On November 17, rapper, YG teamed up with Dion Rambo of Rambo House Foundation, the City of Hawthorne, Oracle, and UCLA Health to launch his new initiative, the TeleHealth Van. The first fleet of vans was designed to offer free services to low-income and unhoused individuals and families. The TeleHealth Vans are fully equipped to provide mental health screenings, medical insurance submissions, shelter assistance, jail-diversion programs, and programs to combat local food disparities.
When Rambo and YG were asked the impetus for creating TeleHealth and partnering with the City of Hawthorne, he responded. “To save families, to save lives. We both live in the community, are businesses owners, and have our own careers, but we wanted to save as many lives as we could when it comes to the homeless side, but also those being released from jail. That’s YG’s initiative; how do we keep them out?” said Rambo.
When discussing his community involvement, Keenon Jackson, better known as YG, elaborated on his passion to assist in the rehabilitation of men who have been imprisoned. YG, Rambo, and City of Hawthorne officials agreed that a mobile resource center would have the ability to reach thousands of locals without the need for transportation and red tape.
Hawthorne City Manager Von Norris said he was inspired by the good will of Rambo and the guidance from Hawthorne Councilwoman Angie Reyes English. “It’s a great service. In Hawthorne, there are a lot of needs,” said Norris, who revealed that Rambo’s foundation was ready to provide those needs for the City of Hawthorne’s residents. “It’s a great partnership; it’s a vision, and we are the staple of the community in this region. We want to be a city that starts a program like this.”
Rambo thanked Councilmember Reyes English for her vision and efforts in introducing them to the city council. “Thank you so much for bringing us in. We hope we make Hawthorne happy and can keep this kind of relationship growing and growing, so that [Hawthorne] can be a template that other cities could follow.”
Reyes-English agreed. “As a mother of three adult Black women, grandmother of seven Black grandchildren, Latina. It’s important for our community to understand that there is a need when it comes to mental health, behavioral health services, and much more,” she said. “It’s my hope that TeleHealth Van, being a minority business, becomes the thrust that we need to push this program forward, so that many other communities who look like us and have a need like us, can understand the importance of developing a program like TeleHealth Van.”
Reyes English pointed out that Hawthorne Mayor Alex Vargas and the city council, on three separate occasions, provided a 5-0 unanimous vote. “So, if that doesn’t tell you something, that definitely has provided for us to be here today, and to provide this launch,” said the councilwoman.
According to YG, one of the most unique features of this effort is the dynamic behind-the-scenes partnership between him and his mother, Shonee Jackson. YG shared that his mom is not only an integral part of the planning and execution but that together, they are relentless when it comes to making positive changes in underserved communities.
With the support of the City of Hawthorne, the TeleHealth Van fleet has already begun to serve locals by ensuring that they obtain health care with low to no associated costs.
Much more than a ‘gangster rapper,’ YG has proven to be a philanthropist and liaison between the hip hop and the service community and shared his appreciation for the Black press for covering these kinds of events.
“It’s important that Black people … we need light shed on us. We move and influence a lot of things, actually, everything culture-wise and we’re important,” said the rapper is known for his anti-Trump song. “Black media is very important because some of the stuff coming out of media isn’t the real thing; it’s twisted and ends up looking crazy. But Black media for our people, for Black people, is very important.”
YG acknowledged the lack of positive coverage regarding their philanthropic work. “They’re gonna tell all the other stories that will make you look crazy. They’ll be glad to tell those stories,” he said.
To check out the full interview, see clips from the launch, and listen to YG’s views on Black media, visit lasentinel.net.
To learn more about TeleHealth Van, visit https://telehealthvan.com/