A year after opening its doors, the Hyde Park/LEARN Family Service Center formally debuted in the community with its Community Health and Resource Fair, held recently on the campus of Hyde Park Elementary School.
The five-hour event attracted about 1,500 people, said center director Muriel Bragg. Reflecting the center's holistic approach to community health, the fair featured about 50 participating public and private agencies, including Los Angeles Unified School District's mental health unit, Youth Intervention Project, Crenshaw-Dorsey Adult School, the Hyde Park Library and several county agencies.
The center, the first of its kind in the school district, opened last year in a row of bungalows on the campus of Hyde Park Elementary School, which is one of the Los Angeles Unified School District's pioneering LEARN schools. Staffed by parents and volunteers, it operates as a clearinghouse for many public and private agencies that help families with everything from medical care and day-care to family counseling and gang intervention.
Bragg said the Hyde Park community, which has one of the highest Latino populations of all the areas that make up the predominantly black Crenshaw district, has particular need for the center's services. Exposing the public to the availability of those services, she said, was the fair's primary goal.
"We need to let people know all the things we have here, all the things it's doing," she said. To that end, she and her staff heightened community awareness of the fair by decorating street lamps with balloons along Hyde Park Boulevard between 6th and 8th avenues.
Bragg said that in addition to the services it offers, the center's goal is to involve parents in all facets of their children's and their own well-being. For many, that means taking classes in English as a second language or learning Spanish to introduce themselves to a language and culture they see all around them but know little about.
"As parents, there's always things we can do to improve our kids and improve ourselves," said Bragg, who is enrolled in a Spanish class.
There is another reason for the celebration: The center recently received $400,000 in state funds to operate for another three years--a considerable victory in light of the dismal state of public funding. For Bragg, a Hyde Park parent who found a calling in heading up the fledgling operation, that is good news indeed.
"We're not just a pilot project anymore," she said. "The more we stay around, the more people will know about us, and the better off everybody will be."