Themed “Together as One,” thousands of residents and volunteers from South and East Los Angeles community groups flocked to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Day of Service Saturday, which focused on 40 service projects that included tree planting, mural painting and community clean ups in various neighborhoods.
Volunteers from Baldwin Village, Baldwin Hills, Park Mesa Heights, Leimert Park, and Village Green participated in the day-long event, which fostered community pride and racial brotherhood.
The mayor and State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass climbed on board a bright orange trolley and kicked off the day with a community tree planting at Hope Memorial Church, dedicating the first tree to the victims of the Chatsworth train collision.
Students cheered when the mayor appeared at Susan Miller Dorsey High School, where volunteers renovated the school’s aging goal posts.
“We’re here in South Los Angeles to engage in community,” said Villaraigosa, who said the day of services has already held 17 days of service and has drawn over 100,000 volunteers for community projects citywide. Villaraigosa said he has been working with Neighborhood Councils in South Los Angeles to improve the community. “We all have a civic responsibility to our neighborhoods–so we’re here to clean up graffiti, paint murals, and rebuild homes. I want to acknowledge the Neighborhood Councils for doing such a great job,” he said.
The next was a stop at the house of Crenshaw homeowner Mary Jones.
Jones said she had sent an application to the city’s Handiworker’s Program in December. “The paint on my house was beginning to peel and I needed to have it painted. I also needed other minor repairs. I’m a retiree and on a fixed income, so I had to find another option to get my house painted,” said Jones, who has lived in her home for 12 years. “My mother’s neighbor told me about the Handiworker’s Program. I sent in my application and I kept calling the program,” said Jones. “There was a long waiting list but each week, they would tell me that my name was a little higher up on the list.”
Jones said she was thrilled when a representative from the Handiworker’s Program recently called and told her that her house had been chosen to be painted. She said she was even more surprised when the mayor and Bass arrived and donned work goggles and drilled nails into the foundation of Jones’ home. Jones thanked the city, the mayor and Bass for their help.
“I think it’s great for different parts of the community to help improve the quality of life,” said Bass.
The next stop was at Crenshaw High School’s community garden, where nearly 100 Crenshaw students and a group of Stanford-Avalon farmers were on hand to clean and restore Crenshaw High School’s vegetable garden. The garden has helped launch a program called “Food in the ‘Hood.” Vegetables from the garden are used in salad dressing that is sold at Albertson’s and Ralph’s supermarkets.
The trolley then arrived at Rancho Cienega Recreation Center, where a panel discussion entitled “Jobs and South Los Angeles: Labor Movement’s Perspective and Efforts in South Los Angeles” sponsored by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor brought out representatives from the construction, entertainment, hotel and building security and the service unions. A diversity job fair was held to recruit South Los Angeles residents for jobs in security, construction and entertainment. Representatives from the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Los Angeles Airport LAX and the Department of Water and Power were on hand to talk about job opportunities.
A second annual community health fair co-sponsored by Bass and the Jenessee Center entitled “Well Body-Well Mind Community Health Fair” drew thousands of residents to the park, who received free health screenings and received information about health related services and programs, including free health insurance for children and adults.
“Getting people involved in the issues is what neighborhoods are all about because it’s about community,” said Villaraigosa. “It’s important to have a neighborhood voice. When everybody rallies together, we can do anything. The government can do some things, but people working together can take on any challenge,” he said.