Los Angeles Gives Back to Local OrganizationContributor: Swinerton Blogger | December 24, 2014
Parents of Watts (POW) is a supportive partner for our current Jordan High School construction program in Watts, California. “Sweet” Alice Harris is the power behind POW, a powerful and positive community force. As a community activist and now director of POW, Alice has sought to ease the frictions between the African-American and Hispanic residents of her community.
A witness to the 1965 riots, Alice and a cadre of volunteers worked out of her house to help rebuild the community. Linking with other civic groups, Alice formed the Black and Brown Committee, which eventually became Parents of Watts (POW) in 1979. Today, POW operates more than 15 programs in eight houses purchased by Alice. It provides emergency food and shelter, family counseling, tutoring, parenting classes, employment training, literacy courses, college and career preparation, and housing assistance for anyone who needs it. Every child in the community now gets immunization shots. They didn't before POW.
Though POW's doors are open to all, most of its assistance goes to young women and children. A central tenet of Alice and POW is keeping kids off drugs, in school, and on track for a successful life. Sometimes Alice motivates students not to quit with the promise of a certain toy at the holidays. Other times, it's a POW summer school class to improve English proficiency or math skills. She's known as “Sweet" because she seems stern from far away. But up-close, her open heart shines through. Alice asks a simple question of people hedging about lending a hand: "Do you want to be part of the building crew or the wrecking crew?"
This fall Swinerton presented “Sweet” Alice with a check in support of their back to school giveaway to go towards school supplies, backpacks, clothes, sandals, food, and $10/$25 savings accounts. The check will also assist the holiday toy giveaway she holds for the youth in Watts and surrounding communities. An inspiration to all, Swinerton is proud to have joined forces with her and her cause.