(L-R) Arik Kraft, Development Director, Natalie Alpert, Social Media Manager and Sienna Monnier. Credit: Youth Animal Rescue Initiative

A dedicated group of young volunteers is trying to make other young people more aware about the depressingly high number of animals that suffer without our help A group of young animal lovers, aged between 10 and 18 who call themselves the Youth Animal Rescue Initiative (YARI) is looking to boost awareness, raise more funds and recruit more volunteers as the countdown to the return to school ticks down.

“Our inspiration behind starting YARI was we really just wanted to create a platform where we can inspire people our age to fundraise, take initiative and learn leadership skills that can be applied to any field if they’re interested in,” says Sienna Monnier, President of YARI.

“But right now,” she says, “We’re focused on helping animals, especially with helping our rescue partners, we’re partnered with six different non-profits. We’d love to have our own rescue, but as teenagers, it’s not really realistic for us. So we just want to provide as much support financially and through events and outreach to the rescues we work with as possible.”

The initiative describes itself as “a group of passionate and confident young activists who strive to provide support for animal rescues while empowering young leaders.” According to their website, “Through extensive education in what it means to be an activist, we aim to give our members the skills they need to make positive changes in their communities and the world. YARI members will learn fundraising, outreach, and leadership techniques while actively supporting California animal rescues.”

Monnier herself is no stranger to campaigning for the rescue and welfare of animals. She’s about to restart school in the 11th grade at ​​Palisades Charter High School and already she co-founded the 501c3 non-profit organization Bubbles Dog Rescue and is co-president of Pali’s Smiles Pet Club.

Monnier says that they started fundraising events in the Pacific Palisades area because that’s where most of the group goes to school, “But we were contacted by the Santa Monica Main Street Farmers Market and they connected us with a great, local dog food company called Migos Dog Food. We did our first event on 23 July with them at The Victorian and we had two of our partner rescues come along.”

“Right now, all of our partners are non-profit rescue. So we don’t work with shelters at the moment. These rescues are saving animals from the crowded shelters and off the street, owner surrenders and everything like that,” Monnier says, adding, “But there’s a huge animal crisis in Los Angeles and not that many people know about it, especially teenagers. but the shelters also need help as well. So hopefully we can expand to that in the future. But right now, we are just focused on helping the rescues that are saving the cats and dogs from the shelters.”

“We also want to provide an education for younger kids and teens, so that they learn how best to fundraise and how best to get involved in activism and to advocate for what they believe in. So a lot of our meetings involve providing an education, listening to people who already run animal rescues. We get to learn what they’ve learned and then we can offer help,” Gigi Appelbaum, Director of Communications said.

Visit their website at theyari.org for more information on forthcoming fundraiser events and how you can contribute and donate to this worthy cause.


Scott fell in love with Santa Monica when he was much younger and now, after living and working in five different countries, he has returned. He's written for the likes of the FT, NBC, the BBC and CNN.