to provide support for one another.

We also serve as spokespersons for JDRF, and my son and I were recently interviewed on Los Angeles classic rock radio station, The Sound, to promote the Nov. 15 One Walk at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Please listen to our interview here and support our walk team by clicking here. With your help, we can turn Type One into Type None.

FEEDING THE HUNGRY

The plastic caps to cover our hair were ugly but necessary as we joined about 100 other volunteers at Journey of Faith church this year to participate in a “Feed My Starving Children” food-packing event.

Packaged in small pouches, the food blend we prepared requires only the addition of boiling water to prepare a nutritious meal that is specially designed to save the lives of severely malnourished and starving children. The food packs also serve as nutrition that will improve the health, growth and physical well-being of children who are no longer in immediate danger of starvation.

Creating an assembly line, we shoveled, scooped and spooned specific amounts of rice, soy, vitamins, minerals and dehydrated vegetables into small plastic bags. Then we placed the bags in boxes and sealed the boxes for shipment to other parts of the world.

Our team had a great time competing with other teams to see which could pack the most packages the fastest. At the end of our shift, we celebrated packing enough food to feed 88 children for a year. If you would like to sponsor or participate in a Feed My Starving Children Event, please click here.

GIVING THE GIFT OF CHRISTMAS

As the commercial nature of Christmas threatened to overwhelm this religious holiday, we volunteered to help remind the community of how Christmas began. For four years, we chaired the communications committee that helped bring more than 12,000 people each year to a special presentation, called Journey to Bethlehem.

This all-volunteer presentation offered a trip back in time to the first Christmas. It featured a cast of more than 200 costumed actors, dozens of animals and hundreds of hands-on experiences. Families lined up for the opportunity to walk through a re-creation of the streets of Bethlehem 2000 years ago.

This year, we will be working once again to educate the public about a new Christmas celebration, “A Christmas Journey,” at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. It will be a fun evening for all ages, featuring the songs of the season. Join us!

HELPING REBUILD AFTER THE DEALIEST TSUNAMI EVER

Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia’s northernmost province, suffered the greatest losses in the deadliest tsunami in recorded history. Nearly 221,000 people died or went missing, a quarter of the population lost its livelihood and 500,000 lost their homes.

About 16 months later, when our president, Laura Mecoy, traveled there as the leader of a short-term mission team, the rebuilding had only just begun. Debris still littered the roadsides, and earthquake-damaged buildings tilted precariously over sidewalks. Businesses were shuttered. People were still grieving their losses, and most were still trying to determine if life would ever be the same. Here is her recollection of that trip:

Our team had come to Banda Aceh with a dedication to help others, demonstrate our faith and build bridges to a nation that had been isolated from the West. But the dislike for Westerners was evident. Acehnese men made rude comments, and men and women alike often shouted “bule,” their word for Westerners, at us when we were in public. One man told us that he believed the tsunami was God’s punishment for Acehnese who adopted Western ways.

The Aceh province had been isolated from the rest of world because of a brutal 29-year civil war that had taken an estimated 15,000 lives in the Aceh province. The tsunami brought peace to the region and thousands of volunteers from the West.

But Aceh remained extremely conservative. It was the only Indonesian province where Shariah, or Islamic law, was enforced. Before leaving, we received stern warnings to be careful because Sharia prohibits – among other things –alcohol consumption and Christian evangelism. We wore traditional Muslim garb as a sign of respect. But we still encountered the comments and stares from men who thought the worst of Western women.

When we went to work, though, those attitudes quickly disappeared. Many residents came out to watch us sweating beneath a blazing sun as we hauled away buckets of muddy salt water and debris the tsunami had left in their neighbors’ wells. They invited us onto their porches to cool off, to stay in their homes and, in one case, to attend a housewarming party.

In one neighborhood, a group of 21 women showed up at a moment’s notice for our training in rug-making, a class we offered to give the women skills for creating home-based business. Two classes of schoolchildren delighted in the photos we took of them and provided to them to replace ones lost in the tsunami. They thanked each of us with their highest sign of respect, pressing the backs of our right hands to their lips and then to their foreheads.

We were touched by this simple gesture and by the other gestures, large and small, during our time in Banda Aceh. We’re pleased to see today that Banda Aceh is a transformed place with homes, roads and infrastructure rebuilt. All of us on our team are proud to have had the opportunity to play a small role in making Aceh a better place than it was before the earth shook and the waters swept away life as they knew it.