Feeding Families for a Happier Holiday

This Thanksgiving season, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas partnered with Golden State Water Company and local community groups to deliver 200 turkeys to families in need.

“We are not just feeding families, we are giving a happier holiday to those who need it most,” the Supervisor said.

This year marked the sixth consecutive year of the successful partnership. Throughout the year, community groups determine the need of families they serve. Golden State Water Company provides turkeys through its Operation Gobble program, and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas facilitates the donation process.

“Operation Gobble provides a unique opportunity to give back to the communities we serve,” said
President and CEO Robert J. Sprowls.

“The generosity of Golden State Water Company assures that even in times of struggle, family and friends will be able to gather for one of the nation’s most important holiday rituals,” the Supervisor said.

Since 1990, Golden State has been donating turkeys to disadvantaged families for the Thanksgiving holiday though a program called “Operation Gobble.” This year Golden State delivered more than 7,700 turkeys for needy families throughout California.

The 15 organizations receiving turkeys in the Second District were: Asian Service Center, East Rancho Dominguez Senior Center, Florence-Firestone Senior Center, Lennox Senior Center, Roosevelt Park, Willowbrook Senior Center, Yvonne Burke Senior Center, Trinity B.C., New Life in Christ, Greater Bethel of Los Angeles, St. Bernadette Church, Phillips Temple, Pleasant Hill B.C., Mary Lydia, and Figueroa Church of Christ.

Food Charities across the County Need Volunteers

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For many of the county’s 10 million residents, the Thanksgiving holiday is time to gather around a table with friends and family and feast on turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and sweet potato pie.   But for the county’s 52,000 homeless men, women and children and low income families, often is a day to receive a hot meal at a soup kitchen or prepare a home-cooked meal gleaned from the offerings from a food pantry.

With the Thanksgiving holiday days away, food banks and soup kitchens across the County of Los Angeles are in need of volunteers.

At the L.A. Regional Food Bank, where the mission is to gather food to fight hunger throughout Los Angeles, spokeswoman, Susan Ackler, says that the food bank would not be able to exist without the help of volunteers who sort and pack food for the 280,000 families, children and seniors the food bank serves  monthly.

“We are always looking for volunteers and they are greatly appreciated during the holiday season,” Ackler said. “But we want to remind everyone that we need help sorting and packaging food all year round.”

According to Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, one in six people struggle with hunger in the nation.

Please click here to view the list of volunteer opportunities courtesy of Time Out Los Angeles.

Metro Board Approves Plan to Help Riders Get Around L.A. County

Temple Bar pedestrian signage in St. Paul’s, London. Photo courtesy of Man Vyi, Wikimedia Commons.

Any traveler or commuter stepping outside the train stations in London, New York City or San Francisco will find  signs posted on street corners, near busy intersections and outside Metro stations to point them in the right direction.

But in L.A. County, there are 88 different cities and 1,000 -square-miles of unincorporated area, each with a different idea on how to direct people to locations as they leave Metro bus and train stations. The lack of consistent signs presents a challenge for public transit users in need of directions. And so, to help visitors and Angelenos find their way around, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board has developed a plan to increase the number of consistent signs and maps around Metro stations.

Beginning in 2015, a $500,000 grant will be available for cities  and unincorporated areas to create a single design that would identify Metro Stations, attractions and landmarks to be placed near Metro stations to help riders reach their final destination. The grant, proposed in a motion by Metro Board Directors Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’ Connor, will spur cities to create visible and consistent signage throughout the county.

“We want tourists and L.A. County residents alike to venture throughout the county without confusion,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.  “We want to ensure public transportation in Los Angeles is accessible, efficient and easy to navigate like other world class cities.”

 

Supervisor Shows Support for New Federal Sex Trafficking Bill

Girl Traff

I would like to commend Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) for authoring the Combat Human Trafficking Act, which was introduced this week in the United States Senate. The bill seeks to penalize adults who buy sex from trafficking victims and strengthen victim’s rights. While many federal, state and local efforts have focused mainly on prosecuting the traffickers, it is time we start looking at the buyers who fuel this crime. After all, sex trafficking is a demand-driven industry.

The Combat Human Trafficking Act would ensure that federal law enforcement officials are properly trained to investigate and then prosecute these buyers. It also views those who are being trafficked for what they are: exploited women and children-not criminals.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that up to 83 percent of sex trafficking victims are American citizens, and the average victim is first trafficked between ages 12 and 14.There are few topics more disturbing than the buying and selling of children for sex. Unfortunately, our society is still misinformed about this issue. Many still refer to it as prostitution. But, this is modern day slavery and a multi-billion dollar industry driven by unscrupulous adults.

We must put an end to this notion that people—mostly women, girls and boys—are commodities to be bought and sold. This bill will help protect victims while punishing the adults who profit and derive enjoyment from this despicable trade.

Helping Former Inmates Re-Enter Society Successfully

Life Skills

Helping former inmates re-enter society and avoid going back to jail can be challenging unless they receive support and services from agencies with proven track records.

And so, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe authored a plan to identify multi-year funding and develop a competitive bidding process for agencies that work with this population and have demonstrated success in keeping them from re-offending.

“Our county needs proven service providers to continue doing the work they do,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “The county benefits from their work and so we need to support them in a consistent and equitable way that takes into account the successful models they use. Reducing recidivism is important for public safety, it is cost effective and it is humane.”

Many individuals who have been incarcerated for violent, gang related crime are more likely to go back to jail upon their release because many have themselves been victims of violence in their communities and within their own families; most have spent time in the County’s foster care system and juvenile detention facilities; and they have significant substance abuse and mental health issues that make it difficult to transition well into a productive life.

However, there are promising service models out there that have had success in preventing recidivism. For example, a report from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) that studied the non-profit, gang intervention organization, Homeboy Industries, noted that Homeboy’s holistic approach to helping ex-offenders with job referrals, mental health counseling, housing options and skills training in an easy one-stop shop, has been largely successful. However, that model does not neatly fit into the requirements for government funding.

The Board of Supervisors has asked the Chief Executive’s office to work with the Department of Probation and County Counsel report back early next year with the best method to continually fund organizations that have proven to be successful.