School on Wheels kicked off December with Program Administrator Ian Chan’s 52nd marathon of the year, which he finished at the Skid Row Learning Center. Board member and former student Angela M. Sanchez also had her first children’s book launch for Scruffy and The Egg, an adventure featuring an abandoned dog, a lost egg, and the search for family. We also had a very generous donor of the month; artist Fabienne Wen, known as Wondermei, generously hosted a volunteer appreciation event on December 2nd at her studio in Marina del Rey. Volunteers chose up to $100 of merchandise as thanks for the important work they do as tutors and mentors for homeless children. Lastly, we had our annual holiday beach party at Paradise Cove in Malibu where over 200 students came and picked out presents and had a fun day at the beach.
November was National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, and School on Wheels advocated for homeless youth by marching through the streets of downtown Los Angeles at the annual HomeWalk hosted by United Way. The HomeWalk had a successful turnout that helped raise awareness for our mission and the plight of homeless children everywhere. School on Wheels also got a surprise visit from the Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, at our Skid Row Row Learning Center. The children knew that someone from the city was visiting and had prepared questions in advance but did not know that it was their mayor who would be the VIP visitor! Lastly, School on Wheels was honored at The Good Shepherd Shelter’s 40th Anniversary Gala with their Champion Award. Catherine Meek, Executive Director of School on Wheels, was presented with the award.
In October, School on Wheels got a surprise visit from the cast from The Young & The Restless. Actors Bryton Jameve, Melissa Claire Egan and Jason Thompson visited our Skid Row Learning Center to drop off school supplies and backpacks that were donated by their fans! Board member and former student Angela M. Sanchez was featured in UpWorthy.com talking about growing up homeless and how magic helped her succeed in UCLA – where she graduated. Sanchez launched and organized a School on Wheels chapter at UCLA to help out other kids who were in the same tough spot that she had been just two years earlier.
September was full of amazing star students and volunteers! We started the month off on the Today Show showcasing our trip to One Gun Ranch in Malibu, where our students had a fun-filled day learning about byodynamic farming. One of our volunteers, Lisa Rodriguez, was featured in an article by 500Pens.org, highlighting her experiencing tutoring at one of our homeless shelters where she meets her student, Almma, every week. Lastly, School on Wheels partnered with RISE High School. The goal of RISE High is to design a school from the ground up based on a deep understanding of the needs of disconnected youth. Driving this effort is a focus on creating a school accommodating to student needs, where students form deep relationships with staff and each other and are surrounded by support.
It’s August, which means back to school is right around the corner. A huge thank you to all of our wonderful backpack donors of the month, including Temple Judea, Sage Publishing, and Frances Martinez, who donated backpacks and school supplies to help our students get ready for the upcoming school year. Volunteer, Katy Michaelis, shared with us her story about how she went from not only being a tutor but a huge cheerleader for her student, Sunny, as well (read the story here). A huge shout out to Q95.9 FM and Katherine Murillo for inviting us on their morning show and hosting a school supply drive for our students.
July was a busy month for summer learning. We provided our students and tutors with tools from our Summer Learning Program to help them avoid summer learning loss through reading and making connections to strengthen their comprehension skills. We attended a successful senior expo event where we connected with multiple higher aged volunteers to focus on inter-generational relationships for our tutors and students. A former School on Wheels parent, Valerie, shared her beautiful story on how our tutoring program impacted her two daughters (Read the story here). Lastly, we would like to thank our donor of the month, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California.