A makeover that’s one for the books

Study for success

A C Bilbrew Library is poised to undergo a long-overdue $4.4-million makeover starting July 13.

Artistic renderings showing the new Living Wall, set to revitalize the outdoor space at AC Bilbrew Library.

“The AC Bilbrew library has long been an important community asset and these changes will make it even better,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “A community library is a central place for children and families to gather and learn in a safe environment and we are eager to see the library open its new doors soon. When these renovations are complete, everyone – from very young children to the elderly – will benefit.”

During the yearlong renovation, patrons will be able to borrow books at the Express Library in Athens Park, or at the Willowbrook, Compton, and Gardena Mayme Dear Libraries.

On a motion by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, the county Board of Supervisors approved in January a plan  to refurbish the 21,000-sq. ft.  facility at 150 East El Segundo Boulevard that first opened in 1974.

MAIN IMAGE_Bilbrew LibraryThe project calls for updating much of the interior and exterior of the library using environmentally friendly materials and sustainable design techniques. Workers will use recycled materials, incorporate energy-efficient lighting, cooling and heating systems and other consumption-reducing measures. They will also install new walls and custom cabinetryreplace the carpet and ceiling, and update the data systems and public restrooms. By the time the library reopens, it should be as close to a “net zero energy” facility as possible.

Even the façade, landscaping and pathways to the library will be improved. A wheelchair-accessible ramp will be built at the main entrance to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The library was named after Madame A C Bilbrew, a community leader, poet, musician and deputy to the late Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn. She was also a radio pioneer, becoming the first black person in the country to have her own radio show.

A C Bilbrew Library houses the Black Resource Center, which supports research and study on social, historical, musical and cultural aspects unique to the black experience. It has hosted the Los Angeles County Public Library system’s African American History Month Celebration since 1980.

The original library was located in a shopping center from 1964-1974. With the help of architect Vincent J. Proby, the county built the current facility and transferred services on Nov. 2, 1974.

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Free Movie Nights All Summer

Monteith Park MRT Movie Night 4

CREDIT: Los Angeles County Department of Parks And Recreation

Watch movies by moonlight all summer long – it’s family-friendly fun, and free too!

Starting the first weekend of June, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation will screen such blockbusters as Big Hero 6 and Maleficent at community parks throughout the Second District.

Monteith Park MRT Movie Night 3

CREDIT: Los Angeles County Department of Parks And Recreation

With MRT’s Free Movie Nights, kids and kids-at-heart can enjoy family-friendly flicks at their nearest park, screened on a large projector with multiple speakers. There’s even free popcorn!

Families simply need to bring portable chairs, warm blankets, and other snacks.

All the movies start at sunset. The list includes Big Hero 6 at Bethune Park; Maleficent at Hellen Keller Park ; Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory at Victoria Park on July 9; Annie at Del Aire Park on July 16; and The Boxtrolls at Mona Park on July 18.

For further information, call (310) 965-8630.

FINAL 2015 Summer Movie Flyer - FINAL

Movie crowd 1

CREDIT: Los Angeles County Department of Parks And Recreation

Sleek New Affordable Home Coming to Athens

In a first-of-its-kind partnership, Los Angeles County, Habitat for Humanity (Habitat LA) and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) will soon break ground on a new model for affordable homes — one that is sleek in its design, environmentally sustainable, and affordable.

The county donated a 4,410-square foot lot in Athens for the project and, recently, authorized $95,000 to build the home, which will also be financed by SCI-Arc and Habitat LA.  Construction began on June 9 at 1232 West 101st  Street, and is expected to last through mid-summer.

“This is an exciting project that really challenges the notion of what affordable housing can look like,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose office initiated the idea to bring  the three partners together. “My hope is that this will serve as a national model for design and for public/private partnerships.”

Added architect and SCI-Arc Director Eric Moss: “A unique urban partnership is about to manifest itself in the inner city. The objective is to change the conventional pro forma of affordable housing, to improve residential livability, to inspire the neighborhood with imaginative possibilities for the future, and to promote sustainability in new housing.”

“The construction of this innovative, affordable home would not be possible without the support of the county, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and SCI-Arc,” said Erin Rank, Habitat LA President and CEO. “We are looking forward to integrating new design and sustainability features into this home, as well as seeing a limited-income hardworking family and the local community benefit from this collaboration.”

During the 2014 fall semester, SCI-Arc students were devoted to the design of a home which focused on innovation, affordability, home-healthy building materials and sustainability.

The 2015 spring semester focused on completing the final design of the three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home. During this upcoming summer semester, SCI-Arc students will join Habitat LA and its volunteer team to build the home. Habitat LA is restricted from selling the home for more than $419,000, and is in the process of selecting a family.

This collaboration not only provided the students with the invaluable opportunity to design and construct a home, but also the chance to learn about the challenges that real-world construction presents and the skill sets it demands.

Learning to Swim

swimThousands of youngsters can learn to swim for free or reduced prices through Summer Swim program sponsored by the nonprofit, LA84 Foundation.  More than 20,000 children are expected to participate in the program, which will be available at 100 Los Angeles County and Ventura County pools  this summer.

Leading sports retailer Big 5 Sporting Goods has agreed to co-sponsor the program by providing discounts on goggles and swim gear to participants. Over the past 30 years, more than 300,000 young people in Los Angeles County have learned to swim through the Summer Swim program.

Going to the beach or a pool in summer is a Southern California tradition. But for too many, the water is dangerous. According to USA Swimming, 70% of African American children and 60% of Latino children cannot swim. Drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death among children and young adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“We are thankful to Big 5,” said Anita L. DeFrantz, president of the LA84 Foundation. “With this level of support we are literally saving lives.”

Veronica Flores, a graduate of the Summer Swim program, says she was able to attend college in part because she learned to swim and became a lifeguard—a job that helped pay her tuition.

“The swimming program and being a lifeguard helps develop character and good sportsmanship,” said Flores, a Manual Arts High School grad and the first in her family to attend college. “I am now working with kids so that they can also learn and can persevere.”

Endowed with surplus funds from the 1984 Olympic Games, the LA84 Foundation is providing over $400,000 in grants for the program. This year, Big 5 is providing discounts on goggles and swim gear to participants and will provide giveaways at all major Summer Swim events.

For more information please visit: http://www.la84.org/


Volunteers Make the Difference


Veronica Zuniga is the Second District’s Volunteer of the Year (adult category). Here, she poses with her husband at Los Angeles County’s 33rd Annual Volunteer of the Year Awards.

Veronica Zuniga coaches a softball team at Victoria Park in Carson, but she’s doing much more than showing girls how to pitch, catch and throw. She teaches them teamwork, sportsmanship and civic engagement.

Over at Ted Watkins Park, Wanya Barker is doing his own part to help the community by organizing after-school activities for youth like himself, everything from free movie screenings to baseball games.

For all the hours they spend making the Second District a better place to live in, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas awarded each a scroll at the 33rd Annual Volunteer of the Year Awards held in April.DJA_2397

“Veronica and Wanya spend hours every week making our community better,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “Their community spirit and can-do attitude is an inspiration to us all.”

Ms. Zuniga, who lives in Compton, has volunteered about 500 hours over the last six years. Twice a week, she coaches 12-14 year old girls, many of whom have never played softball before.

“I have always loved working with children and being involved with the community,” Ms. Zuniga said during a recent banquet honoring some of the county’s most exceptional volunteers. “Being a coach, as well as volunteering with Toastmasters and helping with park events, has helped keep me young and active and helps provide a safe environment for our youth to participate in wholesome activities.”

Mr. Barker, of West Athens, is the teen vice president of Ted Watkins Park’s teen club program. He has volunteered over 200 hours in the past year, helping out with free movie screenings, the Dodger Dream Field dedication, and Parks After Dark and Mark Ridley-Thomas afterschool programs.

More than 100,000 volunteers generously donated more than 4 million hours – an estimated value of $93 million – to Los Angeles County parks, hospitals, senior centers and other facilities and departments in 2014. That’s more than double the numbers from last year.

“I started volunteering because it is something I enjoy doing, plus I loved going to the park and helping the kids and being a part of the Teen Club where I made new friends,” he said. “I just want to thank Ted Watkins Park staff for helping me become a better person.”