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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: May 20, 2006
Latest Update: May 20, 2006

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Patrick Launi and several other students toured the Challengers Boys and Girls Club in April. This is one of the local groups we hope to bring our support and skills to as part of our community activity. Patrick offers us a review of the site visit in Message No. 12488.

Last Wednesday (4/12/06) Shirley Herbert, Karen Byrdsong, Maria Marquez, Celia Piz, Maisha Jones, Nikki Williams and I along with a couple other 595 students had the honor to be in the presence of a real life hero. This hero is not a professional athlete, a movie star, a big name politician, nor even a rock star. He is someone more important than any of that. This hero has directly touched the lives of thousands in the inner city of Los Angeles.

By his community activism, this hero has saved the lives of many children and have steered them away from a possible life of crime, drugs, teenage pregnancies, etc. This hero has educated thousands of kids with the theme of being future leaders. In fact, one of his classrooms is titled "Leaders in Training". He has told every child that has come through his doors that you are special and important and through each individuals talents you can change the world. This hero has also taught parents a thing or two as well.

You see, this hero believes that in order for a child to succeed parents have to be present in their lives and involved in their education. Because of this, every parent has to volunteer at least four hours a month at his center. In addition, Parents must be involved in their child's annual summer pancake breakfast, awards shows, and/or sporting events. This hero believes that the educator and parent have to work together as a team for the child to succeed in today's world.

This hero has a long history dating back to 1968. Among the riots and racial tensions of the 60's this hero saw many social issues going wrong with the inner city youth. As a young janitor at a Los Angeles school he saw these problems directly with his own eyes. One day in 1968 he decided to do something about it. He opened a youth center in the back of his own private truck with 12 youths. So began his legacy that has touched thousands.

Today his center has grown from the back of his truck to a state of the art learning center approximately a of a city block in size. His fleet of passenger vans (donated from Ford and Dodge) pick the children up from 57 schools around the city and bring them to his world of learning. His center includes four tennis courts with stadium, an outdoor basketball court, a full on gymnasium, a library, a chemistry lab, a radio and d.j. booth (with a real radio station 104.7F.M.), a videography/ video editing room (includes a news and journalism desk), a MacDonald's small business training room, home economics room, a music room, a fully operational dental office, arts and crafts room, a quiet reading room, computer science room and much, much more. This hero's center offers every avenue of education from which the child can explore.

In all, this hero has raised millions of dollars for his kids and center, from sponsors such as Arco, Citi Bank, and Nike to name a few. Furthermore he has found college scholarships for his youth such as two $35,000 scholarships to Taft College. From his humbleness he would never tell you that he has been the recipient of many community awards such as the "City of Los Angeles Participant Award", "Governors Award", and "The Boys and Girls Annual club Recipient award" just to name a few. In fact, President Bush was aware of this hero's accomplishments and decided to have him sit on the board of National Mission of Urban American Family. He has also been able to find college slots for his young people.

Alumni from this hero's center have gone one to colleges such as Yale, Taft, UCLA, USC and more. Alumni have gone into professions such as Law, Medicine, Education, Small and Large business, to name a few.

Because of this, Lou Dantzler, you are a true American hero and it was an honor to spend an afternoon with you. You have educated us in how much one person can affect the lives of so many and how if you are a determined individual the sky is the limit to ones dreams.

Thanks again, Lou Dantzler,

Patrick 595

Discussion Questions

  1. Jackie brought back the message to me and Pat that most of all, they need art supplies. Do you think our program will fit?

    Consider the extent to which we use art and visual sociology in all we do.

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