Crenshaw United Methodist Church and the Save Our Sons (SOS) Prison Justice Ministry will hold ‘Celebrating Lives of Giving’ honoring founders Dr. Delores Alleyne and the Rev. Dr. Robert and Mrs. Gwendolyn Smith on Sunday, August 17, at 2:30 p.m., in the edifice at 3740 Don Felipe Drive in Los Angeles.
Dr. Alleyne and Dr. Smith founded SOS in 1997 following the wrongful conviction and long-term incarceration of Dr. Alleyne’s son. SOS serves as a support system for families of prisoners, parolees and ex-offenders by providing information on housing, employment, health and legal services. The ministry is also a pioneer in presenting expungement clinics to facilitate employment for ex-offenders.
The primary goal of SOS is to decrease the alarming rate of prison recidivism and develop ex-offenders’ self-sufficiency. In addition, the organization supports legislative efforts, offers voter registration and works with at-risk youth to prevent their involvement in the criminal justice system.
A native of Tennessee, Dr. Alleyne was raised in Louisville, KY, during the era of Jim Crow and lynching. After graduating from Central High, she enrolled in the University of Louisville and was in the first class of African Americans to integrate the undergraduate and medical schools.
Professionally, she worked at the Watts Health Center and the Los Angeles County Department of Health where she retired in 1999 as a pediatrician and public health specialist. Today, she says her primary goal in life is to “free her son and to change the system to one that provides restorative justice and rehabilitation instead of the enslavement of young men and women of color.”
Dr. Smith, who was born in Birmingham, AL, received a Bachelor of Science degree from Tuskegee Institute and a Master of Divinity degree at Boston University School of Theology. In 1983, the school presented him with the Distinguished Alumni Award.
He has led churches in Boston, Indianapolis, New York and Long Beach. In Los Angeles, he served as pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church where he and the congregation established Rakestraw Memorial Community Education Center, a multi-purpose agency for human and community resource development. He also spearheaded the creation of the Wesley United Methodist Housing Corporation to assist low-to-moderate-income residents.
Dr. Smith’s background includes Director of Religious Extension Service and Leadership Education at Tuskegee Institute, instructor at United Methodist Women’s Schools of Christian Mission in New York and Southern California, and District Superintendent.
Mrs. Smith has worked in unity and support of her husband throughout his ministry.
For information or to support the mission of Save Our Sons Prison Justice Ministry, call (323) 292-0141.