I have been fortunate enough to work with the children in the Performing Arts Program of Children’s Institute – an organization that treats abused children and their families. What I love most about this group is that they treat not just the child, but the family. Healthy families translate into healthy communities. A select number of these kids are eligible to participate in the Performing Arts Program which produces 3 plays a year. This unique experience gives these children a sense of self-worth that they would otherwise never have. A percentage of each album sold benefits the Performing Arts Program. For more information, see www.ChildrensInstitute.org. See blog below.
Teenline is another passion of mine. The concept is teens helping other teens. My daughter Katie was a listener on the line when she was in high school. She took calls and emails on everything ranging from drugs, addictions, sexuality, and contemplating suicide. Having friends who have lost a child to suicide, this is an incredible organization for teens in need. It is also invaluable experience for the kids who listen and offer support. A percentage of each album sold benefits Teenline. For more information, see www.teenlineonline.org
JULY 2012 WATTS – THE NEXT CHAPTER
Many of you know that I am deeply committed to help children who face devastating challenges in their lives, particularly those who live in Los Angeles and surrounding communities. This issue motivated me a few years ago to join the board of Children’s Institute, Inc. , an L.A. -based organization that for more than a century has worked with children who are severely affected by violence, poverty and other trauma. Today, we improve the lives of more than 20,000 children, youth and families each year and have just completed a new headquarters and comprehensive service facility, The Otis Booth Campus, in Echo Park. The campus is the result of a five-year strategic plan and marks the most ambitious effort in CII’s long history. It’s extremely gratifying to have been a part of this effort, and it’s also heart-wrenching to know that far more children are in need of help.
I am sharing this information with you because CII is beginning the next chapter. We are now focused on youth who live in two of L.A.’s poorest, most highly challenged areas–Central and South Los Angeles. Both areas are plagued by high levels of crime, violent street gangs and above average unemployment and poverty, inadequate housing and scarce recreational facilities. Families served by CII services in Watts face even greater challenges. In addition to the conditions already mentioned, the community is physically isolated from other parts of the region, which contributes to the sense of hopelessness amongst many of its youth. The problems faced by young people and their families are compounded by a chronic lack of services.
Our efforts are already underway. The new $10 million CII Youth Initiative–a public-private effort launched by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) and the federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF)–is allowing us to identify and bring to scale promising programs for seriously disadvantaged youth. Funding for this initiative has supported many of our youth development services at the new Otis Booth Campus, and is also supporting a major expansion of services in Watts. Our goal is to provide services and facilities on scale with what we’ve achieved in Central Los Angeles.
In these challenging times, the hope and healing CII offers to vulnerable children is even more crucial. By sharing my involvement in CII’s work, I hope you will consider joining us. There’s much more work to be done to reach so many more children and families to reach.