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First things first: thanks to the efforts of Morayo Orija and some terrific actors, nearly four hundred kids from sixteen elementary school classes got to see another live play last month at the Stella Adler. We have never taken in a less than superb show at this famous Hollywood theatre and acting academy, and the offering this November was no exception. Bravo to cast members Salim Aliaga, Caitlin Apparcel, Arleen Braithwaite, Carlo Figlio, Ida Nilsen and Cari Ramos. Your audience raved about you!
This was the last show that TransitPeople will take in at the Adler ... or, for that matter, anywhere else. We are officially closing up shop, 42,000+ children and fifteen years after our first February, 1999 trip to the zoo. We booked a record-setting slate of trips in October and November largely because teacher-trip leaders knew that we were on our last dollars, and that they wouldn't be able to travel with us in 2014.
We stopped raising funds in April, 2011, as noted in a 2011 news post. We were blessed with a formidable piggy bank, and have been able to book all requested trips for teacher-trip leaders in the two and a half years since then. But funds have now been officially exhausted. We're ready to close.
This web site was, is and always will be paid for personally by yours truly, and will live on, at least for awhile. The online transit lesson still gets plenty of traffic; it would be a shame to take it offline. But transitpeople.org will be a memorial to a no-longer operational organization. We're through. The phone number has been disconnected, and transitpeople.org emails will soon be taken offline. Those who really need to touch base can send an old-fashioned letter to the P.O. Box. I pay for that with personal funds, too.
That's almost everything.
I started TransitPeople, so will treat myself to a few closing thoughts.
• If you donated to TransitPeople, your charitable dollars likely went farther with us than they would have with nearly any other non-profit. Visit the Foundation Center online, and compare the tax returns of a few non-profits with the 990 Finder. You'll soon discover what a walloping big share of a nonprofit's resources go to salaries. That's not a criticism, and I'd argue with anyone who thinks it should be. Bigger organizations simply require paid staff. Eventually we would have, too.
But we got by without salaries for fifteen years, and that means that the dollars you donated to TransitPeople went a long, long way. Please don't think for a nanosecond that you wasted your money on a gift to an extinct organization. Those kids got to go to the Aquarium because of you. I was grateful when you sent the check, and am as grateful as ever today.
• I still feel humbled and a little awed by the selfless generosity of many, many people I met through TransitPeople. Maybe that's the hidden perk of involvement with an all-volunteer nonprofit for children. You reap what you sow; I'm sure I wouldn't have met that caliber of homo sapiens if I'd devoted my discretionary hours to, say, promoting a discount cigarettes franchise.
I have to single out our first volunteer trip leaders, because most had no professional experience working with children, but were still willing to guide teachers and their classes on train and bus rides. Sean Bloch, Arianne Campbell, Denisse Castillo, Nelly Caywood, Michael Chien, Sam Davis, Anselmo Freijo, Suzanne Gordon, Jill Goularte, Angela Han, Jon Jensen, Perias Pillay, Amy Sheren and Joe Wilder together clocked hundreds of hours chaperoning thousands of children on our trips. (Perias Pillay led well over a hundred trips on his own.) Some also served on our board of directors.
Most trips in our later years were conducted by teachers who qualified to lead trips on their own. Teachers are usually swamped with work, and expect to be paid for the workshops and trainings they attend for their school districts. TransitPeople couldn't pay them a dime, but still required teacher-leaders to complete an introductory class, first aid certification, adult/infant/child CPR, successful performance on an evaluation trip and biennial refresher courses (although the refresher course requirement was dropped as we neared our close). Busy teachers had only one reason to set aside afternoons and weekends to jump through those hoops: they knew the trips were worthwhile, and wanted their students to have them.
I also was privileged to work with many dedicated staff at the venues we visited. The Stella Adler treated us to dozens of top notch performances from 2000 on, and never charged us a penny. (I can still picture director John Jack Rodgers at the counter in one of the academy's back rooms, calmly serving up after-the-show milk and cookies to hordes of children.) Jessica Rivas not only hosted us at Heritage Square, but also served as a de facto ambassador for our 2009 Transit Race there. Joyce Ung, LAPL Central librarians and volunteer docents always bent over backward for us. The list goes on: Erin, Linda and Amy at the Aquarium, Patty at Debs Audubon, the great guides at the Wells Fargo History Museum.
When TransitPeople began, I assumed that the fortunes managed by Southern California charitable foundations could be tapped only by the socially well-connected. That assumption wasn't entirely wrong (frankly), but there are also exceptions, or we would never have gotten as far as we did. I was pleasantly surprised to meet program officers who didn't care who we knew, as long as we spent the money well and did a good job. Every donor listed on the contributors page falls into that category. They supported us on our merits.
Thank you, Mary Molnar, for the hours you donated to prepare our tax returns. Thank you, Tom Himrod, for helping us get TransitPeople off the ground, and thank you, David Schack, for helping us establish the teacher-trip leader program. We never would have obtained free transit privileges (while we had them) without the intervention of the late MTA chief Julian Burke; I don't know if the dead can be thanked, but I'll try anyway.
Thank you, Ruth Cuadra, for everything you did to help with the 2009 Transit Race, and thank you, Allison Yoh, Damien Newton and many others, for joining us that day. Thank you, Anthony Vazquez, for taking some of the terrific early shots that graced our web site. I know I'm leaving out names, and know I'll kick myself for my omissions later.
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I think that's all. I maintain a sporadically updated blog at transitophile.com; you can keep track of me there, if you wish. Adios!
-- Tim Adams
1/16/13: Boy Who Cried Wolf at Stella Adler
This live show is absolutely free for Southern California schools, and it's coming to the Stella Adler for nine 10:30 a.m. weekday shows this January and February.
Here's the description:
The Adler's subway-centric Hollywood and Highland theatre can handle up to seventy-five students per show, and all shows conclude with a question and answer session with the performers. This is live theatre, folks! Maybe there's no such thing as a bankable sure thing in the teaching life, but a matinee at the Stella Adler comes pretty close. Every show we've ever seen there has been superb. No exceptions, no qualifications. This one will be, too.
If you're already a TransitPeople teacher-leader, you know what to do to sign up your class. If not, please be invited to pick up the phone and call the Adler's ever gracious Rochelle Rossman. (323) 465-4446.