Hundreds of residents of the Jordan Downs Public Housing complex in Watts, packed the community’s recreation room a few days before Christmas to participate in a holiday party provided by The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles (SCLCLA), The Poor People’s Campaign, and Clean Up America.
In addition to the celebratory occasion that featured live music and other local entertainment along with holiday signs and banners, the party hosts treated the Jordan Down residents to over 400 free turkeys and toys for the children.
Tyronne Freeman and Rev. Eric Lee, chair and president/CEO, respectively, of the SCLCLA and Donnie Porter, president of Clean Up America, got the party started at 1:00 p.m., at the Jordan Downs Recreation Center.
“We are especially honored during this time of year to continue the legacy of Dr. King to extend good will to those greatest in need,” said Tyronne Freeman.
Jordan Downs, with over 700 housing units serving a balanced mix of Black and Latino families, according to Mary Griffin, Jordan Downs Recreation Assistant, is one of the most underserved communities in the City of Los Angeles and has not had any new economic development in over 50 years, as indicated in the literature from The Poor People’s Campaign.
Earlier this year, the SCLCLA engaged over 500 residents in a ‘day of dialogue’ to discuss a plan to improve that community with new, quality homes. The turkey and gift giveaway, just before Christmas, a time of year when families come together to give thanks, exchange gifts, and celebrate the last holiday of the year, demonstrated that the SCLC and The Poor People’s Campaign, intend to follow-up on their commitment.
Rev. Lee told the audience, “We are here today to improve the quality of life for Jordan Downs residents.”
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and The Poor People’s Campaign was created by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to help eradicate poverty and create a more just society. Earlier this year, The Poor People’s Campaign was re-launched by a collaborative partnership of community leaders and prominent organizations ranging from civil and human rights, labor, faith-based, political, and business.
Jordan Downs is one of several major public housing communities in Watts that provides rental housing assistance payments to those individuals and families, who otherwise, would not be able to pay their full, monthly rent.
Mary Griffin, a recreation assistant and full-time employee of Jordan Downs, explained that the free items being distributed today will truly make the difference between inside the homes of some of her neighbors. “Many of the Jordan Down residents,” she said, “would not have a turkey or gifts for their children, if it were not for the kindness and generosity of The Poor People’s Campaign and the SCLC.”
While the residents of Jordan Downs were graciously accepting the hospitality of the SCLCLA, The Poor People’s Campaign and Clean Up America, residents of Nickerson Gardens, another major public housing property with 1,053 units, only a few minutes from Jordan Downs, were also celebrating the holiday season with a free meal and a free toy giveaway.
Donny Joubert, Housing Authority recreation assistant and member of the Watts Gang Task Force, said, “Every year at this time we provide a free meal for the Nickerson Gardens residents and giveaway free toys for the children.”
Karl Stephens, Nickerson Gardens facility director, indicated that there are many people, individuals, public agencies, and elected officials that deserve the credit for this year’s event but he made special mention of the support of Los Angeles City Councilmember Janice Hahn, the City of Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Department, LA City Camp, and the Housing Authority.
The Nickerson Gardens pre-Christmas event featured gifts for all of the children as well as an opportunity to be among the winners of over 30 bicycles, shirts from Philadelphia ‘76ers basketball player Andre Miller, and personal care gift bags for the adults.
The act of giving as well as the true spirit of the holiday season, which includes extending a hand to someone in need, was pervasive throughout the recreation areas of Jordan Downs and Nickerson Gardens, just before Christmas.