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Children’s Institute Breaks Ground in Watts Celebrating a New Landmark In the Community
By Saybin Roberson, Contributing Writer
Published February 14, 2020

Captain Emada Tingirides with a big smile during her heartwarming speech (Photograph by Saybin Roberson)

Children’s Institue (CII) and its Board of Trustees welcomed the community to celebrate their latest development located in Watts. The groundbreaking ceremony held Thursday, January 30, 2020, was complete with a live band, BBQ luncheon and a virtual tour of the new building.

Architecturally designed pro bono by Frank Gehry, the new campus will be 20,000 square feet and will be the home to Watts Gang Task Force and LAPD Community Safety Partnership. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2021, providing critical therapeutic programs and a variety of free support systems for children and their parents within the community.

At its core, CII values passion, innovation, equity and partnership. Each aspect is visible with the development of the new center in Watts. Not only are they partnering with local organizations, but also large corporations and resources like Los Angeles Development Fund, Genesis LA and Wells Fargo to secure New Markets Tax Credit funding.

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“The new campus is a permanent commitment to Watts and a critical resource for children and families,” Martine Singer, President and CEO of Children’s Institue stated. “We are thrilled to break ground and invest in the future of this extraordinary community.”

The ceremony welcomed all parties that supported and aided in the progress of the new building. Along with Singer, architect Frank Gehry, CII Trustee and Building Committee Chair Bridget Gless Keller, LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, LA City Attorney Mike Feur and LA Councilmember Joe Buscaino were in attendance. Also invited, community partners LAPD and CII Trustee Captain Emada Tingirides, Vice President of the Watts Gang Task Force Donny Joubert.

(L to R) Paul Kanin, Martine Singer, Captain Emada Tingirides, Councilmember Joe Buscaino, Gelila Assefa Puck, Frank Gehry, Bridget Gless Keller, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Donny Joubert (Photograph by Saybin Roberson)

“Groundbreaking is also defined as introducing new ideas and methods. Today is the culmination of years of thinking, feeling, planning, worrying and managing. Today is the result of untold hours of work thousands of emails and hundreds of decisions big and small,” Keller shared. “But ultimately, it’s not about the process. It’s about how we build bridges with the community, and we delivered on a promise to Watts.”

She continued, “To bear witness to this milestone for both Watts and Los Angeles; I never doubted we would be standing here shovel ready to break ground on CII’s new campus in Watts. It just took the right team to create the ideal project and then execute.”

“So from this day forward, CII Watts address will be 10200 Success Avenue. May this set a resonance for the future to come,” Keller said.

With a large audience of nearly 300 people, Captian Tingirides spoke to the children; bringing the focus back to the mission for the CII and the reason for the new building. Hinting at the notion that the new building will be a step in the nurturing of adults who will grow to then rebuild their communities with love and understanding.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and President and CEO, Children’s Institute Martine Singer (Photograph by Saybin Roberson)

“There’s been a lot of talk today about the youth and the children. For those of you that are in this room today; you might not understand what this means today. But in the future, when you’re standing up here representing your community and talking about giving back in faith, hope and trust. You will understand what today is about,” Captain Tingirides expressed in a moving speech.

She continued, “Thank you for believing in this process, and trusting that we would make this happen and this community. This is your building, and I hope you feel that way.”

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“There is a lot of positive activity going on, and I’m delighted to be a part of,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas stated. “I hope this has helped this extraordinary organization to focus its fundraising efforts on creating a state of the art facility that is long overdue in this most deserving community.”

“This campus will have many partners in this in her community that weren’t here just a decade ago,” he continues. Including the Martin Luther King Medical Campus Public Health Center, Healing and Trauma Prevention Center, Early Learning and Childcare Center and the Child and Family Wellbeing Center.

“I’ll be proud just walk by, wave and say thank you for a job well done,” he Ridley-Thomas closes his speech.

Having a personal connection to Watts, growing up in the community, Joubert shared his gratitude with the audience, ensuring the Watts Gang Task Force will do all that it can to help keep the community safe.

The celebration ended with the certificate presentation from the offices of California State Senator Holly Mitchell and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Followed by an entertaining reception full of laughter and fun.

“I’m really excited because I grew up in this community and to see the beautification of this community,” Joubert stated as he closed the speeches, “Watts is worth it!”

 

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