Lula B. Balton is living her third life.
Today, she is co-founder and chief executive officer of the West Angeles Community Development Corporation, which is one of the ministries of West Angeles Church of God in Christ, and she has been involved in social justice work since 1992. But before that she was a lawyer.
“I went to law school at 40. I quit teaching college, and went to UCLA Law School. I was in the class of ’90,” said Balton, who at the time was married and had three children.
And before law school, Balton taught almost two decades at colleges and universities around the nation.
However, she believes that God had another calling for her.
“I left the law firm . . . and went to work on Skid Row. I went to the Union Rescue Mission, and saw they didn’t have any programs for women and children, or any place for women to stay. They (also) didn’t have any work training programs, so when people went through the 12 steps, they were just out on their own.”
Balton created a learning center in 1992 to satisfy that need.
Then she noticed something else–many of L.A. Skid Row residents were not from downtown.
“A lot of the people came from my community,” explained Balton, who said that prompted her to develop a pilot program offering mental health services, affordable and decent housing as well as job preparation assistance.
The idea is to give her “beloved community” what every healthy community needs to not only survive but sustain itself.