Lydia Friend, the founder of Women of Watts, says the mission of her organization is threefold–demonstration, education and appreciation. “We will demonstrate what it takes to acquire our lives back through more participation in our community. This demonstration will be through the heads of households taking control and showing children of the community what it is to be responsible for yourself and your community. We shall demonstrate by cleansing the environment of violence and anything that pollutes the community and children’s minds. We shall demonstrate by being active and we shall march until we successfully fulfill our mission.”

Women of Watts is a resource center that provides a place of refuge for parents who have lost their children to violence. The organization holds group prayer Monday through Friday and hold meetings weekly to help parents who are struggling with grief by introducing them to other parents who have gone through similar experiences.

Women of Watts connects families in need with grief counseling, mortuary discounts, transportation, food services, education, and tries to assist in anyway they can to be a support system for those in need. They also are advocates for health and overall improvement of the community.

“It is our goal to educate any and every person in the community. We shall reach young and older minds and let them know that education is the stairway to a peaceful social environment; that perseverance can take you far beyond your dreams,” said Friend. “We want to help each individual understand knowledge obtained through schooling will create the desire to be productive citizens of the community and eliminate desires to participate in corruption, gang violence and drug activity,” she continued.

On Saturday, June 30, Women of Watts will hold its ninth annual march for peace, and have this year invited the men in the community to get involved as part of “Marching Men to Good Health.” Watts Health Care will be on-site to provide free screening for high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and HIV/AIDS.

“We are marching to appreciate everything that has been accomplished and everything that shall be accomplished. We shall show our appreciation by keeping up the success. We shall always remember from where our forefathers have come by marching and appreciate where we are going by marching,” said Friend.

Marchers will assemble at 103rd and Wilmington between 8-8:30 a.m. where they will be given a free T-shirt before the march and will end at 103rd and Compton Avenue were the ceremony will begin. The event which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. will include a car show, bike show, live music, vendors, and ministry and is completely free to the public. Seniors are welcome to skip the march and meet at the event site.

“We have come a ways by demonstrations, education and appreciation, and it’s our intent to carry the torch of success much further,” said Friend.