Volunteering with video gaming lounge in L.A.

By Steven Brasley

I spent the first half of my senior year away from Ithaca in sunny Los Angeles, taking part in the Ithaca College Los Angeles Program. Before leaving the Northeast, I had concerns about adjusting to the new environment; one of which was especially how I would find opportunities for community service in the city. I worked myself into a strict routine for service in Ithaca: volunteer at South Hill Elementary on Monday and Wednesdays, do my group service project at the allotted time, spend Friday nights reading short stories with Longview residents. I had to break that routine in L.A., and it was surprisingly easy to do so. The L.A. Program has plenty of resources to find community service events, and I jumped at the chance to do several of them.

My first opportunity involved joining a group of my classmates at the Blacklight Run, a nighttime half-marathon that raises money for local charities. I haven’t run too many half-marathons in my lifetime, but this one was a blast; with techno music blaring at each checkpoint and fluorescent powder covering your clothes, face, hair and arms that glows beautifully under black light, this was a unique race. From what I could tell, the race was hardly the point of the Blacklight Run. It was a chance for members of the L.A. community to get together and get active in a fun environment while raising money for a good cause. As a temporary resident of the city, I felt happy to be included in this and another local event, the L.A. AIDS Walk, which took place a week after the Blacklight Run.

Surprisingly, the best charity event I helped with was not through the L.A. Program but rather through my internship at HD Films in North Hollywood. HD Films is the home of 1337 Lounge Live, a high-tech video gaming lounge that broadcasts online 24/7. I had the privilege of helping out with a huge charity event on the first weekend of November, a 25-hour gaming marathon during which we raised money for two organizations: Extra Life, which raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network, and PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. It was a hectic day, but a redeeming one. I spent most of my time running around behind the scenes creating prize packs to raffle off to donors — then spending the next two weeks organizing the prizes into packages to be shipped out. While it was quite a rush organizing the hourly prizes, my work paid off. By creating some great incentives for people to donate, 1337 Lounge Live wound up raising more than $15,000 for the two charities. It was an amazing night that made me proud to be who I am: a geek who likes to give back.

And how did I reward myself after working that hard at the charity gaming marathon? Well, I somehow still had enough energy to head to Disneyland the next day! A weekend of hard but rewarding community service really paid off in the end, making that first weekend in November the very best one to be a Park Scholar in the City of Angels.


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