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Letter of the Week: There's No Place Like Home
Tony Reyes

Brentwood School parents of students in every grade know that service learning is an integral part of our educational experience in all three divisions. In fact, the "season of giving" has officially begun and you will soon be asked to contribute to our annual Thanksgiving Food (and Turkey) Drive—please help! From time to time, there are also service learning opportunities available just for Brentwood employees and other adults in our community. Last Friday was the culmination of one such opportunity: the 3rd Annual VA Stand Down at the West Los Angeles campus, our neighbor to the south.

Stand Downs are collaborative events, coordinated between local VA Medical Centers, other government agencies, and community-based homeless service providers to provide supplies and services to homeless Veterans. Last Friday's event literally took a village to plan and execute—Village for Vets, WLA VA, and Brentwood School partnered to lead the planning and execution of the event.

With close to 5,000 homeless Veterans in Los Angeles County, many of them chronically homeless, the centralized access to the range of resources available at Stand Downs can bring desperately needed relief to a large number of Vets in the span of just one day. And, that is exactly what happened last week with the assistance of more than 300 community volunteers, over 100 of them Brentwood School employees and parents.

According to WLA VA records, more than 800 Veterans came for help—food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, mental health resources, pet care, VA and Social Security benefits counseling, legal services, and more. It was a wonderful day. An all-employee drive for women's clothing yielded enough to fully outfit a 3-room "boutique," sorted, organized, and sized thanks to the help of volunteers from BWS parent affinity group, El Nido and female Veterans received makeovers courtesy of Beauty Bus, a non-profit organization founded by BWS alum and current parent, Wendy Levine. Every building on the VA campus literally hummed as hundreds of people got help that they desperately needed.

Given the rather chaotic nature of the event and the wide array of personalities in attendance, volunteers will surely be able to swap a range of interesting stories from the day. We also know, though, that our school was truly instrumental in making a difference by helping hundreds of people get help with housing, receive medical and legal attention, eat one (or more) hot meal(s), get new clothes, and feel cared for and valued—a small thing to offer given their service to our country. To get a better sense of the Stand Down, please enjoy these photos and this video.

Have a great weekend...enjoying both home and family,

Gennifer Yoshimaru
Assistant Head of School

photo by: Kyle Hausmann-Stokes, U.S. Army Combat Veteran

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