Tag Archives: charity

April 11, 2015

This evening we got to spend some time with Charity, a lovely friend who I made years ago when she worked in the development department at Pacific Asia Museum – with Suzette (see April 8). Not only does she have the best name for working in the non-profit world, but she is also clever, cute and charming, qualities that are invaluable when trying to convince wealthy, sophisticated people to support a particular cause. For over a decade now, she has worked cultivating donors for Center Theater Group, an organization that presents some of the best dramatic and comedic productions in Los Angeles. Not only does her work involve lunches, parties and events with some of the city’s major cultural philanthropists but also organizing international trips, like a recent trip to the UK to enjoy theatrical performances in London and at the Edinburgh festival. And she is good at it too. Her top-notch organizational skills, cultural savvy, and her cheeky sense of humor have won her the trust and affection of many supporters an helping the organization to grow.

It is those qualities that have also made friendship with her so enjoyable. I usually meet her for a girls’ night out with Suzette a couple of times a year. We catch up on news, but often we share stories of odd and often comical things we’ve observed or experienced, and this evening when we met up with her at an arts fundraiser in Pasadena, organized by Suzette and her colleagues, we continued in that vein. At one point, Charity discreetly pointed out to us a man who she calls “Freddy the Freeloader.” A heavy-set man in his 50s, he apparently crashes all the arts events in the LA area, pretending to be one of the names on the guest list – a different one at each event. Indeed, I’d seen him when I was an event at LACMA with her last year. She explained that he had shown up at one of her high-ticket events, insisting that he was a guest and making up a name that wasn’t on the list. She had recognized him, alerted her staff and quickly figured out a way of asking him to leave without shaming him publicly and causing a fuss. Charity may be cute, but she’s classy too, and she’s nobody’s fool.

buttonrings1

Today, I wanted to give Charity something to honor her cute, playful side. So I chose a black and white button ring that’s a little stylish and should go well with Charity’s many black outfits. I hope she continues to be impressive and awesome at her job and in the wider world too, but I hope that however old she gets (and she doesn’t seem to get old either!), she never loses that playful, sweet part of herself.

March 4, 2015

Every 6 months or so, our front doorbell rings and I open the door to see a familiar face smiling at me. It’s Bri-Ana collecting money for the United States Mission, a charity that helps homeless people get off the streets and into work. Bri-Ana, a stocky transgender Filipina whose about the same age as me, had been homeless herself. However, thanks in part to the same organization, she had managed to find work and a place to live, and every year before Easter and Thanksgiving, she works for the Mission raising money to pay for hot Holiday meals to feed the homeless. I have tried to give her some money each time she has come, but I have never been terribly generous. This is in part because my husband David and I prefer to give to more established charities and also because I have been stung a couple of times giving money to people who come to our doors soliciting for a “good cause,” in particular people selling magazine subscriptions.

The last time Bri-Ana came by, she told me she was not getting along with the people at Mission, had lost her main job and was scared she might end up on the streets again. I wasn’t sure what to believe, and it was at a time when we couldn’t spare much cash, so I gave her a small amount (much less than she needed, for sure) and wished her the best. I felt bad that I hadn’t been able (or willing) to do more and wasn’t sure I’d see her again. Today, when she came by, she was upbeat and explained that life was much better again. She is currently washing dishes in a Filipino restaurant and knocking on doors for the Mission again, but “on her terms” now. I was pleased to see that she had turned things around again and we chatted for a while. She asked how my son Theo was doing (she calls him “Hollywood,” because once when she’d stopped by he’d come to the door wearing black sunglasses) and encouraged me to come and visit the restaurant where she’s working. When I went inside to get my checkbook so I could write a check for the Mission, I grabbed a brown fluffy scarf I’d been wearing a lot lately and brought it outside with me. She likes to wear glitzy jewelry with her earth-tone casual wear, so I thought she might like the slightly glam look of the scarf. When I offered her the scarf, she thanked me enthusiastically, adding that she loves brown. We said our goodbyes and gave each other a hug. As she made her way down our front steps, she wrapped the scarf around her neck, flicked it over her shoulder, and then turned and shouted, “And say hello to ‘Hollywood’ from me!”