For 18 years, the nonprofit One for All has been donating school supplies and providing scholarships to children and teenagers in Inglewood. Now, it’s the One for All kids who are giving back.
To show support for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, One for All founder Mari Morales Rodriguez has organized children throughout Inglewood to make signs for men and women caring for patients, teaching students remotely, and performing critical services like delivering mail and picking up trash. The signs are displayed in windows, outside homes and on social media.
“What we have been doing to keep the kids busy is that I asked the parents to ask their kids to make signs giving everyone who is working thanks, and then the kids have been making signs,” Rodriguez said.
As an added incentive to make and post the decorative signs, families who participate are eligible for a meal from a local restaurant, courtesy of One for All. The meals help the families and small businesses alike.
“They are families in need and we have been sending food to their homes,” Rodriguez said.
One for All was founded by Rodriguez to help guide students away from gang activity by focusing on academics and higher education. The first events hosted by One for All were held at a church at 67th Street and West Boulevard in Inglewood. When that church was torn down, Rodriguez moved the events to her own street.
“I was just asking the City to give me permission to close the street and that’s where I had activities for the kids but it grew so big that it was time to move somewhere else and that’s when I went to St. John’s,” she said. For the past six years, One for All has been using the church’s parking lot and community room for its regular events.
Today the group works with 500 students between the ages of 5 and 17 and is expected to move into new offices in fall 2021. For her work and charitable spirit, Rodriguez has been recognized with the Woman of Distinction Award, The Shero Award, and The Woman of the Year Award in 2015 by Assemblywoman Autumn R. Burke.
Throughout the Los Angeles area, the organization donates school supplies to children and scholarships every August. In 2019, the organization gave out 30 scholarships to students entering college. Every December, One for All hosts a second event to provide toys, scholarships and Christmas cookies to children, along with a visit from Santa Claus. Outside of the organization’s two big events, One for All hosts academic workshops, exercise classes, food drives and fun activities like taking kids to LA Clippers’ games.
“In the area where I live, I saw the need of having a non-profit. That way we could help the kids in the community,” Rodriguez said. “I saw young kids going in the wrong direction, meaning becoming gang members, and I thought that it was needed to put together a group to keep them busy.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended innumerable aspects of life, including high school graduations. To recognize the hard work and sacrifice of Inglewood’s graduating seniors, One for All is planning to post photos of graduates on Facebook and Instagram and encourage community members to post words of encouragement. Rodriguez is also organizing an event in front of Inglewood High School where students will hold signs spelling out “Grads 2020” and the community will be invited to drive by and honk in support of the students who will not be able to have a graduation ceremony.
Though she works full-time in the private sector, donating her time and energy to One for All is Rodriguez’s way of giving back to a community she has called home since 1975.
“I love Inglewood and I feel that I can give part of what I have received from Inglewood. I can give to the community by helping the kids and I love helping the students because to me, it is a reward when I see the kids happy and going in the right direction,” Rodriguez said. “I love being involved