The Spirit of Giving

BY Kelsi Maree Borland, Alana Bracken, Laura Eckstein Jones, Helena Kontos, Meg McGuire | October 27, 2016 | Feature Features National

Look around at the abundant charitable missions in this city and you'll find that the spirit of giving is an epidemic that thankfully shows no signs of slowing down. From health to homelessness to animal welfare, L.A. organizations are fighting for change every day. Here, a look at the hearts and hands making a difference in Los Angeles and around the world.
Sisters Lauren Gores Ireland and Rochelle Gores Fredston say that no donation of time or money is too small.

Rochelle Gores Fredston is transforming altruism into advocacy at PSLA (, a foundation that helps at-risk children and families in Los Angeles County. Since launching PSLA in 2011, Gores Fredston, with the support of her sister and executive board member, Lauren Gores Ireland, has helped 125,000 children and has raised an impressive $12 million. “Our goal is to be a voice for the children and families who are in deep need throughout L.A. County. We strive to give these families a helping hand out of poverty. We want to break the cycle,” says Gores Fredston. The organization provides immediate therapeutic support services to underprivileged L.A. neighborhoods, along with deeper-reaching, long-lasting outreach programs like Back2School, which delivers essential school supplies to children in Watts. In just five years, PSLA has given away 50,000 backpacks. “I’ll never forget the young girl I gave a notebook to; she said she would use it to write down every dream of hers,” recalls Gores Ireland of the program. “That’s what we want to create—more dreamers who are so confident in [their] beliefs that they become doers.” Additionally, the nonprofit offers families parenting classes, educational opportunities, job training and mental health services. The Gores girls’ determination to help others started early on while watching their mother support low-income schools and children’s needs. “From a [young] age, I was taught that all children, regardless of socioeconomic status, should have the same opportunities,” explains Gores Fredston, who has worked as a trustee with Children’s Institute Inc. Now, the two have grown up to help lead the charge in breaking the cycle of poverty. “By staying committed year [after] year and delivering therapies and programs that have the proven ability to create change, we are showing the at-risk youth that they can count on us, which is ultimately the key to disrupting the cycle of poverty,” says Gores Fredston. Hear, hear!

Held annually at Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, The Colleagues Spring Luncheon is not to be missed! The fete, which highlights the organization’s impressive work with Children’s Institute Inc. to end child abuse and neglect in Los Angeles, continually draws in A-list award recipients like Laura Bush and Angie Harmon, and this April’s luncheon won’t disappoint. Once again, the house of Oscar de la Renta will team up with the nonprofit to present a stunning fashion show designed by the brand’s new co-creative directors, Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia. In addition to the runway show, expect a fabulous live auction with high-end prizes that range from lavish vacations to gorgeous fine jewelry.

When Bobby Turner was serving as the chairman, CEO and co-founding partner of Canyon Realty’s Capital Advisors, he was more excited about investing in underserved communities than anything else. With that in mind, and the belief that, with the right business plan, capitalism can be the most effective tool in solving social injustices, Turner left his prior post to start something new. Turner Impact Capital is a social impact investment fund that supports affordable housing, preventative care, and charter school development and investment in urban markets, all while generating a clean return for investors, or what he calls “profits with a purpose.” The fund is currently on track to surpass $2.5 billion in investment potential, and it has major firepower behind it to go even further. The model has attracted some big philanthropic names to participate, including Eva Longoria and Andre Agassi. It’s an all-star team for an all-star cause.

It began with a roar on Nov. 28, 1966, and in just 50 years, the L.A. Zoo and Botanical Gardens has proven to not only be one of the city’s top cultural destinations, but also an organization responsible for reaching serious successes within animal conservation and research. This month will mark a year of celebrations for the nonprofit’s golden anniversary, starting with the annual L.A. Zoo Lights—a holiday tradition where the animal park is transformed into a winter wonderland. In addition to new animal experiences like giraffe feedings, the most exciting event to celebrate the 50th is bound to be May’s Beastly Ball. The zoo’s signature soiree raises money for conservation, education and community outreach programs, and is filled with one-on-one interactions with zookeepers and the animals, alongside a feast of food from L.A.’s top restaurants. Talk about walking on the wild side! Tickets $15-$20, 5333 Zoo Drive, L.A., 323.644.4200,

There is nothing that Toni Ko can’t accomplish. The savvy entrepreneur sold her cosmetics empire, NYX, two years ago to L’OrĂ©al, only to turn around and conquer the eyewear industry with PERVERSE, a line of fashion-forward sunglasses. Thankfully, the innovator is using her powers for good. After the NYX sale, she started the Toni Ko Foundation to support children and women in need by partnering with a string of worthy causes, including UNICEF, Smile Train and Los Angeles Giving Circle. “I really feel that children need the most help because the support can [mold] their lives,” says Ko, whose urge to give doesn’t end with her foundation. Now, she is adding an altruistic edge to PERVERSE with iconGIRL, a program that partners with a worthy female to create a limited-edition pair of sunglasses—an impressive 100 percent of the revenue is donated to a nonprofit of the girl’s choice. Special Olympics Gold Medalist Lucy Meyer collaborated on the first pair of charitable frames—Team Lucy Meyer sunglasses ($50,—which will benefit UNICEF’s initiatives and programming. The sunglasses are on sale now through December, and Ko is already looking for her next iconGIRL. Any takers?


The millions of dollars the Movember Foundation has raised in just 10 years since being founded by Travis Garone and Luke Slattery. While the L.A.-based organization might best be known for it’s annual Movember campaign, which encourages gents to grow mustaches in support of men’s health, the nonprofit’s efforts go much further—bolstering over 1,200 programs in 21 countries that save and improve the lives of men affected by prostate and testicular cancer, in addition to mental health. This month the nonprofit will be launching its 12th-annual Movember initiative, which is again expected to raise significant funds for the good cause. That’s some serious man power!

These three L.A.-based charities have made it their mission to foster the next generation of artists. First up. Inner-City Arts ( takes at-risk students to their Skid Row campus for programs in dance, animation, ceramics and more, all of which integrate essential classroom skills into a positive learning environment. Next, ArtworxLA ( motivates underperforming students to reach graduation via a twofold approach: long-term exposure and immersion into the arts, along with connections to a strong network of artists and players in the creative community. Lastly, Art of Elysium (, pairs sick children in local hospitals with aspiring artists for bedside music and art lessons. And talk about good karma: Volunteers are eligible to receive grants from AOE in their given disciplines—motivation to help them further pursue their crafts.

Philanthropy is more than chasing a cure or solving social ails. It can be as simple as bringing joy and laughter to someone’s life. That’s the medicine actress Drew Barrymore is prescribing at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles ( Whether playing games, reading to the children or planning events, she is a frequent visitor at the hospital and an avid supporter of both the children and their families. “Now that I have daughters, I have an even deeper appreciation for the miracles that are available to the families of our town,” she says. While working at the hospital, Barrymore saw the devotion and selflessness of the children’s moms. She reached out to her friends in the beauty industry, a hearty network she acquired through her Flower Beauty cosmetics line, and launched Flower Beauty Mother’s Day Makeover, a Mother’s Day salon event for the moms and their kids. “The moms of these children have more on their plate than I could ever imagine—working, running a home and taking care of their other children, all while doing everything to take the best care of their child in the hospital,” says Barrymore. “I was just in awe of how much these moms sacrificed and their selflessness. They are often forgotten and never take a minute to do anything for themselves.” With decades of success as an actor and producer under her belt, supporting children has become incredibly important to Barrymore. She is involved with Baby2baby ( and is a U.N. ambassador for the World Food Program USA ( “Children have become my focus,” explains Barrymore. “[This] is a large and very important part of my life.”

Photography Courtesy Of: