Community Council provides ‘hands-on’ experience at festival

The first school-wide Community Council event was hosted last Sunday in Venice Beach at the Abbot Kinney Festival Youth and Family Courtyard. The event, organized by Sara Fleischman ’09, was sponsored by Inside Out Community Arts, an organization that provides programs, performances and festivals for under-privileged children. The Abbot Kinney Festival is held annually on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. The festival, however, is not community service-oriented.

The Community Council was informed of the event two weeks ago, Fleischman said, and quickly garnered student interest through posters and a Facebook event page.

“We got a lot of buzz despite the fact that we started our advertising for the event a little later than we would’ve hoped,” Fleischman said.

Thirty-five students, including four Community Council members, assisted various activity booths at the festival, such as face painting and running rides. The faculty chaperones were Director of Student Affairs Jordan Church and School Chaplain Father J. Young, both Community Council advisers.

Dina DeLaurentiis ’09 found the experience “fulfilling” and “felt great” completing her community service requirement. “It was an enjoyable experience being able to play and make the kids happy,” she said.

The event was specifically intended to be a “hands-on” experience with under-privileged children, an aspect of the new community service requirements. Hands-on volunteer experiences will be valid for community service credit, whereas events that raise money for charities indirectly will not be, Fleischman said.

Students valued personal interactions with children at the festival.

“I had a great time working with the kids and sharing the experience with friends,” Emilia Louy ’11 said. Louy assisted at the tie-dyeing booth.

Fleischman attended an Inside Out volunteer orientation on Saturday on behalf of the school’s participants.

“We helped the festival go smoothly so these kids can enjoy themselves,” Fleischman said. “Without volunteers, they wouldn’t be able to have this portion of the festival dedicated to these kids.”

This event is the first product of the Community Council “pods,” groups of three within the Council responsible for planning new events each month. Fleischman said smaller events will still be a collaborative effort within the Council, adding “the members all bring something different to the table.”

The Council aspires to host similar events on a monthly basis, according to Fleischman.