Sharon Springer, Assistant to EngAGE C.O.O., reports on a wonderful intergenerational project involving Burbank Senior Artists Colony Residents and an ambitious Girl Scout:
On the eve of her birthday, a 9-year old Girl Scout informed her parents that, as a 10-year old, she intended to raise “a lot of money” for her local animal shelter. Catherine de Wolff, a Burbank resident since birth, is a passionate animal advocate and loves origami. She is a single-minded young individual and it was no surprise to her family when she approached Sharon Springer, a friend of the family, and inquired about getting EngAGE, the nonprofit for which Sharon works, involved. It was Catherine’s idea to combine her two passions, animals and origami, to raise money for the Burbank Animal Shelter. Could EngAGE help? Catherine recruited her friend and neighbor, Simreen Kaur Sethi, and presented her Origami 4 Animals idea to EngAGE Executives. The idea was embraced by the organization because of its longstanding commitment to multi-generational programming and projects, and by the end of their presentation, EngAGE had signed on as sponsor of the initiative. It was decided that Catherine would lead origami folding workshops that involved the senior residents at the Burbank Senior Artists Colony (BSAC) and other interested members of the Burbank Community. Catherine’s plan was to then use the origami created to raise funds and build awareness for the Burbank Animal Shelter.
“We saw Catherine’s idea as a way for our senior residents, with their wisdom and experience, to nurture and guide her through her first leadership position and make her dream a reality,” Springer stated. “The seniors would learn something new and their connection to the community would be enhanced, and Catherine would provide a much needed donation to the Burbank Shelter. In our culture, our elders are often pushed to the back and dismissed as old and feeble with little to contribute. Childhood dreams can also be pushed aside as silly ideas with little chance of succeeding. Magical and amazing things can happen when we overlook our biases, prejudices, and other preconceived notions and work in a spirit of collaboration, and understanding. Indeed, they happened in this situation!”
Together, the residents of BSAC, Catherine’s collective of young motivated girls and other community recruits spent the months of September and October creating hundreds of origami swans, cranes, baskets, dogs, cats, frogs and other forms.
On the first Saturdays of October and November, Catherine and her friends set up a table outside the Burbank Farmers Market at 7:30 am, and spent the day raising funds for the Burbank Animal Shelter, giving away nearly all their origami creations in the process. Any donation amount was enthusiastically accepted and the girls exuberantly thanked passing donors with gifts of origami.
“My friends and I had an amazing experience,” Catherine said, “working with the senior residents, and meeting all the wonderful and generous people in my City who supported our work with their donations to the animals.”
Less than two months after the first donation was made, Catherine succeeded in meeting her fundraising goal. On Tuesday, December 15th, at the invitation of the Burbank City Council, she presented a check to the Burbank Animal Shelter, in the sum of $1,131.07. The culmination of one girl’s vision and tenacity, combined with the spirit, enthusiasm, and generosity of a whole community.
See this article in the 12/15 Burbank Leader and the following photos for more.