Teaches Reading, Writing, Drawing, English
Give a Smile?
We are trying to give each of our Students a $15 Barnes & Noble
Gift card—can you help us?
Please donate one, or more $15 barnes & Nobles Gift cards.
2 ways to donate:
- click on red button on right hand, or
- send a check to:
Artists of America
645 W. 9th Street Unit 110-189
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1640
Why a Barnes & Noble Gift Card?
So each 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grader can experience the
joy of walking into a real Bookstore and picking out
Whatever Book they want!
This is a life-changing event In a small child’s life.
YOU are the Instrument of Change!
Please give as many Barnes & Noble gift cards as you can.
Our goal? 150 cards. How many have we got
So far? 50. We need your help.
It’s a tax deduction, And you are
Giving a Smile!
Here are the winners from last year's Cartoon Art Awards.
The contest theme was: "What I like best about America"
and all the students in our Cartoon Classes at Laurel Elementary School in Whittier participated.
(We have a waiting list of 100 children who want to take the classes.)
Why are they not in our classes? We don't have enough funds for more classes.
Can you help? $10 gives a child an art class.
Meet AOA'S DIRECTOR OF THE CARTOON CLASS PROGRAM:
Mel Schoenberger, Master Cartoonist, teaches cartooning and art at
Laurel Elementary School in Whittier, CA
Mel Schoenberger is 84 years young. When he was a boy, he wanted to grow up and play baseball for the major leagues or become a cartoonist. By the time he turned 18, a little thing called World War II got in the way. When he finished his two and a half-year commitment to the Navy, his dreams of playing professional baseball had faded. He got a job as a cartoonist for a newspaper where he had his own comic strip and also did layouts for the advertising department.
That was over sixty years ago and when most people his age are retired and resting on their laurels, Mel has continued to bring laughter – to people from around the world. In 2002, Mel traveled to Changchun, China and taught cartooning at Jilin Animation College and was its first American professor. His eyes sparkle as he recalls Ms Liu, the dean, was so concerned about what he could eat, that her mother-in-law was his personal chef. “But she thought the only thing I wanted to eat was eggs. I had boiled eggs for breakfast, egg sandwiches for lunch and omelets for dinner. In about a week, I wanted to kill every laying hen in China!”
It was the highlight of his life, he said, and he doubted anything would top it. But that was before Mel became a volunteer teacher for Artists of America, teaching cartooning to foster, homeless and children in the lower socio-economic level. He organized free art classes for the students in Laurel Elementary School in 2006 and every year since then, teaches them that they can draw anything, using basic shapes and simple lines.
At the same time, the kids refine their motor skills; improve their vocabulary, spelling, grammar and penmanship. They learn about perspective, cause and effect as they do story boarding, character development and story line. To tie the students in to the community, Mel takes them to the senior residence called La Posada in Whittierfor lunch. Each student sits with a couple, their adopted grandparents, and while they eat, show their art and describe the inspiration behind the drawing. “I think the seniors enjoy the event almost as much as the children,” said David Wilkens, Administrator.
At the end of the school year, Mel organizes the annual Cartoon and Art Contest where students compete for prizes such as trips to Disneyland, Universal Studios, the San Diego Zoo and PacificPark. “I like to think that every student is a winner,” he said as he placed free admission tickets to Whittier Village Cinemas in envelopes. Each year the event draws more attention. This past year, the Mayor of Whittier, Joe Vinatieri, was among the political figures who addressed the students at the event.
“The kids have genuine love and affection for Mel Schoenberger, and it's apparent that he feels the same way about them. He has touched the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of kids in Whittier. And, he has made positive changes in their lives which will make their futures brighter and the community stronger,” said the Mayor.
The Mayor’s sentiment was echoed by Bill Baca, who represented State Senator Gloria Romero. Also present were the State Assembly Member Charles M Calderon, Assemby Member Tony Mendoza and his wife and daughter, Sammi. Also present was Sally Cardenas the director of off-campus programs for Whittier College. It was through office that we got our intern teachers, Makana Richards and Lovvet Hollis.
In the audience were proud parents, family members and friends who came to cheer for the students. The biggest moment was when the winners were announced for a special drawing for tickets donated by the StapelsCenter.
Mel teaches children that face problems at home and some who don't have homes at all. In most of those cases, it's too hard for them to understand, much less talk about what's going on in their lives. Such was the case of a little homeless girl, who seemed to always manage to attend Mel's cartoon class.
Mel's heart is almost as big as his six foot frame. So he establed a scholarship fund for the student and arranged for his church to give her mother a gift card from a local grocery store.
“We couldn’t have provided these years of free art classes at Laurel Elementary without the support of our sponsors,” said Diedre Burke, President of Artists of America. “There are hard costs that are underwritten by donations and contributions. And, since we want to expand our program to include Orchard Dale and Leffingwell elementary schools in Whittier, we are seeking grants and other sources of funding.”
Update: In 2009, Mel was awarded Bank of America's Local Hero Award in recongition of his contribution to the quality of life for so many individuals.
Of Course, Mel has always been OUR HERO!