One of the cornerstones of our mission is to give back. We are after all a philanthropic goal group! So this year we decided to reformat how we give back to the community. Inspired by Light Watkins’ event “The Shine,” and “The Shine On Challenge,” one of our board members Alexis Carra carved out a similar way for TNH to challenge our members to create an impact.
The challenge works like this. At each meeting, we draw a member’s name out of a bowl. Whoever is selected uses the funds allocated from membership dues for that meeting to go out into the community and create a project, event or some kind of action to give back. The purpose of our new charity challenge is to, well, challenge our members to think outside the box and to expand our philanthropic goals and outreach. The intention is to get involved, engaged, and proactive as members of our communities, leading by example. We are here to rise higher, shine brighter and give back so we participate in all three pillars through this amazing opportunity.
Our first TNH Charity Challenge recipient was the dynamically funny and giving Brittany Ross. Brittany has always been avid about volunteering regularly for such organizations as Young Storytellers. Here is what she wrote about her experience and the creative way she was able to make a difference with $500.
When I was first chosen for the shine challenge, I had no idea what I was going to do for my project. I was handed $500 and was challenged to go out into the community and make a difference in a field I’m passionate about. I knew I wanted to do something with youth and comedy, but I wasn’t sure where I was going to put my energy, and how I could make a difference.
I started to tell friends what I wanted to do, and an amazing opportunity presented itself. My friend Rachael is a social worker, and she used to run a Youth Homeless shelter called Daniel’s Place in Santa Monica. They were looking for more volunteers, and the clients really enjoy Improvisation or “Improv”. Improvising is such a great way for people to learn how to express themselves. It teaches you to trust your instincts, and that nothing you say is wrong. It’s a great tool for finding your own voice, and coming out of your shell. I wanted to teach a fun class where I could get the young adults off their feet, and help them to find freedom with their creativity.
I was nervous to the youth at Daniel’s Place at first because they are different from any group I had previously taught. A lot of the youth have mental challenges. After one minute with them, I realized that I did not need to be scared. They were all on board, and were excited to participate in all of the activities. I would give them a suggestion or an improv prompt, and the things they created with were like nothing I had ever heard before! They inspired me and reminded me how much of your life and where you’ve come from add to your unique ideas.
In the end, they all had a great time, and they asked me to come back. One youth even came up to me and said, “I’m looking for a female lead in a horror movie that I want to make….so…” –he was clearly offering me a job! He told me that he wants to make an improvised horror movie.
I was also able to use the money to buy them tickets to a play called “Recorded In Hollywood” at the Kirk Douglas theatre, and a 100 dollar gift card to Blick’s Art Supplies. I think sending the message that people are excited to work with them made an impact on their lives, and encouraged them to express themselves creatively.
Follow Brittany and get your fix of heart and laughter. @BrittanyRoss1
Please note that not all experiences, beliefs and ideas are shared by each member of “The New Hollywood.” We are a group of shepherds, not sheep.