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LA (HOLLYWOOD): THE BEST LOCAL TAX DEDUCTION

By Nora Zelevansky / March 24th, 2009

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2009_03_25MFP3(A Communal Area and Inspirational Poster At My Friend's Place)


It's one thing to complain about the state of the world, and it's another to actually do something about it.  I should know because, generally, I do a lot more talking than acting when it comes to giving back.  Sure, my bleeding heart occasionally leads me to volunteer: I make the bi-monthly Goodwill run, participate in bi-annual call center work for Planned Parenthood and, every four years, I work for a political candidate (Yes We Can!) of choice.  But, on a daily basis, I rarely take myself out of my comfort zone for a good cause.

Last weekend, our friend Jane Cho invited my parents and me to volunteer at My Friend's Place, a drop-in center for displaced or homeless teens, where she is a primary fundraiser (among other things). Upon arrival, we got a tour of the facilities and a quick sense of the charity's mission and background:

Basically, the organization was formed years ago after an HR guy bribed some homeless teens off his office's front stoop with the promise of lunch and wound up with over 200 hungry kids to serve.  Now the org instills confidence in the kids via art programs (Jane herself is a Yale Drama grad like my sis) and special circus classes in conjunction with Cirque du Soleil's outreach arm, volunteers guidance and proper clothing for job interviews and offers a safe, warm, non-judgmental refuge complete with some counseling services and food.

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(The Facility's Circus Training Space, Which Is Hugely Important To The Kids)

We arrived at My Friend's Place to volunteer, but, in fact, what they need more than anything is donations.  This month they have to commence closing during weekends because of underfunding, which is a huge loss for the teens and really for the neighborhood, in general, as these kinds of programs keep crime down.

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(CLICK TO EXPAND IMAGES: Food Prep, My Mom At Our Dessert Station, My Father Manning The Grill)

On this particular Saturday, though, we prepped for and served a BBQ lunch to a bunch of teens in need. Without getting into silly details of manning the dessert station (my ever blindly supportive parents claimed I topped ice cream in the wrong order . . . whatever, bossy peeps), suffice it to say that the experience was incredibly rewarding and the kids were really different than I anticipated (I have to admit): more together and shockingly articulate.  Apparently, many of them don't even identify as "homeless" and consider this a transitional moment for them.  We, of course, hope that they're correct.

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(My Father, Mother, Cute & Preggers Jane Cho and Me)

Anyway, we got to feel virtuous and good about ourselves and all we did was serve ice cream.  If that easy breezy act can make a difference, imagine what larger actions or contributions could accomplish.

Just some deep thoughts by POCKET LINT.

Now, excuse me, while I climb down off my pedestal and make an ice cream sundae my way.

xo – N.

P.S. Yesterday's Daily Candy Everywhere was a little piece I wrote on another very valuable charity, Share Our Strength, which fights childhood hunger.  For that org, you can volunteer or even just purchase a couple tickets to an amazing high-end foodie event.  Check it out!

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