New health clinic at Washington Prep

By Lauren Jones

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News

imageSt. John’s Well Child & Family Center CEO Jim Mangia.

St. John’s Well Child & Family Center opened its school-based health clinic on Thursday at Washington Preparatory High School in South Los Angeles.

Free dental, physical and mental care is now within walking distance for many residents in South Los Angeles.

“The physical and mental services would be the most used,” said Jacqueline Zendejas, a senior at Washington Prep High School. “Students, whether they like it or not have to get things off their chest and sometimes they wouldn’t consider their friends the best option because they don’t know if one day they won’t be there anymore or they’ll go tell other people.

Zendejas is pursuing a career in the medical field and says that this clinic is inspiring.

Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Supervisor for the Second District, was on hand for the opening. He said it will improve health care access for South LA residents.

imageL.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at the opening of St. John’s Well Child & Family Center clinic at Washington Prep High School.

Community member, Kenneth Jones came out to lend his support of the completed project.

“It shouldn’t be anybody suffering at home because they have lack of medical attention or transportation,” Jones said. “For many years, post-traumatic stress disorder has been overlooked and it’s only been applied to U.S. veterans, but in actuality the children who grew up in gang infested community are under post-traumatic stress.”

This center not only focuses on physical health, but has an emphasis on people’s mental state as well. It will be a place for these children and the community at large to get the help they need.

“We never had a clinic where they can go and be able to express themselves because a lot of people cannot relate to gang violence,” Jones said. “Even if they never participated, btu I grew up and live on the street with 14 boys and then one day when you get 45 you look up again and there’s only two people still left standing.”

This string of 12 clinics is only the beginning. In January 2014, ObamaCare will create many more opportunities like this in underserved communities. St. John’s Well Child & Family Center opened another wellness clinic on March 27 at Dominguez High School in Compton.

The streets of South LA are filled with potholes

By Emilie Mateau

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News

imageAnyone who drives in Los Angeles has encountered potholes. The problem is so bad that City Councilman Joe Buscaino is beginning a series of hearings to get public input on a ballot measure to fix them. He wants a three billion dollar bond measure that would fund repairs over a ten-year period. That may sound like a lot of money, but it’s the drivers who are now paying the cost of bad roads. [Read more…]

Prominent South LA endorsements in the race for mayor

By Sarah Politis

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News:

Two powerful endorsements were announced in the race for Los Angeles mayor on Thursday. City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel are running against each other in the May run-off. On Thursday, they each joined their supporters in South Los Angeles to announce the endorsements.

imageJan Perry endorsed Eric Garcetti. (Photo by Neon Tommy)

Jan Perry stood in front of a crowd at the 28th street YMCA to endorse her colleague Eric Garcetti. While Perry might wish it was the other way around, since she spent most of her unsuccessful mayoral campaign competing against Garcetti. [Read more…]

The Sandwich Smith a welcome addition to Little Tokyo

By Tanaya Ghosh

imageHave you ever eaten a savory sandwich on a doughnut bun? Yes, you heard right — a doughnut bun! It’s exactly the kind of bread you can find at Little Tokyo’s The Sandwich Smith.

Before you write off the idea of a doughnut surrounding your sandwich fillings, it might be best to explain the concept behind The Sandwich Smith.

The Sandwich Smith was inspired by a San Francisco business that’s part bakery, part deli. Every sandwich at The Sandwich Smith is custom-built — perfect for those picky eaters.

The restaurant is clean and bright inside. imageAt night, the mood shifts to a slightly fancier, more romantic atmosphere. The Sandwich Smith staff is extremely friendly, from the moment you walk in until the moment you leave.

Customers fill out a form to build their sandwiches.The options are plentiful, with everything from buttermilk fried chicken to bacon coleslaw available as toppings. A variety of side dishes round out The Sandwich Smith menu.

I topped my pulled pork sandwich with cheddar cheese, BBQ sauce, pickled red onions, and sweet and sour coleslaw — all of it assembled on The Sandwich Smith’s doughnut bun.

imageThe doughnut bun didn’t look like an actual doughnut — more like a baked sandwich roll. ,It wasn’t sweet, but was soft and tasted great.

Wash down your sandwich with the Sandwich Smith’s Arnold Palmer — a mix of green tea and freshly- made lemonade. The drink was delicious and refreshing — a great complement to my pulled-pork sandwich.

Pull out your smartphone and check into the restaurant on Yelp to receive a free pastry.

Feel free to tweet at me: @MsTanayaG. Stay tuned until next time, when I share with you my next foodie find!

The Sandwich Smith is located at 362 E. 1st St. in Downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district. For more information, visit

A piece of wisdom off Slauson Avenue

By Daniella Segura

“Greetings friend,” said Mr. Wisdom, as a customer came through the door.

“Hey Mr. Wisdom, my brother! How are you today?,” said Perry Payton.

“Oh, I’m just trying to be as good as you,” said Mr. Wisdom, with a broad smile.

imageMr. Wisdom

For the past 25 years, the Jamaican native, who goes by the name Mr. Wisdom, has been serving specialty vegan food in South Los Angeles within the Hyde Park community, urging native residents to eat health and try his diet and cleanses.

“Some people, they call me Doctor Wisdom after I help them get healthier, and I have to correct them,” said Mr. Wisdom. “I am not a medicinal doctor. I am more like a nutritionist.”

The man who runs Mr. Wisdom’s Specialty Health Food Store refuses to reveal his real name, and is known to his customers by the shop’s moniker.

He started his business to promote, Hare Krishna, the common name for the International Society of Krishna Consciousness movement that is based in Hinduism.

He calls his business “Mr. Wisdom” in reference to Krishna, the god of the Hare Krishna religion, and said that Krishna is the real “Mr. Wisdom.”

Those who follow the Hare Krishna religion are strict vegans who do not eat meat or dairy products.

“In Hare Krishna, you realize animals are conscious,” said Mr. Wisdom. “They feel pain like you and I. In my religion, it is against the law of nature to cause pain or suffering to any living creature.”

Raised in Jamaica, Mr. Wisdom joined the British Army when he was 18. At the time, Jamaica was still an English colony.

“I wanted to find out what made the world tick,” he said.

After spending six years in the British Army, Mr. Wisdom stayed in England to get into the entertainment business because he wanted to “sing, dance and perform.”

In spite of his efforts, he never reached his dream, saying that the business was too competitive. So, he moved back to Jamaica and lived there for the next three years.

Still on the quest for success and adventure, Mr. Wisdom moved to the U.S. in the 1970s. After struggling to manage a gas station for a few years, he began searching for answers.

“I wanted to know why some people were so successful and other people, who were as equally talented, were not successful,” he said.

He looked to self-help books and different religions, but eventually found his answer in Hare Krishna, which he has followed for over the past 40 years.

Mr. Wisdom explained that after finding Hare Krishna, he wanted to do something for the community by selling healthier food and spreading the word about his religion. Yet, he did not have a place to do it. Instead, he sold items like wheatgrass from the back of a travel trailer, which also served as his home.

imageOne day a sick woman came to him for help, Mr. Wisdom said. He helped her improve her diet, which then improved her health. Once she recovered, she came back to Mr. Wisdom to ask what she could to do repay him.

“I said, ‘If you know how to buy real estate you can help me,'” he said, as he was preparing food. “She helped me get my own place. That’s why I always say the location chose me.”

Michael, who did not want to give his last name, helps Mr. Wisdom with his office work and has known him for the past ten years. He said that Mr. Wisdom’s work inspires him.

“Krishna and Krishna consciousness are why he does the work he does,” Michael said.

“That’s his motivation to go in and do his work every morning,” he added, while finishing a plate of Mr. Wisdom’s curry vegetable.

As he scurries around his store preparing meals for customers, Mr. Wisdom appears much younger than his age.

“I forgot to make more rice,” Mr. Wisdom said to one of his customers. “But it’s okay. You know why? I always got a back up.”

The store’s quaint interior contrasts with the congested Slauson Avenue outside.

The room is filled by Hare Krishna music coming from his TV, which sounds like faint chants of “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna.” Meanwhile, the humming of his wheatgrass juicer also plays in the background as he makes a smoothie for one of his customers.

The aroma of Indian curry and spices can be smelled throughout the store.

Many regular customers have grown close to Mr. Wisdom. Payton, who works nearby, comes to Mr. Wisdom’s store every day, since January.

“[He’s] a very warm person with a caring heart and has the time to talk with you if you need help,” said Payton. “We need more places like this out here.”

Laron Maull, who has been a customer for the past six years, said he thinks Mr. Wisdom is doing the community a favor by offering them healthier eating options.

“[Mr. Wisdom’s] a cool guy,” Maull said. “When you find something like this, you continue to come.”

Maull currently works as a high school counselor, and said he stops by the store whenever he gets the chance.

Mr. Wisdom said he plans to expand his store by adding another building next door.

“I’m hoping the expansion will help my store take off,” said Mr. Wilson. “After that, I want to go back to Jamaica and start another store there.”

Protests against shutdown of some L.A. County Courthouses

By Nicolette Kelegian

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News

The Los Angeles Superior Court system will begin consolidating courthouses in order to close the budget deficit. Those facing small claim cases, particularly landlord-tenant disputes, will have to travel farther to attend their court date. Twenty-six courthouses will be consolidated into five starting March 18. Courts will be shut down in Huntington Park, Whittier, Pomona North, Malibu, West Los Angeles, San Pedro, Beacon St., and the Kenyon Juvenile Justice Street.

Union activists and community advocates held protests on Thursday outside the Los Angeles County Courthouse in Downtown LA.

imageLegal aid groups are suing the Los Angeles County Courts saying the cuts will directly affect lower-income families and the disabled. Leonard Vilchis, from the organization Union de Vecinos, says these court closures will force people out of their homes. “This will be a tragedy for very low-income and for senior citizens who are trying to protect their housing because by not making it to the court they will lose their housing and end up homeless,” Vilchis said.

Barbara Shultz, an attorney with one of the law firms that filed the lawsuit, explains that these court closures create transportation barriers for low-income and disabled people.

“Our low-income tenants who live in Whiittier or Pico Rivera will have to be on a bus by 6 a.m. in order to reach the Long Beach Courthouse by 8:30 court call,” Shultz said.

Shultz fears that these closures will put power in the hands of landlords, who can take advantage of their tenants.

“Particularly those with disreputable landlords who will file dubious evictions knowing that the likelihood of tenants being able to make it to a courthouse more than 30 miles away on multiple buses is iffy at best,” Shultz said.

If a tenant doesn’t show up to the hearing, a default judgment results. In other words, the judgment is in favor of the plaintiff, or landlord because the defendant failed to appear at the meeting.

Not only will it be challenging for low-income and disabled tenants to make it their court date, but these court closures will affect kids in the juvenile system.

Leon Brown is the outreach supervisor for the organization, People for Community Involvement. “If there not in court on time and what not they issue bench warrants and that’s another cycle of the juveniles being in the system and it will carry on into their adulthood,” Brown said.

Court documents say there will be no more financial reserves at the end of this fiscal year and that the only way to balance its budget is to operate fewer courthouses and change the caseloads of other courtrooms in order to cut back on staff.

James Upshaw, a Los Angeles resident and member of the organization “Good Jobs L.A.,” fears that these court foreclosures will take away the community’s voice.

“The residents of Los Angeles will not have a voice. We can cry loud in our community. We can cry loud in our town hall meetings. I feel we’re not clearly heard until we’re heard by the courts.”

South LA Catholics welcome new pope

By Katie Lyons

Pope Francis has already managed to break with tradition. He refused to elevate himself higher than the other cardinals during his address, and he asked for the crowd’s blessings.

imageCardinal Jorge Bergoglio in 2008 (Wikimedia)

The new pope’s unconventional ways resonates with Bobby Goodin, who attends the Holy Cross Church on Main Street in South Los Angeles.

“And in his address he did something that I don’t remember seeing before,” said Goodin. “He asked the people to pray for him before he blessed them. So that kind of shows us that he feels that our prayers are just as powerful as his are.”

Goodin is also impressed that Pope Francis is a Jesuit- the single largest religious order in the Catholic Church. However, there has never been a Jesuit pope.

“The first pope to be from the Americas- that’s impressive,” said Goodin. “But the first Jesuit is more impressive because the Jesuits are pretty independent. And they’re totally for education. So, the fact that he’s a Jesuit is more impressive to me.”

Adriana Guerra, who attends St. Vincent Catholic Church on Adams Boulevard, is impressed by Pope Francis’ Argentinian roots.

“The first time to have a pope from Latin America- that’s a wonderful thing that’s happening,” said Guerra. “So that’s why I’m glad to have a Latino from America. I think it’s better. I think it’s going to change a lot of things.”

Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires to Italian immigrants and leads a simple lifestyle. When serving as archbishop in Argentina, he chose to live in an apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace. While living there, Pope Francis took the bus to work and cooked his own meals. Additionally, the 76-year-old is well-known for his work with the poor and his strong opposition to gay marriage.

Goodin believes the pope’s humility will be good for the church.

“From what I’m hearing, I think he’s a very holy man,” said Goodin. “I think it’s gonna be a good change. He seems like he’s very affable and friendly.”

With over 480 million Catholics in Latin America, experts believe that by choosing Bergoglio, Cardinals are hinting at where the future of the church may lie.

Listen to an audio interview about Pope Francis with Father James Heft of USC’s Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies

South LA teens to play rugby in China

By Faith Miller

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News

imagePhoto courtesy of Stuart Krohn.

Fourteen-year-old Nia Tolliver plays rugby at View Point Prep High on the corner of Crenshaw and Slauson.

Her coach says she’s a prodigy for the sport, and could play in the Rio Olympics. He says her aggression makes her an excellent athlete. She says it’s the reason she plays rugby.

“I played basketball but I always fouled out because I’m really a contact person,” Tolliver said. “I’m big.”

Tolliver and her teammates say the sport isn’t just an outlet for aggression, it’s also helped them become better students. Eleventh grader Noah Trotter says playing rugby taught him discipline and focus.

“Before I played, I was, not a bad kid, but I made bad decisions,” Trotter said. He joined the team in high school, after almost failing 8th grade.

Now, Trotter is a straight-A student. He says his coach helped to turn him around. “He helped me become a better role model, believe it or not,” Trotter said. “He helped me stay focused on my grades and succeed.”

The Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF) Rugby Team founder and coach Stuart Krohn won’t take credit. “They do it,” Krohn said. “We just give them the playing field to do it on.”

imagePhoto courtesy of Stuart Krohn.

The players run with the ball on and off the field. They prepared a song for the post-game celebrations they’ll participate in while in China without any adult help.

Junior Symone Muepo says it’s the support and trust of the rugby family that has pushed the group to excel. “Each player wants each other to do the best they can do,” Muepo said. “And I know what you do, so if you do anything less, I’m gonna let you know and make sure you do what you need to push yourself.”

Other players say that rugby itself is the positive outlet that has changed them. When asked to describe what it feels like to play, the students have a tendency to smile widely.

imagePhoto courtesy of Stuart Krohn.

“It’s just adrenaline everywhere,” Tolliver said. “You’re kind of like, ‘Get the ball and run with it and score.'”

Krohn says the players’ passion for the sport is what’s behind the positivity. “I think rugby helps to bring everything together and keep them focused because they love it so much,” Krohn said.

The team will travel around China for ten days and visit Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kond where they will compete in the Hong Kong International Youth Sevens Tournament.

Sidewalk standoff in South LA over abortion

By Jerome Campbell

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News

imageAnti-abortion protesters outside the Her Medical Clinic at Figueroa and West Adams.

Thirty-six inches. This is the distance between pro-life and pro-choice on Figueroa Street.

On one side, a group of people kneel on a broken sidewalk, sliding rosary beads through their fingers as they call for divine action. And across the sidewalk, another group stands silently; dressed in bright orange vests and black sunglasses. They escort patients into the clinic. Both sides stay on their sides without budging an inch, unless someone tests the boundaries.

“On the good days it’s really boring and we just get to hang out and some of us have become friends. On the not so good days, protesters can become aggressive and on those days we have to call the police,” said Mary-Beth Blakey. She says the anti-abortion group members can be even more aggressive with patients. Following patients out of the clinic and even trying to get into their cars.

“I have seen patients become visibly upset. I have seen patients become so upset that they have rescheduled their appointment,” she said.

And their tactics become more aggressive during Christmas.

imageEscorts for patients at the clinic.

“They try to enter the doors and rush the clinic, singing Christmas carols and delivering gifts to patients; but the gifts are filled with very shaming and misleading anti-abortion literature and baby gifts like booties and baby bottles,” she said.

But according to Dennis Rudmin who prays on the sidewalk, this tension is a two-way street. He says that the group has to come in large numbers to stand any chance on the sidewalk.

“They just try to harass us. They come over and stand in front of you or take your place to lead the rosary, or they follow after you and say things like ‘I’m stalking you,’” Rudmin said.

The close quarters of the sidewalk definitely makes the experience unpleasant. Yet, they continue to deal with the same people every week, sometimes more than their own friends.

“I think I’ve seen mark more than I’ve seen my best friend in the past three years. More than my family,” said Blakey.

And over time, both sides have grown to understand each other.

image“I think some of them are very well intentioned and have their very own personal, spiritual reasons for thinking that for them praying here will have some positive impact. I have no problem with that,” said Blakey.

“We’re not there to get into any type of confrontation. We’re there to pray for these children. And pray for the clinic people too, the pro-abortion people. The people who are harassing us,” Rudmin said.

One woman, who would have walked into the clinic years ago has crossed the sidewalk to pray on the curb. Maria Garanza has had not just one abortion, and then, several more after.

“I’ve had five abortions.” And she regrets her choice every day. “I feel like I killed my babies, I killed five babies. I killed my babies and I think Maria killed her own babies,” said Garanza.

Garanza had her last abortion in 2001 and the distress almost led her to take her life.

“I screamed very loud to myself and I said to Jesus forgive and I know that I killed my baby but I want to save babies. I promise if you forgive. I’ll promise that I’ll go everywhere to save babies,” Garanza said.

A promise that has led her to praying in front of this clinic. Garanza says she has already saved three babies but she wants to save more.

“I’m happy I’m here because I’m doing something,” Garanza said. “I want to see five babies because I killed five babies.”

And so Garanza and her group continue to kneel on the sidewalk and the clinic group waits for the next patient. Neither side knows if they are changing any minds, but they know they will be out next weekend.

23rd Street Cafe is a fusion experience

By Tanaya Ghosh

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News.

Ever craved Indian food and Mexican food at the same time, and couldn’t decide where to go? Why not take both cuisines and roll them up into a burrito? That’s what 23rd Street Cafe does, and it does it well.

imageInside 23rd Street Cafe. (Photo by Tanaya Ghosh)

This place blends cuisines together seamlessly. If you’ve ever wondered what a samosa sandwich or a chicken curry taco tastes like, here’s your chance to taste for yourself.

23rd Street Café is on the corner of Portland Street and 23rd Street, just south of Downtown LA. It’s decorated in USC colors and memorabilia, and its close proximity to USC makes this humble yet spacious
eatery a popular destination for students. But the eclectic menu that combines Indian, Mexican and American fare appeals to local residents as well.

The breakfast burrito and chicken tikka masala burrito are some of the most popular items on the menu. The breakfast burrito’s fluffy egg contrasts nicely with the crispy strips of bacon. Hash browns blanket
the interior, and give the burrito more body and bite.

imageThe chicken tikka masala burrito combines the popular Indian dish with traditional burrito fillings. Chicken tikka masala consists of roasted chicken chunks, called tikka. The chicken is covered in a spicy,
or masala, sauce often made with tomato puree, cream and spices. If that’s not spicy enough for you, try adding the tangy house salsa verde to your burrito of choice.

Being of Indian heritage, I can tell you that although tikka masala is not a household staple, it is a popular dish with Indians and non-Indians alike. It’s perfect for eating out, or for special occasions.

The tikka masala burrito was a bit messier to eat than its breakfast counterpart, so I wouldn’t recommend ordering it on a first date!

For more information on 23rd Street Cafe, you can visit their website here.