All Peoples Community Center, just south of downtown Los Angeles, has been striving to improve the lives of residents in the surrounding community for more than seven decades.
That shows – even among the staff. Many of them returned to work at the center years after attending classes as children.
Saundra Bryant, the center’s executive director for more than a quarter-century, was once a pre-schooler at All Peoples.
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“I want the young people who are here today to know that if I could go to college and I could reach my goals, that they can do the same things,” Bryant said.
The comprehensive center on East 20th Street offers educational services and activities, helping children succeed and seniors stay active, creating job training and opportunities, and addressing violence and gang involvement in the diverse, low-income community.
The center “grows” special individuals who return to help South LA, Bryant said.
One example is former student Thanh Le, who grew up in the community, served as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan and now tutors children through the center – after he finishes daily classes at East Los Angeles College.
He taught his students dance, even how to make an origami heart.
“I’m a Marine. I don’t have a soft side – that’s basically what they believe,” Le said of his young charges. “But I do have a soft side.”
Apparently, among his colleagues at All Peoples, he's not alone.