After a year of Covid, which shut down all meetings — and traditional fundraising events — the Pacific Palisades Optimist Club used its own resources to raise money for 21 local nonprofits.
Annually, thanks to receiving net profits from the Will Rogers 5/10K Run, the club would donate more than $30,000 to nonprofits, schools and organizations that support youth.
This year, without any proceeds from last July’s races, the club still managed to raise about $15,000 and Grant Chair Jody Margulies said, “It has been a long haul and an extremely rewarding journey.
“I am thankful to the Palisades Optimist Board for putting up the money, and to my committee for their approval,” she said. “I am an eternal Optimist. Our grant awardee messages are heartwarming.”
Grants that benefit middle and high school students include money for the Optimist Club’s essay contest and oratorical contest. Money also goes to Optimist Youth Homes, which is the largest provider of residential services to youth placed on probation in California (with homes located in Highland Park and Woodland Hills).
Each Optimist Home provides extensive individual, group and family therapy; education; and recreation and athletic activities for 650 teens and families each day. Of the youth who are tracked through the agency’s aftercare program, 65 percent are crime-free and no longer in need of any type of out-of-home placement one year after discharge.
Bryan’s Smile, a local nonprofit that tries to stop drug use in teens, also received a grant. Since Dr. Melanie Gullet’s son’s accidental heroin overdose seven years ago, she has devoted herself to educating parents and their children and helping them talk about drugs through Bryan’s Smile. The program has appeared at different schools, including Revere.
Better Angels, which works with low-income Palisades High School students to help them prepare for SAT and ACT testing, received a grant.
At Palisades High, the Pali Ambassadors, the PaliHi Band, the Booster Club, Special Education and Career Awareness Day all received grants.
Booster Club board member and grant writer Daphne Gronich said, “The Palisades High School Booster Club is extremely grateful for the on-going support of the Palisades Optimist Club, particularly during these difficult times for all nonprofits. The Optimists’ generous grant will assist the Booster Club in fulfilling its mission of supporting the entire Pali High community by subsidizing improvements and programs that could not be undertaken by the school without such donations.”
Sports-based teams and organizations receiving aid were PaliHi’s wrestling team, Gold Glove Charity (which collects used baseball gear from local youth and distributes it to young baseball players in lower economic communities) and the Pacific Palisades Baseball Association.
The Palisades Village Green nonprofit received a grant. “We are not a city park and receive no money from any governmental agency,” said VG Board President Marge Gold. “We are grateful for monetary support from the community. All money goes toward maintaining our park for all the community to enjoy.”
The Palisades Americanism Parade Association also received money. Annually, the volunteer committee must raise almost $200,000 in order to organize the parade, provide the fireworks show, and pay for street permits, security, insurance, grandstands, loudspeakers, porta potties, the use of Palisades High School and other costs for the community Fourth of July celebration.
“PAPA is grateful for the ongoing support of our local service organizations, including this continuing, generous contribution by The Optimist Club of Pacific Palisades,” PAPA President Matt Rodman said. “This donation helps to bring smiles to the faces of all our community members on the Best Day in the Palisades, July 4th!”