Education, Arts & Culture

Falcons Take Flight

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas awarded scrolls to the Southern California Falcons Youth Football and Cheer Organization, winners of the 2017 Pacific Coast Conference Youth Football Championship.

“This morning we acknowledge a shining example of success by those who take the time to work with our young people,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

“The Falcons are about more than just a winning football organization – they develop character,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added. “I am honored to present them with this County scroll in recognition of their continued commitment to develop the leaders of tomorrow.”

Keith Johnson had founded the Falcons with the simple goal of providing children in the community a safe place to play football. Its mission soon evolved, however, to empowering underprivileged and underserved youth to excel in life by providing them with services to better their education, health, physical fitness, and cultural appreciation.

The Falcons also mentor the children on personal and social responsibility by using the motto:  It’s time to teach new school kids old school values.

“In 2007 and 2008, we were just a young football program that had a dream to do something special,” Johnson said after receiving the scroll. “But what was really needed was a place where kids could learn, where they could understand who they are and what they could become.”

“We are not doing this alone. When Mark Ridley-Thomas was still running for Supervisor, he came to our park. Before he left, he simply said this, ‘I don’t know whether I’ll win or not, but I do know this: I will always support you because you’re doing real work with real people,’” Johnson said. “The Supervisor’s support has allowed us to catapult to the place where we’re mentoring not only our own children but we’re also mentoring other organizations to do the work that we do.”

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with Falcons coaches, players and parents. All photos by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

 

Legendary Los Angeles Jazz Musician Turns 90

All photos by Henry Salazar / Board of Supervisors.

The Board of Supervisors paid tribute to the legendary jazz musician Ernie Andrews, who will be turning 90 on Christmas Day, 2017. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas presented him with a scroll and a birthday cake, and also led the crowd in singing Happy Birthday.

“Our local legend is in the house,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Join me in celebrating the one and only Ernie Andrews on his remarkable jazz career and his upcoming 90th birthday.”

“I appreciate the recognition,” Andrews said. “I’ve been doing nothing but singing for a living – over 72 years now. That’s all I’ve ever done and I’ve had a nice journey.”

All photos by Henry Salazar / Board of Supervisors.

“I have enjoyed the ride and I’m still enjoying the ride,” he added. “Thank you.”

Born in 1927, Andrews spent his early years in Philadelphia and Louisiana. After moving to Los Angeles in 1944, he soon made a name for himself as a bright young talent in the local jazz scene.

Songwriter Joe Greene heard him performing on Central Avenue and quickly signed him, eventually writing his biggest hit, “Soothe Me.”

Andrews joined the Harry James Orchestra in 1958, and adopted a lush pop-oriented orchestral sound. From the 70’s through the 90’s, he collaborated with many stellar musicians, including the Frank Capp-Nat Piece Orchestra, the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra and the Los Angeles Symphony Camerata. He also performed in such iconic events as the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival and the Playboy Jazz Festival.

In 1986, his remarkable career was documented in the film “Blues for Central Avenue.”

A Day at the Marina

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles Watts Willowbrook Clubhouse with Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Life Guards, and the Department of Beaches and Harbors. All photos by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors.

It was a fun-filled day at the Marina, as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles Watts Willowbrook Clubhouse joined Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Life Guards, and the Department of Beaches and Harbors for the first ever Second District Day in the Marina featuring ocean safety, sail boating, paddling, and kayaking.

The District Day in the Marina is a new program by the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors bringing youth ages 8-12 to experience a programmed day of water and beach activities in Marina Del Rey. Chairman Ridley-Thomas took to the sand as he led the children in a day of fun in the sun.

“Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro LA-Watts Willowbrook Clubhouse is in the house…or should I say in the sand!” Chairman Ridley-Thomas said to begin the day. “We encourage you and your families to return as often as you’d like to enjoy the beach and some of the other things the Marina has to offer, including concerts in the park, fishing docks, and the South Bay Bike Trail.”

Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Ocean Lifeguards offered instruction and education to the 25 children in attendance including several first-time beach goers.

“We hope to help instill in these young people a love for the coast and our marine environment at an early stage in their lives,” said Carol Baker of the County of Los Angeles Department of Beaches and Harbors.

Avis & Mark Ridley-Thomas Life Learning Center Breaks Ground

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas led the groundbreaking ceremony for the Avis & Mark Ridley-Thomas Life Learning Center with nearly 200 in attendance.

The Avis & Mark Ridley-Thomas Life Learning Center will be located at 5054 South Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles. The Life Learning Center was named in honor of two prominent leaders who proactively support coalition building, social justice, empowerment, and non-violent solutions. The newly reimagined and renovated building will be a dedicated youth center to encourage participants and their peers to “drop in” and use it as a safe zone and resource. This warm, welcoming stand-alone drop-in center will provide access to holistic arts education, permanent housing, comprehensive resources, school assistance, career training, and a positive support system.

“One of the most challenging periods in a young person’s life is the transition from adolescence to adulthood,” said Avis Ridley-Thomas.

There is a significant overlap between homelessness and commercial exploitation: a 2017 study found that 91% of homeless youth reported being offered work opportunities that turned out to be fraudulent work situations, scams, pandering, or sex trafficking. More than half of homeless youth report mental health challenges, including depression, anxiety, psychosis, and post-traumatic stress. Half of chronically homeless adults in the U.S. experienced homelessness between the ages of 18 and 24. And youth homelessness increased 61% from 2016 to 2017 in the County of Los Angeles.

“This transition from adolescence to adulthood also provides a window of opportunity to intervene and guide young people toward self-sufficiency,” the Chairman said.

The Avis & Mark Ridley-Thomas Life Learning Center will serve as a drop-in center for any young person seeking a sense of safety and belonging.

The Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic (LACGC), a nationally acclaimed mental health service provider for children and youth in South Los Angeles, purchased the building that will house the Center which will occupy 10,000 square feet of space. The center will provide trauma‐informed mental health services and support resources to at‐risk transition‐age youth, ages 16‐25. LACGC’s Life Learning Program was founded in 1992. In 2014, the program was renamed the Avis & Mark‐Ridley Thomas Life Learning Program in honor of their joint achievements in community empowerment and social justice.

“We fully expect that this Center will avert many a young person from the criminal justice system, the mental health system, and a lifetime on the streets,” the Chairman said.

The center is expected to open in mid-2018.

View Park’s Bebe Moore Campbell Library Opens

View Park’s Bebe Moore Campbell Library is open for business following a $1.38 million renovation. The library’s new name honors Campbell, the late best-selling novelist, advocate for the mentally ill, and distinguished View Park resident.

“Bebe Moore Campbell was an accomplished journalist and author who, through her writing, engaged in tireless and undaunted efforts to confront racism and challenge the stigma associated with mental illness,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas who attended the ribbon cutting two years after authoring a motion to change the name of the library. “Her legacy of raising awareness for important social issues certainly will not be forgotten.”

Ms. Campbell authored four New York Times bestsellers: Brothers and Sisters, Singing in the Come Back Choir, What You Owe Me, and 72 Hour Hold. She also wrote the Los Angeles Times bestseller and New York Times notable book of the year, Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, for which she won an Image Award for literature from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Her byline has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Essence, Ebony, Black Enterprise, and many other publications.

Ms. Campbell was also the co-founder of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)-Inglewood, now known as NAMI Urban Los Angeles.

She died in 2006 of complications from brain cancer. She was 56.

BebeMooreCampbell-Photo(RedSweater)

Credit: Ellis Gordon, Jr., husband of BeBe Moore Campbell, and NAMI Urban Los Angeles