On the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 12, anyone passing by The Compton Jr. Posse (CJP) Equestrian Center would have noticed a total makeover taking place.
More than one hundred young adults from Santa Monica and surrounding congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), in collaboration with actress Patricia Heaton, volunteered to help beautify the center.
The facility, located at 453 West Caldwell Street in Compton, serves more than 100 at-risk youth in the area annually with their motto, “Keeping Kids on Horses and Off the Streets.”
The goal to expose underprivileged youth to equestrian and ranch activities has proven extremely beneficial to improving test scores and resistance to negative peer pressure for the children that participate.
Toyin, 11, explained, “At a lot of organizations, it’s just a riding lesson. But here at Compton Junior Posse, we’re more like a family.”
Actress Patricia Heaton has long been interested in helping further the Center’s mission.
Through several friendships, she worked to bring together the LDS young adult leaders with the Center’s founder and executive director, Mayisha Akbar.
“Mayisha and community volunteers have been shouldering the responsibility of running the equestrian center for so many years, and it’s a huge job,” Heaton said. “I wanted to get involved to harness the resources in the Hollywood community to help the CJP become a self-sustaining and well-funded place that the youth of Compton can count on to be there for them.”
During the activity, Akbar explained: “We make a home for the kids.”
“It’s a second home, a place where they can come and feel safe and play outside, because so many can’t play outside in their communities,” Akbar said. “It’s so exciting to have a face lift and have a beautiful new look for everything. It’s awesome for people to come together, take their whole day out and do this. Wow, look at them working. It’s awesome, I’m speechless.”
A young man named Keith, who has worked and ridden with the center for four years, said, “I’m a ranch hand, but we can’t do it all by ourselves.”
“A lot of volunteers are here today,” Keith said. “Everyone is coming to help us out because they want to keep the kids off the streets and out of trouble.”
Bishop Eastland, leader of the congregation of Latter-day Saint young single adults, explained: “Jesus Christ spent his life serving and uplifting those in need, with a particular regard for children; as people seeking to be his disciples, we are very grateful to be able to partner with the Compton Jr. Posse to help them have all the resources they need as they continue doing that work today.”
Heaton echoes his sentiments: “Jesus said, ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’ I have been very blessed in my life and career, so I feel compelled to share those blessings. Our societal problems can be solved if everyone decides to make sacrifices with their time and money to benefit others.”
Improvements to the center included: building a children’s petting zoo area and flower garden; repairing and painting the entire main building; removing sheds and containers in poor condition; removing broken tools, debris and non-functional machinery; building an area for storage of donated items; improving student-used technology by updating computers, network, broadband, and an eBay site; and providing new tools and equipment.
The team that came together to execute this event will ensure that the project is sustainable by maintaining a relationship with Mayisha and the children and instituting a tutoring program for the children involved with the Compton Jr. Posse.
The Santa Monica Young Single Adult (YSA) Ward is a group of young, unmarried adults, ranging in age from 18-30 based in West Los Angeles. The ward is lead by Bishop Larry Eastland.
For more than 20 years, the Compton Jr. Posse (CJP) has worked to help children develop strength and character through its programs. By combining activities including ranching, riding, education and outreach, CJP carries forward its mission of “Keeping Kids on Horses and off the Streets.”
Many of CJP’s participants come from single income, single parent households, and have struggled with poverty, illiteracy, and living in areas plagued by drugs, violence, abuse and neglect.
To learn more, or donate, visit their website at www.comptonjrposse.org.