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The Ripple Effect of Volunteering Can Start to Make Waves

by Lou Twilley
C5LA Program Supervisor

Our youth today need many types of experiences and opportunities that allow for new perspectives and learning moments. C5LA is a leadership development program for high-potential, under-resourced teens, and as program staff for many years, I have watched them grow into leaders through different avenues. A crucial aspect of C5LA’s mission is exposing our youth to new experiences, new opportunities, role models, and people who are different from them. It is only natural that some form of direct service is part of our participants’ leadership development. In the last two years, PEF has provided our youth a service opportunity to a specific community, in a specific way; local Pasadena area school-community gardens.

These school garden projects allowed our C5LA participants to see the difference their work makes to the people in a community. What’s more is that the experiences have given very poignant lessons about awareness, empathy, and why service matters. Just recently, one of our young women expressed, that after a garden project she now understands that there are some communities that may not have the same access to healthy foods and these types of vegetable gardens can be crucial to providing fresh produce to their families. Another, a young man, expressed, how he now can empathize with how hard it must be for farm workers who toil in fields for meager wages just to feed their families.

Through their understanding of and connection to family, these young adults learn about community. The more opportunities our youth have to work, serve, DO something (anything) to improve the situation for others, the ripple effect can start to make waves.

PEF supports PUSD’s award-winning Farm to School program working with community partners to provide outdoor classroom space for students to learn about nutrition, healthy eating, science, and other subjects. PUSD’s school-community gardens are managed by a full-time Master Gardener.

For more information about the C5LA program click here.


Whether you seek more engagement with your community or child’s school, need to fulfill community service hours, or want real classroom experience, we have an opportunity for you! The Pasadena Educational Foundation creates opportunities for our community to get involved in our public schools through community outreach activities and volunteering.

C5LA Students at John Muir Early College Magnet High School