Volunteering & Charities
Giving back to the community is very important to me. I support many charities, which I will list below, but giving doesn’t necessarily mean giving money. I give time to good causes that I believe in and, regardless of your income, you too can give time. Make it a family event, and you’ll find it a meaningful way to work together.

I volunteer when I can do so for the following organizations:

The American Cinematheque
If you love movies as much as I do, then you’ll want to support about the American Cinematheque. This organization shows classic films, hold foreign film festivals, holds sneak premiers of current films, and hosts live appearances of actors, directors, screenwriters, and others who make the magic of the movies happen. They do so at two theatres: Grauman’s Egyptian Theater in Hollywood and the Aero Theater in Santa Monica.

The Aero is where most celebrities show up (even in the audience!) but it is not my favorite theatre of the two. The Egyptian theater is truly a temple to the movies. It is a huge movie palace with art deco-style Egyptian design; the theatre courtyard is made to resemble the entrance to an ancient Egyptian temple, complete with murals of Egyptian deities and royalty.

Sometimes I volunteer just taking tickets at the theatre, or working a table on Hollywood Blvd. to educate tourists and other passers-by about the theater’s importance in Hollywood History. I’ve also worked at special events: I’ve been a bartender at the Egyptian’s annual Tiki Party, and I recruited and organized vendors for a special science-fiction movie event. It’s a great deal of fun!

The New Orleans Healing Center
I write press releases and help with the publicity for this new community center in New Orleans, located at the corner of St. Claude and St. Roch. New Orleans is in need of a lot of help these days, and even though I can’t get there that often, I still want to contribute. The New Orleans Healing Center just opened this year and it aims to aid the community by offering alternative healing, art space, a food co-op, classes in a variety of topics at its innovative Street University, a women’s collective and more. Rehabilitating this area of New Orleans is the mission of Sallie Ann Glassman and her team, and I’m honored to be a part of it. I hope to teach classes and work in the center when I am in New Orleans.

Here are some charities I support:

Doctors without Borders
This is my favorite charity. Doctors without Borders does not have any religious or political leanings; they are comprised of doctors and nurses who go to the parts of the world where they are needed after natural disasters, wars, and other calamities have stressed the local medical services beyond their limits. One of the reasons I support this charity is that I once saw them in action. Truly amazing people, Doctors Without Borders have recently gone to work in Haiti after the earthquake and are volunteering medical help in Libya and other countries where the people are under attack by their own governments.

Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo was just arrested (6/17/11) for trying to take action against oil drilling in the Arctic. Greenpeace takes action on many fronts to help the environment. Best of all, you can sign petitions and letters online that will go to your government officials supporting the causes you believe in. My favorite one right now is aimed at saving the remaining Sumatran tigers. Yes, Greenpeace is political: but remember that we only have one planet, and whatever our politics may be we all live together on the earth, so why not preserve it for us and those to come?

Give 150.com
Got a dollar and fifty cents? I’ll bet you do. It’s the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and Civil War sites are being lost at the rate of an acre an hour. The History Channel will match donations of up to $150,000, but all they are asking is that you give a dollar and fifty cents. That’s something we can all afford, and they’ll match it. Historic sites cannot be replaced once they’re destroyed, so why not work to preserve them?

LA Gulf Response: Louisiana Volunteer Programs
This is another Louisiana program in which various charities such as the Nature Conservancy and the Audoban Society have joined forces to help the Louisiana coastal wetlands as they have been battered by hurricanes and befouled by the British Petroleum oil spill. They need volunteers as much as or maybe even more than they need cash, so if you are in the area, try to volunteer.

Surfrider Foundation
As a South Bay native this is an organization dear to my heart, as they began as an organization of surfers dedicated to the environmental integrity of our Southern California beaches. They support coastal access for all Californians, oppose offshore drilling, and help us protect our beaches. “Pay where you play” is their initiative that speaks to locals who want to donate money that will go directly to the beaches that we visit. They also help sponsor International Surfing Day, June 30th.

Heal the Bay
Dedicated to cleaning up and preserving the Santa Monica Bay, this organization sponsors beach clean-ups—a good thing to volunteer for. They’re another organization that is dedicated to our local beaches and provides education in how to preserve our natural resources. Volunteer or ask one of their speakers to come to your class, business, or organization to learn how each of us can have a positive effect on the environment.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has local chapters where you can volunteer to help mistreated and discarded pets. During the recession many people have had to give up their beloved pets because they can’t afford to take care of them anymore. June is Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, so if you’re thinking of getting a cat, now’s the time to do so: by adopting one from your local SPCA shelter. One of the many helpful things you can buy from them is a disaster preparedness kit for animals. What a great idea!

Sweaters for Solstice
Sweaters for Solstice™ is a charitable function associated with the Iseum of Isis Paedusis. As a Goddess centered spiritual organization the Iseum recognizes our social resposibility to help those in need, regardless of their religious beliefs and thus this idea was born. Each year, between August 1 and December 15, we will host clothing drives to collect sweaters, gloves, hats and other winter outerwear by placing collection boxes at various locations around Southern CA. These clothing items will be distributed to homeless and battered women’s shelters during the Winter Solstice Holidays. We ask that you support our cause by donating new and lightly used winter outerwear in clean condition.

If you want to learn more about eco-tourism and volun-tourism, see my article “Magical Eco-Tourism” in the 2012 Llewellyn Witches' Companion: An Almanac for Everyday Living.