Celebrating Community Heroes in Los Angeles

Los Angeles- On a beautiful Thursday, November 7, evening, CRC members and friends gathered to celebrate Los Angeles Reinvestment. More than one hundred people filled a room at the Music Center of Los Angeles County, to honor the important work of community heroes, network and enjoy fine food and drink at CRC’s thirteenth LA celebration. To view pictures from the event, visit CRC’s blog.

James Zahradka, CRC Board of Directors’ Chair and Namoch Sokhom, Director of PACE Business Development Center, welcomed the crowd and thanked those present for supporting CRC and reinvestment in Los Angeles. Every year, CRC honors individuals and groups with CRA Panther awards for the significant impact they make in the communities they serve. CRC presented four Panther awards this year to community heroes.

Inner City Struggle
CRC Board member and Director of the Community Wealth Department at East LA Community Corporation,Daniel Rodriguez, introduced Maria Brenes, Executive Director of Inner City Struggle (ICS). ICS works tirelessly for social and educational justice in the communities of East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, El Sereno and Lincoln Heights. ICS organizes youth and families to push for equitable opportunities and quality education to ensure all students graduate and attend college as well as for the opening of neighborhood schools. Recently, their efforts led to the establishment of wellness centers at local high schools and increased access to the School District’s Breakfast Program.

Khmer Girls in Action
Namoch Sokhom, CRC Board member and Director of the Business Development Center at PACE, gave theCRA Panther award to Lian Cheun, Executive Director of Khmer Girls in Action (KGA). KGA does outstanding work to help Southeast Asian young women in the City of Long Beach to blossom like lotus flowers and become powerful forces in the movement for social justice. KGA works to bring better health services and justice toLong Beach and to improve graduation rates for Khmer girls and all students. The girls organize to make their voices heard, empower themselves, and educate elected officials and community leaders.

Pat Pinto
CRC Board member and Executive Director of the Southern California Housing Rights Council, Chancela Al-Mansour, introduced Pat Pinto from the Legal Aid Society of Orange County. Ms. Pinto is an extremely effective advocate for at-risk homeowners in the entire Los Angeles and Orange Counties area. She is a leader in developing the Foreclosure Mandatory Settlement Conference program to assist homeowners in Orange County and has advised Advocates for Consumer Justice on how to structure such a program in Los Angeles County.

Vermont Village Community Development Corporation

Lori Gay, Executive Director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County introduced Robert Rubin, Executive Director of the Vermont Village Community Development Corporation (VVCDC). VVCDC is based at the Crenshaw Christian Center and has opened its doors for multiple large-scale foreclosure prevention events for borrowers in trouble in South Los Angeles. The CDC works closely with the Center for Foreclosure Solutions as a counseling referral source for thousands of home owners and parishioners. As part of the NSP 2consortium, VVCDC has worked to rehab dozens of homes and numerous multi-family REO properties to respond to the mortgage meltdown.

CRC Board member and Executive Director of VEDC, Roberto Barragan, presented a proclamation from Congresswoman Maxine Waters to Executive Director Alan Fisher. Roberto and the Board of Directors thanked Alan for his years of service.

CRC Board Chair James Zahradka recognized the many community leaders in the gathering and thanked them for attending and introduced. He also introduced Paulina Gonzalez, who will begin work as CRC’s executive director in January 2014.

Everyone present recognized the outstanding work being done by the honorees as well as many in the audience.