Santa Monica College hosts its Celebrate America fireworks show today, June 29, a patriotic event with filled with food, music and more, all in the name of celebrating the nation’s independence.
While the event is a flashy spectacle complete with a signature firework display, a person that underwrites a large portion of the event makes their own fireworks fly with philanthropy.
Local realtor Tami Halton Pardee has been a philanthropic light show of her own for several years now. She has donated her own time, money and percentages of her real estate sales to a number of good causes, including SMC’s Celebrate America.
According to an SMC official, Celebrate America costs roughly $50,000. Halton Pardee has donated a $5,000 to the event for six years now, covering a tenth of the entire events costs.
“I just love SMC and this community,” Halton Pardee said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for so many people. It’s not super expensive to go there and it’s a great education, a great feeder school. I really believe in and love the whole concept. I like to call it ‘The Great Equalizer.’”
Some would call Halton Pardee the same name; she has one foot in the world of selling upscale, Westside properties to the wealthy with her real estate company Halton Pardee + Partners, Inc. and also has one foot planted—firmly—in the world of helping the less fortunate with her Life Change Warriors nonprofit, though she’s been giving back in some way since she was a child, most notably helping reunite a runaway with her family.
After a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis in 2001, Halton Pardee took life coaching lessons to reasses what she found important in life. Family and friends will always take priority in these life assessment situations but what Halton Pardee and soon others discovered, the surrounding community was right at the top of the list.
“I always thought when I was young, ‘I want to help people, I want to give back,’” Halton Pardee said. “I had all these ideas and I thought, ‘Why not start now?’”
One organization that greatly benefited from the Life Change Warriors organization are Harvest Home, a Venice residential program that assists homeless and pregnant women and Life Change Warriors first clients.
Sarah Wilson, Executive Director of Harvest Home, first met Halton Pardee around 5 years ago. While having been peripherally aware of Halton Pardee, Wilson says she was pleasantly taken aback by Halton Pardee’s hands-on, personable approach to philanthropy.
“She comes in—from a different socioeconomic level, obviously—but the first thing she does is tell her story to these women; trauma in past, going through her medical problems, difficulties she’s faced. Right from the beginning, walls were broken down. Even though their lives look different, it gave and continues to give hope. There’s genuine relationship and she cares about each and every one of these women.”
After meeting Harvest Home residents, Halton Pardee takes them through Life Change Warriors life coaching. The coaching identifies goals for the participants and additionally aids in making time for self-discovery, aiding in inward and outward growth.
“It’s a process of looking back at where they’ve come from, looking at where they want to be, and how to get where they want to be,” Wilson said.
Harvest Home says the program’s success rate is perfect, taking about 15-20 of their women through the process. Wilson says program participants have hit goals ranging from repairing a relationship with children they lost custody of, completing a GED program and finding stable work.
“She does a great job of connecting and really in believing in people,” Wilson said.
In her career of giving, Halton Pardee has been nominated for Philanthropist of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal and has donated over $1.3 million to local charities through her sales and an additional near-million through Life change Warriors. These numbers will continue to grow, Halton Pardee says, because giving is what truly rewards Halton Pardee.
“I feel like everyone should be given a home, a chance at life, a chance to be treated like a human being,” she said. “I want to move people forward and let them try to live their best life. I want people to find how that is.”
SMC will present “Celebrate America” on Saturday, June 29, at Corsair Field on the main SMC campus at 1900 Pico Blvd.. Admission to the entertainment and fireworks spectacular is free. Entertainment begins at 6 p.m. The fireworks are scheduled for 9 p.m. Parking is $5. Parking lots open at 4 p.m. (enter at Pico Blvd. and 17th St.), with Corsair Field gates opening at 5 p.m. There will be no pre-show entry to parking lots after 8:15 p.m., or to Corsair Field after 8:45 p.m. See smc.edu/MapsDirections for location details.
angel@smdp.com

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