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Real Estate Leader Volunteers to Help Orphans in Uganda

This is a regular feature on philanthropic activities by Valley-area businesspeople and companies. A local real estate professional from Lee & Associates-LA North/Ventura Inc. headed to Uganda this month to help orphans, continuing previous volunteer efforts. Christine Deschaine, a principal at the commercial real estate brokerage office in Sherman Oaks, has been participating in global volunteer initiatives with one trip to Brazil in 2009 and another trip to Uganda in 2010. She worked with Global Support Mission (GSM), a development organization that networks volunteers with community programs. Deschaine left the United States on June 10 to continue her work in Uganda with Bringing Hope to the Family, a GSM affiliate. For three weeks, she will live in Kaihura, Uganda, to help orphans who have lost parents to violence or HIV/AIDS. Bringing Hope to the Family’s services include medical care, volunteer work in counseling, construction and education. Deschaine plans to provide assistance with dental care and teeth extraction since she has experiencing working with a mobile dental clinic. “I never realized how much of an impact you can make in a short amount of time,” Deschaine said. “If you can relieve a child’s pain through an extraction, or give a person their first pair of shoes, then you have already made a world of difference.” Deschaine, who has been involved in various other charity efforts at home and abroad, received Lee & Associates’ Jack Cadillac Award this year for her volunteerism. Companies Donate to Club Two companies recently donated thousands of dollars and theme park tickets to the Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley. The Walt Disney Company donated $5,000 and 50 Disneyland Resort Hopper tickets, and State Farm Insurance gave the organization an $8,500 grant for a new Teen Driver Safety program. “We are very appreciative of Disney’s support of our club,” said Gary Thomas, the organization’s chairman. State Farm Insurance gave its grant in order to help the local club establish a new Teen Driver Safety program that begins during the 2011 fall school semester. The program will be hosted at the club’s satellite site at Canoga Park High School for more than 400 teenagers. California Highway Patrol officers will help teach the class. Thomas said the organization also appreciates State Farm Insurance’s support. Insurance Company Collects Toys Blue Shield of California held several Beanie Baby stuffed animal drives at its campuses throughout the state in support of the nation’s troops, company officials said. Those campuses included Blue Shield’s Woodland Hills site. The collection drives, organized in honor of Memorial Day, were held from May 25 through June 10. Servicemen who receive the Beanie Baby toys give them to children in patrolled communities, allowing the troops to communicate and receive intelligence from kids on locations of improvised explosive devices, Blue Shield officials said. The stuffed animals will be donated to Operation Gratitude, an all-volunteer organization located in Van Nuys on an Army National Guard Base. The organization sends care packages to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and on deployed ships. The event is part of the insurance company’s larger effort, Donate 8, which supports Michelle Obama’s Military Families campaign. Blue Shield of California is pledging to perform at least 25,000 hours of volunteer service from January 1 through Veteran’s Day. To meet the challenge, the company’s 4,800 employees and their families will average eight hours of volunteer service in their communities in 2011. Gas Company Gives to Local University Southern California Gas Company recently gave a $60,000 grant to California State University Channel Island’s Institute for Workforce & Community Studies. Dawn Neuman, the university’s provost and vice president of academic affairs, called the gift “foundation building” for the institute’s interns program. The program is designed to support community outreach, workforce training and leadership development. The institute is named after globally acclaimed Henry L. “Hank” Lacayo, who served as an advisor to United States presidents and governors. “We also congratulate Hank for being recognized for his lifetime achievement and look forward to the Institute making a positive impact on the region,” said Anne Shen, chief operating officer for Southern California Gas Company. Honda Promotes Reading The Southern California Honda Dealership Association recently encouraged local students to read at a Scholastic “Read & Rise” event. On June 10, the Honda Helpful team and children’s book publisher and distributor Scholastic promoted reading with the program at Cantara Street Elementary School in Reseda. The Honda team distributed reading certificates, helped children shop for new books and handed out water to students and parents. The Southern California Honda Dealers Association also presented a check in support of the school’s Read & Rise program. -Compiled by Jessica Vernabe

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