Every few months, Matt Crowley, principal at Crowley Corporate Legal Strategy in Encino, organizes a one-night volunteer cooking session for the Downtown Women’s Center in Los Angeles. On the assigned day, Crowley drives to Costco and loads up on ingredients to feed 120 to 150 women. About 6:30 p.m., his group of volunteers assembles at the center to chop, mix and cook for two hours. “There’s something cathartic about it – you’re a lawyer, banker or coder, but you’re chopping fruit with other people,” Crowley said. “It’s relaxing – not your mental work like every day at the office.” The big challenge is recruiting volunteers among clients, employees and friends. “It takes an email list of 80 to 90 people to get 12 people,” he said. “I never know who will show up – sometimes a tech client, a model, but everyone is enthusiastic.” Crowley specializes in securities and M&A legal matters, “a completely different world than the Downtown Women’s Center,” he told Valley Insider. … Lars Rathje lives near San Diego, but he’s a regular presence in Conejo Valley business circles thanks to his new skill as a pilot. An insurance agent with Lockton Insurance Brokers, which has an Encino office, received his license in August after racking up 50 hours of flight time at Camarillo Airport. “I live in Carlsbad, but a lot of my business is in Santa Barbara, the 101 corridor and the Inland Empire,” he told the Business Journal. “I fly into Camarillo, Van Nuys, Chino and Santa Barbara.” He also flies for fun to Mammoth Lakes and Palm Springs. From McClellan-Palomar Airport near his home, it takes Rathje 45 minutes to fly to Santa Barbara, compared to a five-hour drive in traffic. He also finds emotional benefits. “It’s kind of a moment of serenity where it’s just me and plane,” Rathje said. “And you can’t forget the views. Everything starts to feel a lot smaller and closer. Now that Santa Barbara is only 45 minutes away, it’s not so far anymore.” Staff Reporter Mark R. Madler contributed to Valley Insider, which is compiled by Editor Joel Russell. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.