Last May, after Rachel Worby had taken a brass quintet to perform at local juvenile halls, one of the residents wrote her a letter.
"She said, 'I think I should be a conductor,' " Worby recalled. " 'Everybody tells me I'm a leader. But I'm a bad leader because that's why I'm in here. Maybe after seeing you I can be a conductor because that's a leader too. Please write back.' "
Worby, who is youth concerts conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, remembered her reaction to the letter: "I felt like if that's the only thing I do in my life, it will be enough."
After the letter, one of many favorable notes from residents, Worby is preparing her quintet for three more concerts at juvenile halls on Sept. 29 and 30 and Oct. 1.
She plays about eight 30-minute concerts a day, each for between 15 and 30 listeners. The object, Worby said, is to encourage interaction between herself and the residents. Then, after she talks about music, she lets the students conduct.
"I think I guessed right about doing it that way," said Worby, who commutes between three different homes because she is also music director of the Wheeling, W. Va., symphony orchestra and director of youth concerts at Carnegie Hall.
The residents were pleased and "so much of it had to do with the fact that they were able to talk to me as an individual."
Enchiladas for the Hungry
Employees of a major food company volunteered their time to become food producers for a nonprofit food bank recently.
More than 100 volunteers from Van de Kamps' Santa Fe Springs plant spent a Saturday last month making 7,200 frozen cheese enchilada dinners for Community Food Resources, a Los Angeles food bank.
CFR then dispersed the dinners to 79 Los Angeles agencies to feed the hungry.
The free dinners "went very quickly," said Charmeen Wing, development manager for CFR.
IRS Delivers the Goods
Need to reach a long-lost relative or get a message to a missing person? Help may be available from an unexpected source--the Internal Revenue Service.
It works this way: A writer sends the IRS district office a letter to the missing person along with the missing person's Social Security number.
If the IRS has an address, it forwards the letter to the missing person. It includes a note stating that the IRS has not divulged his address and explaining why the IRS has forwarded the letter.
IRS public affairs officer Robert L. Giannangeli said that the service had operated quietly for years.
He said it was partly intended to convince the public that "people who work for the IRS are like anyone else. There shouldn't be a great deal of fear (of them)."
Letters to be forwarded can be sent to the Internal Revenue Service, Disclosure Officer, P.O. Box 391, Los Angeles, Calif. 90053.
Videos to Catch Dropouts
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Fernando Valenzuela, Victoria Principal and other celebrities are appearing in upbeat videos to encourage students to stay in school.
The fast-moving Spanish and English spots were produced primarily by Cal State Los Angeles faculty and were filmed on the CSULA campus.
They appear on Spanish-language television station KMEX (Channel 34) and elsewhere.
James M. Rosser, CSULA president, said the four-minute, one-minute and 30-second spots were necessary because about one-third of Black and Hispanic students in California do not graduate from high school.
The messages are sequential, with celebrities speaking a line each, and are "geared for fast-paced, high-stimulation visual entertainment," said Ruth Goldway, CSULA director of public affairs. "We do not use the drab, single talking head format. . . . They are geared to the audience they're aimed at."
In addition to Abdul-Jabbar, Valenzuela and Principal, Heather Thomas, Laraine Newman and Cheech Marin appear.