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Although the school year ended, HOLA’s campus kept everyone busy.  From sailing the high seas to learning about the environment through art, our students have kept active: thinking, experiencing, and growing – and of course having a blast while doing it!


Saying goodbye and thank you to some of our Americorps VISTAs and Carlos Duarte, Bridges Coordinator.

We were also delighted and grateful this summer to be joined by 10 Americorps VISTA volunteers, who were invaluable to our summer programming. When we asked the VISTA’s what they loved most about their summer at HOLA, they all spoke of the parallels they shared with the kids: new friendships and gained confidence.

“I didn’t fully know what I was getting myself into when I decided to work at HOLA this summer. But it was so great to see the kids come out of their shells, and to realize what I’m capable of as a leader and mentor, and what organizations like HOLA are like behind the scenes.  I have even more respect for this place now, and I had so much fun,” they shared.

THANK YOU, Americorps VISTA’s! Not only did you brighten our summer but we could have not have had this successful of a summer with out you. To show our appreciation, we dedicate this post to you!

Here are just a few highlights from the summer:




HOLA kids navigate and crew a two-day trip to Catalina.

HOLA kids navigate and crew a two-day trip to Catalina.

Thanks to Matt Schulz and everyone at LifeSail, Inc, HOLA students are learning “how to navigate through life’s challenges” (LifeSail’s motto). After building their own sailboat (winter session) and sailing it (May) in MacArthur Park, our students have continued sailing lessons in Marina Del Rey all summer. The big finale was crewing and navigating a 2-night trip to Catalina. HOLA’s Senior Program Director Loren Rubin is grateful for this partnership that is now in it’s 5th year.

“This had been a great experience for our kids.  This multi-part program employs the metaphor of sailing to teach life skills like how to solve problems both individually and collectively, how to communicate well and focus deeply, how to stay present, and how to be leaders.  And they are able to gain the confidence to be captains of their own ships; to take control of their own lives.  We are so grateful to Matt and the folks at LifeSail for this incredible opportunity.”



Instrument swap!

Students traded instruments and taught each other how to play “Ode to Joy.”

YOLA @ HOLA (orchestra) and HOLA Music Studios (rock and jazz bands) kept the music alive all summer long. The LAPL summer program “Read the Rhythm” gave every section of the orchestra a chance to perform at a local library and shared with audiences their personal connection to music.

After months of playing the recorder, new wind students learned how to put together their flutes and clarinets and got to take their new instruments home to practice, practice, practice!




Smart Start, PAT, Leadership, Bridges & YOLA also helped with Portraits of Hope. We had 6 different painting sessions total and over 200 HOLA youth participated.


This summer, our visual arts students could be found hiking through the Santa Monica Mountains, exploring art and design at LACMA, SciArc and City Hall, building a city at Levitt Pavillion, painting hundreds of spheres for Portraits of Hope, building sand castles at the beach, and putting the final touches on their first publication.  They were visited by eight different artists, who taught (among many things) sustainability through art, five different dance forms, and how to film and direct their own comedic shorts.




SmartStart's "Girls on the Run"

SmartStart’s Girls on the Run (a running class offered during spring.) had a special guest Abby Schulman who spoke to our girls about her fundraising project. She plans to run 25 miles on her 25th birthday, which falls on July 25th in hopes of raising $2500 to donate to HOLA.

Bridges students enjoyed the balance between summer play and intense academic study designed to help them retain what they learned during the year.  They also learned time management skills by mixing their studies with other activities such as visiting Universal Studios and a few hikingBridges takes one of many hikes. trips. The middle-schoolers also participated in a crowd-pleasing, week-long “Olympics” that allowed them to practice their sportsmanship and teamwork skills.

PAT: What’s so powerful about community gardens? Why should we care about water and dirt? What are our roots, how do we squeeze water from a stone? These are some of the questions our PAT students pondered this summer as they cultivated community gardens, learned about water conservation, herbal medicine, and healthy eating. One highlight of the summer was attending the LA film festival showing of the documentary, “Can You Dig This?” starring local gardening activist Ron Finley, who they got to meet! They also spent time exploring their city and their roots by interviewing family members and taking tours of Little Bangladesh, Historic Filipinotown, and the Japanese-American Museum. Their summer ended on a bittersweet note as they bid farewell to Christine Newkirk who has now left us as PAT Director. You will be missed, Christine — thank you for all your extraordinary work at HOLA.





Alums tie-dye new shirts at the alumni barbecue this summer.

Our College Success program hosted a variety of events that promoted community building, healthy living, and career readiness. They held weekly hiking trips all over LA, hosted a “Welcome Back!” alumni barbecue, toured Google and Gibson Dunn Law Firm (among other potential employers), practiced informational interviews, learned about college loan repayment programs, attended college fairs, and celebrated at a college send-off farewell party.



While HOLA’s Athletic Program was busy sweating, they still managed to piece together some snippets of their summer that included a CrossFit clinic, thanks to our LA Lakers’ partnership!


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