Future leaders are leaving their imprint


Mayor Villaraigosa with a Youth Development Academy student Mayor Villaraigosa with a Youth Development Academy student

ShareFest's Sixth Annual Workday was a huge success, partly because of the major partnerships this year with L.A. City and Big Sunday. They were just two of the more than 100 organizations ShareFest worked with.

As part of the partnership with L.A., Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilwoman Janice Hahn showed up to kickoff the Workday at the Harbor Gateway community center project.

From there, the mayor and city officials hopped on a red trolly and toured project sites for the Mayor's Day of Service, ShareFest and Big Sunday throughout the South Bay and Harbor areas.

ShareFest, an organization that started just six years ago, has garnered the notice and support of a major city like Los Angeles and its leadership. This is only thanks to the huge contributions volunteers and donors have made to ShareFest's cause.

Because ShareFest, Big Sunday and L.A. all worked together, the 8,000 volunteers ShareFest mobilized were a part of tens of thousands of volunteers embracing ShareFest's vision of building community.

There's something ShareFest values along with building community though. In fact, we see it as an essential part of building community: raising up new leaders in the community.

That why ShareFest is committed to projects like the Youth Development Academy and tutoring at Avalon High School.

On that trolly touring the projects, a future leader was riding right along with the current leadership of L.A. City. That leader is an eight grader from our last Youth Development Academy who saw the impact ShareFest had in last year's Workday and jumped at the chance to get more involved.

After attending this summer's Youth Development Academy and ShareFest's fundraiser, he was riding on a trolly with Mayor Villaraigosa while one of ShareFest's managing directors explained how he is one of three students at his school with a 4.0.

ShareFest wants to have the biggest impact we can on our community, and we know that means looking for more leaders to leave their imprint.

What emerging leaders did you see at your projects?


Connecting with neighborhoods through laundry

Wilmington residents line up outside a Laundry Love project. Wilmington residents line up outside a Laundry Love project.

This year ShareFest partnered with Wilmington Community Organization and participated in a new type of project. It wasn't about revamping, refurbishing, rebuilding or beautifying. This project was specifically about connecting with people in the communities we're serving.

At four laundromats throughout Wilmington, volunteers from churches like New Hope South Bay and charities like Just One put quarters in washing machines and provided soap for residents who showed up to do their laundry.

Just One started this type of project years ago and has consistently hosted it at laundromats in other areas for three years. They call it Laundry Love.

"This is just a small way of touching the community but to uncover some of the deeper needs. That's what the whole purpose of Laundry Love is. We wash clothes but build relationship with community to find out what they need," Derrick Engoy, who ran one of the projects, said.

Just One's concept is to have a consistent time and place where volunteers and the people they serve start to get to know one another.

It made a perfect partnership because this idea mirrors ShareFest's goal of relating to communities and tailoring specific solutions to needs.

After the project was completed Saturday, each location will be assessed, and leaders from Wilmington, Just One and ShareFest will decide whether they want to continue this project and at which laundromat.

"It's about building relationships,"Engoy said.

Building pride at Banning High School


Students work on the "Banning Pilots" mural on campus. Students work on the "Banning Pilots" mural on campus.

In the past, Banning High School in Wilmington ranked among the top 100 schools with the highest dropout rate in California. It hasn't been a darling school of the South Bay before. But there's a group intent on building Banning's reputation. It's not just the administrators or parents. It's the students — students taking pride in their school.

On Saturday the campus was swarming with hundreds of Banning students in ShareFest shirts working side-by-side with a group of volunteers from Rolling Hills United Methodist Church.

They painted six huge murals throughout the school, laid down mulch in gardens, cleaned windows, picked up trash and removed graffiti from bathrooms — all to the beat of a student DJing for the whole campus to hear.

John Theilman from United Methodist helped lead the project at Banning, but for him this wasn't just one day of service. For Theilman the students pride was contagious, which was obvious when he talked about a group of kids who had met with the L.A. City Human Relations Commission to talk about Banning.

“The question was put to them, if they had any control, all the money, what would they change about the school? The thing that rang out during that meeting — and I've heard this before — they want to remove the stereotype image of the kids at this school."

"Look at this,” he said trying to encompass more than 400 hard-working students with one gesture. His implication was this was the result. This was the face of Banning people too often don't see.

Stories from volunteers

This is an e-mail from one of our community leaders in Wilmington, Mary Gant. It's a simple story, but it embodies some of the community-building ShareFest is all about. If you have any stories, big or small, simple or complex, please comment here or send us an e-mail at info@sharefestinc.org and we'll post it for you.

I thought you all might like to hear a story that happend at Banning HS in Wilmington. One of the projects was to mulch the garden and planter areas.

Well, my daughter, who teachers at Banning, stated that a semi-truck delivered a large load of mulch in the middle of the parking lot; the pile was at least 6 feet high.  All day Banning HS students were shoveling mulch. This project was taken on by the Ecology club.  All day they were shoveling and barely making a dent.

My daughter stated that the Ecology Club and football team don't usually associate with each other.  However, as the day progressed and the mulch pile still seemed as large as ever, a football player climbed to the top and started shoveling along side the ecology student; they shook hands, introduced themselves and bagan shoveling until the mountain of mulch was no more. These two students would probably never ever be seen in the same circles, but, for one day, each of them had a common goal, and together they accomplished what seem like an impossible mission.

My daughter said, 'It was a incidible moment, one she will cherish.'

I thought each of would appreciate this story.  THIS IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT.

—Mary Gant

What did you see on Saturday?

A small truckload of the mountain of mulch A small truckload of the mountain of mulch


Harbor Gateway completes a dream


Moevao Liavaa Moevao Liavaa

Moevao Liavaa is the senior lead officer for the Harbor Gateway area. He's seen the racial violence that can tear communities apart, and on Saturday he saw a vacant lot — which he remembers being covered in four-foot shrubs a few years ago —  turned into a community center.

He had something to say about what it looked like now: "I just feel like tearing up and crying, because looking at this come through is just awesome."

On May 2, ShareFest volunteers turned a dirt lot that had been acting as a community center for years into a full-blown facility for kids in Harbor Gateway.

In 2006, 14-year-old Cheryl Green was killed by a gang in Harbor Gateway, and three years later, her name adorned a community center that the everyone from the L.A. mayor to the smallest kids in the neighborhood rallied behind.

On the Friday night before the Workday, Cornerstone Construction Group, Inc. — who worked asked for help from ShareFest on Extreme Makeover Home Edition — transported the a module that the LAPD Harbor Division donated for the center. Through the whole day Saturday, Cornerstone, volunteers from Kings Harbor Church and families from the community put in at least $50,000 worth of labor to turn the module into a working community center in one day. Soon, the Boys and Girls Club will start running programs out of the center.

"It's like a long dream for them (Gateway residents) that's finally come through," Liavaa said

Last year ShareFest helped paint murals for the center and provided what it could to make the space more inviting, but that was nothing compared to the work put in on Saturday and the long years the community had waited for it to happen.

"Because of all the violence that's taken place, hopefully this will draw them closer together and bring them together as a community," he said. "If we can change two, three kids, deter them from joining gangs or doing drugs, to me that's a success. If we can touch just a couple of kids and make them go on and be successful, that's worth all this."


The inside of the Cheryl Green Community Center in Harbor Gateway The inside of the Cheryl Green Community Center in Harbor Gateway