Al Wooten Jr. Center Director Naomi McSwain is the Rams ninth pLAyMAKERS of the Year

A drive-by shooting near Adams and Crenshaw in South Central Los Angeles claimed the life of Al Wooten Jr. in January 1989. The 35-year-old Wooten’s murder was allegedly the result of a gang initiation, and happened a time when drive-by shootings were at a height.

Various community programs, gang sweeps by police and tougher penalties for youths were were implemented to try to counter the violence, but Wooten’s mother – Myrtle Faye Rumph – felt those measures would only aggravate already-rebellious young people. Rumph instead proposed something that would keep them busy, empower them and change their attitudes, which led to her opening a youth center named after her son in 1990 in a two-room storefront at 9115 S. Western Ave, according to the center’s website.

More than three decades later, housed in six storefront buildings across from its original location, The Wooten Center’s mission continues under the guidance of Executive Director Naomi McSwain and many others on the organization’s board. McSwain’s efforts to further that cause are why she was recently recognized as the Rams’ ninth “pLAymaker” honoree.

“My first thought is playmaker, you know, that makes me think of a playbook, you know, with a coach with a playbook out there, having a strategy and a plan and all that,” McSwain said. “And it makes me think back to when we first started, in 1990. We had a very simple plan, which is to help keep the kids out of gang violence so that they didn’t suffer what my cousin suffered. And so that that was our idea. That was our plan. We’ve since developed a lot more strategies now, having more kids and being more strategic about the academic enrichment. So I feel like you are recognizing us for that – for the plans that have came to fruition, that grew out of my cousin being killed, just the silver lining.”

According to its website, the Wooten Center “provides free and afterschool summer programs to help students in grades 3-12 attain grade-level proficiency and promotion, high school graduation, and college and career access and success.” The nonprofit agency’s afterschool services includes CollegeTrek, a hybrid online and onsite college and career preparation program that includes private tutoring, homework assistance, i-Ready online diagnostics in reading and math, performing and visual arts, leadership and life skills development, college tours and scholarships, and field trips, among many other services.

This past summer, the Wooten Center also hosted a hybrid Summer Fun Camp that featured virtual private tutoring and a virtual playground, as well as onsite activities exploring the five types of engineering.

“Our mission is to provide a safe and nurturing environment committed to good citizenship and academic excellence,” McSwain said. “So the good citizenship came out of the gang violence beginning that we have, and academic excellence because we believe that education is a pathway to success for everyone. You don’t know what you don’t know, right? And so we always talk about exposing the kids to a world of opportunities so that they can make the choices. It’s hard to make choices if you don’t know what they are.”

Source: LA Rams website

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Gratitude is good for health

On a day of thanks, we’re reminded to be grateful, and experts say it’s good for our health. 

Joel Wong, professor of counseling and psychology at Indiana University whose research includes positive psychology, encourages the practice of gratitude to be part of our daily routine. 

It’s a matter of thinking about what one’s grateful for, writing it down and finding the reason why.

Wong provides steps for cultivating gratitude:

  • Focus on expressing gratitude for the little things in life that we tend to take for granted: the weather, finding parking, our workplace 
  • Start a daily gratitude journal. Each day, write down three things you’re grateful and find a reason why you’re grateful. Providing a reason encourages us to be specific about the things for which we’re grateful. 
  • Each day, make it a habit to express heartfelt gratitude to someone. Don’t assume people know you are grateful to them; they can’t read our minds. 
  • At least once a year, write a letter of gratitude to someone important in your life whom you have not properly thanked. Explain the impact this person has had and provide specific examples of what the person did that made a positive difference in your life. Send the letter to the person and consider reading it aloud to them.

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First Thanksgiving meal for Ukrainian refugees in LA is filled with gratitude

One family expects at least one guest to bring a Ukrainian dish because ‘Ukrainians never show up empty-handed’

Before moving to Los Angeles in April, Nataliya Mikhnova had heard about Thanksgivingmostly from movies.

But this year, Mikhnova, who moved from the western Ukrainian city of Lviv with her husband and two young daughters, looked forward to celebrating it in person.

“My daughters are excited about the holiday,” she said. “They bring us a lot of information from their school about the American culture and holidays including Halloween and Thanksgiving, so we can learn about them, too.”

Mikhnova was on vacation in Sri Lanka in February with her husband and two daughters when Russian forces began bombing Ukrainian cities. Her flight back to Ukraine was canceled and she flew to Istanbul, Turkey. Soon, the couple realized that it was not safe to return to Ukraine with two small children.

They finally decided to move to the U.S. after finding a family in Los Angeles who offered to host them in their home for the first two months. It took the family about six days to travel to Tijuana in mid-April, then cross the border on foot to San Diego.

Setting up her new life in Los Angeles, waiting for a work permit, and taking care of two young children has been challenging. But Mikhnova said it wouldn’t be possible without the help of strangers, including a family that allowed them to live in their Santa Monica house.

Mikhnova’s daughter Vira, 7, who is fluent in Ukrainian, couldn’t read English words when she moved to Los Angeles in April. But by September she managed not to just learn the alphabet but also to start reading — all thanks to intense work and an owner of a Pacific Palisades learning center who enrolled Vira in her program for free.

She said she also wanted to teach her daughters Vira and Maria, 5, that women who arrived in the U.S. as refugees could still pursue their dreams.

“When we ran from the war, many women feel like they are refugees and often think: ‘I’m going to be quiet and hide’ because they don’t understand how things work here,” she said. “But I decided to do the opposite and be proactive.”

While she was waiting for her work permit to arrive, Mikhnova, who was a radio reporter and PR person for elected officials in Lviv, got busy helping other Ukrainian refugees find programs that would help them to settle, and also volunteered as a teacher’s assistant at her daughter’s elementary school in Santa Monica.

“We all cry a lot and worry about our parents and relatives who stayed in Ukraine,” she said. “But if we moved here, we have to adapt and live here.”

Mikhnova said staying in the U.S. wouldn’t be possible without “many people here who have helped us — Americans, the government — and we are very grateful for that.”

‘There is no Thanksgiving in Ukraine’ 

Since she moved from Kyiv in 2015, Olga Baker has always stayed in touch with the Ukrainian diaspora, but this year when the missiles began hitting Ukrainian cities, she began volunteering for different organizations, sending medication and other aid to Ukraine and helping newly arrived refugees.

As she was preparing for Thanksgiving this year, she began thinking about inviting over fellow Ukrainians who recently arrived in the U.S.

“We all love Christmas and other holidays but Thanksgiving is so uniquely American and the best occasion to celebrate American culture,” Baker said. “You can’t experience Thanksgiving by going to a restaurant, you need to be with someone’s family and experience that atmosphere. It’s about being together and sharing that part of the culture.”

Baker, her husband Justin, and daughter Mila, are planning to host four families on Thanksgiving Day and cook turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese and sweet potato casserole.

Still, Baker said she was certain her table wouldn’t lack a Ukrainian dish because “Ukrainians never show up empty-handed.”

Baker said she looked forward to sharing the festive dinner with her guests.

“Thanksgiving doesn’t exist in Ukraine and if you think about it, the nature of the holiday is somebody being in need and somebody else giving their hand. It can speak to anyone’s heart,” she said.

Despite feeling hopeless and desperate at times, Baker said she was grateful and rejoiced “for every little victory” her country has had since the beginning of the war.

“I feel thankful that everyone in my family is healthy and alive,” she said. “I feel grateful for simple things like walking outside and missiles not dropping on us, that I don’t have to send my child to a bomb shelter, for freedom that can be taken away.”

For Dina Grymak, another Ukrainian expat and Baker’s friend, who will join her on Thanksgiving, the holiday is bittersweet as her husband Alexander is fighting Russian forces in Ukraine while she and their 11-year-old son, Alexander, remain in L.A.

When the war in Ukraine broke out her husband Alexander couldn’t sleep for days at their home in Los Angeles. When he finally told Dina Grymak that he had decided to move back to Ukraine to defend it, she didn’t try to stop him.

“I didn’t want my husband to leave,” she said, “but if not people like my husband, how do we win this war?”

In mid-March, he packed a suitcase and moved to Ukraine, first volunteering for hospitals, delivering medication to soldiers, and then joining the army despite his lack of military training.

In recent months, it has become more and more challenging for her to talk to Alexander regularly, because his camp is based in a forest where he sleeps in a tent and temperatures drop to the 30s amid intense rain. On a recent day, about 200 soldiers came back injured from the battlefield.

“I was too scared to ask how many people have died,” she said.

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THOUSANDS FED AT HONDA CENTER THANKSGIVING FEAST IN ANAHEIM

For nearly 40 years, Frank Garcia and his La Casa Garcia restaurant in Anaheim have been serving Thanksgiving meals to families who could use some help on the holiday.

The need has grown to where they will serve thousands of meals at the parking lot of the Honda Center.

The theme for this time is: “We Give Thanks.” It isn’t just a slogan, it’s a way the Garcia family and volunteers see as giving back.

“I love it. My thing is it’s not how many people I serve,” Garcia said. “If I serve one, I did my work, but I don’t count numbers. I just give.”

People were waiting in line way before the gate opened at 11 a.m. Some in line said they’ve been there many times before and are grateful for the Thanksgiving meal.

“It’s just beautiful. I come every year and I like it. A lot of people come and have some fun,” said Anaheim resident Baltazar Alvarez.

Gustavo Dionisio of Anaheim was also in line.

“I think we should all thank that they’re giving us this,” he said. “Even though we have the pandemic, I think we should automatically enjoy what we have.”

For nearly 20 years, the Honda Center and the Anaheim Ducks have helped out with the meals. After Thursday’s practice some of the Ducks players came out to help serve.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time,” Ducks player Cam Fowler said. “It’s great for us to be able to connect with the community, and they know that we’re here for them, to help them in any way that we can. So we’re definitely happy to do it. “

As long as there’s a need, Frank Garcia says this is how they’re going to continue to welcome in the holiday season.

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Gov. Newsom to Release $1B in Previously Withheld Homeless Funds

After scolding officials across the state earlier this month until they came up with a plan, Gavin Newsom means business

Governor Gavin Newsom has agreed to release $1 billion in state homelessness funding that he had previously withheld, having been dissatisfied with many local government’s efforts to reduce the number of unhoused across the state.

The governor said that his meeting Friday with roughly 100 mayors and local officials—held in person and virtually—showed significant productivity according to a press release from his office. Leaders across the state seem to be on the same page about how to step up their goals for tackling homelessness.

“It was nice to hear their progress. And it was nice to hear their recognition that we have to get to another level,” the Associated Press reports he said after the meeting. “What I want to see is what everybody wants to see: the streets of California cleaned up. We want to see encampments cleaned up, we want to see people housed.”

Newsom may have experienced a breezy reelection this month, but is due to be held to high expectations for his next term. Most notably, he must address the growing number of unhoused individuals, many of which have set up camps on city sidewalks and below underpasses.

His decision to withhold $1 billion in spending two weeks ago certainly shocked the state. The announcement was rooted in his overall disappointment with plans submitted by cities and counties.

Newsom said their plans were “simply unacceptable” as they would collectively reduce the state’s homeless population by a mere 2 percent over the next four years.

Many mayors and county officials—as well as advocates for low-income housing—rebuked his efforts to withhold funding, saying it was counterproductive in to hold the money needed for services for the homeless.

On Friday, Newsom reiterated that his administration had spent a record number on housing and homelessness, one recent commitment being $15.3 billion over the next three years. These contributions have kept tens of thousands of people housed, but he acknowledged the streets showed a far different result.

Newsom ensured he would still support local governments, but that “finding new dedicated money as we enter into what could be a recession with the headwinds, one has to be sober about that — just as they’re sober about that with their budgets.”

Though Friday’s meeting received the support of many, such as Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg who defended Newsom, some were left agitated.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who tuned in virtually, said the pure volume of the meeting was damaging to “forthright, constructive dialogue.” He added that several mayors were told weeks ago that Newsom would release the money if they submitted new plans.

The California State Association of Counties was far blunter in their criticism of Newsom’s actions of late.

“We can’t fix an ongoing crisis with one-time commitments. Progress requires clear state, county, and city roles aligned with sustainable, equitable funding. We need to get out of our own way and work together,” Graham Knaus, executive director of the association that represents the state’s 58 counties, told AP.

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Longtime Bowers Museum CEO dies

Bowers Museum CEO and President Peter C. Keller has died at age 75, the museum announced Thursday.

Keller died Tuesday night, according to Kelly Bishop, a spokeswoman for the Santa Ana-based museum.

His last day on the job was spent “putting in a full day of work in preparation for the opening of an exceptional exhibition that he was very proud of, ‘Guo Pei: Art of Couture,’ followed by dinner with his wife,” according to a statement from the museum.

“With his leadership and experience, we have brought amazing exhibits from all around the world to Orange County,” said Anne Shih, the museum’s chair and board of governors.

Keller was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geology from George Washington University. He earned master’s and doctorate degrees in geology from the University of Texas-Austin.

Keller started work at Bowers in 1991. Before that, he was director of education at the Gemological Institute of America and worked for nearly a decade at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Keller will be privately buried in his hometown and plans are in the works for a celebration of his life. Instead of flowers, donations were asked for the museum at http://www.bowers.org/donate.

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Early voting starts tomorrow! 

Skip the Election Day lines and save time by voting early! Starting tomorrow at 10 AM, you can vote in person or drop off your Vote by Mail ballot at any Vote Center in L.A. County.

Visit PLAN.LAVOTE.GOV to find your nearest Vote Center and make your voice heard.

FIND A VOTE CENTER

L.A. County Vote Centers provide everything you need to vote in the 2022 General Election, including accessible voting equipment, language services, and they also serve as a Vote by Mail Ballot Drop Box location.

Voting by mail? No problem! You can return your ballot by mail (no postage required), or drop it off in any of the 400 Official Ballot Drop Boxes throughout L.A. County. 

Don’t wait — make your plan to vote at a Vote Center before November 8 by visiting PLAN.LAVOTE.GOV today!

Voting early is the fastest and simplest way to make your voice heard. Make your plan to vote today, and vote for the future you want.

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Join KJLH Personalities for the African American Male Wellness Walk/Fair

Join the KJLH team and walk with Kevin Nash!

Help save the lives of african american men and their families! Register for the walk on site.


– Free health screenings and vaccines –
– Vendors –
– Live entertainment –
– Bounce house, face painting and more for kids –


This is a free family friendly event for the entire community
Take pictures with Adai Lamar, Tammi Mac and Kevin Nash at the CDPH photo booth
Join Adai and fitness instructor Dion Jackson at 9:30am-10am for a pre-walk warm up and for $50 gift card give aways.


Kevin nash wants to hear you sing! Stop by his air stream mobile karaoke studio
– visit aawellness.org

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LA County Office of Immigrant Affairs Celebrates National Immigrants Day with Grants to Immigrant-Focused Community-Based Organizations

10 nonprofits to receive first round of grants to strengthen their capacity to serve the County’s immigrant communities

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA), in the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA), celebrates National Immigrants Day on Friday, October 28, 2022, by recognizing 10 immigrant-focused Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) that are receiving capacity-strengthening grants made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Each organization will receive two-year grants of $150,000 and technical assistance as part of OIA’s Capacity Strengthening Grants for Immigrant Focused CBOs initiative.

These grants are the first round of OIA’s efforts to support CBOs that are focused on helping immigrants and their families recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. As more funds become available, OIA plans to provide similar grants to CBOs that serve immigrants throughout the LA County.

“Through the Office of Immigrant Affairs and ARP Act investments, we are ensuring that the vibrant communities we serve are able to thrive as we recover from the pandemic,” said DCBA’s Director Rafael Carbajal. “We look forward to the successful implementation of every recipient-organizations’ projects to advance our mutual missions.”

“The Center for Nonprofit Management (CNM) is honored to work with OIA and this group of nonprofit leaders over the next two years to build new skills and support their efforts to serve the many immigrant communities that enrich LA County and improve lives for so many,” said Regina Birdsell, CNM President and CEO.

Grants were made to the following immigrant-focused organizations for the following purposes:

  • Al Otro Lado will expand and restructure case management services by hiring a social worker to focus on LGBTQ+, disabled, indigent, Kreyol-speaking, Indigenous language-speaking and Spanish-speaking individuals, among other marginalized groups.
  • California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative will design communication strategies that reaffirm their strategic focus on racial justice and equity, Black/Asian solidarity, labor and employment rights, and securing a just economic recovery for the immigrant workforce.
  • Community Lawyers, Inc. (CLI) will increase temporary program staffing so that leadership can engage in tailored technical assistance around long-term strategic visioning, planning and fundraising.
  • Comunidades Indígenas en liderazgo (CIELO) will strengthen leadership and infrastructure to attend to language justice needs and fight against the invisibility of indigenous people and the resulting language violence.
  • Filipino Migrant Center will hire a bilingual Communications Coordinator and a bilingual Community Organizer to develop health education programs for low-income and working class Filipino families in Los Angeles County.
  • Korean American Coalition will fight against Asian hate, provide bilingual and culturally appropriate alternative dispute resolution, ongoing COVID-19 in-language outreach, leadership development for Korean American youth, and civic engagement campaigns.
  • The Latino and Latina Roundtable will launch a pilot immigration program with temporary staff to coordinate immigration services and create programming and content to address the immediate needs of the immigrant community.
  • Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander (NHPI) Alliance will develop specific, operations-level programs, personnel, fund development, and volunteer management plans and support the Alliance in expanding their citizenship and immigration clinics.
  • Refugee Children Center will support families unable to secure pro bono or low-cost representation in filing asylum applications or withholding removal and employment authorizations forms, thus increasing participants’ chances of securing legal representation.
  • Saahas for Cause will improve, configure and train staff in data collection and management, as well as strengthen the capacity of the Board of Directors, especially around roles and responsibilities and data-driven decision-making.

The 10 grantees were honored by OIA and the LA County Board of Supervisors at a virtual recognition event on Friday. A recording of the event is available on DCBA’s YouTube page.

For more information about the initiative, visit cnmsocal.org/capacity-strengthening-grants-for-immigrant-focused-cbos/. For more resources and information provided by the Los Angeles County Office of Immigrant Affairs, visit immigrants.lacounty.gov.

National Immigrants Day is a commemoration that began with an Act of Congress in 1987 to honor the contributions of immigrants both past and present. It is recognized on October 28, the day the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886.

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2 Los Angeles councilmen to be stripped of committee roles amid furor over racist remarks

Two Los Angeles City Council members are being stripped of their committee seats and leadership posts even as pressure continues for them to resign altogether.

The two members, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, were caught participating in a recorded conversation involving racist remarks and manipulation of the city redistricting process. A third councilmember, Nury Martinez, has already resigned her seat but de León and Cedillo have so far resisted stepping down.

Acting Council President Mitch O’Farrell, who took over the role when Martinez stepped down, said for now all the council can do is remove de León and Cedillo from their leadership assignments.

The council by law does not have the ability to remove fellow elected members unless they’ve been accused of serious criminal charges. If they don’t resign, the only other way to remove them from office is by a recall election.

Cedillo lost his primary election this summer and his term will expire in December if he does not resign before then.

The council will also re-examine some of the underlying issues that have re-emerged amid the scandal.

During Tuesday’s meeting, O’Farrell said, the council will start tackling issues such as redistricting reform, increasing representation on the council and electing a new president.

A council committee will also start meeting to consider a formal vote of censure against the members who participated in the conversation.

Because Councilman Mike Bonin recently tested positive for COVID-19, Tuesday’s meeting is being held virtually.

In the meantime, protesters with Black Lives Matter continue to camp out near de León’s home, saying they will not leave until he resigns. Some of them said the discussion about redistricting heard in the recorded conversation resulted in a loss of political power for Black communities.

“The whole reason they were in that meeting was to undermine Black political representation and Black power in Los Angeles,” said Joseph Williams, one of the BLM protesters. “That absolutely needs to be investigated.”

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