A “Progressive Dinner” fundraiser for the Westchester Family YMCA Youth and Government program and the Westchester Rotary Club’s “Extreme Home Makeover Project” raised $8,200 for the YMCA program and $3,400 for the Rotary’s home project.

The fundraiser was held by the Westchester Rotary Club and Gateway to L.A. Sunday, October 7th, with several host hotels, members of Gateway to L.A., assisting by donating food, beverages and live entertainment for the event, and VIP Tours providing a shuttle between hotels for participants.

The Hilton Los Angeles Airport hosted appetizers and cocktails in the Hollywood Garden Room, followed by salads and wine at the Crowne Plaza Hotel LAX.

EntrÈes and wine were provided by the Sheraton Gateway, and the evening finished off with “Dessert and Jazz” at the Radisson Hotel’s “Top of the Radisson.”

Gateway to L.A. is a property-based business improvement district that features 12.3 million square feet of hotel, office, parking, retail and restaurant space immediately adjacent to LAX on Century Boulevard between Sepulveda and La Cienega Boulevards. It represents the largest concentration of hotel rooms in the City of Los Angeles.

Laurie Hughes, executive director of Gateway to L.A., coordinated and hosted the Westchester YMCA program fundraiser.

“What a great evening — a big thank-you to all of the Gateway to L.A. members who make this event the success that it was,” said Hughes. “Hilton LAX, Crowne Plaza, Sheraton Gateway, Radisson LAX, LAX Marriott and VIP tours. And that’s not all, the Westin LAX, Renaissance Montura and Marriott donated wines to the live wine auction which raised another $3,400 for the ‘Extreme Home Makeover Project’.”

YOUTH AND GOVERNMENT PROGRAM — The YMCA Youth and Government Program is “one of the best teen leadership programs this community has to offer,” said Lisa D’Angelo, executive director of the Westchester Family YMCA.

The program includes teens in grades nine through 12 participating in a mock state legislature and judicial system, teaching students lifelong skills such as public speaking and time management and provides insights into the inner workings of our state government.

Each delegation is allowed 100 delegates and the Westchester Family YMCA typically runs at full capacity, with delegates recruited in September from five high schools in and around the Westchester community, said D’Angelo.

Beginning each September, the program starts with 100 delegates and over 20 volunteers who begin discussing issues facing California.

During a nine-month period, the teen delegates write bills, select governmental positions to role-play, attend statewide training conferences and run for various elected offices, according to program documentation.

The program reaches its peak in Sacramento at the state capitol with the convening of the five-day model legislature and court each February, with “real government” moving over and the teen delegates “taking over,” using the historic halls, chambers and offices of the state capitol, supreme court and governor’s office, said D’Angelo.

The Youth and Government program includes two three-day weekends and one five-day trip to Sacramento. Due to associated high costs, some students are unable to complete the program, D’Angelo said.

Major expenses include food, lodging, transportation, vehicle leasing and program supplies, and the program fee for each student is $950, which covers only a portion of the per person fees, leaving many of the students unable to pay the entire program fee even at this price, according to D’Angelo.

With 100 participants the total budget for the program is $107,326, and even if everybody were able to pay the full $950 fee, it would still leave a deficit of $12,326, bringing that number even higher with participants needing subsidization, said D’Angelo.

EXTREME HOME MAKEOVER — The Westchester Rotary Club’s Extreme Home Makeover Project began last year with a makeover of the home of LMU English professor Scott Odom and his family for Thanksgiving.

The project solicits referrals by friends and neighbors of families that they believe require assistance due to circumstances beyond their control, and once the information has been received by the Rotary Club, a decision is made as to which family will be the recipient of the program.

Westchester Rotary Club members buy the necessary materials and they, friends and neighbors all pitch in to lend a helping hand to a deserving family.

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