From left are Dr. Jerry Abraham, Dr. Cynthia Davis, Rev. Judi Wortham, Dr. David Carlisle, Vickie Franklin, Rev. Dr. Thema Bryant, Kenya Beckmann, Pastor J. Edgar Boyd, Mrs. Florence Boyd and James Smith. (Ian Foxx/L.A. Sentinel)

Cheers and applause filled the air as guests witnessed the opening of the Biddy Mason Community Wellness Center in South L.A.

The Rev. J. Edgar Boyd, pastor of First AME Church of Los Angeles, led the ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Friday, Sept. 29. Boyd was joined by Dr. David Carlisle, president/CEO of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science; the Rev. Dr. Thema Bryant, FAME associate minister and president of the American Psychological Association; and Kenya Beckmann, vice president of Philanthropy at Providence Hospital.

Also on hand were Dr. Jerry Abraham, president of the L.A. Chapter of the American Medical Association and director of Kedren Community Health Center; James Smith, former L.A. postmaster and cancer survivor who attends FAME; Dr. Cynthia Davis, community advocate and CDU instructor; and the Rev. Judi Wortham, executive director of the South Los Angeles Community Development and Empowerment Corporation (SLACDEC).

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The new wellness center, located in a FAME property at 2249 S. Hobart Blvd., will be operated SLACDEC, said Wortham.  The facility will offer medical screenings, mental health group therapy, nutrition sessions, cooking classes, African dance, tai chi, yoga, fitness, doll making, and quilting. In addition, the campus will host a community garden with 10 raised beds and three fruit trees.

Rev. Wortham and Pastor Boyd display the Biddy Mason quilt, which will hang in the center. (Ian Foxx/L.A. Sentinel)

Noting the significance of naming the center for Biddy Mason, Boyd shared that Mason was a former slave as well as a nurse, philanthropist and real estate entrepreneur. After obtaining her freedom from slavery, Mason accumulated close to $300,000 that she shared with charities and the poor. She also donated the land to establish FAME, which is the oldest church founded by Blacks in L.A.

“It is fitting that we name this center after Bridgett ‘Biddy’ Mason. There is nothing that we could do that would honor her more and keep alive the legacy she began as she healed persons from viruses and placed splints on broken legs. Not only did she practice medicine, but she was also a veterinarian and helped animals along the way. She was a phenomenal woman,” insisted Boyd.

The Biddy Mason Wellness Community Center will officially open to provide services later this month. To learn more, call (323) 419-3369 or email [email protected].  

Many people attended the ceremony. (Ian Foxx/L.A. Sentinel)
Community members applauded the opening of the center. (Ian Foxx/L.A. Sentinel)
Information booths and health screenings were offered at the event. (Ian Foxx/L.A. Sentinel)
One display outlined a drug identification guide. (Ian Foxx/L.A. Sentinel)
The wellness center features a community garden with raised beds. (Ian Foxx/L.A. Sentinel)