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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Los Angeles Maritime Institute

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Crime & Law, Human Services, Marine Science & Oceanography, Recreation & Sports, Sports, Technology, Youth Violence Prevention

Mission: The Los Angeles Maritime Institute (LAMI) serves to empower youth to discover their greater potential through extraordinary at-sea experiences aboard the tall ships Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson. Sail training uses the experience of being at sea, as part of the ship's crew, as a means to help youth learn about themselves, discover hidden strengths and talents, understand the value of working as a team, and develop 21st century leadership skills.

Results: Sail training requires youth to confront many demanding challenges, both physical and emotional. It inspires self-confidence and personal responsibility. It promotes an acceptance of others whatever their social or cultural backgrounds, and develops a willingness to take controlled risks. For most youth who undertake sail training on a Tall Ship, it is a positive life-changing experience. Since our founding in 1993, we have served more than 60,000 youth in under-served communities throughout the Greater Los Angeles Area with transformational experiences at sea.

Target demographics: young people develop the problem solving and leadership skills needed for adult life, and discover maritime and marine biology career paths.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 3,500 youth

Geographic areas served: Title 1 schools and socio-economically challenged communities throughout Los Angeles County.

Programs: TopSail Youth Program, Student Ocean Scientist Program, Science at Sea Programs, Volunteer Youth Crew Program, Boat Building Program, Adventure Learning Voyages to Channel Islands.

Community Stories

74 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

When I was in 7th grade I sailed LAMI's brigantine, Exy Johnson on a four day voyage to Catalina Island. Although at first this may sound like a cruise on a yacht, in reality it is the complete opposite. Students become the crew and preform the duties of sailing a traditional sailing vessel. With the ship's 13 sails and a spider web of rigging, it is no easy task to get the boat moving. Under the direction of LAMI's professional crew, it is entirely possible though. I vividly remember first looking up at the masts and being in complete awe but also very overwhelmed. On our voyage, my peers and I were given opportunities to succeed and recover from failures. We learned how to overcome daunting challenges. We learned how to work as a team (even if we did not always get along). We learned to push our limits both mentally and physically. We learned that putting in 100% effort to a common cause has virtue. We were taught how to take on responsibility, and craved it. We learned to teach each other and to lend a hand when a fellow crew member struggled. Sailing a brigantine is HARD work. I fell asleep instantly every night in my bunk but was eager to wake up early with my friends to scrub the deck and prepare breakfast.By the end of the voyage the rig became far less daunting. I leaned a few of the lines, knew how to furl a square sail 80ft. above the deck and understood when to tie certain knots. Feeling handy and deck gave me a tremendous amount of confidence. I walked away from the boat on our last day feeling good about what I was capable of. LAMI helped me develop imperative skills that I will use throughout my entire life. I came away from LAMI loving tall ships. There is something about it that I just can't fully describe on a keyboard. Needless to say, it quickly became a passion and obsession. About a year after my life changing voyage with LAMI, I joined the professional crew of a topsail schooner in San Diego where I honed in my sailing skills. I have worked for a handful of marvelous sailboats since and will be applying for a captains license by the end of 2016. For me, LAMI not only taught me many skills that I will use throughout my life but also set me on a pathway that could quite possibly turn into my career. I can not think of four days that had nearly as much meaning as my time with LAMI.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My son did a 5-day Tall Ship camp last year. It was the best experience of his life. I have recommended it to everyone and we were so disappointed that Covid stopped the camp this year. I really hope that everyone can have the chance to experience these tall ships. What a window into our past!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a volunteer with the Topsail Youth Program at the Los Angeles Maritime Institute for 27 Years. I am certain, that for participants, the program delivers experiential learning. It verifies the effectiveness of teamwork. Participants step off the 100 ton Tall Ship knowing they have succeeded at something they could not have imagined themselves doing.

When considering Topsail and LAMI we must understand it's value. What is the value to our society of just one young person succeeding instead of failing at life? The answer ... Priceless!

1 Charlotte W.3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Great program! All the employees and board members are truely passionate about helping out the kids in the community. Can’t wait till all the programs can be in full swing again to sign up my son

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I joined the LAMI volunteer team 5 years ago, assisting in their small boat building program for local high school students. I then transitioned to helping reconstruct damaged tall ship components, and large components for our restoration of the tall ship, the Swift of Ipswich. I can say without hesitation that this program powerfully touches children with a gift of accomplishment that deeply broadens their individual horizons. The selfless giving, teaching, and coaching of the crew members, is only surpassed by the dedication that permeates the entire organization.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son learned confidence, self-esteem, leadership and social skills along with the incredible sailing and teambuilding abilities we knew would be part of his experience.
We look forward to years of adventures with LAMI.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Los Angeles Maritime Institute is amazing! Students come onboard often unsure about being on a boat out on the water. But after a few minutes their worries are eased as they become involve, working as crew on the ships. They work together to haul up the sails using muscles, teamwork, and simple machines. They are curious and wonder as the sails go up the masts, thinking about the science behind the sail set, or how all boats once were propelled this way. Crew is friendly and eager to have the students do the work on the boat. The ships are built for the students, so nothing is too advanced or hard for students to help with. The crew is enthusiastic and does their best to build student's confidence and form a crew-togetherness attitude onboard. The crew will also take time to answer any question the students have. Students spend time learning STEM lessons- pulling each other up with block and tackle systems, learning about pollution in the oceans, and looking at plankton (which they collected themselves) under a microscope. Students even get the chance to climb out on the bowsprit, placing their bodies overtop of the water- a real confidence builder. Students leave excited, curious, and full of new knowledge about tallships and the ocean.

LAMI also runs summer camps- an immersive science experience where students live onboard for a week and sail to Catalina Island. Public sails help fund education programs, and allow the public to experience the magic of the ocean.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The best thing about LAMI is the people. From the Executive Director all the way down to the volunteers and all of those in between, everyone is passionate about the experience they are bringing to the kids and the community.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

My son volunteers with LAMI and is excited to work with the crew as they show kids the excitement of being on the open sea. My wife and I have been on a few cruises and enjoyed the interactions with the crew and they are very professional in all aspects of sailing.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

LAMI is a 5 star nonprofit expanding the lives of our youth. Bringing out a life changing expreiance. How Wonderful!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

LAMA has been a leader in working with kids in the environment to help them understand their place in the world, and their responsibility as guardians and shepherds of the marine ecosystem for many years. While focusing on outdoor/environmental education they use "sail training" as an avenue to help children build confidence in their own abilities as well as give them opportunities to develop the teamwork and collaborative skills they will need in the modern workplace. Finally, sailing on a beautiful brigantine is a wonderful sensory and esthetic experience, one that the students will remember for the rest of their lives.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son Isaac started our relationship with LAMI in third grade with a class trip to the “tall ships” - these field trips build students’ skills in math and science, but most importantly their sense of wonder and adventure. Since that trip, we have enjoyed sunset sails, more class time and Isaac has even spent a week sailing and sleeping on these amazing vessels. We feel this practical connection to the ocean awakens the quest for knowledge and the seeds of responsibility for our oceans in hundreds of thousands of children served by LAMI! Love this organization of stalwart volunteers and adventurous educators, thanks again, LAMI!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Well organized, educational, safe and full of adventure. We love volunteering and going on the special sails.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

At 16 years of age, my class at Banning High School participated in a week long voyage to Catalina Island. I now reflect on that experience as a turning point in my life. Having grown up in a home with few resources, LAMI provided a sense of inclusion and a rich learning experience. A year later, LAMI organized a trip for several students to participate in the 2005 European Tall Ship race. It was my first long distance trip and one of the fondest memories of my life. Hal Barstow and several other amazing people took several kids to London, we visited Portsmouth, and set out from New Castle aboard Sorlandet, a Norwegian full brigantine which berths in Kristiansand. We sailed across the North Sea and arrived in Fredrikstad several days later, followed by a visit to Oslo and the surrounding area. That trip was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I hope LAMI keeps doing similar amazing things.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Los Angeles Maritime Institute has been a wonderful resource for my family and for the youth in the community. Not only does this fabulous program offer youth a chance to learn about the ocean, the environment, the maritime industry, and marine skills, additionally the program also provides an opportunity for our young people who have never been to the ocean an avenue to experience the Pacific Ocean and the California coast. All four of my kids have enjoyed the opportunities offered by LAMI. As a parent seeing how much fun my children were having, I wanted to take part too. LAMI provides opportunities for adults to volunteer. There is so much to learn and experience and LAMI makes it fun and accessible.

1 Art K.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Sailed with LAMI many times. Wonderful people! It's a real pleasure helping kids learn about sailing and the sea!

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began volunteering with LAMI after my son's science class took a week long voyage. He had so much fun that I had to join in. He continued with the Youth Crew and I became a crew member.

The education that the kids (trainees!) get can't be found anywhere else. It's not simply the science lessons like physics or astronomy or geometry, but the life lessons. Learning to plan and prepare meals for a lot of people, for instance. The best lessons are the personal ones like self-confidence (climbing the rigging there's nobody but you and the ship), team work (it takes a lot of people to manage the sails and get underway) and responsibility (standing watch at 2AM, or steering the ship.)

2 cscs1975

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've, personally, seen kids lives changed dramatically for the better.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

My experience with LAMI has been incredibly positive. I’ve been moved by their passion for the ocean, and drive to enrich young people’s lives by sharing the wonders of the sea.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My beautiful, brilliant nine-year-old daughter was also fearful and anxious much of the time. When I told her that LAMI was running an overnight experience for Girl Scouts of her age, she was initially thrilled. As the day grew closer, however, she became more and more anxious. When we boarded the beautiful Tallship, Exy Johnson, she was excited ... but also very nervous. But she had nothing to fear. The next 24 hours were absolutely wonderful. The crew guided her around every part of the ship. She learned sea shanties and celestial navigation. She bonded with her bunk mate and munched on snacks as the captain told stories into the night. It was a truly magical experience that expanded her horizons; I will forever be grateful to LAMI for providing her with that opportunity.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

During my volunteer work to help the Institute with their planning process, I was very impressed with the staff experience of tall ships, the passion for ocean sailing and the dedication to helping youths develop skill and gaining confidence. Their operational success is a reflection of a great team working so well together to fulfil the Institute's noble goal. So glad they are there to help shape an aspiring future generation.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

While I have never personally participated in this program, I think it is a wonderful thing the Institute does in providing opportunities for young people to get exposure to exploring the ocean which they might not otherwise have.

1 gregarice

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer for this group, and am really impressed with the engagement and enthusiasm of the young people their programs reach. I have seen young minds opened to new possibility, which keeps me motivated to give as much of my time as possible.

1 Julia J.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is an Amazing program not only for local kids but also for International kids such as our students from China to explore the ocean by sailing. The organization delivered high quality leadership with kindness and knowledge! We love our experience!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

They are willing to work with teachers locally, nationally and in other countries to assist in classroom education. Some of that education is on-board their tall sailing ships, and other components are virtual on-line with zooms into classes around the world
LAMI has awesome resources for teachers on-line. Complete course materials from elementary thru college. They take out 7,000 children a year!
Their field trips are an unforgettable experience for youth.
They also have the only bi-lingual community sails with an ecology focus, held monthly, in all of California.

1 Charles B.6

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I was part of this program as a child and it changed my life for ever.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

It’s always great to see the tall ships out with kids aboard. I sailed on a tall ship as a kid and had a blast and I love that they are still out there providing seamanship training to today’s youth!

2 Kim F.8

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Los Angeles Maritime Institute does incredible work for underserved children. On occasion they offer special community sails to the general public. I attended one of these voyages with my step son and daughter, one of whom has special needs. The crew on the tall ship made both children feel so welcomed and safe and treated them respectfully and individually. I saw the kids blossom with all the fun challenges of being on the boat... like climbing out onto the bowsprit... overcoming their fears and successfully manoeuvring around the lines system . Manning the steering wheel (under the trusty guidance of the captain) and navigating the narrow steep stairs to the sleeping cabins below... not so easy! They were filled with awe and wonder and got a much needed escape beyond our home or their classrooms. Seeing them so happy and feeling a part of a bigger community made me think we should be doing this all the time... getting out on the ocean and learning from our greatest teacher, mother nature. The staff were super lovely, knew their stuff and were inclusive and adaptive to both our children's needs. To know they provide this kind of awesome experience for kids who can't readily afford it, made my heart sing. I can't recommend LAMI highly enough.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have not participated, but I have supported the LAM Institute because I think they are doing spectacular work. They are providing an experience that could change the lives of students, and they provide an essential experience: first-hand knowledge! There is no better learning experience!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

LAMI serves a population of underprivileged and too often overlooked youth in a unique manner. It is only one of two such organizations in the Greater Los Angeles California area. Children learn valuable life lessons when aboard the several sailing vessels operated by LAMI. Among them are teamwork, planning, leading, STEM topics in the context of ship construction, maintenance, tool use, vessel operation, navigation, and safety. They gain confidence to attempt difficult tasks (under appropriate supervision), and through accomplishing those tasks, are motivated toward success in every other aspect of life. I have been associated with the organization for over thirty years. There is no more dedicated and capable staff than those guiding LAMI and educating their young charges. The majority of funding comes from charitable contributions. Without the ability to be funded in such a manner, regrettably LAMI would be unable to continue its essential mission. Just ask any child -- especially those who are now adults -- and they will tell you that LAMI changed their life for the better. And no doubt in a multi-generational way. Thank you for the opportunity to comment. Randle M Biddle - Windship Studios - Maritime Historian - Builder of Models of Ships

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Excellent way to get kids connected to the ocean and possible ocean-related careers.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Over the course of sails, whether four hours or four days, I have seen tremendous improvement in the personas of the youth we have aboard. I have seen students board as bullies and disembark as compassionate crewmembers. I have seen young people make multiple attempts at challenges such as climbing aloft or on the bowsprit, eventually conquering their fears. I have seen children hone in on their leadership abilities - relaying commands or instructions that they have picked up to their struggling companions to help us make forward progress in our next task, such as tacking the boat.

The experiential setting really brings to life the many lessons LAMI offers. Trash floating off the stern as we leave the harbor reminds students how their small decisions of throwing away their chip bag or using reusable storage containers instead of single use plastic make an impact. Actually pulling cold, salty water (and sometimes jumping into it!) help reinforce concepts in water chemistry. Plotting latitude and longitude - both current and desired -the distance between them, factoring in the inputs of the instruments on the control panel, and turning the wheel make mathematical equations like t=ds have real implications, like when we get to eat lunch.

I also benefitted from the programing while a student myself, and have found myself to have grown in my confidence and ability to perform under pressure. I (and so many students) have benefited greatly from seeing the majesty of wildlife such as dolphins, great blue herons, and swordfish on our voyages.

Donor

Rating: 5

It's amazing that inner city youth live so close to the ocean and have never seen it! LAMI teaches youth so much about their city, their planet (with STEM implications), and themselves.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Amazing non-profit that provides valuable, rare experiences and preservation of historical relics. Their team is passionate and knowledgeable, and spark a love of sailing within both young and old alike.

Truly instrumental in not only preserving the brigantines themselves, but also a snapshot of history and sailing's importance within it.

I had a wonderful experience with the crew, who went above and beyond in even allowing me to photograph the vessel out at sea in one of their shore boats. Highly memorable experience that I'll cherish forever.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Hello. I joined LAMI on my birthday 25 yrs ago and am still active. It has been an amazing experience to see so many people develop skills and to grow up with confidence and a better sense of the world after sailing with us. Truly an organization that welcomes "youth of all ages." It is because of the training that I started at LAMI that I was able to have a maritime career. And I find deep fulfillment in getting to share my career training and knowledge with the next generation.

1 Marcus E.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

For years I've worked with the Los Angeles Maritime Institute (LAMI) to bring students to the ocean, students that otherwise would likely not have this opportunity. We traveled around the LA Harbor and into the Pacific to study plastic pollution, something I've researched for years, and with LAMI I get to watch the faces of children light up with imagination and wonder. The service LAMI provides to the city is invaluable. Teachers, students, researchers, public and private audiences, all get to see the sea from the vantage point of the most beautiful ships in LA.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first sailed with LAMI as a volunteer in 2013 and I had no sailing experience when I stepped aboard the Irving Johnson. Thanks to the experienced team on-board I quickly learned how I could help move this Tall Ship (really tall ship) around the the Port of LA. I also learned that Tall Ship sailing is a wonderful equalizer because everyone on-board has an important role to play in this sailing experience. There are few environments that truly equalize us and this equalizing experience benefits us all. Tall Ship sailing is a fantastic opportunity to practice the art of communication and the LAMI Topsail Youth program offers an environment for everyone to develop their leadership skills.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer deckhand at Los Angeles Maritime Institute for about 4 years.

The main focus for LAMI is taking children on short to several-day training sails on the three tall ships currently in service.

During these sails, the children help sail the ship. The sailing activities teach the children how to work the sails, how to navigate, how to read the wind & water. The sails also teach the vital importance of teamwork and responsibility.

The children learn that when the captain or first mate tell a crew member what to do, that task must be done right then to ensure the safety of the ship and everyone on board.

Children also learn that neatness counts. They spend a lot of time coiling ropes to make the ropes immediately available when necessary, and to keep the deck clear, making accidents less likely.

The children gain new skills and increased confidence in making decisions based on their own knowledge of the situations.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer crew member for about 14 months. Sailing with LAMI is a fantastic experience. We have the boat, the ocean, the sun (or rain), and we are surrounded by captain and crew members who are knowledgeable, happy and having a wonderful time. As a volunteer crew member, I'm learning more with every sail, and I'm helping kids to learn too.

I recommend LAMI to everyone who loves tall ships, because volunteers can work and sail on a tall ship. At the same time, they are helping kids to expand their horizons while experiencing the magic of teamwork.

Sammy Lyon

Client Served

Rating: 5

We've been working with LAMI TopSail the last few years and love what they are doing! Students at our Environmental Charter middle and high schools have gone sailing with them from 6th graders doing team building activities to 12th graders trawling the ocean for plastics research. They also host weekend family sails and educator sails to get all sorts of folks out on these beautiful ships! Very nice staff, super flexible, and as a teacher I can't be more grateful to have a partner like LAMI!

Milly R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My son was initially the one who was going to do the Youth Crew Trainings on Saturdays but when I attended the orientation I was given more info as to how I could also participate!! I am sooooooo glad I did!! We both have been a part of LAMI for over a year now and not only do my son and I bond but it has taught us so much! As a single mother I am always looking for ways to be a positive influence on my boy. This is by far one of the best programs in SoCal and I am so grateful to everyone who takes part in helping teens. Not only that, but they also help the at-risk-youth. LAMI gives all teens an opportunity to see and experience something new... get them out of the norm and I am very happy to be a part of the volunteers! I would definitely like to see other parents whose primary language is not english be educated on all the benefits their teen can get from LAMI. It's very rewarding to know that you can make a difference in others in such a fun and positive way!

5 grnlight

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Let me start off by saying, I really enjoy volunteering with this organization. I was skeptical at first, as I signed up a few years ago, I was not sure I had it in me. I started volunteering with LAMI in 2013. I have made good friends along the way and even introduced a few to the program. I soon got really familiar with the brigantines, the ships crew and most importantly the outlook of the program. I then became, part of the volunteer crew, still getting my hands and feet wet. I became more confident in myself as part of the crew to show the youth of today that education is more important for them then just being mind boggled with computer games, and just hanging out doing nothing productive. This program works with LAUSD, and other programs that involve youth. Educating them about the ships aren't the only things they learn. Its about teamwork, character, confidence building, that each individual learns.
I was offered a position for the Tall Ships Festival as Ships Liaison Officer in 2014, and thanks to LAMI I was able to continue more of my knowledge with Tall ships, the Port of Los Angeles, the education aspect of the program. I still volunteer occasionally, when my time allows. I still learn new things when I volunteer with the LAMI program, captains, and crew.

1 Ralph-LAMI

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Los Angeles Maritime Institute gives me a chance to share my love for wind and sail with at-risk children some of which have not seen the ocean much less sailed. We teach kids the physics if sailing, onboard systems, working aloft, navigation, marine bio, environmental science, teamwork, etc.

I first sailed on a tallship 20+ years ago off the coast of Maine. LAMI gives me a chance to continue my study and give back.

LAMI has licensed captains, qualified staff in admin and volunteerism, all of which make us feel welcome and that culture makes us work hard so the children feel safe and comfortable.

I was also able to introduce my own young teenage children to sailing. What a gift LAMI allows me to pay my love forward.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have sailed with LAMI for about 9 years, since I was 10. Starting out with youth sails, I developed a love for the activity and grew to going up to as many as 6 sails a month with adults and schools. Being home schooled, it helped me be able to go out more often. The biggest outcome I take from LAMI are the friendships that I was able to develop with the other kids.

Mark222

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I teach inner-city Marine biology in Los Angeles. The LA maritime Institute gave some of my students in our Marine biology class and also members of our Marine biology club an opportunity, free of charge, to participate in several days of activities on board their tall ships.
These inner-city youth would never have had this unique opportunity. This is an organization that should be generously funded so that they can continue to give inner-city youth especially experiences on board a tall ship where they not only learn hands-on and leadership skills but also navigation and Marine science.
MFriedman

Gregory17

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was volunteer crew for several years with LAMI. The staff is fantastic. It was always amazing to see the transformation of the school kids who trained with us. The kids often came on board tentative and shy, but after learning about the ship, taking on the responsibility of being part of the crew, and working together as a team, they left full of pride and confidence in their newfound skills. The ships and the program offer a one of a kind experience and is transformative.

Former staff

Rating: 5

I worked as an AB/deckhand for LAMI in 2005-2006. I was a green deckhand with lots of excitement but little knowledge or experience. I think LAMI gave me the experience I needed not just for my career (I am a small charter boat captain) but also for life. I learned attention to detail and the importance of hard work and doing your assigned task. But the job was fun! I got to climb masts and set sails with excited kids! Combining work ethic with that important sense of excitement and fun makes everything my job and life is today. I still have an Irving Johnson T-shirt (a bit worn out) and a turkshead on my ankle, and I still wear them with pride.

Jocelyn H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

LAMI TopSail is a great non-profit! It's geared towards helping students from elementary to high school build self confidence and learn skills that they can carry with them through life. I really admire their passion and dedication. Since being here I've experienced nothing but kindness and encouragement. I am a single mother with a little boy of my own, so I would definitely consider taking my son on a sail or sending him to spend a weekend learning the ways of the sea. I feel that LAMI is very important for kids because they not only teach skills on how to work on a team, leadership, self-sufficiency, communication, and many more but they are very environmentally friendly and working towards conserving the ocean. There is a lot of collaboration between LAMI and other organizations to make the community and the ocean a better place for everyone. I'm very happy that I've gotten the opportunity to work with everyone here. :)

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

LAMI is based in my home town, and I started sailing as a student at 14. Through high school, I spent the bulk of my summers sailing and volunteering through the youth crew program. That time away from school, shore and parents, working so hard with great people; was what kept me in my home town for the rough points of high school. Essentially, my great, angsty, teenage rebellion became sailing with this wonderful alternate family, and I am so lucky for the experience. I'm now finishing up a graduate degree at Northwestern University, and I doubt I would have traveled the same path if I had never gone sailing.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a volunteer with LAMI for nearly 3 years. In that time I've observed the effect the program has on often surly or reserved youths, sure they "know it all". When confronted by the Brigantines, with their mass of confusing lines, new language and unfamiliar tasks, this organization quickly transforms these youths into eager participants. We very quickly can see the kids who are eager to learn, to take the helm, challenge themselves to go aloft, to try something new, to step into a leadership position and "lead" a team tacking sails or preparing a meal. It's an analogy for life; you can choose to participate, or you can choose to observe. The Brigantines Irving and Exy Johnson allow all participants, whether youth crew or adult volunteers, to find exhilerating new opportunities for personal growth in a wonderfully unique environment. From seeing dolphins cavorting at the bow of the ship, to going aloft or taking the wheel, to just being on a boat for the first time and experiencing natures bounty, the Brigantines of the Los Angeles Maritime Institute are the vehicles for opening windows into a whole new world for the youths that have the opportunity to sail with us.
This is an invaluable organization providing countless happy memories and educational moments to the youth of Los Angeles. I strongly encourage support of this fantastic organization!

1 Amy_175

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is one of the most effective youth programs I have ever seen!

I can't count how many youth I've seen turn from borderline angry when they came on deck, to peaceful teenagers with more perspective on their lives, when they left. And all inside a single day...

There is something very special going on at LAMI, whose traditions I hope will continue for years to come. How I hope I can conrtibute to the on-going community service that blooms at LAMI!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked with kids, in the school setting, for about 17 years. Although I have always found my work rewarding, I was looking for a different opportunity to support our youth. I just recently started volunteering with LAMI and have been absolutely blown away at the positive impact this group makes every day. In large part, I attribute this to the passion and dedication of the organizers, coordinators, and boat crews. Top notch all the way.

Best of all, they are planting seeds of success that will sprout for generations.

Mike V.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

LAMI has captivated our heart for a long long time... their amazing work and their amazing spirit flows on the waves of the Pacific... We are so lucky to have been involved in several occasions with you guys, thanks for the friendship, thanks for the community involvement, thanks for your high spirit...
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Marcia + Jorge Vismara

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered for LAMI full-time for six months and I couldn't have spent my time a better way. The people who work for LAMI are dedicated, intelligent, and really interested in the education of young people. On the voyages we took out to sea I noticed a huge difference in the attitude, confidence, and energy of the kids within a few days of leaving port. Many of them didn't want to leave a the end of the week, and we hated to see them go (until a new group arrived!). The mentoring and skill-building that happens with this organization is unique among educational institutions that I've seen. I would work with LAMI again anytime I'm in the Los Angeles area.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I served aboard the tall ship Lady Washington during the winter of 2008-09, and with our sister ship the Hawaiian Chieftain one of our ports of call was at LAMI in Los Angeles. I say 'port of call' but LAMI became our second home for several weeks during the winter school break. We double-moored before the LAMI offices, both ships together, and those are some of the fondest memories of my life.

LAMI worked with us to bring in the public and the schoolchildren that we served, fed us, threw us roving sailors a beautiful Christmas and New Year's, gave us use of their shower and took us for a spin on the Lexi Johnson when we felt so cooped up in our own ships we were fit to burst. I learned to make a monkey's fist there, how to sing Mingulay. And one of my shipmates was a graduate of LAMI's program, one of the best sailors and one of the best men you could ever hope to know. If he's what LAMI produces...then LAMI isn't just a good organization to work with, or a good organization for sailors, it's a good organization for our country and the world.

4 Chris156

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering with LAMI for four and a half years. The program gives the children and teenagers we work with practical skills, real responsibilities and essential experience in what community means.

I am sometimes discouraged with what our society offers kids: slogans like "No Fear," or blood-and-thunder movies that equate courage and swagger. I think lots of times, we give kids little chance to find out what they can and can't do or to learn how to do things, and then when they flounder on their own, we blame them.

LAMI gives kids the structured, orderly chance to learn about themselves and the world in very practical ways. The ships are beautiful, but they're not spectacles: they're working machines. Some of the kids are afraid to go aloft at first, but they learn that nobody's forcing them. There's plenty of useful work to do on deck. If they do climb, nobody will disrespect them if they decide to come down, and if they stay up, the very reasonable fear of falling is a tool they can use to take necessary precautions and keep themselves and their shipmates safe in order to do the work aloft. They learn to care for the machine and their shipmates in other ways, from coiling lines properly to preparing and cleaning up meals to cleaning the heads. They learn to use their hands, and also to follow orders, because we're a team. There's a chain of command based on skills. It really doesn't matter how old you are or what you do ashore: what counts is commitment to the ship and seamanship. The kids learn to live by the old seagoing rule of first the ship, then one's shipmates, then oneself.

My son grew up in Youth Crew. When he was little, he had problems with depth perception that could make him afraid to walk down a flight of stairs. But a couple weeks ago, while we were furling after a day of sailing, I glanced over and saw him almost horizontal in space about 40 feet over the deck, his foot braced against a footrope, pressing his body hard against the yard as he secured a clew lashing. Needless to say, he's comfortable and competent aloft. I was proud of him, but the really great thing about it was that it wasn't an extraordinary moment. What he was doing was just part of the work of furling. I was proud of him, but more importantly, I was and am sure of him. We've always had a good relationship; LAMI made us shipmates.

I've seen others benefit enormously from this program. Our mission statement says that we work with "at risk" kids, a term I've never been entirely comfortable with because I think we're all at risk, but still, some of the groups we take out on day sails or several-day trips do come from pretty rocky backgrounds, with drug-addicted parents or from gang-plagued neighborhoods. Over and over again, I've seen kids make little changes in themselves over the course of a day or so. I've seen them gain confidence and, in little ways, start to grow up.

I only wish more of them came back, because those changes take time and repetition to become a permanent part of a person's character. I think one of the reasons some don't continue has to do with funding. It would be great to be able to subsidize more transportation to and from the ships and scholarships for trips, and to wrap up repairs on our topsail schooner so that we can offer more programs.

1 Michele69

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I discovered LAMI three years ago and have been thrilled to not only work with the kids, but discover that a landlubber such as myself could soar as well. The volunteers and LAMI personnel are top notch, hard workers, and a hoot to be with....always much fun! This non profit changes lives....the lives of the school children it serves, as well as the lives of the volunteers and staff that "get it done"!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked with LAMI in way that empowers and improves myself over the past year and have never been anything but impressed by their ingenuity, integrity, and love of what they do. In a crowded Los Angeles nonprofit landscape, LAMI has been able to brag for more years than most of us remember that they've found a great niche providing priceless skills and formative experiences to the young people who need these things most. As if that weren't enough, it's clear that the students impacted by LAMI's Topsail program are taking steps towards future intellectual challenges: the STEM enrichment of every activity on their vessels is evident, and presented in consistently fun ways that are age-appropriate.

During a time when classrooms are hard-strapped to find even the most basic resources they need to function, much less take young people out for a day or more of stimulating experiences that add up to a great adventure, let's just say that "the price is right" for LAMI's services – they are making education in a maritime setting accessible to the public education system, and I hope they will continue to do so for many years to come. Great work!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering for LAMI for over 4 years now and have found my time there to be an extremely rewarding experience, not only for myself but for the results I've seen with the youth the program serves. I really appreciate that I can learn to sail a tall ship and also help under-served youth in my spare time; even if I'm unable to regularly participate, the crew is patient with me and meets me where I am to continue my education. Being "part of the crew" is an amazing feeling!

I've also learned (and/or re-learned) the life skills that are being taught to the kids that come aboard the ships for this life-changing experience: teamwork, listening, challenging oneself on every level, and maritime skills such as navigation, physics of sail, mechanics, etc... and then there is the serenity you experience when you are under sail, gliding across the ocean with the wind through your hair, perhaps spotting wildlife such as dolphins, whales and sea lions, that really helps put everything into perspective. Thank you, LAMI!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The volunteers get as much out of this as the kids do!

Dave66

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My entire family has been volunteering for the past 6 years. This program does wonders for kids age 12 and up. It teaches through education, how to become empowered, overcome fears, learn team work, communication skills and trusting others.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My son was a bit of a lost soul. Didn't fit in with the "jocks" and just basically had no direction. He started to put on weight and retreated from the friends he had.... We had tried many sports, but none were a good fit for him. Team sports were a nightmare as he was always last to be picked a side, no one would throw him the ball - you get the picture... Heartbreaking for a parent to see..... We one day three years ago THANKFULLY was approached by a wonderful lady by the name of Sally B. She is one of LAMI's wonderful volunteers! She asked how old our son was and then suggested that on the weekend after we had met her, own son might want to try sailing for a day onboard one of the Brigantines LAMI has that take out kids (amongst many different groups) and teaches them to sail, how to work as a team/crew member, etc... OH MY GOODNESS, HIS WORLD (AND OURS) CHANGED FROM THAT MEETING AND THAT WEEKEND!!!!!!!!! So Josh has now been sailing/crewing/working maintenance for the past 3 years with the Los Angeles Maritime Institute's youth program. It blows my mind how much this program has changed Josh. He is so confident now, gregarious, stands straight and has gotten healthy (he wanted to get healthy to help him around the tall ship more and especially for when he got to climb the rigging)! He regards the crews and Captains from the Irving and Exy Johnson as a second family. They are patient and kind, and give the kids responsibilities that help them grow as individuals and to learn how to work as part of a team. The lessons and guidance Josh has received from his time over the past three years is INVALUBLE!!!!!! We are forever grateful for the day we happened to run into Miss Sally Braeden! As parents we are totally confident with leaving Josh in the expert hands of the LAMI crews. We know they will look after them (re safety), but also mentor and lead Josh to be a confident and proud young man! For this we are truly grateful. Plus it is fun for the kids (and adults)! I can say enough about this amazing program and cannot wait until Josh's younger siblings are old enough to take part in the wonderful experience LAMI offers. Thank you LAMI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1 Salvador U.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Let me start by saying this organization has been a very uplifting experience in the year that I have been volunteering with them. There is no doubt in my mind about how this group reaches out to the public/private sector of education. From the most prestige schools to inner city schools, they show so much enthusiasm to provide the best sailing experience for them. As an adult looking back more than 30 years or so, I wish that they had this program back then. I applaud all the effort Los Angeles Maritime Institute has provided from classroom learning to actually sailing the brigantines out in the open water. Volunteering with them has taught me the meaning of being a good role model for the youth of today. The staff and crew for this organization is wonderful all around, questions are answered, ideas are challenged and accepted. I have the up most respect for all they do....

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer-in-training, I am impressed with the importance placed on the educational aspect of this program. I have not yet had the opportunity to make a sail with a group of kids, but I have seen the Youth Crew in action. The Youth Crew are a number of kids who are following up on their initial experience aboard the tall ships and learning to become actual crew members. They are skilled, dedicated and have found a purpose in life, thanks to this program. Without the program, I'm sure a number of them would be languishing in the streets with little or no ambition or hope.
I am proud to be associated with this organization and I hope to become a fixture within the volunteer ranks.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering at LAMI almost since the begining. I could write volumes, uplifting stories about lives changed, sad stories about the everyday world our target kids must endure and accounts of how our volunteers come away fulfilled in exchange for their hard work. Consider kids who have never seen the ocean, 90 minutes after getting off the bus, causing sails 80ft over their heads to move from one tack to the other. It's real, and the kids get it. Consider how easily we level the playing field when a young lady or the most timid young man is the first to climb the rig. Climbing is a personal choice and the big tough guys are almost always the last to go up. Please click on the links to videos on this site to get a view of the power of the Tall Ship venue. The founder of Los Angeles Maritime, Captain Jim Gladson, describes himself as "a recovering school teacher". While that may be true, his vision has created something unique, priceless and magical. Please consider joining us as a volunteer and/or a donor.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently started volunteering and did my first trip to Catalina with kids last week. It was amazing how the crew and the youth bonded during the period. By the end of the trip all the youth participated in the chores that needed done on the ship. Some of the kids have never been out at sea or had to work as teams to accomplish a task. It was a great experience as a volunteer to see the benefit to the youth.

Donor

Rating: 4

I had several opportunities to sail with the LAMI ships and I am always impressed with everyone involved in this organization. All the kids seem very happy and eager to learn. The mentors are very skilled and know exactly how to transfer their knowledge to those kids. I hope LAMI will be around for at least another 20 years and triple the amount of kids helped by their program....