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Volunteer Spotlight Series: Elizabeth House

Posted by HALO Award on September 20, 2018 at 1:30 PM


Kate Rhymer, Volunteer Awardee (left) & Debbie Unruh, Executive Director (right)


Please give a brief explanation of what you do at Elizabeth House?

Before the onboard of Elizabeth House’s new Volunteer Coordinator, my work with the organization focused on individually interviewing people who are interested in volunteering with Elizabeth House and giving them a tour of our house and program. I then connect them based on what our current needs are, how they’d like to be involved, and what specific skills they might have to share with us.


When and why did you first get involved with Elizabeth House?

I’ve been involved at Elizabeth House in some capacity since around 2008. I jumped in because I was touched by the mission of providing shelter and family-focused support to pregnant homeless women and their children. I served on the board for six years, while also being a mentor and Volunteer Coordinator. My personality as a “connector” seemed like the perfect fit to be able to link volunteers and their desire to make a difference in our program. Plus – my children were grown and I love babies!


What motivates you to stay involved at Elizabeth House?

I continue to be involved because Elizabeth House is a family – to the women who live there as residents, and to volunteers and staff as well. At Elizabeth House I have the opportunity to spend time with our residents and talk with them about their struggles and successes, watch their babies grow, and give them encouragement. I’ve also developed close friendships with our staff over the years. It such a welcoming and warm environment.


What is your favorite memory of volunteering with Elizabeth House?

The most meaningful experience I have had at Elizabeth House was in my capacity as a mentor. I was working with a young woman who had no family in the Los Angeles area, and I was privileged to be in the delivery room when we welcomed her baby girl into the world! It was such an amazing experience, and I’ve continued to walk alongside her as her daughter has grown. It’s quite humbling, because I’m sure I’ve learned more from her than she’s learned from me!


What has surprised you most about working with Elizabeth House? What do you wish other people knew about Elizabeth House?

Elizabeth House was founded in 1994, and I’m always amazed to think that for 24 years we’ve been empowering women to get back on their feet. In fact, some of the babies born at Elizabeth House have now graduated from college!! I’d also like people to know about our alumni services program which offers the women additional support once they leave the house and gives them the tools they need to continue to take their next step forward in life.


Elizabeth House is so much more than just a shelter program and a roof over someone’s head. It’s a place where our residents face the difficult journey away from abuse and neglect as they move towards wholeness and stability. It’s a place where volunteers can feel connected as they do their part to further our mission – whether by holding babies, driving a new mom to a doctor’s appointment, sorting donations, teaching a class. In Elizabeth House I’ve found a place where I can be a part of something much bigger than myself, and my life has been transformed by serving there.


For more information on volunteering with Elizabeth House, please visit elizabethhouse.net/volunteer

Cohort 7 Meets Again!

Posted by HALO Award on September 1, 2018 at 12:45 AM

Last week, Cohort 7 came together for their second Peer Learning Session at The California Endowment’s Center for Healthy Communities. This session focused on refining volunteer management plans and participating in Spotlight Cases from Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) and Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Both organizations presented a “spotlight” on a specific issue or challenge in their volunteer programs and then received feedback and suggestions from their peers to address the issues. Throughout the program year, all six organizations have this cross-organizational, peer-to-peer learning opportunity.




In the afternoon, two guests shared capacity building opportunities supporting volunteer programs. Danette Martin, Program Officer at the Corporation for National & Community Service, detailed the Corporation’s AmeriCorps VISTA Program, a national service program that supports efforts to alleviate poverty by engaging individuals, 18 years and older, in a year of full-time service with a sponsoring organization. She discussed the upcoming application process and highlighted the potential impact of mobilizing AmeriCorps volunteers to support organizational capacity and growth. This was Danette’s second time presenting to HALO Award winners – last year her presentation and support helped two organizations from Cohort 6, human-I-T and Stars (formerly Lake Avenue Community Foundation), receive VISTA volunteers for this upcoming cycle.




Ilir Lita, Program Manager for Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, shared the newly launched platform and mobile app, VolunteerLA, Mayor Garcetti's effort to civically engage residents in the City of Los Angeles and across the region through volunteerism. The VolunteerLA web platform is a centralized clearinghouse for service opportunities. While this platform is still in its early implementation stages, it is a promising tool for volunteer-seeking organizations and volunteers alike.





For more information about AmeriCorps VISTA or VolunteerLA, please visit our Resources page.

2018 HALO Award Applicant Snapshot

Posted by HALO Award on August 2, 2018 at 5:50 PM

The 2018 HALO Award RFP was released on June 7th, eligible to nonprofits in and serving Los Angeles County. On July 12th, The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation received a total of 40 applications, of which 21 are new applicants and 19 are returning applicants, all hoping for support to build and/or strengthen their current volunteer programs.

Thank you to all the organizations who applied for and those who forwarded it across their networks!


Want to see how the 2018 stacked up? Here's a snapshot:



*Applicants were asked to select all that applied; responses represent duplication in numbers.


Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2018 HALO Award winners in November! 


First Ever HALO Award Alumni Convening

Posted by HALO Award on July 13, 2018 at 4:10 PM

The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation hosted the first cross cohort gathering of all HALO Award recipients at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on April 19th. The HALO Award Alumni Convening brought National Volunteer Week to a close with a memorable day focused on building connections with past and current HALO Award recipients, celebrating the successes of HALO Awardees and their volunteer programs, and providing new opportunities for capacity building support.




Andy Goodman, Director of The Goodman Center, led participants through a half-day workshop on communication through storytelling. In his featured workshop, “Change the Story, Change the World,” Andy illustrated why storytelling remains the single most powerful communication tool and offered specific ways for organizations to use stories to advance their missions.




In addition to this workshop, participants were guided through networking and “share and learn” exercises to encourage the sharing of ideas, strategies, and best practices in volunteer management. It was a full and exciting day to exchange ideas, celebrate National Volunteer Week, and reconnect.


The HALO Award family is now made up of 44 organizations from 7 cohorts and the Foundation looks forward to welcoming Cohort 8 in the fall. The 2018 application cycle came to a close yesterday - thank you to all of the 2018 applicants!






Volunteer Spotlight Series: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Posted by HALO Award on July 2, 2018 at 5:10 PM


Cindy Walkenbach, Volunteer Awardee, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden


Please give a brief explanation of what you do at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.

I’m President of the two hundred-member RSABG Volunteer Organization and a member of the Garden’s Board of Overseers. My regular volunteer assignment is as a Nature Interpreter (docent) leading tours for elementary students and adults and supporting a wide variety of community and educational events.


When and why did you first get involved with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?

I began volunteering on a limited basis in 2009 and became a regular volunteer in 2011 upon completion of the required Garden training. I love nature and being outdoors and always knew that once I retired, I’d want to volunteer here.


What motivates you to stay involved at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?

I thoroughly enjoy the interaction of introducing children and adults to the native plants and animals that are part of our California heritage. I also appreciate the camaraderie of the wonderful people who volunteer and work at the Garden: well-educated, committed, passionate folks who love the natural world and strive daily to preserve it.


What is your favorite memory of volunteering with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?

Several years ago I lead a tour of second graders from a local Title I school, and it was apparent that most children had not been in a natural setting like the Garden provides. I remember one little girl in particular whose excitement was palpable. At the end of the tour when asked what she had learned, she threw up her arms with great enthusiasm and exclaimed, “I just LOVE NATURE!” I think of her each time I lead a tour.


What has surprised you most about working with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden? What do you wish other people knew about Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?

The diversity of the Garden’s activities is amazing, but prior to volunteering, I simply knew it as a lovely, peaceful place to walk. What it really is, however, is a fabulous 86-acre outdoor “museum” devoted to preserving California’s native plants which represent 25% of all U.S. flora. It houses the botany graduate program for Claremont Graduate University and is a major plant research center with an extensive library. Its conservation and restoration programs operate a seed bank, cultivate native plants for areas devastated by natural disasters, and it houses the tenth largest herbarium in the U.S. with over 1.2 million species. In recent years, it has developed a retail nursery of native plants and has become a lovely venue for weddings and special events.


What would you tell someone who is interested in volunteering with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?

The opportunities here are countless and appeal to many interests. One can cashier in the gift shop, pull weeds and tend plants, quietly catalogue in the research library, or create lovely bouquets for events as a member of the Native Design team. One can use skills acquired over years of working or try totally new things to do. Volunteers can commit to regular assignments like becoming docents or simply help out occasionally for events and projects. What is truly special are the friendships formed among volunteers and with very appreciative Garden leaders and staffers whose gratitude for the volunteers is demonstrated often. A sense of “team” pervades the organization and the common thread that links us all is our collective commitment to protect, preserve, and educate our community about California’s amazing native flora.


For more information about volunteering with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, please visit www.rsabg.org/volunteer/volunteer

Cohort 7's first Peer Learning Session

Posted by HALO Award on June 1, 2018 at 2:50 PM

Last week the 2017 HALO Award awardees had their first peer learning session as Cohort 7 at the LA84 Foundation. This was the first of four peer learning sessions that will take place during the HALO Award program year. At these sessions, HALO Award awardees focus on relationship building amongst the cohort organizations, addressing specific volunteer program issues, participating in facilitated discussions by Blue Garnet, and hearing from guest speakers, including HALO Award program alumni.



The HALO Award is a capacity building effort to strengthen and sustain nonprofit organizations by supporting volunteer programs and recognizing and rewarding volunteer doing exemplary work in their communities. With that purpose in mind, this first peer learning session focused on reflecting on the role of volunteer programs in organizations, as well as, evaluating each organization’s current volunteer program and addressing their strengths and weaknesses. This activity allowed for cross-organizational discussion that revealed themes of common challenges and approaches from the organizations.


Katie Geyer & Keren Taylor, WriteGirl


Cohort 7 was also guided through an “Empathy Mapping” activity that tasked participants with putting themselves in the shoes of their volunteers so that they could understand the volunteer experience from a new perspective. This revealed areas of strength and potential improvement in their programs.



It was an exciting first peer learning session for Cohort 7 – stayed tuned for the upcoming release of the 2018 HALO Award Application for Cohort 8 this month!

Celebrating the 2017 HALO Award Winners!

Posted by HALO Award on February 27, 2018 at 5:30 PM


2017 HALO Award Winners


On Thursday, February 15, 2018, The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation honored the 2017 HALO Award winners at the historic Marion Davies Beach House in Santa Monica. It was a warm, sunny day full of joyful celebration to recognize some of the most inspiring volunteer “angels” in our community.


Of the 60 total applications received, a Selection Committee, comprised of local nonprofit and foundation leaders, selected six Los Angeles-based nonprofit organizations to be the recipients of a $25,000 grant - $20,000 for the nonprofit to strengthen its volunteer program and $5,000 to a nominated volunteer to honor his or her outstanding service to the organization.



2017 Selection Committee

From left: John Maceri, The People Concern; Kristina Deutsch, The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation; Nancy Stiles, Lake Avenue Community Foundation; Liza Bray, Partners for Children South LA; Simon Lopez; Goodwill Industries of Southern California

Not pictured: Angel Roberson Daniels, The Angell Foundation; Jeff Kim, California Wellness Foundation


The 2017 awardees, which include Elizabeth House, Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), Los Angeles Center for Law & Justice, Pasadena Educational Foundation, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, and WriteGirl were officially announced last November, but came together for the first time at the Luncheon to celebrate and publicly recognize their nominated volunteers.


Each year, the Foundation invites an influential individual or organization to speak to the value of service in the nonprofit sector. This year, guests were gifted with an inspiring, heartfelt message from Fred Ali, President & CEO of the Weingart Foundation which works to advance fairness, inclusion, and opportunity for all Southern Californians, especially those communities hit hardest by persistent poverty. Fred shared why service & volunteerism have been and continue to be important parts of his journey in philanthropy.



Keynote Speaker: Fred Ali, President & CEO of the Weingart Foundation


Immediately following the Luncheon, organizations wasted no time kicking-off their year of capacity building support, the third piece of the HALO Award, by convening for a program orientation. At the orientation, the newest awardees had the opportunity to learn from and be encouraged by two past HALO awardees: Anne Viricel, Executive Director, San Bernardino Symphony (2015 winner) and Nancy Stiles, Executive Director, Lake Avenue Community Foundation (2016 winner). Over the next year, the six organizations will receive support in the form of peer networking sessions and one-on-one coachings led by the Foundation and Blue Garnet, a strategy and management firm for social change organizations, to strengthen organizational capacity around volunteerism.


The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation looks forward to working with another group of amazing organizations!


Deborah Enterante, Nancy Norris, and Kate Rhymer (Volunteer Awardee), Elizabeth House


Keren Taylor & Clare Sera (Volunteer Awardee), WriteGirl


Alex Nataren & Lilia Aguilar (Volunteer Awardee), Heart of Los Angeles


Russell Faucett & Cindy Walkenbach (Volunteer Awardee), Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden


Jacqueline Chun, The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation & Annabelle Rosborough, Southern California Grantmakers

A Bittersweet Farewell to Cohort 6

Posted by HALO Award on February 7, 2018 at 2:30 PM

On January 24, 2018, the 2016 HALO Award awardees met for the last time as “Cohort 6” for their final peer convening at The California Endowment’s Center for Healthy Communities. The organizations reflected on their experience with the HALO Award program and how their volunteer management capacity has evolved since receiving the Award. All six organizations highlighted that formalizing their volunteer program with the creation and development of a volunteer management plan was instrumental in pushing their efforts to the next level, but perhaps what most notably echoed throughout the room during their last formal meeting together was gratitude for their new “HALO family.” In her reflection, Kim Goldberg-Roth, Executive Director of Strength United said, “Sometimes in nonprofit you feel alone in your struggles, but then you get in a room [at a HALO Award peer convening] and you realize that you are not alone.”




It was obvious from their first meeting at the HALO Award Luncheon in February 2017 that this group would form a special bond. They exchanged ideas and supported one another not only during their four peer learning sessions, but also outside of the designated program time, taking full advantage of the HALO Award experience.



Alumni Panelists, Kate Berman, The People Concern (Cohort 5) & Kristen McGuiness, CASA of Los Angeles (Cohort 4)


The convening also included a panel discussion represented by past HALO Award awardees including Kate Berman, Community & Corporate Relations Manager at The People Concern, and Kristen McGuiness, Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager at CASA of Los Angeles. Each program alum shared their own organization’s stories, including how they are managing to sustain the efforts developed during their HALO experiences.


While the last peer convening is always bittersweet, The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation wishes Cohort 6 great success and looks forward to staying in contact to hear of their progress – especially at the first-ever HALO Award Alumni Convening this April. Stay tuned!


Margaret Morrow, David Daniels, & Sandra Madera, Public Counsel


Hayk Tahmasian & Gabe Middleton, human-I-T

Volunteer Spotlight Series: Strength United

Posted by HALO Award on February 7, 2018 at 2:05 PM



Cibele Souza, Volunteer Awardee, Strength United 


Please give a brief explanation of what you do at Strength United.

I'm an In-Home counselor. I work with families struggling with substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other challenges.


When and why did you first get involved with Strength United?

I started with Strength United in September 2013 because I heard great things about their community program.


What is your favorite memory of volunteering with Strength United?

I have several favorite memories. One of them is with a teenager who was struggling to finish high school. One year after concluding the Family Preservation Program with her family, she contacted me to share that she was starting a college program!


What has surprised you most about working with Strength United? What do you wish other people knew about Strength United?

Strength United has amazing supervisors. Strength United makes a difference in people's lives by all the support and programs they offer to the community.


What would you tell someone who is interested in volunteering with Strength United?

It's a challenging population to work with, but if your heart is in it, you will have an amazing experience.


For more information about volunteering with Strength United, please visit www.csun.edu/eisner-education/strength-united/volunteering

Cohort 6's last Peer Convening of 2017!

Posted by HALO Award on December 2, 2017 at 12:55 AM

Last month, Cohort 6 met for their third peer convening at The California Endowment’s Center for Healthy Communities. At this point in the HALO Award program year, the six organizations are well into the creation of their volunteer management plans. These multi-year strategic plans are designed to increase the capacity of the organizations through the improvement and strengthening of their volunteer programs.




During this session, participants were guided through a discussion to identify potential risks in implementing their volunteer management plans, as well as specific ways to minimize and address these potential barriers proactively. Additionally, three organizations presented “Spotlight Cases,” in which an organization has the opportunity to “spotlight” a specific issue or challenge in their volunteer program and then receive feedback and suggestions from their peers to address the concern. These peer-to-peer learning opportunities are highly valuable to the Cohort.



Danette Martin, Program Officer, Corporation for National & Community Service


In the afternoon, Danette Martin, Program Officer at the Corporation for National & Community Service, joined the convening to share about the Corporation’s AmeriCorps VISTA Program, a national service program that supports efforts to alleviate poverty by engaging individuals, 18 years and older, in a year of full-time service with a sponsoring organization. Danette explained the upcoming application process and highlighted the potential impact of mobilizing AmeriCorps volunteers to support organizational capacity and growth. This presentation was well-timed as Cohort 6 continues to refine their volunteer management plans. The intimate setting allowed participants to ask Danette organization-specific questions on ways they could utilize AmeriCorps volunteers as additions to their volunteer management plans.


For more information about the AmeriCorps VISTA program and the recently released 2018 Request for Concept Papers and application process, please visit the Resources page on the HALO Award website. From there you can access information about individual programs, application deadlines, and Danette Martin’s direct contact information.


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