The Carl & Roberta 
Deutsch Foundation


Cohort 7's Final Peer Learning Session

Posted by HALO Award on January 31, 2019 at 3:30 PM

On January 23rd the 2017 HALO Award winners met for the last time as Cohort 7 at The California Wellness Foundation in Downtown Los Angeles. The final Peer Learning Session is always a bittersweet day as organizations reflect on key learnings and areas of growth, while also preparing for continuing the momentum of their work post-HALO.

During the program year Elizabeth House, Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice, Pasadena Educational Foundation, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, and WriteGirl have strengthened their volunteer programs through the creation and development of a volunteer management plan. For some, this plan has included onboarding a full-time volunteer coordinator, implementing a new database system, and/or formalizing volunteer training manuals.

In the afternoon, the group was joined by HALO Award alumni Jessica Ellis, Director at Centinela Youth Services (Cohort 6), Mary Henriques, Development Director at Valley Family Center (Cohort 5), and Wende Nichols-Julien, Chief Executive Officer at CASA of Los Angeles (Cohort 4). The three program alums shared their experiences navigating the work post-HALO, highlighting both the challenges and successes. Current program participants were able to ask specific questions on topics such as volunteer recruitment.

All six organizations put in tremendous amounts of work throughout their program year; The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation is excited to hear about their continued efforts and success! 

Welcoming Back a Familiar Face at Peer Learning Session 3

Posted by HALO Award on November 30, 2018 at 6:15 PM

Earlier this month Cohort 7 met for their third Peer Learning Session at The California Wellness Foundation in Downtown Los Angeles. Since the group is well into the development of their volunteer management plans, Blue Garnet led a focused discussion on “risk management” as it relates to implementing their plans.

Within their own organizations and cross-organizationally, participants worked through identifying potential implementation “risks” or challenges and formulated proactive solutions to address those issues, should they arise. This discussion framework allowed organizations to analyze their plans in another creative and strategic way.

During lunch, The Foundation was pleased to welcome back Gabe Middleton, CEO of human-I-T and member of Cohort 6. Gabe discussed human-I-T’s utilization of corporate volunteers and some best practices for corporate volunteer recruitment and communication.

This winter, human-I-T will welcome their first round of AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers, which they were awarded as a direct result of an AmeriCorps VISTA workshop at a Peer Learning Session during their program year.

It is always exciting to bring back program alumni to build connections with current awardees and to share experiences post-HALO. In January, Cohort 7 will meet for their final Peer Learning Session and become program alumni themselves!

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

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.

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

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