By Lori Hanson
As many of you may be aware, I’ve recently become involved with Penny Lane. I was asked to speak at a pregnancy prevention workshop in May and had such a strong connection with the youth I spoke too I offered to help in any way I could. This past month I’ve spoken twice with the transitional youth. These are kids that are 18 and over who would be on the street were it not for Penny Lane. I’m so impressed with this organization and what (name) started I wanted to share what I’ve learned so you know and maybe you, too can help. I’ve made a commitment to share a portion of all my proceeds with them.
Ivelise Markovits founded Penny Lane in 1969. Her dream was to provide a home for deeply troubled teens about whom she had come to care deeply.
Each year, Penny Lane cares for over 1,500 abused, abandoned, and neglected children in the Los Angeles, Commerce and Antelope Valley areas. They offer residentially based treatment services, foster care, and adoption services. They serve children, youth and families in the community through our Family Preservation Program, Mental Health Clinics. Penny Lane also offers transitional services for former foster youth who would otherwise be homeless, and a low-income housing program.
I interviewed Nydia Barakat Director of Marketing and Development this week. And here’s what she had to say.
Lori: What makes Penny Lane so special?
Nydia: Most residents come back because they feel safe here. They keep in touch, feel at home and they also want to give back to Penny Lane. It’s not only an organization where they get services, it’s becomes their home.
Lori: How long have you been with Penny Lane?
Nydia: Three years.
Lori: What brought you to Penny Lane?
Nydia: I was working for a profit organization. I saw Ive at a friend’s house. I looked at her and she said, “I have the perfect job for you.” My family told me that “ I had to get this job because it was going to be a great opportunity for me.” It feels complete. Not only the job, but I feel good when I leave. I feel I have contributed to the welfare of these children.
Lori: You have some upcoming events. Please tell us about them.
Nydia: September 27, 2009, on Sunday afternoon we’re having our 10th annual fund-raising event “Voices for our Children” in Santa Clarita at the TPC Country Club. We’ll have a casino, silent auction, live auction and car exhibit. We’re also presenting a Blue Skies Award to a Valencia resident, NBC4 News Anchor, Chris Schauble and Gina Roach a past resident of Penny Lane who is now a board member. Chris will also be our auctioneer for the event.
Lori: Sounds like fun. What is the Blue Skies Award?
Nydia: We give this award to people or organizations who go above and beyond in helping children in need.
Lori: How can people get information to attend or donate to the event?
Nydia: They can call 818-332-8260 for event details and to register. Your investment to attend is donating $100 per individual. Sponsorships are also available if you would like to donate at a higher level.
Lori: What one thing would you love to see happen for Penny Lane?
Nydia: I want to spread the word about what our organization does and have people be interested in the work we do. Not only by donating but also by volunteering their time because this benefits the kids.
Lori: What are the Development Department goals?
Nydia: We are trying to recruit mentors and volunteers to help us for special events. Anyone with specialized skills could be helpful to Dianne Kennedy as a speaker in her teen pregnancy prevention class. We are also seeking out grants and donations to help the children and the organization.
Lori: What specifically do you need mentors and volunteers to do?
Nydia: We bring in mentors to be role models for the Penny Lane children and to develop relationships with them that last a life time. These kids have not had exposure to many things in life and sometime don’t have all the social skills needed to succeed.
Lori: I know from personal experience working with these kids for just a few months they are very appreciative of what I’ve been able to share with them through a few speeches and workshops. Is there anything else that’s on the horizon at Penny Lane?
Nydia: We have a ground breaking event on October 29th for our new Antelope Valley Family Center. The details on the event will be available very soon. We also will start our annual holiday toy drives in October. This is one of the things we need volunteers to help us with.
Lastly, I really want to thank the volunteers and donors for their support. Penny Lane couldn’t make it without them!