Watts Community Service with the East Side Bike Riders Club
The East Side Bike Riders Club (ESBRC) hosted the I Have a Dream Foundation – Los Angeles at its annual MLK Volunteer Day Community Service Clean-Up/Improvement Project in Watts. The ESBRC is a bicycle CO-OP that has been serving the Watts community for over seven years. The ESBRC is located on Central Avenue and 114th Street in Watts, and that is where the cleaning would take place: all along the street of Central going north to 108th Street. The founder of the organization, John Jones II, and the co-founder, John Jones III, are a father-son duo who are committed to serving their community of Watts by bringing in not just the elements and resources of the bike CO-OP itself, but also community service projects and a pay-it-forward model (they host MLK Day and Cesar Chavez Clean-Up/ Improvement days). John Jones III works for the city councilman in Watts and Harbor Gateway and is in charge of putting together community events and trying to make them happen. He grew up in Watts and is very connected to the culture and history of the city.
ESBR Supported IHADLA to Give Back During Watts Community Service Clean-Up and Improvement Project
The ESBRC was gracious enough to allow IHADLA’s Program 18 student Dreamers and staff to join them in a day of cleaning up and improving the streets of Watts. The Foundation for Second Chances and the LA Conservation Corps were also there to team up with ESBRC and IHADLA. Melissa, the executive director of Foundation for Second Chances, explained that they work closely with the ESBRC to make the city of Watts a better place and that people are getting involved in the community. The volunteer day was a really amazing unity of different organizations with a similar goal: to empower young people to do better through education and opportunity and thus bring up themselves and their communities.
After gathering the Dreamers and other volunteers, John Jones III presented an introduction to ESBRC, explaining that they have chapters in Detroit and Canada and predominantly serve low-income areas of the cities they work in. He asked the Dreamers why they were doing a day of service for MLK Day, and they responded, “Because he would want us to do something good for our community,” which was spot on! After the short introduction and explaining the importance of MLK Day to Watts, the ESBRC surprised us and the other volunteers with a breakfast of donuts and juice. It was completely unexpected, but a wonderful surprise. Clean-up tools and rules were distributed to all of the volunteers, and we took to the streets to begin our community service project in honor of MLK. A couple hours of hard work on behalf of the ESBRC, Foundation for Second Chances, LA Conservation Corps, other city councilmen, volunteers, and IHADLA Dreamers and staff made a huge difference in how the streets of Watts looked! The Dreamers were very proud of their accomplishments and realized that their work really did make a difference in their local community.
To our surprise, again, the ESBRC provided lunch for all volunteers after the clean-up! They grilled hot dogs and provided individual chip bags and lots of water, telling the volunteers to eat up and drink water to stay hydrated. In addition to the delicious barbeque lunch, John Jones III and EJ, ESBRC’s Treasurer, had gone out of their way to get a birthday cake for one of our Dreamers, T’Nyja. They had heard from our program coordinators that she came to volunteer on her birthday and wanted to do something special for her. These individuals are truly wonderful and care so much about others and their well-being. John Jones III said, “They just want to make others happy,” which they completely achieved during this clean-up project! The day was amazing, and a sense of community was further built by those who attended the clean-up event. Thank you, ESRBC, for an awesome day of fun, hard work, education, and empowerment!
For more information on what the CO-OP offers, please visit their website: www.eastsideridersbikeclub.com
You can also find them on social media: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @eastsideriders