Photo by Michael Aushenker

Photo by Michael Aushenker

Compiled by Michael Aushenker and Joe Piasecki

VA super-volunteer Lee Lodawer, 1924–2014

Lee Lodawer never went to war, but she fought to the end for those who did.

A five-day-a-week volunteer for the Veterans Administration’s West Los Angeles Medical Center for more than a decade, Lodawer died on Oct. 31 at age 90.

Lodawer, a longtime Marina del Rey resident, began volunteering at the VA after marrying World War II Air Force veteran Isadore “Izzy” Lodawer in 1977. Lee would work at a reception desk; Izzy, the medical library.

“They were just so cute. They would have lunch together. They were totally devoted to each other,” the VA’s Marianne Davis, who supervised Lodawer for 10 years, said last year in a profile of Lodawer for The Argonaut’s Local Heroes issue.

Isadore Lodawer died in 2010, but his wife kept up the work.

As Lodawer said last year, “I have a lot of respect for all of these veterans, so I try to make life a little easier for them.”

In all, she would go on to log more than 20,000 volunteer hours at the VA, according to Shirley Bearden, who also supervised Lodawer.

“It’s sad because I’m so used to seeing her every morning and she’s not there anymore,” utilization review nurse A.J. Brown said of Lodawer.

Lodawer is survived by three children, including a daughter in Santa Monica.

Can these kids ‘hack’ it?

A change of clothes, student ID, sleeping bag, toiletries, hacking supplies: that’s the official packing list for the 36-hour HackCC “student hackathon” Friday through Sunday at Santa Monica’s Cross Campus technology work hub.

HackCC was founded by Santa Monica College math major Ahmed Sayed, 22, and is sponsored by Dell (providing the hardware) and the group Private Internet Access.

Billed as the first such event aimed at community college students, the event is expected to draw more than 200 participants who will team up to create new hardware, software and apps repurposed from existing technology, including Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets.

“We found the most effective way [to encourage creativity] is to make them join projects and start building their own projects,” Sayed said.

HackCC has already held more than 50 hackathons across North America and the United Kingdom. At some, companies have purchased student innovations on the spot. Judges for this hackathon contest include Venice resident Phil Walden, director of digital strategy at, and Kartik Mandaville, director of technology at Science in Santa Monica.

So there probably won’t be much time for the sleeping bags.

“They’ll keep drinking coffee and stay awake most of the time,” Sayed said.

Visit for more information.

Genocide survivor speaks in MdR

Marina del Rey-based Artists for Trauma is teaming up with Culver City Agape International and Jack Hanna’s Waves for Water on Saturday for a fundraiser to benefit Jessie’s Place, a Venice-headquartered organization that provides food, shelter and education to mentally and physically challenged children and adults in Rwanda.

The gathering at the Mariners Village recreation room features musical entertainment, but the star of the evening is Frederick Ndabaramiye, a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide and author of the memoir “In Frederick: A Story of Boundless Hope.”

Ndabaramiye was 15 when insurgents hijacked a bus he was riding and attempted to force him to kill his fellow travelers. When he refused, they killed the 17 other passengers before cutting off his hands and leaving him to die. Miraculously, the way his captors had tied up his arms acted as a tourniquet and saved his life.

Artists for Trauma, founded by Catalina Island helicopter crash survivor Laura Sharpe, encourages creative expression by victims of debilitating injuries as part of their recovery.

The event begins at 6 p.m. at 4600 Via Marina, Marina del Rey. Call (805) 208-5485 or visit to register.