On September 26, over 5,000 incoming freshman and transfer students, along with continuing students, alumni, staff, faculty, and community members, visited 48 different project sites across Los Angeles to mark this year’s UCLA Volunteer Day. Projects included a wide variety of tasks, including painting school murals, maintaining outdoor parks, planting community gardens, and interacting with veterans, seniors, and youth. Some of the highlights included projects at 2nd Street Elementary School, Ballona Creek Renaissance, Monroe Magnet Middle School, and Wattles Farm.
At the century-old 2nd Street Elementary School in Boyle Heights, UCLA students passed out school supplies sponsored by K to College, painted new murals on the handball courts, and added a USA Map to the playground, all led by veteran Project Leader and UCLA alumus Ed Simon. Volunteers were also joined by UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, California State Senator Kevin De Leon, State Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, and two Volunteer Day Celebrity Service Ambassadors: “The Voice” Season Eight Finalist and UCLA alumna India Carney , and Mean Girls star Jonathan Bennett, who shared videos of launching rockets with the young students on his Instagram profile.
2nd Street Principal Cristina Munoz expressed that her students returned to school Monday rehearsing the 8-clap and talking about attending UCLA in the future: “UCLA left more than murals and new paint; you left my students and families with hopes and dreams. This day of service generated lasting dreams of opportunity for my students.”
At another site, volunteers worked with Ballona Creek Renaissance, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the environmental and artistic beauty of the creek’s role in flood protection, to clean up the creek and help restore the beauty of the wetlands. At the end of the day, volunteers were able to clear out 900 pounds of garbage and 200 pounds of recyclable materials! Thank you to Project Leader Shirley Rayner for leading this important project.
Led by the UCLA Circle K organization, UCLA volunteers visited Monroe Magnet Middle School, where they painted murals and buildings around the school campus. Volunteers also repainted the school’s logo. Located in the heart of Inglewood, Monroe has been recognized for its Math, Engineering, & Science Achievement Program. The principal, Brent Tilley, was impressed by the amazing work of the UCLA students and excited for his community to see their newly painted logo in front of the school. Inglewood Mayor James Butts also made a surprise visit to interact with the school community and cheer on the volunteers!
Wattles Farm Community Garden, located on what was once the grounds of the 49-acre Wattles “Jualita” Estate in Hollywood, has been serving local resident green thumbs since 1975. The organic garden has over 170 plots and 300 community members. On Volunteer Day, incoming students, along with UCLA Luskin Alumni and staff and Project Leader Marisa Lemorande, got their hands dirty helping members weed and landscape around the garden. Toby Leaman, the Wattles Garden Master and President of the Board, stated that this group was the best group of volunteers they have had so far. In response to the growing interest in our food and the politics and systems surrounding food, the department of urban planning at the Luskin School of Public Affairs will begin offering a certificate in food studies Winter 2016.
These projects represent just a few of the 48 community partner sites Bruins visited on Volunteer Day and a small glimpse of the impact made. Search for #BruinsGiveBack on social media to read volunteers’ individual testimonies of the day, or visit the Center’s Flickr page to view all photos that have been submitted. Thank you to all who served on September 26, and the Center looks forward to a full year of volunteering with you!