People Who Move Us: Dr. Susan Silbert of One Voice LA

One Voice LA

One Voice LA volunteers sorting and packaging gifts for the Holiday Program.

Dr. Susan Silbert is the Founder & Executive Director of One Voice LA. The mission of the non-profit organization is to provide goods, services and opportunities to families and students struggling against poverty. This includes everything from crisis intervention to long-term programs to support those in need. One Voice LA also provides ways for the rest of the community to become involved.

One Voice LA logoThe Origins of Once Voice LA

Dr. Susan Silbert completed her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of California Los Angeles and a Master’s in Criminology from the University of California Berkeley.  Subsequently, she earned a PhD in Sociology from the University of Southern California. Then for the next 18 years, Dr. Silbert taught Sociology at universities. 

In fall 1982, Dr. Silbert was teaching Sociology at California State University Northridge. For their final projects, her class coordinated a holiday food drive for 70 needy families. This event sparked something special for all involved. The class wanted to continue to help others in need, so they created One Voice LA. 

Since then, Dr. Silbert has served as the organization’s Executive Director. Not surprisingly, five of the current One Voice Board Members were students from that 1982 CSUN Sociology class. Now an array of programs designed to ease the suffering of low-income families in Los Angeles are offered. 

Current Programs At One Voice LA

Their programs change lives and give people hope. They inspire action and compassion. Moreover, they have a lasting positive impact on the community.

Scholars ProgramScholars Program

Since 1990, this program helps low income students to pursue higher education on college-provided scholarships. The results are impressive; 100% of the One Voice Scholars gain college admission and 95% go on to graduate.

Family Assistance ProgramFamily Assistance Program

The Emergency Relief and Family Program provides immediate intervention and relief services to low income families in crisis situations. Head Start agencies identify families in critical need. They then make direct referrals to One Voice LA.

Barbara Stevens Camp ProgramBarbara Stevens Summer Camp

This program benefits low income youth who have never been away from home or on a vacation. It provides one week of a summer camp experience at a YMCA or UCLA Unicamp located in the surrounding Los Angeles-area mountains.

One Voice LA - Holiday Program - Face PaintingHoliday Program

Each year the One Voice LA Holiday Food Program provides Christmas fresh food baskets, toys and books to 2,500 Los Angeles-area needy families (12,500 people). Referred through the Head Start Program, the families therefore meet federal and state mandated poverty levels. Over four days and nights, 2000 volunteers give their time to help with the packing and distribution.

Says volunteer Gina Wingate regarding the Holiday Program: “Volunteering at One Voice LA is magical! The first night we pack gift bags for families with holiday music playing… the energy is warm, sweet and fun. A couple of days later, we hand out meals… Having direct contact with the families is so special. We can’t wait to participate every year!

Get Involved with One Voice LA   

All photos courtesy of One Voice LA.

 *         *         *         *         *

What do you think of One Voice LA? Do you have a personal experience that prompted you to take up a cause? Feel free to share your thoughts below.