Another First for the Corps

Dear Friends,

Last week was another first for the Corps – our first Virtual Luncheon. As some of you may know the Luncheon is a tradition almost as old as the Corps and something we look forward to every year. This week I thought I would share some of the remarks I made during the event for those of you who were not able to join us.

Thank you so much, Teresa and Sean [Burton], for hosting today… We couldn’t have pulled this off without our Luncheon Committee Members, specifically Board Members Caroline Wittcoff, Tom Eisenhauer, Samantha Martinez, and Nico Rusconi who helped us think through how to bring our famous Spring Luncheon to the screen. Thank you so much for your support, brainstorming and help with fundraising. 

It’s been so inspiring to honor Gerard Orozco, whose passion for the Corps and commitment to our Corpsmembers came through with each friend he introduced us to and every new idea he brought to the table for how to make today a success…

Dayy [our Corpsmember speaker], you are an inspiration to us all; not just because you love what you do and clearly see the connection between the work and our climate’s resiliency but because you keep on keeping on – even when things get rough, you keep your eyes focused on your goals, your team of fellow Corpsmembers and the mission of the Corps. Thank you for helping us stay grounded and keep Corpsmembers First! 

Simboa [former Corpsmember and new Board Member]… your understanding of our purpose and commitment to our success motivates us to innovate and think through the challenges of ensuring our Corpsmembers leave with more opportunities than they had when they came to us. Your faith in the LA Conservation Corps reminds me to focus on success and the full realm of possibilities. We’re so excited to welcome you to the Corps’ Board of Directors!

The past year has been one of contrast – losses and rewards, successes and letdowns, celebrations and memorials. As Corpsmembers became ill or lost loved ones or took on more financial responsibilities at home, they were supported – with gifts from the RK Next Steps Fund, awards from the Corps’ Transition Support Fund for graduating Corpsmembers moving into their next opportunity, and, of course, a chance for all who came and stayed with us to gain work experience and earn a paycheck while they served our communities. We never closed our doors and continued to provide ever-more-important quality of life services to our City, County and State partners… Over 350 Corpsmembers participated in our programs over the past year and 52 of them moved up and out to a new job. Each one of our Corpsmembers learned about work ethic and what it means to be a valued member of an essential services organization in Los Angeles.

As staff, we learned how to communicate apart; the operational team grew to appreciate our short spurts of time together and grew closer as we shared our motivations, memories of better times, and goals for the future with one another virtually. Our Crew Supervisors and other Program staff showed up day after day leading our Corpsmembers out into an uncertain world to do the good work of the Corps. These leaders of many ensured our Corpsmembers didn’t just survive but thrived. Directors, Managers and Coordinators shared information to keep Corpsmembers safe while they worked, and Crew Supervisors and Corps Navigators listened and assisted as Corpsmembers shared their fears and difficulties. Our After School Program team illustrated what creativity looks like during change as they reimagined what academic enrichment and support for elementary and middle school kids meant with everyone staying safe at home.

Everyone at every level took on more as we operated with fewer resources. Our staff are the true heroes of the pandemic here at the Corps; we celebrate them today in the same ways we applaud our Corpsmembers.  

And, today we recognize the importance of each of our VIPs, our Friends of the Corps – some new, so many long-time. We couldn’t have made it through the past year without you and for that I say thank you for believing in us, in our Corpsmembers and their work. Thank you for standing by us and for continuing to support us into the future.

This next year holds so much promise – new opportunities to think big and imagine what the Corps could be for hundreds more young people who need us and want to make a difference in their communities as they join the workforce. The pandemic has strengthened our resolve to keep Corpsmembers First and build on our equity and resiliency work as we continue to heal our environment and we look forward to accomplishing all of that with you as our champions.

Thank you for believing in us and our Corpsmembers.  We look forward to celebrating with you in the [LA State Historic] Park [in person] next year!

Yours In Service and Gratitude,

Wendy Butts