Pastor Paul Warren had a vision.
I wanted to take local youths to witness Barack Obama sworn in as the first African American president of the United States, said Warren.
Strapped for cash, Warren, founder of the nonprofit assistance organization His Promise Disaster Survivor Agency, appealed to several groups for help.
His prayers were answered. Warrens agency partnered with Scotts Child Care Center and Signs of Life Inc., another help organization, to take 40 children to witness the inaugural of president-elect Obama in Washington, D. C. on Jan. 20.
The non-profits are holding fund raisers to solicit money for the trip and hope to depart with the youths from Los Angeles on Jan. 15. Each participant must raise $1,000 for the trip.
Among the 40 youths scheduled to attend the inaugural, Warren is taking 15 youths from the housing projects in Watts, as well as several who reside in group homes. Four mentally challenged youths will also take the trip.
So far, Warren said that the nonprofits have raised a quarter of the needed funds, but he is hoping to raise approximately $40,000 to fund the trip. Warren and Mayes, executive director of Scotts Holistic Child Development Center and Signs of Life, facilities for at-risk and special needs children, will be holding fundraisers at local stores. The youths have also been solicing funds door-to-door.
This inauguration is a once in a lifetime event. It is definitely historical, said Warren. I think it will inspire the students because they are the next generation of leaders. It will have a profound impact on their future government and political service.
Mayes said that the trip will be life changing for the youths and that they are super excited about the possibility of seeing the first African American president sworn in as commander in chief.
On Nov. 4, I took some of our kids to the voting poll. After that, they assumed that we were going to Washington, D. C. to see Obama sworn in as president, recalls Mayes. They went to school and told everybody that they were going to see Obama. I didnt have the heart to tell them that we werent going. I was talking to Paul Warren, because I know he has a real passion for children. He said, Lets raise money to go to the inaugural.
Mayes said that the trip will be life changing for the youths. A black child will look at Obama being sworn in and say, I can do whatever I set my mind to do.
Warren said that youths, parents and volunteers have been meeting during the last few weeks to brainstorm about securing housing and airline flights. We want to get there five days before the inaugural, because we already know that Washington, D. C. will be crowded, said Warren. Once were there, we will connect with other student programs, events and festivities. We also plan to take the youths on a tour of Howard University.
Joe McElvain, 50, an employee with His Promise Disaster Survivor Agency, will serve as one of the escorts during the trip. McElvain, who suffered from substance abuse but is currently in recovery, said that he is gratified to be accompanying the youths to Washington, D. C.
I feel good about the trip. I feel blessed, said McElvain. I just want to see the joy in the kids faces when they get to Washington, D. C. I think this trip will bring a big change in each childs life.
To contact the His Promise Disaster Survivor Agency, call (323) 756-4680 or (323) 752-9232.