From left are Cobe Joe Perez, Corey Crockerham and son Shawn Crockerham, Jamar Hearns, Jason Green, Craig Garriott, Wesley Crunk, Kenn Price, Crispin Carrasco, Nicholas Vasquez, Lee Whyms. (photo courtesy of Corey Crockerham)

More than 63,000 people throughout Southern California are represented by the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters (SWRCC), also known as the Southwest Carpenters.

This massive organization has now partnered with Bakewell Media and the Los Angeles Sentinel to help bring to the community the 15th Annual Taste of Soul Food and Family Festival, which is returning to an in-person event along Crenshaw Boulevard, from Obama Blvd. to Stocker Blvd., on Saturday, October 15th.

The Southwest Carpenters have an extensive history of supporting the best trade artisans in their pursuit of a career as a union carpenter.  SWRCC officials say that this partnership is a part of the foundational beliefs that the organization is based on – “Members join to be part of a movement to help make the changes we all want to see in the Southwest and the world.”

The Southwest Carpenters create life-changing opportunities for their members and for the community, providing a service that gives a second chance to many people who experienced incarceration. The Southwest Carpenters’ system was engineered to be a beacon of hope for many families with children.

“We are honored to have the Southwest Carpenters join us to bring to the community this year’s Taste of Soul Celebration. People don’t realize the massive undertaking required to bring to the community this major event and to have skilled professionals like those who work in the carpenter’s union is truly a blessing,” said Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., chairman of Bakewell Media and creator/founder of Taste of Soul.

“To have dedicated professional partners like the SWRCC, along with all of our other Taste of Soul sponsors, is how we have been able to bring to present the largest and most successful free community celebration of its kind here in Los Angeles,” he noted.

Wesley Crunk, instructor for the Brother’s Keeper program, works with participants while leading by example in the Carpenters Combine.     (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

Southwest Carpenters Special Representative Corey Crockerham said, “This is our first year at Taste of Soul and we’re looking forward to it—I know I am.”

Crockerham continued, “We are really looking forward to having our own booth at Taste of Soul and getting with the community—showing them opportunities that are available to them with the Southwest Carpenters. I am really excited about that, as well as helping with and working on this event.”

Extending a special acknowledgement, Crockerman added, “Thank you to Nicolas Vasquez for building the partnership between Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters and the Taste of Soul.”

Vasquez and Wesley Crunk, both Southwest Carpenter members, worked as a bridge between Taste of Soul and Southwest Carpenters to form this collaborative partnership.

The SWRCC provides career advancement training to ensure success for those going through their program. Through their initiative, many people have been redirected to a better quality of life.

The skills camp stations included 4×4 carrying, scaffold assembly, drywall etching, tape measure, screw off, hammering, plywood carry, and corbel mounting. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

Building on an educational foundation, Southwest Carpenters prepare members to be the best. They gain a variety of skills that shape the success of their career. By providing hands-on training to members, Southwest Carpenters expose their teams to the latest technology in construction and other industries. Carpenters gain the knowledge to shine on the job site.

The Southwest Carpenters also cater to the problems that have an impact on an individual’s daily life by participating in political initiatives to ensure that members benefit from policies that promote building sites.

Southwest Carpenters continue to analyze important choices that local and regional elected officials make daily. Additionally, they strive to find ways to interact with non-union carpenters, discussing how market share, benefits, pensions, and wages are collective issues.

To strengthen people enrolled in the program, the SWRCC offers different levels of career guidance. Many members have been inspired to see longevity in their career. These great opportunities will be available to explore at the Taste of Soul this year. Danny Bakewell Sr. founded and created the Taste of Soul Family Festival, which has been a tradition in Los Angeles since 2005.

In 2019, over 350,000 people attended the daylong event and enjoyed hundreds of vendors offering a multitude of products and services, from food to clothing to housing assistance and educational information and health services.  In 2020 and 2021, Taste of Soul pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic to sponsor a Community Day of Service, distributing free clothing and food to families.

“The evolution of Taste of Soul has simply been about the care for Black people and wanting the best for our community,” insisted Bakewell.

Taste of Soul encourages the recycling of community dollars by assisting South Los Angeles neighborhoods, local and small businesses and giving these businesses and organizations exposure to community residents like no other event in California.

After committing to a four-year goal, Jenna Dorrough recently became a union journeyman carpenter. She feels more women should be open to the carpentry field. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

According to SWRCC officials, the partnership between Southwest Carpenters and Taste of Soul is about two entities sharing a common goal of uplifting communities. Southwest Carpenters has always been about playing an active role within the communities they serve and this year, they will be lending their focus to the Taste of Soul.

Southwest Carpenter Executive Secretary-Treasurer Pete Rodriguez said, “Southwest Carpenters is proud to be a partner of Taste of Soul. As an organization, we are invested in building and growing South Los Angeles.

“Coming soon, we will be opening a new state-of-the-art training center in Carson. The Southwest Carpenters have a lengthy tradition of assisting the highest skilled craftspeople in their aspirations to become Union Carpenters,” he stated.

In closing, Rodriguez strongly affirmed, “This center will be a gateway for residents of South Los Angeles (and beyond) to have a new career as a union carpenter, a career with union jobs, wages, and benefits that can be life-changing.”

To learn more about the Southwest Carpenters, visit their website,

To prepare for the biggest free one-day festival in South Los Angeles, visit the Taste of Soul website,