Community Rallies to Support Wounded Intervention Worker
Community to Gather on Feb. 5 to Support Paralyzed Gang Intervention Worker Calvin Hodges, KJLH’s
Dominique DiPrima to Emcee
By Jasmyne A. Cannick
Sentinel Contributing Writer
On October 30, 2009 shots rang out in a South L.A. housing project. When the chaos subsided two men were bleeding, one in critical condition. What makes this gang-related shooting stand out from the recent rash of violence in Watts is that one of the victims has spent years of his life working to stop exactly this type of warfare. 34-year Calvin Hodges was shot and paralyzed while working as an intervention worker for K.U.S.H. Reaching Out Inc., a vendor with the City of Los Angeles.
The incident that left Calvin Hodges paralyzed from the waist down happened while he was speaking to a young client in front of the Nickerson Gardens Recreation Center. Hodges took the brunt of the attack because he tried to shield the young person from the gunmen’s bullets. Nearly three months later, his wife and five children are struggling to get by as he attempts to reclaim his life in a rented wheelchair while enduring constant pain and excruciating therapy. None of which has dampened his spirits because he is keeping true to his vow to keep working towards peace.
Hodges’ work in the community has made a huge impact on the gang intervention efforts in the Nickerson Gardens Housing Development and in the surrounding neighborhoods. He has true street cred with young people, law enforcement, and even City Hall because of his hard work in reducing crime and building relationships with youth and community members.
Behind the scenes Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development is showing his support by leveraging resources, working with the family, and doing legwork. GRYD director Guillermo Cespedes, was at the hospital immediately after the shooting, and has worked tirelessly since, but has taken a largely behind-the-scenes role with an eye to the community-driven nature of the effort, which has struck a nerve in the community, particularly among intervention workers many of whom face similar situations in the line of duty.
In support of Calvin and his family, an impressive array of community organizations have come together including fellow gang intervention organizations We Care Outreach Ministries, Detours, Watch Visions Grow, Fathers of Watts, Southern California Ceasefire Committee, Unity One, K.U.S.H., and the Watts Gang Task Force.
The groups came together at first loosely, making their case on local radio and on the streets through word of mouth. They then established the Calvin Hodges Trust fund to allow donations to be made at Wells Fargo Bank branches. Now they are planning a community fundraiser at the Watts Labor Community Action Committee on February 5.
Organizers are pulling out all the stops to raise much needed cash for the Hodges family. Instead of simply relying on ticket sales, they are having a bake sale and offering memorabilia and other small items at the event. The event will be emceed by KJLH’s Dominique DiPrima, who has taken up Calvin Hodges cause on her daily show The Front Page. The event will also feature a variety of performers, speakers and musicians–all donating their time.
In the words of Ben “Taco” Owens one of the urban peacemakers who has championed Hodges’ cause “everybody can do something–do what you can do.”
The fundraiser to support Calvin Hodges and his family will take place Friday, February 5 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Watts Labor Community Action Committee located at 10950 South Central Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90059. The suggested donation is $25 per person. For more information, please call Elder Michael Cummings with We Care Outreach Ministries at (323) 429-1565 or (323) 974-6808 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations to the Calvin Hodges Trust Fund can be made at any local Wells Fargo Bank branch.