This item appeared in the local newspaper about a wonderful not-for-profit organization on whose board I’m privileged to serve. I want to share it with those of you who appreciate the value that volunteer organizations in this country provide to those in need.

The Exceptional Children’s Foundation (ECF) is tapping into the time, talent and energy of local up-and-coming young professionals through the creation of a Young Leaders Board. The first fundraiser, held recently at the Crescent Hotel in Beverly Hills, attracted 112 young adults and raised more than $10,000 for ECF, a nonprofit serving 2,300 children and adults with developmental disabilities in Los Angeles County.

Lauren Abell, an eighth-grade English teacher at the Brentwood School, created and serves as chairperson of the Young Leaders Board. Abell’s family has been actively involved with ECF for three generations. Abell realized that the only opportunities available to young adults to participate in charitable fund-raising is either through large organizations where the charity only wants a check or through organizations connected to their parents. In checking with other local philanthropic entities, she found that very few offered involvement opportunities for adults aged 25 to 35.

Abell approached Dr. Scott Bowling, ECF’s president and CEO, who supported her proposal and submitted it to the ECF board of directors for approval. With the help of friends, relatives and business associates, an initial meeting was held where 15 people learned about ECF for the first time and all enthusiastically agreed to get involved. What resulted was beyond everyone’s expectations. Abell noted that people attended for not only the opportunity to be involved as leaders for their generation to become involved in philanthropy, but also for the social and networking opportunities.

“ECF has always been a part of my life,” said Abell. “Through the Young Leaders Board, I hope to work with my peers to provide other young professionals with the opportunity to become personally, actively involved with an organization that helps so many children and adults maximize their life achievements.”

The Young Leaders Board is already considering its future event plans and providing involvement opportunities for its board members. Abell noted that she is already receiving unsolicited requests from people to join ECF’s Young Leaders Board.

“The Young Leaders Board is precisely the kind of forward thinking that has and will continue to set ECF apart from other nonprofit organizations,” said Dr. Bowling. “With Lauren’s vision and leadership, I am buoyed by the possibilities of what this group could accomplish.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the Young Leaders Board can contact the Young Leaders Board at

ECF is one of California’s largest nonprofit organizations serving children and adults with developmental, learning and emotional disabilities. It is the only organization of its kind in California that provides a full range of programs for disabled individuals, from birth through the senior years. Serving Los Angeles County for more than 60 years, ECF’s highly regarded programs include Early Start, day activity programs, fine arts training, vocational training, supported employment, residential services and the Kayne Eras Center, which provides educational and therapeutic services and K-12 education. For more information, visit or call 310-204-3300.

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