I asked “Who will fix Monrovia’s dirty little secret” a short time ago. Ending the immediate violence lays largely with the various law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction in the areas fractured by various city limits. The rest, the prevention and healing belongs to the community, the community that never paid attention to the limit lines.
Tuesday’s meeting at Santa Fe Middle School hosted by Monrovia Unified was the forum where there were no lines. Nearly 300 parents attended. Many voiced concerns, many offered their hands to help prevent problems in the future and keep our kids safe. This forum was simply about a community protecting its kids. A more powerful motivator than the fear of the bangers waging war amongst themselves.
One of the most powerful speakers of the evening was Steven Gholar. I have met him on a few occasions over the years. I met him through his family who are an incredible force of positive energy in the community and our schools. (His sisters have crossed my families path and I am fortunate to have had them partner with us in raising our kids when starting their education at Foothill Preschool here in Monrovia). Steven is no different in respect to being a positive energy of change.
He first spoke to the LA Sheriff, Monrovia PD and the group about how shootings in “no mans land” (not my term, but one we see in the press a lot) are nothing new. Shootings have happened since he lived there as a child, he asked that now that everyone’s attention is on the problem that they never forget and keep up the efforts to keep our families safe.
He talked of “Cypress Oneness” that is going on his street. This humble idea fosters living by “virtues” and teaching the neighborhood children by example.
What are the “Virtues”? Honor, Respect, Love, Appreciate Diversity, Celebrate Diversity.
I spoke with Steven’s sister Joanie Yuille who was among the founders of the group. She along with her daughter Ruhiyyiah Yuille and friend Laura Masters founded the group. It came about after Hurricane Katrina as neighbors met at the bus stop and talked about how things were seemingly hopeless. Cypress Oneness started on the belief that a neighborhood that stands together can make life better. Their program came about from the desire “to do something” for their neighborhood.
Cypress Oneness is informally run with input from the neighborhood children and parents. It is held in the Gholar family home where these adults hosting were once children themselves. Meeting every Thursday at least 2 of the teachers is there to lead the discussions and teaching of one of the virtues with the children. Which virtue is decided by the teachers after discussions with the parents on the street.
“We are like the flowers on Sara’s jacket, if we were all the same it would be boring, a garden full of color is alive and exciting, we all want to live in that kind of garden”
They will have anywhere from 8 – 15 children ranging in age from about 4 to 12 years from the neighborhood and all over Monrovia. The evening is loosely structured starting with a lesson in one of the virtues, leading to a short period of prayer and song. Then it’s off to dinner and homework tutoring.
It is a neighborhood project. One that draws on resources from the community to make their tiny pocket of LA better. They go outside of the community as well gathering resources like free tutors from Azusa Pacific University. All of this done to show the kids how to make a neighborhood a great place to live and thrive. It is this sort of energy that makes my little corner of LA so great. It is an example of the many pockets of hope in LA.
Joanie and Steven Gholar welcome all in the community interested in joining them at their “Cypress Oneness” to do so. Please contact me direct and we’ll work out the phone number exchange. (We’re doing this to protect their privacy a bit).
Pics by me some get a bit bigger with a quick click. This is part of an informal series of posts on the pockets of hope within LA, starting in my own front yard.