Our History

The Avalon Carver Community Center (ACCC) is a renowned institution in South Central, Los Angeles that serves predominantly African American and Latino individuals and families. It was founded in the 1940s, following the Great Depression, as the Avalon Carver “settlement house” to meet the social and economic needs of low-income, African Americans. For the past 70 years, Avalon Carver has been a dynamic organization with a rich legacy of developing timely, innovative programs and services for Latino and African Americans. Across turbulent decades of political and social change in U.S. society, ACCC has steadfastly responded to the social ills and socio-economic challenges and problems confronting generations of its community residents (racism and discrimination, poverty, school failure, teen pregnancy, high unemployment, substance abuse, gang-violence, incarceration, and mental health and wellness).

Today, ACCC continues to serve pre-dominantly poor, high-risk African American and Latino children and families using culturally-specific strategies that emphasize African American history and culture, culture-centered mental health and wellness, and community empowerment. Avalon Carver’s 70-year presence in the community, and over 40 years of experience providing substance abuse treatment (1967) and prevention (1969) services to SPA 6 residents, reflects their capacity to effectively implement prevention programs.

ACCC’s success addressing these conditions and problems has been greatly enhanced by its progressive mission, sensitivity to the needs of lower-income, African Americans and Latinos and acute understanding of ways that culture affects an individual’s connections to his/her community, i.e., common heritage, common experiences, common culture, and shared emotional bonds.

These cultural sensibilities define and shape ACCC’s organizational mission, programming, and community outreach services. City, county and state entities as well as local programs and coalitions have recognized Avalon Carver Community Center for its consistent and high quality programming in South Central Los Angeles. In 1998 and 2000, Avalon Carver was recognized by the Los Angeles City Council for its work in South Central Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors also recognized Avalon Carver for its programs targeting the South Central community in 1998. Avalon Carver has also been recognized for its outstanding service to the community by the Los Angeles Academy/L.A. Bridges Program in 2000, 2002, and 2003; the Los Angeles Urban Community Coalition (1996); the Los Angeles Summer Youth Employment Training Program (1997); and by MAD DADS (1998). The agency has also received the People Coordinated Services Collaboration Service Award (2002) and has been recognized for outstanding service by the California State Assembly in 1998, 2000 and 2010, as well as the United States Congress (2010) and State Senate (2010).

The HERITAGE of Avalon Carver Community Center

JAMICO ELDER

Executive Director (2015 - Present)
Avalon-Carver Community Center

Jamico is native of the Watts section of South Los Angeles. The crack epidemic that plagued South Los Angeles in the 1980s and early 1990s presented Jamico with obstacles that threatened to destroy him like countless others similarly situated. However, his childhood shaped his life path and ignited a passion in him to change the lives of children and families that continue to suffer in the aftermath of one of our nation’s darkest moments. This passion and commitment fueled Jamico as he changed himself from a low performing student to a scholar earning two Bachelors from Tuskegee University and a Master’s of Education from Harvard University by 22 years of age.

Jamico has served children and families for 20 years in several communities including Boston, New York and Los Angeles. He began his formal classroom teaching career at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall and continued to focus on youth in need. Jamico then served at three of the lowest performing schools in the nation causing him to relocate to Bedford Stuyvesant, Roxbury, and Watts. In Watts, he taught at Markham Middle School, which served children from four housing projects, which gave birth to the “Crips” and “Bloods” and was the epicenter of the crack epidemic in Los Angeles. He focused on teaching Mathematics and developed successful after school programs. After leaving New York, Jamico returned home to South Los Angeles where he served over 200 families at a People Coordinated Services' First Five LA program, helping to prepare children under five years of age to enter kindergarten. Many of the families were impoverished immigrants fleeing Central America and Mexico as a result of the drug trade. He continued to help young people in the gang world escape the clutches of drugs and violence. In addition to the First Five Los Angeles program, Jamico helped countless youth leave the gang world.

Currently, Jamico is serving over 2,000 children across Los Angeles. As the Interim Executive Director, he has forged a partnership with Avalon Carver Community Center, LAUSD, and Mobile STEM Labs to prepare the next generation of innovators and change agents.

LAWRENCE E. RODGERS

Executive Director (1997 - 2015)
Avalon-Carver Community Center

Lawrence E. Rodgers served as Executive Director of Avalon Carver Community Center from 1996 - 2015. In this capacity, Mr. Rodgers was responsible for the administration of a 7 million dollar agency with over 25 full time/part time staff. His many duties and responsibilities included the supervision and training of professional staff as well as raising and administering of funds for the agency.

Prior to becoming Executive Director, Mr. Rodgers served as Program Director (1969) of Avalon Carver’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs. In this capacity, Mr. Rodgers developed and implemented Drinking Driving Level I and II Programs which were certified by the DMV, and later became certified by the County of L.A. Other programs developed were the outpatient alcohol and drugs, individual and group counseling programs which were later funded by NIAAA and NIDA.

Mr. Rodgers earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and graduate studies were completed at Los Angeles State College in Public Administration.

MARY B. HENRY

Executive Director (1965 - 1997)
Avalon-Carver Community Center

A Civil Rights Leader, educator and community activist, Mary B. Henry, affectionately called "Mother Henry", was the Executive Director of Avalon Carver Community Center from 1965 - 1983. Her compassionate, yet strong leadership led the center to succeed in its core mission to provide services dictated by the needs of the community. Mother Henry had the ability to help people find a way where others saw no way. That was the essence of her being. Rising from the ranks of social worker at the agency, she served the community as the head of Avalon Carver for over 30 years.

When she retired, she continued serving the community. Mother Henry served as a member and president of the Compton Unified School District Board of Trustees and the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science where the Mary B. Henry Child Development Center was named in her honor.

To Congresswoman Maxine Waters, she was an inspiration for the entire community and served as a model to shape the lives of those whom she mentored. Of her, the Congresswoman said, "Mary was not only the founder and Executive Director of the Avalon Carver Community Center, which provided social services for needy families and individuals such as housing support, education opportunities, and health care, but she was also a concerned and engaged citizen of the community who knew what the stakes were for many of the less fortunate that she worked and lived among. She was a role model for me and other aspiring community leaders. You could count on Mary working with other community leaders to be at the forefront of all the issues of concern to the overall South Los Angeles Community."

DOROTHY WALTON

Executive Director (1960 - 1965)
Avalon-Carver Community Center

OPAL C.JONES

Executive Director (1955 - 1960)
Avalon-Carver Community Cente

Opal C. Jones was born in Texas sometime in the 1920s and moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950s where she became a social worker at the Avalon-Carver Community Center, established in 1940 to provide multiple resources to low-income residents in south central Los Angeles. Ms. Jones became executive director of the center in 19XX and remained in that position until 1965. In 1965, Jones became executive director of the Neighborhood Adult Participation Project (NAPP), a major anti-poverty program that had become by 1976 the largest and oldest poverty program in Los Angeles County, delivering services to over 50,000 residents each year at 14 community centers; one of the first and most ambitious "War On Poverty" programs in Los Angeles County.