Dear Friends of All Peoples,
We were sad to hear of the passing of Rev. Tom Norwood on Easter Sunday. Tom was the first Executive Director of All Peoples Community Center. In 1964, the church and the center separated their finances and each established separate Boards of Directors. The Community Center incorporated and called the first Executive Director. Tom was a minister and held a degree in social work. During his tenure, the Center experienced Watts Riot 1965, fire in the main building, vandalism, and thefts. We experienced the growth of hiring the first social worker to help families to navigate the social service systems within the county. Tom brought in resources to help the Center thrive.
1973, in the first quarter of college, I was given three days to move out of the dorm because my financial aid was canceled. My Mom went to Tom Norwood and secured a loan from the center so that we could locate housing and I could continue my education. Tom responded without hesitation and I was able to stay in school without interruption. I will always be grateful to Tom and All Peoples for being there when our family was in need.
Tom’s vision for a building campaign in the ’70s is the reason for the main building we have today. He knew that the Center had outgrown its facility and that to continue to serve the community we would need a new building. It took nearly 10 years, but in 1982 the dedication ceremony was held.
As a teenager, we did not see Tom as much as the other staff. Upon taking over the position of Executive Director I understand why he was often absent. Tom was dedicated to finding the resources and doing whatever had to be done to keep the center going. He was telling the story of All Peoples, ensuring staff was taken care of, being the liaison to the Board. I am certain other Executives of agencies understand the demands of the position.
About All Peoples Community Center
All Peoples Community Center (All Peoples) is an all-encompassing neighborhood center whose mission is to provide social services and programs that empower individuals and promote community, respect, and self-determination for all.
Founded in 1942, All Peoples has served as a true safe haven and trusted place for low-income children and families in South Los Angeles. Today, All Peoples provides a myriad of social and educational services to more than 6,600 people per year in its 20,000-square-foot center located in a residential area of South LA’s Vernon-Central neighborhood, immediately south of downtown Los Angeles. Services are designed to achieve the following goals: to help children succeed at each stage of development; to strengthen and support individuals and families and build community; to prevent violence and crime in the community and the home; to address the root causes of gang involvement; to provide job training and create job opportunities; and to help seniors stay active and engaged.
All Peoples is a vibrant hub of activity for children, youth, and families six days a week, year-round. Services include licensed extended day childcare, after school programs, academic tutoring, a computer lab, summer camp, summer jobs, an alternative high school, workforce development and career assistance, financial literacy and education, parenting classes, domestic violence support groups, food distribution, a community micro-garden, a senior volunteer program, and more.
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