The Venice Community Housing Corporation (VCHC) is about a lot more than housing, and some of its non-housing (or extra-housing) work was on display at its third annual open house June 19 at the nonprofit’s Rose Avenue headquarters.
Steve Clare founded VCHC in 1988 “to develop and preserve as much affordable housing as possible” in the Venice area. The group came to realize that other issues impacted on housing problems, and so, in addition to building and acquiring housing units, VCHC has also created transitional housing for women and children, started Venice’s first free infant and toddler care center, and developed programs to address youth employment and education.
Gang prevention and intervention was another of those “other issues.” A program that began 10 years ago as a gang prevention effort has evolved into VCHC’s L.A. Bridges, explained Kevin Michini, who works in the program. L.A. Bridges works with students at Mark Twain Middle School (grades six through eight) to provide tutoring, homework assistance, leadership training, anger management, substance abuse prevention, and arts training.
At the June 19 open house, 17 L.A. Bridges 8th graders who had graduated from Mark Twain that morning went through another “graduation” at VCHC. On hand for the event were representatives from the offices of Congresswoman Jane Harman, State Senator Jenny Oropeza, and Assemblyman Ted Lieu, as well as VCHC volunteers and other well-wishers.Program graduates Michelle Shadow and Luis Orellana spoke for the others, providing valedictories for the group. Also completing the L.A. Bridges program that day and receiving certificates provided by Assemblyman Lieu were Ahmed Alhani, Shayla Campos, Samuel Garcia, Raul Gonzalez, Rita Gonzalez, Olga Hernandez, Cinthia Magana, Tanisha Mariano, Yasmeen Martinez, Marc Naschak, Elvert Perez, Leslie Pine, Jaqueline Platas, Jessica Torres, and Veronica Zamudio. www.vchcorp.org