Making a Difference West Edition

L.A. Works seeks to expand volunteer participation

LOS ANGELES — Since its inception 26 years ago, L.A. Works has held on to three simple goals: expand volunteer participation in community service projects; provide resources to its partners, including access to its volunteers; and educate the city’s residents on social issues that affect Los Angeles while engaging their participation in them.

Founded in 1991 by a cluster of people from the business, entertainment and government fields, L.A. Works has grown exponentially from a few hundred volunteers a year to its current 25,000.

“These leaders wanted to find a way to bridge the city’s community together and they found that volunteerism was a great way to do that,” Executive Director Deborah Brutchey said.

And in the more than two decades that L.A. Works has organized and led thousands of volunteers, they have collectively given more than a million hours of their time to the betterment of the city and its residents.

Among the work that volunteers have done include beach and river cleanups, beautification of schools and parks, serving meals to low-income families and people experiencing homelessness, interacting with and caring for animals in shelters and sanctuaries, participating in educational activities for underrepresented youth and much more.

Deborah Brutchey

L.A. Works has, in addition, developed its own music program, called MusicWorks, which was created to provide musical education to underserved populations in the city.

Through Music Works, musicians have the opportunity to volunteer as featured artists, teaching assistants or joining a film crew. Volunteers sign up for the program of their interest and MusicWorks will match them to a nonprofit that best fits them.

The nonprofit also trains volunteers to be part of its leadership crew. The training program teaches volunteers how to create, coordinate and lead community projects so that L.A. Works staff has, as its website explains, “more time to build partnerships and create additional volunteer projects, allowing L.A. Works to significantly leverage [its] limited resources to better impact the community.”

So wherever there’s a nonprofit addressing the needs of its community, L.A. Works helps provide the resources, people, expertise and skill sets needed for the organization to complete its mission, Brutchey said.

But, she continued, “it’s really about equity; it’s learning about issues that affect communities and building nonprofits, and working collectively to help strengthen L.A.”

Strength that not only depends on mobilizing thousands to actively engage in their neighborhoods, but is also reliant on partnerships with corporations and other agencies and institutions.

L.A. Works has built partnerships with thousands of organizations, social services agencies and corporations throughout the city of Los Angeles, in California, and across the nation.

Its intention, according to the L.A. Works website, is to foster “connections and relationships in the nonprofit community to help bring visibility to volunteer opportunities that empower individuals to get involved, get connected, and work together toward a better future.”

And as far as the future of L.A. Works is concerned, Brutchey said that “it’d be really nice to continue to increase our volunteerism, raise our programs and build new ones.”

That way, she continued, they can do more and do better to improve the quality of life for all of Los Angeles’ residents.

Executive Director: Deborah Brutchey

Annual budget: little more than $1,000,000

Number of employees: 12

Years in operation: 26

Location: 570 W. Avenue 26, Suite 400, Los Angeles, CA 90065