After losing their retail business in the San Fernando Valley earthquake of 1994, Kevin and Mare Wachs (pronounced Wax) used their federal recovery funds to create Earthly Body, a naturally-derived personal care products company, that started in their garage and later moved into a 50,000 square foot, solar powered facility in Chatsworth that today serves as their corporate headquarters.
With the company’s success – their products are now sold in over 40 countries around the globe - Kevin and Mare knew they wanted to pay their good fortune forward, becoming trailblazers in the world of philanthropy, and donating a portion of every Earthly Body sale to their volunteer-run, 501(c)(3) non profit organization, the Get Together Foundation (www.gettogetherfoundation.org).
For over a decade they have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars and substantial time, to over 20 charities throughout Los Angeles County including Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission (hopeofthevalley.org), The Midnight Mission (www.midnightmission.org), The Teen Project (theteenproject.com), My Stuff Bags (www. mystuffbags.org), The Mr. Holland Opus Foundation (mhopus.org), TreePeople (www. treepeople.org), the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (aarbf.org), and LA Fire Dept’s Spark of Love (fire.lacounty.gov/home/sparklove- toy-drive), to name just a few.
In addition to running both Earthly Body and the Get Together Foundation, Kevin Wachs has always found time for his love of music. A drummer since high school, at one time his band, Pacific, was the No. 1 local musical group in the San Fernando Valley, winning KKDJ radio station’s Battle of the Bands with DJ Charlie Tuna. Kevin decided to combine his love of music with his mission of giving back, by founding The Tribe band, a supergroup including notable professional musicians that donates all of its proceeds to various causes. Rehearsing in a recording studio in the Earthly Body building, they’ve already made good progress towards their goal of changing the world one concert at a time, raising $70,000 at a concert in Los Angeles in June, benefiting the City of Hope.
Kevin’s passion for philanthropy has continued unabated, and is now focused on a subject he is passionate about – the plight of the homeless. Upon learning that California has the highest percentage of unsheltered homeless individuals in the country (55,000 in Los Angeles County alone), Kevin decided to experience this for himself by checking into one of Hope of the Valley’s overnight shelters for a night (the first CEO ever to do this). It was a life changing experience.
Kevin said, “Throughout that night, lying on my single bed with a small blanket and no pillow, I continually asked myself, how are people living in their car? Or for those unable to make it into a shelter, how are they coping through a winter’s night?”
Committed to action, Kevin identified the need to provide aid, care, and comfort for our most vulnerable Angelinos in transition, and that set forth his philanthropic mission. He stated, “The government can’t solve our country’s problems alone; we can no longer wait for this when bureaucratic deferrals are part of the problem.” Enlisting employees, friends, family members, local musicians, and other like-minded concerned citizens, Kevin and Mare launched their newest project “Rock & Eat” Pop-up events, the first of which took place at Lafayette Park & Community Center, adjacent to downtown LA in Koreatown this past October 21st. The idea of giving people the gift of music together with a hot meal seemed unique and with the help of his wife Mare, a professional chef, the Get Together Foundation served hot meals on tables decorated with flowers and table cloths, provided clothing, blankets, mental health referrals, and live music to over 70 of Los Angeles’ homeless individuals.
As Kevin also said, “It just seems like the right combination. Music has a way of unifying people from all walks of life, and that was the idea for this event.”
The work of the Get Together Foundation seems to have only just begun. Although the organization has made a difference to so many people young and old over the years, tackling the homelessness issue is a problem that requires constantly engaging citizens to take action.
Kevin commented, “So many people in our community really do want to help, but they just don’t know how they can contribute. They don’t know what to do or how to get started. For us, we just do it, and see what’s working once we get there.”
Kevin and Mare are optimistic that their philosophy will rub off on the Los Angeles community, contributing needed efforts to improving the homelessness situation. Learn more about Earthly Body by visiting earthlybody.com
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