The Carl & Roberta 
Deutsch Foundation

2017 Awardees


Elizabeth House provides shelter, hope, and support to homeless pregnant women and their children, addressing their physical, emotional and economic needs in a nurturing atmosphere. Elizabeth House helps: 1) promote healthy births; 2) prevent child abuse and neglect; 3) eliminate re-lapse of homelessness; 4) equip self-sufficiency; and 5) cultivate emotional and physical well-being.

Volunteer: Kate Rhymer

For several years, Kate Rhymer has been the “volunteer” Volunteer Coordinator for Elizabeth House, screening and interviewing as many as four applicants each week to help fill needs throughout Elizabeth House programs. “I’m the connector,” Kate says. “My husband used to accuse me of ‘collecting people,’ and I guess that’s what I do – collect great people to connect them with our sweet moms and their babies." Kate works hard to match volunteer to opportunities that match their gifts and work schedules, and will optimize their volunteer experience.

Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) provides underserved youth with free, exceptional after-school and summer programs in academics, arts and athletics within a nurturing environment, empowering them to develop their potential, pursue their education, and strengthen their communities.

Volunteer: Lilia Aguilar

At 67 years of age, Lilia Aguilar (lovingly known at HOLA as Doña Lilia) is one of HOLA’s longest-serving volunteers. She began volunteering at HOLA in 2002 after enrolling her then six-year old son, Diego, as a member of the inaugural class of HOLA’s elementary school program. Every Thursday afternoon, Doña Lilia’s routine is the following: she goes to the grocery store to buy ingredients, prepares sandwiches at HOLA’s campus, serves them to the students, and leads the dishwashing and clean up. With more than 15 years of volunteer service, Doña Lilia has prepared and provided over 71,000 sandwiches to students. When asked what HOLA means to her, she says, “HOLA means family to me.”


Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (LACFLJ) fights for the rights of vulnerable families and advocates for a more just legal system.

Volunteer: Michael Holecek

Michael Holecek is a litigation associate in Los Angeles, where his practice focuses on complex commercial litigation both in the trial court and on appeal. In March 2014, he took on his first case with LACFLJ. After successfully representing a domestic abuse survivor in that case, Michael has helped multiple LACFLJ clients. He has also recently taken on cases that have required advocacy in the appellate courts. In an especially notable appellate project, Michael’s efforts not only led to an outcome that was significant for the survivor, but for survivors throughout California. The Court of Appeal’s decision set a new, binding legal precedent that can be cited by attorneys representing domestic abuse survivors throughout the state. Due to the amount of time that is required to work the appeals process in family law, Michael’s work with LACFLJ is unquestionably “above and beyond.” As a result of his efforts, California law has been changed to make our state safer for all domestic abuse survivors and their children.


Pasadena Educational Foundation strives to support, enhance and supplement the programs, initiatives, and priorities of the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD). Pasadena Educational Foundation's vision is that every PUSD child will receive an excellent education so that each may reach his or her full potential and become a joyful and fully engaged member of society.

Volunteer: Ray Joiner

Ray Joiner was a teacher in the PUSD from 1971 until his retirement in 2005. In 2010, he was introduced to the Rolling Readers Program, in which volunteers read aloud to a class once a week for 30 minutes. Ray specifically requested 5th grade students, whereupon he was sent to Field Elementary School and after a few months, he was hooked. In addition, Ray added a lunch time chess activity for the day he was at the school. Ray continually goes beyond a minimal conception of volunteer activities and is especially alert to the needs of students. His current volunteer schedule is once a week at four different schools, all which include reading and chess.


Ranch Santa Ana Botanic Garden promotes botany, conservation, and horticulture and inspires, informs, and educates the public and the scientific community about the benefits and uses of California's native plants. 

Volunteer: Cindy Walkenbach

A 36-year resident of Claremont, Cindy Walkenbach has a passion for teaching innovation, curriculum development, STEM education, and for the outdoors, all of which she has used to strengthen and grow the Garden's volunteer systems. Cindy's "above and beyond" unique contributions are many; she has leveraged her considerable network of community organizations to engage underserved populations in the mission and services of the Garden, helping to create pathways for youth from foster care to employment. Cindy is spearheading the intensified volunteer outreach and recruitment efforts to target new markets and is championing the goal to increase monthly continuing education/enrichment programs for all volunteers.


WriteGirl promotes creativity and self-expression to empower girls within a community of women and writers.

Volunteer: Clare Sera

Clare Sera was one of 30 original WriteGirl volunteers who came to the very first WriteGirl launch in December 2001. A screenwriter and actress, Clare immediately proved herself to be an integral part of the organization by becoming a mentor to one of WriteGirl's first teens. Sixteen years later, they are still in touch, many years after the student's college graduation. Since the very beginning, Clare has used her considerable writing and performing skills to help plan and lead events and genre-specific workshops that would engage teen girls. Her performance experience helped WriteGirl to develop programs with a "WOW" factor that leaves girls feeling elevated and excited.