Community Hero Surprised with Home Makeover


Wilmington resident Salvador Lara sat stunned on August 25 as he was surprised with the announcement that he and his wife would receive a complete home makeover, at no cost to them. He arrived earlier that morning to Sharefest’s office excited to hear a presentation about an upcoming community project led by Sharefest and Wedgewood, and had no idea the project was meant for him.

In April, Wedgewood joined in Sharefest’s annual Workday, and the success of that project led them to partner with Sharefest once again to give back by recognizing a community member in need of a home renovation. Salvador Lara quickly came to mind, a man known for his longtime involvement in the community, and for going above and beyond in service to the city of Wilmington.

“Everyone who knows Salvador knows what a gift he and his wife, Maria, have been to his community,” said Chad Mayer, Sharefest Executive Director. “His passion for his city is evident in all that he does, and in particular through the Clean Wilmington program he launched. Thanks to Wedgewood, we can now give back to this family that has given so much of their time and energy to making Wilmington a great place to live.”

Lara is a longtime Wilmington resident and spent 24 years as full-time employee of Brinderson, before recently losing his job, where he worked in gardening, landscaping, and maintaining yard and refinery equipment. In 2007, concerned about his community’s degraded condition, Lara initiated the Clean Wilmington program, which brought together hundreds of community volunteers to remove more than 100 tons of weeds and illegally-dumped items annually in the city. As project manager, Lara trains interns, and recruits, organizes, and supervises volunteers and activities, all on his own time.

“This project is near and dear to our hearts because it combines what we do best, rehabbing homes in need of repair, with lending a helping hand to our community,” said Greg Geiser, CEO and President of Wedgewood. “Salvador Lara is someone who has proven through his volunteer activities and community mobilization to have a bottomless service heart, giving so much of his time, talent, and organization to the city of Wilmington. There is not a more deserving person for this philanthropic effort.”

The renovation kicked off right away, and over the course of 12 days the Lara home received a complete makeover including new roof, flooring, wood framing, electrical wiring, air conditioning, a new kitchen and bathrooms, fresh paint, and landscaping. The team from Wedgewood did an incredible job keeping the project on track and providing the Lara’s with a beautiful new home. On the final day, before the reveal, 90 Wedgewood employees turned out to finalize landscaping and do clean up around the local neighborhood. California State Senator Isadore Hall and Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino joined in the reveal and ribbon cutting to recognize Salvador for his service. It was a community effort, with everyone uniting to honor a man who has given so much to his city. (See Joe Buscaino’s Facebook live video of the reveal.)

“I have known of Salvador and his incredible love and passion for Wilmington, his beloved community, since before my election to the City Council in 2012,” said Buscaino. “Throughout the years I have had the honor of knowing Salvador on a more personal level, allowing me to understand the drive behind the man. Salvador represents more than his family, more than his community—he represents the American dream we all strive to achieve. A native of Mexico, Salvador made this country his home, and pushes to make it a better place for all of us. From sending his two children to elite universities, to establishing and encouraging civic engagement in the City of L.A., Salvador is a hero in the hearts of many. I join thousands in celebrating this incredible gift and hope that we each walk away a better person after having crossed his path.”

View photos and watch a video of the project.


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Emerging Student Leaders. Confident Youth. Inspired Communities.


These are just a few of the highlights of this year’s Summer Youth Development Academy, which wrapped up on August 5 as we said farewell to an amazing group of middle and high school students. Throughout the four weeks of Summer YDA, which took place at the beautiful campus of California State University, Dominguez Hills, 261 middle and high school students discovered the courage they need to return as an Everyday Hero to their community.

Middle school students applied themselves to tackling complex concepts in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Lab. With new requirements for graduation, these YDA students will have a head start, entering high school with preliminary practice in physics. In Leadership, students analyzed the superhero’s journey to greatness and considered their own path to becoming someone who accepts the call and challenge of living to serve for the good of others. In teambuilding and swimming, students practiced active living while developing confidence, new skills, and being part of a group committed to everyone’s success.

In addition, students put their learning into action by giving back to the community, working hard to help improve the landscaping at the Old Wilmington Library. Middle school students from session two worked with Mars Food employees and Phillips 66 to bring garden boxes, mosaic planters, and a mural to the campus of Academies of Education and Empowerment in Carson. These service learning opportunities provided students with an experience to test their new-found knowledge of leadership and see firsthand the impact of helping others.

The high school students learned about community impact, gained important life knowledge such as financial literacy tips, and were encouraged to pursue their dreams thanks to special guest speakers who dropped by to pass on their wisdom. The students in turn inspired peers and staff with their heartfelt concern for communities. The 9th-graders created and produced a theater performance highlighting the impact of leaders positively raising their voice to address the apathy and animosity they experience. They demonstrated that courageous friendship and true concern can change our communities for the better. The 10th-12th-grade students built social media advocacy campaigns to highlight a community challenge. Their energy, collaboration, and passion for better communities is inspiring.

One high school student reflected, “I have been to a lot of camps and this one is about love. At other places, kids will get picked on if they don’t do something perfect; here I was immediately accepted and everyone is cheered on to keep trying.” Not all heroes wear capes, but the Everyday Heroes of Summer YDA know that the best way to be awesome is to always wear kindness, initiative, and integrity. Sharefest is proud to send these students out as ambassadors of hope, and hope to see many of them return to YDA next year!

View photos from the 2016 Sharefest Youth Development Academy


Middle School Session 1 Recap Video


Middle School Session 2 Recap Video


9th Grade Recap Video


10-12th Grade Recap Video





Community Unites to Give Back During 13th Sharefest Workday


A public park restroom damaged by graffiti is repainted with a beautiful, landscape mural. A school for special needs children gains a sensory garden. A Boys and Girls Club finds inspiration in a new, cozy reading nook. These are just a few of the more than 300 projects completed at 50 sites across the South Bay and Harbor area during Sharefest’s 13th annual Workday on April 30.

“Nearly 3,000 individuals turned out representing churches, businesses, schools, and more, all to help give back to their communities by completing these beautification projects,” said Chad Mayer, Sharefest Executive Director. “We continue to hear amazing stories of how people stepped up to help, and this day wouldn’t be possible without our dedicated volunteers and generous sponsors and partners.”

One of the highlights of the day was seeing families and individuals of all ages working together for a common cause as they cleaned, built, painted, and planted to improve the sites at which they served. One volunteer shared, “We built a stronger bond with the school and community who saw volunteers working together to make the community a more beautiful place!”

Another volunteer who served with her family said, “My son was so proud of the work he did since we worked at his school.” Sharefest seeks to instill a desire to serve together in our communities, and it starts with opportunities like these!

Title sponsors Los Angeles Council District 15 and Councilman Joe Buscaino, and Balfour Beatty Construction adopted several projects in addition to supporting Workday. Places such as the Wilmington Post Office, L.A. Harbor Boys and Girls Club, and Walteria Elementary School, among many others, received incredible makeovers as a result of their support.

“Each year I am amazed by the work completed by Sharefest, their generous partners, supporters, and the hardworking, passionate volunteers of Workday,” said Councilman Joe Buscaino, who stopped by many sites during Workday and pitched in with painting and cleaning. “This day is about bringing people together to beautify and improve our communities and instill in all of us a greater pride in our cities. CD15 is proud to be part of this day.”

“This is my sixth year leading a project for Sharefest’s Workday,” said Ben King, BBC Project Superintendent, who helped lead the way at the Walteria Elementary School project. “It’s so inspiring to be a part of this event. Every year something unbelievable happens as people and organizations come through to help us meet needs and finish projects.

In addition to L.A. Council District 15 and Balfour Beatty Construction, numerous others sponsors generously gave to ensure this year’s projects would be completed, including Phillips 66, the Harbor Community Benefit Foundation, Toyota, Tesoro, and many more. These sponsors model what it means to unite for a common goal of bettering our cities and schools.

As a result of the dedication and work of everyone involved in making these transformations possible, students can now take more pride in their schools, teachers can benefit from refreshed facilities, and communities can enjoy clean, beautiful spaces.

View photos and watch a video recap of the 13th Annual Sharefest Workday.






Balfour Beatty Golf Classic Raises $110,250 for Sharefest Programs


Workday title sponsor and Sharefest longtime partner, Balfour Beatty Construction, has stepped up once again to help support this year’s projects. The 4th Annual Balfour Beatty/Sharefest Golf Classic took place in Long Beach on Friday, April 15, when 160 generous donors and sponsors turned out for a great day on the green. Together, they raised a record-setting $110,250 toward Sharefest programs, including Workday and the Summer Youth Development Academy, as well as to provide scholarship funds for area high school students interested in pursuing careers in construction.

In addition to supporting all Workday projects as a title sponsor, BBC has adopted 10 project sites, including beautification projects at schools in the Redondo, Torrance, Culver City, and Wiseburn School Districts.

“This is my sixth year leading a project for Sharefest’s Workday,” said Ben King, BBC Project Superintendent. “It’s so inspiring to be a part of this event. Every year something unbelievable happens as people and organizations come through to help us meet needs and finish projects.”

One of these sites that will soon undergo transformation is Walteria Elementary School in Torrance. During Workday on April 30, BBC volunteers will paint center court logos, update backboards and rims, and add district-supplied nets. Additionally, BBC plans to extend the kindergarten play area by 800 square feet and update the fencing, create murals to build school spirit, repaint lunch benches, assist with general campus clean up, and more. This is just one of the many examples of the positive work that will be completed by BBC and their team.

“Balfour Beatty Construction is a class corporation that believes in giving back to the community with high quality,” said Dr. George Mannon, Superintendent, Torrance Unified School District. “BBC’s dedication to improving schools is making a tangible difference and our school and district facilities and in our students’ academic success. Thank you, BBC, for the example you are of the positive impact service and volunteerism can have in our communities.”

During this year’s Golf Classic, Assemblyman David Hadley awarded BBC with a certificate for their “Exceptional Support, Service, and Volunteerism to our Schools and Students,” recognizing BBC’s commitment and intentionality in giving back to local communities.

“Each year, the team at Balfour Beatty Construction goes above and beyond to support our communities by giving so generously, adopting projects to meet needs, and bringing an incredible team of volunteers,” said Chad Mayer, Sharefest Executive Director. “The vendors they bring together also step up to further support Sharefest programs. Schools and communities are transformed for the better thanks to their dedicated efforts.”

View photos and watch a video recap of the 4th Annual BBC/Sharefest Golf Classic.





Wedgewood Service Day Transforms Wilmington Park Elementary


In March, while students were away at spring break, preparation work began at Wilmington Park Elementary School for a special Day of Service sponsored by Wedgewood Inc., an integrated network of real estate and residential rehabilitation companies located in Redondo Beach.

Following prep work, the Day of Service took place on March 31 and brought together 107 volunteers from Wedgewood to complete more than $40,000 of improvements at this deserving school. The scope of work was extensive, and included new landscaping and murals. Inside, the library and teachers’ lounge received significant renovations to better serve students and teachers. With new flooring, paint, shelving, and furniture, as well as new appliances in the teachers’ lounge, the community at Wilmington Park can now take additional pride in the spaces in which they learn and work. Special thanks to Main Street Management, Anderson Cabinets, and NuLook Flooring for their great work in helping with these much needed improvements.

“Outreach and volunteerism is a core part of our mission at Wedgewood,” said President and CEO Greg Geiser. “Our team continually looks for ways to give back and support our communities, and partnering with Sharefest allowed us to identify an area of need here at Wilmington Park Elementary. Together, we were able to improve the learning environment for everyone in the Wilmington Park community. For us the thank you happened at the end of the day when a student was leaving and turned to a friend and said, ‘Now we have the best school.’ I hope everyone in their community can share a little of that feeling.”

Each student was challenged to identify a civic concern, research its causes and potential remedies, and prepare an advocacy speech to inspire change. Students integrated research, mentor feedback, and peer review to develop their final Powerpoint presentation with a goal of delivering a powerful message of need and hope.

Wedgewood also hosted a shoe and book drive ahead of the service day, collecting 50 pairs of shoes and 500 books to give to the incredible students at this school. Students and teachers were moved by their generosity.

“What a wonderful experience and fantastic group of people,” said Wilmington Park Principal Adriana Nakano. “The time and effort put into these projects is absolutely amazing! The students were so excited and full of joy. It was such a fun day. Thank you so much!”

During the day’s events, music students from the school performed for volunteers during their lunch break. Additionally, local community leaders dropped by to view the work and thank Wedgewood for their commitment to improving lives through outreach, including Assemblyman David Hadley, Gabriela Medina, Field Deputy for Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino; Manny Lopez, L.A. Mayor's Harbor Area Representative; and Lupe Lopez, Los Angeles Unified School District Director of Community Engagement for the Office of Dr. Vladovic, and Steve Napalitano, Senior Deputy to L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe.

“This project was a perfect example of what Sharefest is about—bringing organizations together to utilize our strengths and resources to give back to our community,” said Chad Mayer, Sharefest Executive Director. “We couldn’t have done it without Assemblyman David Hadley and Sharefest Board Member Joe McMahon III, who helped connect Sharefest and Wedgewood to make this project happen.”

View photos and watch a video recap of the Wedgewood day of service.