January 24, 2018

On today's show Adrian talks with Jonathan Zeichner, the Executive Director of A Place Called Home, a wonderful organization at work in South Central Los Angeles.

Brandon Friedman, former deputy assistant for public affairs at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, put it best: “In America, the zip code of a person’s birth can predict educational attainment and life expectancy with a high degree of accuracy.”  People are shaped by the circumstances and economics of their upbringing.

In the United States today the zip code into which you are born is the strongest determining factor in the quality and outcomes of your life. In these communities, the neighborhood environment conspires to harm residents. These environments lack basic health protective amenities like parks, grocery stores, decent schools, jobs, housing, and the list goes on.

When most people think of health, they think of the doctor. The truth is, your zip is more important than your genetic code when it comes to health. Zip code is shorthand for neighborhoods and it is there that chronic stress-inducing conditions shape the present and future of the residents. 

South Los Angeles is a place where families struggle to make ends meet, kids take the long way to school to avoid gangs, and some high schools graduate only 6 in 10 students.  Children growing up here must overcome significant barriers, and there is no guarantee of success.

Poverty, violence, unemployment, substandard schools, lack of fresh food and options for health care… When you are born into the 90011 zip code, the odds are stacked against you in a thousand ways that you can’t control. 

And this brings us to today's nonprofit, A Place Called Home, an organization on the ground working to improve the odds for the children and their families.  

At A Place Called Home, they understand that “it takes a village” to raise a child to overcome that kind of adversity and they are committed to working in partnership with the parents and families of their members...their goal to protect, nourish, guide and support the young people in the community so they can go on to have healthy lives and be contributing citizens.  @APCH2830

A Place Called Home (APCH) began in 1993, the brainchild of Founder Debrah Constance. In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots and Civil Unrest, Debrah wanted to give gang-affected youth in South Central L.A. a safe place to go after school, do their homework, get a snack, watch TV, hang out with friends, and be with caring adults – basic needs that all young people have.

APCH started off in May 1993 with twelve children getting together in the basement of a neighborhood church. Today it has grown into a 25,000 square foot facility that features an athletic field, commercial kitchen, garden, dance, music and art studios, a library and computer lab, a dropout recovery center, and a teen center. APCH provides a home away from home for more than 300 children and youth every day, and directly serves more than 1,000 youth and families every year, and thousands more community members via large scale events such as health fairs, concerts, screenings, and regular distributions of food, clothing, toys, books, school supplies and more.

Since its inception, A Place Called Home has transformed the lives of over 19,000 youth by providing them with a safe space to express themselves, learn, excel and thrive. 

Adrian visited a Place Called Home earlier this month and sat down with Jonathan Zeichner, the Executive Director to talk about the amazing scope of programs they offer to the youth and families in the community.  Because of the length of the interview, we’ll bring you Part 2 in the second hour of our show.