Community Organizer Malik Spellman and Unity T.W.O. Program Manager Kenneth Valentine, were on hand at the Unity T.W.O. headquarters at 8523 S. Avalon Blvd., in South Central Los Angeles a few days before Christmas when the Jackson Limousine’s ‘Sneaker Bus’ arrived with several hundred pairs of tennis shoes to be distributed among needy members of that challenged community.
“Unity T.W.O., is a gang intervention and prevention program that has been working in the community for years to curb the proliferation of gang-related activities,” Valentine explained. “Today, however, because it is the Christmas and the holiday season, we are giving back to the community and are distributing over 300 pairs of shoes donated by Sports L.A.”
Before arriving at the Unity T.W.O headquarters, the ‘Sneaker Bus,’ a luxury local and touring bus provided by Jackson, stopped at a variety of locations where individuals, unable to leave their home for a number of health-related reasons, were treated to home delivery.
“One of the stops was at the home of Rose Smith, a 24-year-old mother of two who was paralyzed from the waist down one year ago after she was struck by a stray bullet outside her home in Nickerson Gardens,” Spellman said.
When the bus arrived at Unity T.W.O., at around 11:00 a.m., hundreds of families were lined-up outside of the office to be sized and fitted for their new shoes.
Unity T.W.O. works with other community based gang intervention programs like Unity One, Unity Three, Venice 2000, KUSH, and the Toberman House. Mustafa Fletcher, current CEO of Unity T.W.O., was among the pioneers of the ‘grass-roots’ effort to eliminate gang-related crime and violence.
Valentine explained that while there are many success stories that are directly attributable to the efforts of his colleagues at Unity T.W.O., the real credit goes to all of the organizations and their individual representatives who have devoted their lives to working with gang members, at the street level, to curb the growth and proliferation of gang-related killing, crime, and violence.
“We are particularly proud of the work we have accomplished on the East Side of Los Angeles,” he said.
“We have been able to help to sustain an agreement between the Swans and the East Coast Crips where they have agreed to a pact of mutual respect and no shooting. In addition to our work with gangs and individual gang members, we are also proud of the charitable work we have been able to deliver to the community.
“Because of the number of younger children who appeared today seeking new shoes, we were able to secure an additional 100 pair of shoes for children ages 1-3.
“Unfortunately, for many of the children we will see, it may be their only Christmas gift.”
E.J. Jackson, Jackson Limousine founder and owner, was also present during the ‘Sneaker Bus’ stop at the Unity T.W.O headquarters. In fact, he was the actual bus driver who made the deliveries and was present for every mile of the individual household visits.
“We have been in business for 30 years in this community and it is because of this community that we have grown to the level of success that we now enjoy throughout the Los Angeles area,” Jackson said.
“It is our pleasure to serve those in need throughout our community and it is particularly important that we help those in our own backyard. We were built on serving the people in our neighborhood. When other limousine companies would not service our high school students during their proms or our grieving families when there were funerals, Jackson Limousine’s was there.
“They were there for us when were aspiring to grow and we are now giving from our hearts, to express our appreciation and to help those in our community who are in need.”
Les Jones, president of Bus Operations, accentuated his boss’ sentiments.
“We are not in it just for the money,” he explained. “We are about our community and this effort is from our hearts.”