Fri, May

Los Angeles comes together during COVID-19 crisis

Audubon Middle School is one of LAUSD's Grab & Go Food Centers. Photos by Jason Lewis


Community members have stepped up to help people who are the most in need.

By Tracey Edwards

During a time where people are supposed to be social distancing, which cuts off the more vulnerable people from vital resources, local community service organizations, small businesses, and politicians have stepped up to help people during this COVID-19 crisis.

“We’re being told to social distance,” said South L.A. Cafe co-owner Celia Ward-Wallace.  “While on one side of the coin, people are feeling isolated and scared, on the other side of the coin, this crisis has brought people together even more now than ever.  There’s a sense of urgency and a sense of emergency.  Everybody who is in leadership, business, community organizing, have come together in a collective way.  This is not about how we can make money.  This is not about getting recognition.  This is about what can you do to help the community.”

South L.A. Cafe owners Joe and Celia Ward-Wallace help master chef Jazz Jones prepare lunches that were delivered to seniors at Ward Villas.

South L.A. Cafe and several other local restaurants are participating in a program created by Los Angeles Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson that serves lunches to local seniors.  Lunches are dropped off at the seniors’ front doors, and in many cases, the person making the delivery is able to check on how the senior is doing.  Hot & Cool Cafe also participates in this program, and owner Anthony Jolly has provided meals for 120 seniors three times a week.  

“The seniors love it, and they actually get some interaction,” Jolly said.  “They’re being told not to come out (of their residence).  So to have somebody come to them with a lunch and a smile, it just changes their day.”

This interaction, even if it’s just a person speaking to them while standing outside of their residence, is important for seniors who live alone.

“In this day and age of social media, a lot of seniors aren’t on there,” Jolly said.  “So right now, this is a forgotten generation.”

Hot & Cool Cafe owner Anthony Jolly has meals delivered to 120 seniors three times a week.

Los Angeles Councilmember Herb Wesson has also supported this program, and he has given out free diapers to parents, which is very important for people who are not receiving paychecks right now.  Also, diapers have been hard to come by at local grocery stores.

"The role of government is to help and look out for the people we represent,” Wesson said.  “A few weeks ago when the Mayor (Eric Garcetti) issued the stay-at home order, we saw a mad dash to the grocery markets clearing the shelves of much-needed essentials.  My office has given away hundreds of thousands of diapers; three times a week we are delivering food boxes to the district’s senior housing projects; and as of today have distributed thousands of protective face shields.  We will continue to do all of this to help ease the minds of the residents of this city.  If we can help take a stress away such as diapers or even a stress as large as food for our senior neighbors, we can focus on what is important, staying home in order to flatten this curve and beat this virus."

The Los Angeles Unified School District has helped ease the burden from families as their children are out of school.  Every morning at local schools they have given out breakfast and lunch to families in need.

“We see many of the same people everyday,” said Latetsia Fox, Sr. Financial Manager at Dorsey High School.  “We don’t know them by name, but we know them by face.”

Community members stop by Dorsey High School and other LAUSD schools daily to pick up breakfast and lunch. (Photo taken before masks were required.)

Community service organizations such as Healing Hope 4 the Homeless have supported local communities for years, and now they are even more important because recourses are harder to come by.

“The importance of this right now, as we’re going through this COVID-19 is to help those with needs of food,” Tovin Lewis said.  “We’re helping them survive through this.”

Healing Hope 4 the Homeless typically gives out food every first and third Saturday at Normandie Church of Christ.  But with the stay-at-home orders, they are now making home deliveries.

“We’re doing drops and whatever we can to keep the community itself afloat,” Lewis said.  “Some of these people are not able to get out of their homes.  Many people do not want to take public transportation right now and some of the people who are elderly cannot do it because of social distancing.”

Healing Hope 4 the Homeless gave out food at Normandie Church of Chris and delivered meals to seniors.

While COVID-19 has caused many people to dramatically alter their lives, it has also shown that together, a community can get themselves through a crisis like this.