Bruce Saito

BRUCE SAITO

On Fridays, you see them on Second Street, in orange safety vests, sweeping streets and emptying trash cans. But the members of the Conservation Corps of Long Beach do so much more.

“We don’t just clean streets, we are this environmental social service agency that is really into youth development,” said Dan Knapp, the executive director and CEO of the Conservation Corps. “We’re a growing organization. We are out there doing great things in our community like being recycling providers to the Pride Parade as well as planting trees.”

On June 24, the CCLB will host its 26th annual Dine on Pine event. It is the organization’s only fundraiser each year.

“This event is extremely important,” Knapp said. “It funds services that directly impacts our corps members.”

Knapp, in his third year as executive director, said this year’s goal is to raise $100,000 to help fund post-secondary scholarships, tools for students, bus passes and vocational education equipment.

Money that was raised from last year’s sold-out event helped one student complete solar installation certification training, another continue their education in Fire Science and Emergency Medical Training and another complete their third year at Minot State University in North Dakota.

And in April, CCLB received a $50,000 grant from the Annenberg Foundation that will help students transition into post-secondary educational opportunities as well as technical jobs.

“The perception is very limited as to what we do,” Knapp said. “Look, I go out and clean streets with the folks; there is nothing wrong with it. But as a conservation corps, we have pride and we do have other programs.”

Bruce Saito, one of the early leaders of the state’s Conservation Corps, is this year’s recipient of the Founder's Award. Saito, who lives in Long Beach, started with the California Conservation Corps in 1977 and was appointed CCC director in 2015. In 1986, he helped establish the nonprofit Los Angeles Conservation Corps and later served as the LACC executive director. Knapp worked as Saito’s deputy at LACC for 19 years.

“Even to this day, 40-something years later, it’s been the mission of the CCC to let these young folks work in these environmental services,” Saito said. “They grow and do good things in their lives.

“It’s very nice to get this award,” he said. “I helped in my small way to get the CCLB started. It means a lot to see that CCLB has grown over all these years. I’m a Long Beach person, so it’s great to see young people get to do good things.”

Tickets are $130 and the progressive dinner begins at Café Sevilla at 140 Pine Ave. For more information or to purchase tickets over the phone, call Tara Cannon, CCLB event coordinator, at 562-208-5059 or email at tcannon@cclb-corps.org or go to the website at https://squareup.com/store/CCLBDineonPine

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