A non-profit hospital and its community volunteers; How the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles team members go the extra mile for the community
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has a strong tradition of responding to community needs. In fact, it was in response to these needs that the hospital opened its doors 121 years ago as a facility dedicated to caring for children.
Over the years, the hospital has strengthened its commitment to being both a world-class provider of medical care and a meaningful partner in the community. In 2019, CHLA launched a company-wide initiative that aims to leverage economic, intellectual and entrepreneurial resources to improve the health and well-being of youth and families in the region.
“Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is part of the community,” says Susana Gantan, MPH, senior program manager for community affairs, government, and public policy at CHLA. “It’s ingrained in our culture to support our local communities and give back, beyond our medical expertise.”
Inspired to be good neighbors
A key component of the hospital’s community impact effort is the Community Impact Champions Network (RCIC). Through the CICN, members of the hospital team volunteer to engage in local good neighbor programs and projects related to food access, sustainability, environmental safety and embellishment.
CICN is comprised of approximately 350 team members representing more than 100 departments across Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. While they may have different motivations for participating, each member shares a common belief that CHLA is more than a hospital – it’s an organization made up of caring people who want to help improve the lives of children and families of the community.
“Maintaining and promoting local healthy food environments that support community well-being close to home is a critical part of CHLA’s Office of Community Affairs community impact priorities,” says Olga Taylor, Community Affairs Project Manager at CHLA. “We have expanded our coordinated efforts with our network of local partners to also design and implement effective food security programs for families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The need continues to grow, but so does the willingness of our volunteer CICN team members to help our local community.
ACCH Senior Social Media Strategist Jur Linsen joined other CICN members at a recent food distribution event near the hospital. “Packing these boxes with fresh, local produce, eggs, cheese and other healthy foods made me feel like I was making a difference for people in need,” he says. “It’s such a smooth operation, and since all the goods come from neighboring farms, it’s also a low-carbon operation. I also really enjoyed the opportunity to meet other ACCH team members and volunteers from the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and Rick’s Produce.
Matilda Young, a pharmacist at Children’s Hospital, has also volunteered through CICN. When Young heard about a partnership opportunity with Friends of the Los Angeles River, she knew it would be a meaningful experience for herself as well as her daughter’s Girl Scout troop. They spent a morning last summer picking up rubbish and debris along the Glendale Narrows river walk.
“Joining The Great LA River CleanUp was a wonderful opportunity for the girls and me to experience a different community in So Cal,” says Young. “We all felt good about making a positive difference in the environment.”
As Vice President of Facilities and Support Services, Chuck Pickering oversees a large team at CHLA, many of whom have participated in CICN. “We looked at many ways to help the hospital achieve its community outreach goals,” says Pickering. “Providing healthy food to those in need really touched our team members. Many of us have come together [in Virgil Village] on Sunday mornings to support East Hollywood Neighborhood Council Fresh Produce Distribution in conjunction with Council Member Mitch O’Farrell’s Office and Rick’s Produce Market.
Magdalene Lau, who is Pickering’s administrative assistant, has helped with food distribution on many Sunday mornings, as well as Tuesdays at Glassell Park. “No words can express my gratitude to ACCH for giving me the opportunity to serve our brothers and sisters in the community,” she said.
William Marsh, vice president of campus planning and construction at CHLA, is another leader who encouraged his team members — and his 20-year-old daughter — to work alongside him at an event. food distribution. “Having started at CHLA just four months before the pandemic, I find myself looking for more opportunities to give back,” says Marsh.
Promoting healthy food and a healthy environment
CICN partners with various entities, including local businesses, neighborhood councils and municipal leaders, to give back to the community. Since its inception two years ago, CICN volunteers have participated in more than 100 community activities focusing on food access, neighborhood safety and environmental issues.
Distribution of products
Children’s Hospital is honored to partner with the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, Office of Council Member Mitch O’Farrell and Rick’s Produce Market to provide free fresh produce to the East Hollywood/Virgil Village neighborhood near the hospital . From June 2020 to October 2021, more than 1,400 boxes, or approximately 35,000 pounds, of fresh produce have been distributed to families and individuals facing food insecurity since June 2020. During the same period, volunteers from the CICN supported other food distribution events to provide an additional 1,100 boxes to the community, bringing the overall total to over 2,500 boxes or 50,000 pounds of food.
“We’ve also had the opportunity to support some of our patient families who live in the local community,” says Taylor. “The CHLA Community Affairs Office promotes these events through all of our internal networks so that providers and our team members are aware and can share these resources with CHLA families.
Since January 2020, CICN volunteers have participated in 17 “Doing Good in the Neighborhood” cleanup events coordinated by the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council. Overall, they helped collect and dispose of over 500 pounds of trash from the community.
Last August, CICN volunteers hit the streets of East Hollywood to join Council Member Mitch O’Farrell for his 73rd “Council in Your Corner”. The event kicked off at the Barton Avenue median near CHLA and included a community cleanup in partnership with local residents, door-to-door canvassing to connect community members with important city services , and tree pruning and maintenance performed by the city’s urban department Forestry Division.
“CHLA is not only making a difference in children’s health care,” says Board Member O’Farrell, “but also on the ground in our neighborhoods, where it plays an active role in giving back to communities in the 13th District. I am grateful for their continued partnership in uplifting and helping local residents.
Community gardens are a gift to local neighborhoods that help reduce food insecurity, protect the environment, and encourage better nutrition. Children’s Hospital is a proud sponsor of City’s Garden at Los Angeles City College (LACC). Nearly 40 CICN employee volunteers volunteered for 94 hours at the garden, which provides LACC students and the community with a place to gather, grow their own fresh produce, and learn about nutrition and diverse cuisines. .
“I was thrilled and grateful to learn about volunteer opportunities at City’s Garden because I am proud of CHBA’s commitment to community partnership and want to help make that partnership a reality” , said Jennifer Baird, PhD, Director of Education and Research for Clinical Services. . “I was thrilled to join my team outside of our typical work setting, and it was really good to know that we had contributed to this beautiful and growing community garden. We are happy to come back and help again!”