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Category Archives: Los Angeles

Honeymoon & a moment

John Lennon
Like many of us, I have always been fascinated by Beatle legend John Lennon. I love his music of course, but the way he lived, and his artistic expression has always grabbed my attention and heart.

Now his artwork, part of a series called “Bag One” goes on display this weekend here in Los Angeles. I wish I could own the lithograph called “Honeymoon.” It’s neat to think of the moment in time he and Yoko Ono experienced with one another. She is now 80 years old, and has set up a business called Bag One Arts in an attempt to keep her late husband’s legacy as an artist alive.

Here’s an article from the LA Times about Lennon’s sketches

See you there!!!!

Two of my favorite quotes by J.L.

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

“You don’t need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are!”

 

Feels Good

Today I was back at the South LA Shelter for a meeting with some of the staff there. Four of my Lu Parker Project volunteers and I met with a staff member to discuss how we can continue to help the shelter through a project we do called Project Picture. This was the first time we have had an official meeting since the SLA shelter moved to its new location, and I have to say it felt great to be at the new facility!

As we all know, change is sometimes difficult, and I have to admit at first I sort of missed the old South LA shelter, a place where my passion to help animals was flamed some four years ago. I spent countless hours in the old space either alone in the early years, or then together with my LPP volunteers as time passed. It was my little getaway. It was my second home for a long time. I still miss it and all its cracks and dust.

This past year I hit a big bump along the way and had to step back from LPP for a hot second. I want to thank my amazing volunteers for continuing to move forward and steer the ship while I was emotionally away. Seriously, you saved LPP. 😉

Today while sitting in our little meeting, a wave of “this feels good” came over me. It’s that feeling I had 3 years ago when something told me “Lu, you should start a non-profit.” During those moments you just know you are doing what you were born to do.

As small as our actions may seem at times to ourselves and others, I could not help but burst with pride today when I looked over during the meeting, and caught the eye of one of my faithful volunteers. The joy in her eyes as she smiled back at me made me not just think, but know that I am where I am suppose to be now again, and I have an amazing team joining me for the journey.

 

One Flash at a Time

Lu Parker Project started Project Picture at South LA Animal Shelter in October of 2011.
See new pictures here: PROJECT PICTURE

In the last two weeks, we have been able to help nearly a dozen dogs and cats avoid being euthanized. Instead, these dogs and cats now have forever homes. THE LUCKY ONES

Volunteers helped renovate the photo area at the shelter, and now we are utilizing local professional photographers who are giving of their free time to help us create these amazing photos. We are sharing the photos via the above blog, on facebook, on twitter, via email, and on several sites including LA ANIMAL SERVICES & ADOPT A PET

Zac & Mike build the set

Painting Away...

Saro sets up for our first picture!!!

If you would like to get involved with Lu Parker Project please contact us at here

We are always in need of Corporate Sponsorship and donations. You can donate directly at Thank you!

Also, follow us at Twitter: @luparkerproject
Facebook: Lu Parker Project

A Special Thanks to our Volunteer Photographers: Casey Chang, Saro Karagueuzian, John Cole and Jeff Molyneaux!!!

 

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Strut with Us?

When people find out I started Lu Parker Project to help homeless animals and at-risk youth, they often ask “How can I help?” I usually answer by saying simply “Just get involved.” We need volunteers, fundraisers, artists, teachers, animal lovers, party planners, activists, and the list goes on and on…

Today I write asking you to strut your stuff with us at Strut Your Mutt The event will be held Saturday, September 24th at 10a. It is a simple one mile walk that will help us raise the much needed funds we need to keep doing our important work, but it is also a chance for adults, kids and dogs to send a message. We are in this together. The goal: No More Homeless Pets

Joining our DOG PACK and walking with us is simple. Here’s how you do it. If you are ready to commit: Log onto www.strutyourmutt.org
Once there, type Lu Parker Project in the search box at the top right of the page.
Once on our page, click JOIN THIS DOG PACK. Sign up. You can then create your own unique webpage to raise funds with us. 100% of the proceeds go to www.luparkerproject.org

If you prefer to simply donate to our cause, that’s easy too.
Log onto www.strutyourmutt.org
Once there, type Lu Parker in the search box at the top right of the page.
Once on Lu’s page, click SUPPORT ME and give what you can.

Your donation is 100% tax deductible!.

Patrick and Ana here as very very sick babies.


Ana & Patrick are parvo free and have a new forever home together!

Our latest rescue involves two 4 month old puppies that we pulled from South LA Animal shelter. The two puppies came in with parvo because their owners didn’t know to vaccinate them. Parvo is deadly and highly contagious. LPP paid for Patrick and Ana to receive medical attention, and with the help of Brent Air Animal Hospital we were able to save these two beautiful dogs that would have otherwise been euthanized on the spot.

In our effort to reach the youth of Los Angeles, Monkey and I, along with Gabe and David of Animal Wellness Centers visited Bresee Youth Center this month. The teens got a chance to discuss animal welfare issues, and we brainstormed on how they could help reach out to their own community. This is just the beginning of a strong relationship. We dream of reaching more at-risk teens to help educate them about being kind to all animals. That is why your donations are so important.


We brainstormed on how to help the community.

We believe rescuing is important, but we also believe education is key to ending overpopulation. We hope you can help us spread the word….

If you walk with us, feel free to bring your dog or plan to walk a homeless dog! Hope to see you soon!!!!

For more on Lu Parker Project visit: www.luparkerproject.org
For more on Lu and her efforts visit: www.luparker.com

 

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The Best Day of the Week

One of the reasons I love my job is that I am blessed to be able to meet extraordinary people, and tell their stories. Luis Carlos Montalvan is one of those people. He is a decorated 17 year veteran, who has written a book entitled Until Tuesday. It is about his experiences during two tours in Iraq, but he also shares the story of a dog who he says has saved his life.

The dog’s name is Tuesday. The four year old has trained since birth for the job of K9 Service Dog. He, like hundreds of other dogs are helping veterans like Montalvan heal from the physical and psychological scars of war. It’s an intimate relationship that bonds warrior with man’s best friend.

Statistics show that nearly 18 veterans commit suicide daily here in the states. Many of them suffer from what’s called PTSD-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and many are afraid to seek help. Montalvan tells me he encourages fellow veterans to “Be brave at home like you were taught to be brave in war, and seek the help you need.”

Another man who is making a big mark on not only this issue, but many others is filmmaker and philanthropist Charlie Annenberg Weingarten. Explore.org is Annenberg’s outlet to the world. The website includes videos, pictures, and information that educates and inspires. When you meet Annenberg, you get the sense this guy has his pulse on the world. His true love though is Lucky, his 14 year old Golden Retriever, a dog that has traveled to nearly every corner of the country with him. The two have visited schools, the elderly, the aftermath of Katrina, and even death row.

Annenberg created www.dogblessyou.org and tells me the response has been overwhelming. War veterans and those currently serving are sending in pictures of themselves with dogs at home and at war.

I was honored to interview both men whom I believe have a message that is incredibly powerful, and an intention that is simple and pure.
WATCH MY STORY HERE

 

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Why a Red Bucket?

A Stallion Named Finbar


It’s a story of love and commitment. Not human to human, rather human to horse. I saw the process up close recently, and cannot seem to shake the thought of what I witnessed.

The horses I met through the non-profit called Red Bucket Equine Rescue, based in Huntington Beach, California all have a story. The majority of those stories are not ones you want to hear. They include abuse, neglect, starvation, even death.

But Susan Peirce, the woman behind Red Bucket tells me she is ready to fix the problem. In the last two years, the group which is 100-percent volunteer has saved 80 horses from slaughter, and has found 32 of them forever homes. Part of their mission is to restore trust in humankind and to find the horses safe, loving homes. They use positive reinforcement, compassion and consistency to bring these horses back to life.

But of course, every group needs our help. Red Bucket Rescue has been told they have to move from their current location. That means they have dozens of horses that need to be moved to a new location nearby that has land, but no shelter. It costs approximately 400 thousand dollars a year to keep the rescue running. The costs add up due to medical bills, shelter, food, and training. Red Bucket needs your help.

For more info on what you or a local business can help out with, please visit Red Bucket Equine Rescue.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE STORY ABOUT Red Bucket Equine Rescue

 

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What a day!!!


I typically write a blog in the early morning hours over a big cup of coffee, but today it’s the opposite. I couldn’t wait to share my day with you.

It started early with a 5am wakeup call to get ready to head to KTLA studios to do a story on a three legged dog named MONTY. This 2 year old is looking for a new home after being shot and left in the desert to die. Please spread his message of courage.

Later in the morning, I headed over to the La Brea Tar Pits for the Best Friends Pet Super Adoption. Monty and his foster met me there and we introduced Monty on stage. I also met a lot of cool people, and ran into lots of my favorite rescue groups and LA City Shelter friends. By the way, Monty wasn’t the only dog at the event with only 3 legs. I saw at least three others.

Once I left the Tar Pits, I headed to the valley to check out World Fest. I had been asked to speak there weeks ago, and thought it sounded like an event I would enjoy. It was. Everything from vege food, to eco-friendly products, rescue groups, live music and dancing. It sort of reminded me of my college days: long skirts, sandles, music, good food, and no worries. World Fest was oozing good vibes.

While I walked around with my dog Monkey, we saw some interesting things including a food booth selling BBQ, but not the kind you are thinking…Ha! As a Southern girl and vegetarian for the last 25 years, I thought, “Now that is interesting!!!” I didn’t stay long enough to taste it. Maybe next time.

Couldn't help but take a picture!

Joey

Then as I am leaving, who do I see but this little guy!!! Are you kidding me? He looks like my dog but a quarter the size. I had to stop. Joey, I am told was run over and didn’t get the proper care to help his hind legs. They are nearly paralyzed completely. In the dog pen, he sort of drags them behind him. I wanted to see him in his wheelchair. Once I did, I fell in love even more. You would too! Joey is a little sweetheart. He’s curious, gentle, and moves pretty dang fast on two legs. I’m not sure what I plan to do with his picture, but I felt compelled to share his story. There are others like Joey at a place called Dharma Rescue. They specialize in helping senior pets and animals with special needs. They seem like angels. Wanna help me find Joey a forever home? If so contact me at www.luparkerproject.org or Email me.

 

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A Moment

I love moments that take my breath away, and lucky for me, one of those moments happened this week at an event in Los Angeles. It’s no secret that I often attend events here in the city that honor many extraordinary men and women. I have met Presidents, tons of celebrities, and other fascinating people. This time it was different.

While attending the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s National Tribute Dinner, which honored actor Tom Cruise, I was introduced to a man named Luis Alberto Urzua Iribarren. You may not know the name, but you surely know his heroic story. Urzua was one of 33 Chilean miners trapped inside a cave below the surface of the earth for 69 days back in the summer of 2010. When the mine ceiling collapsed, the miners were believed dead, but after 17 days a note that was brought up through a drilled hole notified rescuers that all of the miners were alive.

Chile's President Sebastian Pinera holds the letter from the trapped miners.

During the first 17 days, Urzua, the 54-year-old shift supervisor rationed food, giving one spoonful of tuna to each of the miners every 48 hours. Once the rescue effort began, Urzua was also the man who volunteered to stay behind until all his men were safe. The father of four would wait and watch as each of the men were pulled to higher ground. Imagine what each of these men must have gone through physically and mentally. Imagine how grateful they must be every single day to be alive.

I was only able to spend a few minutes with Urzua, who doesn’t speak English well, but because I have been studying Spanish, I was able to get a few nods and a smile from him. It was such a moment for me! I could tell this man, while tenacious, also has a kind and happy soul. Even though we couldn’t communicate verbally very well, I could feel his good energy just being next to him.

With Luis just after he made his speech

In October of 2010, I reported the rescue on television as it happened live. While in the newsroom, my colleagues and I watched with bated breath, as did millions around the world. One by one the men were pulled to safety. One by one, we sighed a bit of relief for them. I still consider those historic moments, and our coverage as one of my most memorable as a journalist.

Miners underground


Just after the rescue

So as many extraordinary people were being honored that night, including Tom Cruise, I found myself enthralled with Urzua’s message of strength and calmness. When he was introduced on stage, I couldn’t resist, and was the first out of my seat to stand. What an honor! During Urzua’s speech, he praised his fellow miners, and pointed to God as the 34th miner. Amazing!

I am grateful that I was able to meet Urzua, and will always use the experience to remind myself that no matter our hardships and struggles, we always deal better with calmness, strength, and knowledge that we WILL eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel.

WATCH THE FINAL RESCUE HERE

Order of miners rescued:

1. Florencio Ávalos, 31,
2. Mario Sepúlveda, 39,
3. Juan Illanes, 52,
4. Carlos Mamani, 23,
5. Jimmy Sánchez, 19,
6. Osmán Araya, 30,
7. José Ojeda, 46,
8. Claudio Yáñez, 34,
9. Mario Gómez, 63,
10. Álex Vega, 31,
11. Jorge Galleguillos, 56,
12. Edison Peña, 34,
13. Carlos Barrios, 27,
14. Víctor Zamora, 33,
15. Víctor Segovia, 48,
16. Daniel Herrera, 37,
17. Omar Reygada, 56,
18. Esteban Rojas, 44,
19. Pablo Rojas, 45,
20. Darío Segovia, 48,
21. Yonni Barrios, 50,
22. Samuel Ávalos, 43,
23. Carlos Bugueño, 27,
24. José Henríquez, 54,
25. Renán Ávalos, 29,
26. Claudio Acuña, 44,
27. Franklin Lobos, 53,
28. Richard Villarroel, 23,
29. Juan Aguilar, 46,
30. Raúl Bustos, 40,
31. Pedro Cortez, 24,
32. Ariel Ticona, 29,
33. Luis Urzúa Iribarren, 54.

 

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Hunger is a Workaholic

I am sad, and here’s why. Just last week I learned about an alarming statistic. One out of every six children in the U.S. is at risk of hunger. (12.4 million children) I also learned that many students leave school on Friday, and are hungry until they return to school on Monday. There is simply not enough food at home.

Blessingsinabackpack.org is trying to change these numbers. The unique program is simple and designed to feed the elementary children who need help the most. Better test scores, positive behavior, increased attendance, and improved reading skills have all been linked to the success of the program.

Actor Omar Miller, from the CBS show CSI Miami, introduced me to Blessingsinabackpack.org. Fans also know Miller from the films Transformers and Spike Lee’s Miracle on St. Anna. I met up with Miller at a local elementary school in Los Angeles recently, and we both stepped in to help stuff backpacks for over one thousand students. It was an eye-opening experience.

At Normandie Avenue Elementary in Los Angeles, volunteers, parents, and teachers work for hours preparing the bags that are filled with non-perishable items like granola bars, soup, cereal, popcorn, and pudding. Every other Friday the students line up to get their bags. I saw the kids come in with their backpacks open. They were not bashful or ashamed. In fact, they were proud and excited. One teacher even told me she saw one child eating out of the bag soon after getting it, and she said to him “The food is for the weekend.” The child quickly responded, “But I’m hungry now.”

It’s simple. We cannot let our kids go hungry.

Miller agrees, and tells me it is exactly why he got involved. He has also started his own 501c3, The Omar Miller Foundation which takes left over food from television and movie sets, and provides it to needy families.

Blessingsinabackpack.org is currently feeding nearly forty thousand students in thirty-two states, but here in Los Angeles, the program is in only one school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. We can help change that because this program is easy to implement. Parents, teachers, community activists, and corporate supporters are finding they can implement the idea quickly. We just have to take that first step.

Children are our future, and as cliché as that may sound, they need our help and our hearts, and they need it fast. Spread the word.

FACTS:

$80 feeds one child every weekend for the entire school year.

Data shows that hungry children are sick more often and have lower academic achievement.

Over 62% of children in the U.S. Public School system are on the Free or Reduced Meal program.

Hunger makes it difficult for children to pay attention and learn.

With Photographer & Editor Carlos Cortes and Omar Miller

 

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Good Kid in a Mad City

Growing up is hard enough. Imagine having to worry about being shot at while walking the streets of your neighborhood. It was a reality for Kendrick Lamar. Now 23 years old, he’s sharing his story of keeping an upbeat attitude in an often-dark place.

Born and raised in Compton, California, a city where violence, drugs, and gang activity looms, Lamar knows what he must do to make it out. He’s found his voice on the microphone as a hip-hop artist, and people are beginning to listen.

Eminem’s manager, Paul Rosenberg, first took notice of Lamar late last year. Rosenberg tipped off rapper Dr. Dre, who gave Lamar a shout-out while on a Los Angeles radio station. Now things are moving fast.

This past January Lamar had his first sold out show at the Key Club in Los Angeles. Dr. Dre has included him on his much anticipated release Detox. Equally impressive, Lamar has landed on the cover of one of music’s most respected magazines, XXL. It’s a sign that the industry is watching and waiting.

Lamar tells me he began singing about his city, his struggles, and his survival at the age of 13. Now years later, he has nearly 300 songs, and must narrow it down to 12 for an album release. When asked which are his favorites, song titles like “The Hard Part 2,” “Cut You Off,” “Average Joe,” and “Faith” roll off his tongue. According to Lamar, all the songs have a message. Whether it’s about the ills of negativity, or the senseless loss of his uncle to prison, Lamar sings with a raw, honest, and sometimes angered voice. Many of his lyrics come from what he’s seen and experienced growing up in Compton.

His parents, who are still married, moved to Los Angeles from Chicago in the 1970’s. Lamar says his dad was always there for him, and admits the tight relationship likely saved his life, and gave him security to fall back on when he pushed the edges and lost focus.

While there has been a big drop in homicides in the city of Compton in the last couple of years, (some say due to better communication between police and residents), Lamar believes it is still not perfect; calling himself “a good kid in a mad city.”

I got a chance to spend the day with the young man who is, by the way, very charming. He and I walked the streets of Compton, visiting the Social Services building where he and his family collected welfare back in the day. We drove by his family’s first apartment, a building where he says he saw drug deals go down on a daily basis. We even stopped by his high school, a place he admits he “actually misses.” I also wanted to see Lamar in the studio. When we arrived, we found a small dark disheveled room in the back of a small house. It has been his place to record for years, and while it is not perfect by any means, sort of like the city of Compton, Kendrick Lamar hopes to help change that with his music.

 

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