Lauren River Swerdloff is the author of Uplifting Lives, the true story of the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic's 49-year legacy. She has volunteered at the clinic for over seven years and now serves as a member of the Board of Directors. Her volunteer work has been recognized by a Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama, a Community Service Award from California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, and the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic's 50th Anniversary Leadership Award. She graduated from Columbia University, earning a degree in Human Rights. She lives in her hometown, Los Angeles, where she continues to write and support the clinic.
Lauren's dedication to community service began when she was fourteen years old, as she baked cookies with her mother and sold them on a weekly basis to raise money for the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic.
Within her first year of tutoring children in the clinic's waiting room, Lauren met Eddie, a little boy who was struggling to read in the clinic’s waiting room. He confided to her that his family only spoke Spanish at home, and that the kids at school bullied him for the way he read.
Lauren, too, was a native Spanish speaker. Her conversation with Eddie and his love for her stories about her dog Sprinkles, who Eddie renamed "Señor Sprinkles," inspired her to write, illustrate, and publish a bilingual children’s book in Spanish and English for Eddie and children in similar situations.
The proceeds from the sales of her first book, Señor Sprinkles,
helped Lauren raise more funds for the clinic and call attention
to the need for multicultural children’s books in local bookstores.
It also encouraged other youth to donate books to the book stand Lauren
opened at the free clinic for children to receive free, multicultural and multilingual
books from the community.
Lauren's love for writing has persisted over the years and is reflected in her most recent work of nonfiction, Uplifting Lives, which explores how the volunteers of the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic have addressed pressing social realities in Los Angeles. In 2016, she wrote, directed and produced the short documentary film Suazo: The True Story of a Los Angeles Hero, based on one chapter from Uplifting Lives.
In 2017, she curated and produced Columbia University's Media and Idea Lab Film Festival, screening six films created by undergraduate students, graduate students, and professors. The event employed visual media as a mode of social inquiry, analyzing the conceptualization of identity and community.
She lectured for Columbia's Public Health Club on the topics of journalism, public health, and the non-profit sector. Invited to serve as one of three panelists for the "Women in Politics Panel" by Columbia's Latinx Society, she spoke about grassroots-led political activism and the millennial effort. She was joined by the Speaker of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverto, and by Alixon Collazos, Campaign Manager for Phil Murphy (governor of New Jersey and previous U.S ambassador to Germany).
To read her recent writing visit:
or follow at: https://twitter.com/LaurenSwerdloff
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