Recent News

The Southern California Shakeout

All throughout the Southern California area schools, businesses, and emergency response teams participate in the Great Southern California Shakeout. River Community Covina and Wellness Center participated in this event by conducting a presentation given by a program participant as well as the safety officer. In addition, River Community Covina and Wellness Center was provided information on how to prepare and what necessary steps to take during an earthquake. At 10:20 a.m. on October 20th, our Safety Officer, Kristine Cox asked all the participants to Drop, Cover and Hold on!



Tribute to Two Lost Angels

In Gladys Park, Skid Row gave a Loving sendoff to two of our very own. The October 4th, Skid Row Movies in the Park series concluded with the screening of, “Lost Angels: Skid Row is My Home,” with a memorial tribute to two special women, Mollie Lowery and Linda Lorraine Harris, who made significant contributions to creating a positive community. It was an emotional and warming event as both women appeared in the Lost Angels film. Mollie Lowery, was a pioneer in efforts to help people suffering from poverty, addiction and mental illness move out of tents and cardboard boxes and into supportive housing. In 1985, she founded the Los Angeles Men’s Place, a Skid Row drop-in center for people with mental illness, and later helped expand it to Lamp Community, which provided permanent supportive housing that included counseling and other social services. Mollie pioneered the "housing first" strategy now at the heart of nationwide efforts to tackle issues related to mentally ill folks who are homeless. Linda Lorraine Harris has joined Molly in a better place. Linda lived at LAMP Community for many years and was a staunch supporter of UCEPP’s community building Coalition work. She sang in the Church of Nazarene choir and often performed at the Festival For All Skid Row Artists. It seemed so appropriate that this Memorial would be held in Gladys Park. This was a special event for Mollie and Linda because Linda Loved Mollie and Mollie Loved Linda. They both loved this Community and we loved them; Rest In Peace our Lost Angels, your Spirits were felt throughout this special evening.

This event was made possible through the coordinated efforts of the Skid Row Community Coalition, Homeless Health Care Los Angeles, UCEPP and the Office of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Community Forum in Boyle Heights

Social Model Recovery Systems, Inc. (SMRS), Rethinking Access to Marijuana Workgroup and Councilmember Jose Huizar co-hosted a community event in Boyle Heights entitled “Marijuana: What’s Next?” This event aimed to share information and discuss the marijuana issues and its effect on children and young adults, as well as the importance of preventing access. Community Centered Emergency Room Project, played an invaluable role in convening this event, including outreach, securing a venue and local speakers. Cynthia Gonzalez, City of Los Angeles Neighborhood Prosecutor, spoke about issues with dispensaries, laws and regulations. Maribel Suarez, a Coalition member, shared with attendees an incident that occurred at her 11-year-old son’s school involving a marijuana-infused gum (edible) that school administrators believed he had ingested. After hours at the medical center, lab work, conversations with law enforcement and nurses, Maribel talked about the embarrassment she felt and her decision to do something about it by organizing and informing other parents. Charles Porter, Prevention Coordinator, for SMRS’ Skid Row project shared research facts and integrated culturally relevant information.

We want to give special thanks to Franklin Ochoa, Council District 14 Field Deputy, for hosting the event, as well as attendees for their participation. Approximately 100 people attended the event, including several members from Los Angeles Police Department.


Partnering to Help Foster Youth and Young Adults

The prevention team (UCEPP & CCERP) was honored to meet with Congresswoman Karen Bass (founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth) and Donna Brown Guillaume with the National Foster Youth Institute, to discuss issues confronting youth and young adults engaged in the foster care system. We discussed our work over the years with the young people of Skid Row. They shared their efforts to assist and actively engage foster youth, who are often at risk for homelessness, increasing their opportunities to achieve. Their passion and dedication is inspirational. We are hopeful that their work will assist local youth and young adults, and help decrease rates of homelessness, incarceration, addiction, and educational failure. We anticipate many positive results as we explore opportunities to assist their invaluable work.

Recovery Happens 2016 “Hope in Recovery” Art and Music Festival

Social Model Recovery Systems hosted its first annual art and music festival in celebration of Recovery Happens. There was food, live music, spoken word, an art show, raffles, and face painting. The art, music, and poetry featured the talents of program participants and alumni. Some were first time performers and artist who have discovered their talents during their recovery journey. Others were seasoned veterans of the arts who have been on many stages and other art events. They all shared their talents with fellow peers, families, and other community members. It was an amazing event to watch as artists, poets, and musicians alike glowed with their accomplishment. This event served as a fundraiser for art/music supplies for the programs. It was decided that this year’s profits from the fundraiser will be going to Bimini Recovery Center for needed art supplies. A special thanks to all the volunteers, directors, committee members, F&W Food Services, and Dear Mama who made this event a success. If you missed out this year, please make sure to join us for the next one in 2017.

Social Model Recovery Systems Co-Hosts Spice Emergency Meeting

United Coalition East Prevention Project, the prevention group of Social Model Recovery Systems, co-hosted a Skid Row Spice Emergency Town Hall in partnership with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office. The Town Hall was called due to a rash of non-lethal “Spice” overdoses; as many as 82 individuals have required fire and police emergency services. The Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity contacted UCEPP staff Monday morning.

We quickly put together our Spice/Skid Row strategy meeting. By that Wednesday we had gathered an impressive and diverse array of concerned city, county and community leaders, including Mayor Garcetti. Social Model Recovery Systems' CEO Jim O’Connell was in attendance and he pledged our agency’s full support. We were very encouraged by the diverse group of public and private leaders who made time on such short notice to help us craft a community response to this public health crisis.

Subsequent UCEPP/SMRS actions will be aimed at informing our homeless neighbors about the poisonous nature of this synthetic drug, creating city/county response protocols, identifying services, and creating a community-driven network to build resident capacity and leadership.

In addition to a Spice Public Health Action Alert, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Substance Abuse Prevention and Control shared the below Google Maps link. This user friendly interactive map will help to easily identify nearby health and substance abuse providers.

 Map of Nearby Health and Substance Abuse Providers


Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser for NAMIWalks 2016

River Community Covina and River Community Wellness Center hosted a Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser to raise money for NAMI. It was a great success! Those who attended the dinner that night had an opportunity to come together as a community to support those who live with mental health disorders. We were inspired by one of our own participants who shared his journey through his addiction while he battled his mental illness and how he is now able to live with his mental illness and maintain his recovery. We were all grateful for the amount of participants, family members, and the community that came out to support us with raising money for the NAMI Walk. We will look forward to next year’s Spaghetti Fundraiser.