Hometown Hero NULL

Even though they may live a short distance from the beach or the mountains, there are some children in Los Angeles and Ventura counties who have never seen them. Learning Through Doing Adventures aims to change that by offering hands-on outdoor education and recreation for these disadvantaged youth as well as outreach opportunities for children from more comfortable backgrounds in Agoura Hills and nearby.

Founder and Agoura Hills resident Jonathan Dunker took his background in outdoor and special education, and combined the two for an enriching experience for inner-city children. Since 2006, more than 2,500 children with special needs or socioeconomic disadvantages from Los Angeles and Ventura counties have participated in what Dunker calls a unique opportunity.

"We deal with kids who have been in homeless shelters, foster care, and at-risk youth who may live in impoverished areas, and just kids who need some direction in their lives," Dunker said. "Realizing we live here in Agoura Hills or Malibu or Calabasas, but we're kind of isolated from the other areas, so let's try and bring these populations of kids together."

From sports to food preparation to team building exercises, the goal is to raise self esteem and open doors for further education opportunities.

In the past, the nonprofit organization has paired with West Hollywood Elementary School, along with HEART in Education, for field trips to Geoffrey's Restaurant in Malibu for an introduction to vocational opportunities, as well as field trips to Leo Carrillo State Beach to learn about tide pool animals.

The kids show a significant increase in knowledge about the city of Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains after participating in the trips, said Dunker.

Learning Through Doing Adventures board President Faye Berriman works alongside Dunker on outreach efforts, when children from Agoura Hills and surrounding areas go on field trips and outdoor adventures with kids from more difficult circumstances. Berriman said such interaction helps prepare the children to become active contributors to society.

"Jonathan is the whole engine behind it," said Berriman, who also works as the organization's bookkeeper. "He works very hard and loves the kids, and asks for very little in return. You see how little money we make, and it all goes to the kids and transportation costs and camp costs and it goes back to the kids."

Nearly half of the organization is dedicated to outdoor exploration and a summer camp. Learning Through Doing Adventures also collaborates with local organizations such as School on Wheels, Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles and Earth Protect. California state curriculum standards are incorporated into the programs as well.

"Through the experience of doing things and touching things and holding things, they learn to respect themselves and other people and plants," Berriman said. "From the moment they get there to when they leave, they'll say, 'Oh, I've never seen that. Now I know what it looks like.' "

Ruth Glass, Dunker's onetime boss and a former president of Learning Through Doing Adventures, praised him for creating a program that incorporates special needs children. Glass was the principal of private school Heavenly Odyssey in Las Flores Canyon when Dunker taught outdoor education there and adapted the curriculum for special education.

"Jonathan is somebody who can figure out how to teach anybody anything, and how to represent it in a way that kids can learn regardless of their learning style, physical limitation or otherwise," Glass said. "He's hardworking with amazing sense of humor. When you're all doing something that you say, 'OK, we can't do it anymore,' he'll slip in the humor and everybody takes that breath and says, 'OK, we can.' "

Glass has teamed up with Dunker again to pilot a program offering academic support for high school basketball players so that they have the necessary grade point average and test scores to go on to college and maybe continue on to a professional basketball career.

"It's incredibly innovative and very typical of what Jonathan tries to do," Glass said.

During the tough economy, Dunker said his nonprofit organization has struggled to stay afloat, but he finds so much joy working with these children that he's not giving up.

"As much as the economy tells you that there's no way you can sustain this type of program, you also have the kids out there who need these services and when there's a need, you find a way to make it work," he said. "This type of program can work if we can provide something that's not being done, something that's outside the box, something that really is novel in a system that is broken."

http://agourahills.patch.com/articles/hometown-hero-jonathan-dunker

Submitted by Anonymous


Giving Back
Pass It On®
Pass It On®

  email

Your Comments
Here are some other inspiring stories you might like.
ACHIEVEMENT
AXANA SOLTAN Axana’s steadfast commitment to service made her not only an international voice of activism, but also a champion for the minorities. For the year of 2018-2019, Axana was selected as one of the United Nations finalists to serve as the U.S.A Youth Observer at United Nations Headquarters. The following year, Axana...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
STRENGTH
ANDRE D On May 2, 2014 Andre' MY HUSBAND at the age of 42 suffered a massive heart attack, he was without oxygen to his brain for several minutes. It caused an Anoxic Brain Injury and other problems such as cortical blindness, seizures and he is bedridden for the rest of his life and resides in a nursing home. The...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
MENTORING
MISTY WELLS 5 Years ago Misty saw a need in children in Foster Care and she took action. For the past 5 years going strong Misty started a non profit called " A Reel Future" where she takes children in Group Foster Care fishing. She has single handed taken over 3,000 foster children fishing. She is showing them...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
FAMILY
PAT C Next to his faith in God, the most important thing in my Dad’s life was his family; my Mom who was the love of his life, his kids, grandkids, great grandkids, brothers, and sisters. One of the ways he made life better for all of us and left his fingerprint on our lives was through the use of what I like to call...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
COMPASSION
CHARLIE SCHULZ My son, Charlie, was an inspiration to many during his 19 years on this earth. When Charlie was in 5th grade, despite what we learned later was severe social anxiety, their strong sense of what was right led them to circulate petitions among their 5th grade schoolmates and write and present a statement (through...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
PEACE
DANA W Grieving (Fly High Dana Wilson Jr.) On March 7, 2022 my only little brother passed away at home in his bed. This has been one of the hardest things to deal with. I dont think a day goes by that i dont find myself breaking down crying. I think my eyes are puffy did alot of crying yesterday..omg this is really...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
KINDNESS
MOTHER TERESA Mother Teresa was born in Albania and left her home country very early in life. She lived in Ireland to learn English, and ultimately went to India where she resided until her death. She was a beacon of hope for many. She did not look to caste, class, religion, skin color, or any other identity to separate...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
CARING
BETTY DRUCK I want to tell you about my grandmother,she is in her late 50's,she has spent everyday of her life caring for everyone she meets.She has had multiple surgeries and other problems of her own and yet she has given everything for her family,she has spent every christmas with my dad,even when she was in other...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
CARING
TISH R My former wife is an amazing individual. She works as a behavior analyst, and has been helping injured others achieve a much greater quality of life. In one of my proudest specific memories, she facilitated a transition for a man who was in an ALF, brain-injured, from wearing diapers in a wheelchair to...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
BEING THERE
BK SAINI SAINI My husband helped me since he knew me since 1975. He is there for me every single day. He is so kind all the time. He took care of me during any need except not when he is at the job. He comes at home if any emergency arrives. For God’s grace he was never called till today. I still remember when our second baby...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
WISDOM
JAHSEH O There are many heros I look up to, but Jahseh Onfroy helped me through the darkest times in my life. His music did not only help me but it helped countless people. When he spoke to us, it was always about growing and becoming better than what we are. I have learned many valuable lessons from him, and I constantly...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
BRAVERY
HARRIET TUBMAN Harriet Tubman freed 300 slaves she was so brave that is why she is my hero
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
KINDNESS
WENDY T Wendy was my wife of 4 years. We dated in high school, over 30 years ago. Eight years ago, we reconnected, and fell in love all over again. I quickly became attuned to why she was so special: Her kindness. I had never met anyone before, who showed as much kindness to everybody, as Wendy had. It wasn't one...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
LOVE
AMARA OKEKE My hero is my late mother Since 2000, she fells sick. She was diabetic, all my life I have taken care of her , I abandoned my school, my Visa and career to taken care of her , after 19 years of my sufferings she died last two Saturdays..I was actually 6 years when I started cooking, doing house chores for my...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
LORI R. In 2012 Lori, along with her then high school age daughter Shira, began to keep their vehicle filled with pet supplies to hand out to the pets living on the streets of Riverside, CA with their homeless companions. They would give out pet food, leashes, collars and water so the pets would be fed well and kept...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
HELPING OTHERS
SAWYER A. After learning about children and families in the poverty-stricken villages of Zambia; a country in south-central Africa, Sawyer Anderson wanted to help bring clean, safe water to the villagers. At age 9, Sawyer wrote and illustrated the book, Water Works, which is published in America, Vietnam (in Vietnamese)...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
Where did your values come from?

We've all had people in our lives who have made a positive impact on us. A parent or grandparent, a sibling who was there for us, or maybe even just a guy who shines shoes for a living? Whoever they are, tell us their story so they can inspire us even more.

Tell Us Your Story All Everyday Hero Stories