A Better LA Honors Intervention Leader Gary Robinson


As a tribute to the pioneering work of Gary Robinson and his role as a leader in gang intervention, A Better LA hosted a lunch at the Chester Washington Golf Course on March 5, 2016. In attendance were A Better LA leadership, community intervention specialists that are supported by A Better LA, and family and friends of Gary.

In 2006, Gary pledged to work against gang violence before it was the rigor that it has become today. In  2007 Gary co-founded the non-profit, C.U.R.E., to spread gang intervention work throughout his community and neighboring communities, bringing together old archrivals to join in stopping violence and the culture that breeds it.

Gary was one of the early leaders in forming truces between rival gang members.  His commitment to building relationships across neighborhood boundaries was groundbreaking. Today West Athens has one of the lowest violence rates in South Los Angeles.

Parks have long been the backyards for inner city youth where they gather and recreate.  Too often, they have been places for gang members to congregate, making parks dangerous for families and children.  Gary pledged to change all that.  Helen Keller Park, in West Athens, is now one of the safest and most beautiful parks in South Los Angeles.

In  2008 Gary realized another dream – to bring football to the youngsters of West Athens.  The Cali Cowboys football team was launched at Helen Keller Park and is still saving kids today.

Gary has worked tirelessly to promote peace for over a decade.  A Better LA and it’s intervention family salute and honor this local hero and legend.

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Hundreds Turn Out for P.CI.’s Walk for Life Event

PCI Walk For Life

The 4K (2.4 miles) Walk, hosted by P.C.I. People for Community Improvement, began with a rally and stretching, lead by local fitness trainers, at the Ralphs parking lot across the street from the Audrey & Sydney Irmas Youth Activity Center. The Walk ended with a Community Entertainment Festival & Health Fair at Earvin "Magic" Johnson Park in Los Angeles

The event featured community resources, food vendors and entertainment by DJ Battlecat, Gospel Choirs and many more.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (43rd Congressional District) addressed the crowd and presented Certificates of Special Recognition to PCI Executive Director Kenneth Jones , as well as others for years of consistent work in the community.

LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnel also address the attendees, along with representatives from State Assembly Member Mike Gipson’s office and LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas’ office.

Many vendors lined the park with resource information, giveaways, food and more!

Tommy the Clown entertained the kids, along with a half mile series of jumpers that held court as the popular play event for the children. Attendees also enjoyed an exotic car show.

“We brought our kids out and they absolutely LOVED the day in the park. Thanks to PCI for providing such a great event for the community.” said Sandra Johnson, Willowbrook resident.

P.C.I. thanks its Community Partners and Sponsors: A Better LA, Rotary International, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Citizens Advisory Board, First 5 L.A., Ralph's, One United Bank, Care First Health Plan, Learn 4 Life, Green Dot Public Schools, Hyland’s, Westmont Community Task Force, The Timelist Group, and FrontPage with Dominique Diprima.

Learn more about PCI and its services at People for Community Improvement.

ABLA Executive Board Chair Matt Celenza Selected as One of Charity & Social Datebook’s “Altruists of the Year”

Matt Celenza C&S Datebook

One of our own, Matt Celenza, was recognized as one of Angeleno Magazine’s "Altruists of the Year." Matt, who serves as the A Better LA co-chair, was featured amongst the likes of Ryan Seacrest and Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

The article, which can be found in the March issue of Charity & Social Datebook, highlights Matt’s commitment to philanthropy and how he parlays that into facilitating change in inner-city communities as a part of A Better LA. It also recognizes the profound impact A Better LA has had on the Los Angeles region over the past decade and the opportunities we create to continue to help our city move forward.

We’re excited to see Matt included and know that he is more than deserving of this great honor for all of the hard work he has dedicated to A Better LA and the Los Angeles community. Read the rest of the story at Charity & Social Datebook.

Congrats, Matt!

USC Marshall’s ‘Sport Your Stache’ Supports A Better LA

This past weekend, USC Marshall students hosted one of the more eclectic events to benefit A Better LA. With the students challenged to raise $10,000 over 20 days, their strategy professor Carl Voigt agreed to shave his 40-year old mustache if they succeeded.

The ‘Sport Your Stache’ flash fundraiser asked donors to pledge $40—a dollar per year of their professor’s signature mustache. Not only did the business students make good on their promise, but did so in 11 days, with over 200 people contributing to the cause.

We joined them at Q’s Billiards to celebrate the ceremonial ‘stache shaving, where Professor Voigt graciously allowed the group to claim their prize. Needless to say, we are grateful to have been the benefactor of this creative campaign, and know that Professor Voigt will see a great ROI from this fun event! A big thank you to USC Marshall and Professor Voigt!

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Protesting 101

Protesting 101

In lieu of recents events surrounding the Ferguson proceedings in Missouri and other protests being conducted across the country, the University of Southern California facilitated a forum sponsored by Project ReMix, the Department of Public Safety, Los Angeles Police Department, and California Highway Patrol to address concerns from students and community members regarding the proper procedures of holding protests, entitled Protesting 101. A Better LA’s Executive Director, Aquil Basheer, was invited to be a panelist and answer questions from the audience as his expertise as a Professional Street Practitioner was an asset to the theme of the event. The objective for the evening was to create a venue to educate those in attendance of their rights as citizens and for all to walk away with a clearer understanding of how to curtail law enforcement's involvement when conducting protests  This interactive workshop allowed participants to learn about the history and purpose of protesting, have their questions answered by panelists, and hear from DPS, CHP and LAPD from a Law Enforcement perspective. This event demonstrates another successful collaborative approach to addressing societal concerns!