Venice Community Housing

Monthly Newsletter   
The full scoop on our people, programs & progress
Volume 4 Issue 6                         
June 2014
Faces of YouthBuild
YouthBuild Volunteers
Take a Tour
Positive Transformation
Art Show
GRID Alternatives
Walgrove Wildlands
After School Updates
Volunteer News
Mark Your Calendars
Faces of
Venice YouthBuild Cycle 12 

Diana Dominguez 

Diana Dominguez's last culmination ceremony was in elementary school. She socially culminated from middle school into high school; her last grade level completed was 9th grade.  


Diana came into the program after being referred to YouthBuild by her brother, who is a longtime friend of one of YouthBuild's construction trainers.


Apprehensive to rejoin an academic environment, Diana knew she would have a long road ahead of her; her entire high school career to be exact.


During the program, Diana co-enrolled at Santa Monica College to help build her high school credits and achieve her goal of obtaining her high school diploma faster.  



With her continued credit work in the post-YouthBuild Academy program and Santa Monica College, Diana will be able to obtain her high school diploma by the fall of 2015. She plans to continue her newly found interest and confidence in academics at Santa Monica College after school, hoping to transfer to UC Berkeley as a Business or Art History major.


Diana's advice to the incoming class of 2015: "Take advantage of everything the program has to offer. When they say they have a lot to offer, they do, but it's not handed directly to you. You have to work for it - dig through it like at a thrift store searching for that amazing value."

Faces of
Venice YouthBuild Cycle 12 

Malik Lane  

At a young age, Malik Lane found himself receiving a lot of disciplinary action from physical fights with students and conflicts with his school's faculty. He began being home schooled after the third grade.


However, homeschool
brought its own challenges for Malik, including growing up with seven other siblings, struggling to find connections to the work assigned by his mother, and the classic neighborhood distractions of friends and social cliques.


Malik's interest in the Venice YouthBuild program grew after he decided to attend the three-week long Mental Toughness orientation in September. Over the course of the program he has come to be highly respected by both his fellow students and program staff for his initiative and demonstrated leadership.

Thanks to Malik's dedication to his academic work, he will graduate from Venice YouthBuild with his high school diploma!



At the age of 22, Malik looks forward to applying to the Electricians Union after pursuing a certificate and internship through the Solar Summer Jobs program at Santa Monica College.


Understanding the true demands of Venice YouthBuild, Malik's advice for participants in the next YouthBuild cycle is: "Think hard about if you really want to commit to the program now before you waste your time or get caught up doing the same old things that got you here in the first place and can end up getting you kicked out (of YouthBuild) and left behind."


Make a donation to Venice YouthBuild in honor of their June 27th graduation!  


Contribute $50 or more and we'll send you a copy of Venice YouthBuild's latest poetry anthology, Something Out of Nothing.  


Contribute $100 or more and we'll also send you a Venice YouthBuild t-shirt! (Limited sizes available).  


Donate online  by clicking HERE, or contact Development Manager Anne Dobson at (310) 573-8406 or   


Venice YouthBuild is grateful to everyone who contributed to the 2013-2014 program, including: 

  Advisory Board


Laura Peterson Hollywood Cinema Production Resources


Eddie De La Riva   

UCLA Youth Source


Adewale OgunBadejo GRID Alternatives


Ana Alvarez & Samantha Quintero

UCLA Labor Occupational Safety & Health Program   


Frank Alvarez

Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)


Gabriel Dupin

Whole Foods Market


Academic & Life Skills Volunteers  

Ali Amin  

David Borden

Melodie Meyer 

Laurie Pincus


 Community Partners 


Treveres Stamps of CLARE Foundation






A Window Between Worlds


Elena Vannucci of Focus Studio


Francisco Letelier


Paolo Daranzo and Echo Park Film Center


Master Garnder Norma Bonilla


Ellie Herman of PEN Center


UCLA Neuroscience Dept.


VCH Board Member John Raphling 


Westside Family Clinic

Mission Statement

The mission of Venice Community Housing is to preserve the economic, racial and social diversity of Venice and the surrounding area by maximizing affordable housing and economic development opportunities and providing needed social services to the area's low-income population.  
Take a Tour    

Learn about VCH's history and current efforts during a ride-along tour of our properties throughout the Venice area. This unique introduction to VCH is ideal for individuals who are new to the area and/or want to learn more about our agency. 

Tours will be held the third Wednesday of every month, or by appointment.

To schedule a tour contact Linda Lucks:
(310) 526-3857 or   


Quick Links


We open our newsletter with an excerpt from "Where I'm From," a poem written by Venice YouthBuild student Esaun Russell that is part of an anthology compiled by our YouthBuild students under the guidance of Ellie Herman from PEN Center USA.

I'm from where you gotta be a young guy 
out there gettin' it

I'm from  
on top of influences...

I went from frowns 
to visualizing crowns 
because as far as I'm concerned 
I'm like a young king of only nineteen 
and I'm too mean 
and too supreme 
and too clean 
and too elite 
to let where I come from control me 
and who I'll be

all I must do 
is follow my own beat of life

Beyond offering young adults an opportunity to earn their high school diploma and acquire valuable employment and skills, our Venice YouthBuild program offers them a chance to reflect on where they have come from and to redirect their futures.
Cycle 12 students got first-hand experience with policy-making and lobbying at Government Education Days in Sacramento. 

This newsletter is primarily dedicated to highlighting the 12th cycle of our Venice YouthBuild program, which will conclude with a celebratory graduation June 27th.

 If you enjoy what you read below, consider making a donation in honor of Venice YouthBuild's graduation. You may donate online or by contacting Development Manager Anne Dobson at (310) 573-8406 or
The term Venice YouthBuild uses is 'positive transformation,' and I can see myself transforming into a more positive, social person.                 
                                    - Venice YouthBuild Graduate

Back to School    


Venice YouthBuild launched its 12th program cycle in September 2013, enrolling 36 young men and women between the ages of 18 and 24. Our Cycle 12 students are have worked incredibly hard to transform their academic, professional and civic futures.


Students were assigned to Team "Youth" or Team "Build," with the teams alternating weekly between academic work and construction training. The entire Venice YouthBuild class came together for leadership development and community service projects on a weekly basis.


All Venice YouthBuild students qualify as "basic skills deficient" upon acceptance into the program, testing at an eighth-grade level or below in English, Mathematics, or both subjects.

To date, 16 students have passed the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), which is required by the State for all students to earn their high school diploma. Venice YouthBuild requires all students, regardless if they have passed the CAHSEE, to continue to participate in the academic component of the program so that their reading, writing and mathematics skills are as strong as possible when they exit the program and transition into higher education and full-time careers. After completing the program, many of our Cycle 12 students will take advantage of the Venice YouthBuild Academy program to continue the academic work they need to earn their diplomas.   


Building a Future 


Students practice foundational construction skills either on campus at our construction training lab or at an off-campus construction site under the supervision of Construction Trainers.



Not only do students have the opportunity to earn Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Training (PACT) certificates, but they also learn valuable lessons in work standards and ethics, team building, and leadership - lessons that are transferable to any career field.


Experiential learning is a key element of the Venice YouthBuild program. Through weekly community service and leadership development projects that focus on the Venice YouthBuild's core values of positive transformation, social justice and empowerment, students learn to become advocates for both themselves and their communities.  

Venice YouthBuild hosts third annual art show  


The Focus Studio in Venice generously donated its space for Venice YouthBuild's art show 
Guests enjoy Venice YouthBuild's artwork on display at The Focus Studio.

On June 13th Venice YouthBuild students hosted their third annual art show at The Focus Studio.

What began
as an elective project three years ago has evolved into a multimedia masterpiece. This year's show, titled "Something Out of Nothing," featured short films, spoken word poetry and two-dimensional art pieces.

YouthBuild student Diana Dominguez curated the show 
The art show was the product of months of work by one of YouthBuild's elective groups, with the guidance of YouthBuild Teacher Sarah Wakasa and Case Manager Kevin Michini. 

Among the students who participated in this group was Diana Dominguez, who not only contributed numerous pieces to the show but also secured a DJ to donate his time to the event and curated the entire studio space.

The students raised almost $1,500 from artwork and t-shirt sales as well as event donations. The proceeds will help fund Venice YouthBuild's final retreat before graduation on June 27th.  

YouthBuild students complete solar installs with GRID Alternatives 

Venice YouthBuild students work on a solar panel installation, a green construction opportunity made possible through a partnership with GRID Alternatives. 


For the past four years Venice YouthBuild has partnered with GRID Alternatives - a nonprofit that offers volunteers hands-on experience installing solar electric systems that help low-incomes families save money. This partnership has allowed Venice YouthBuild students to learn about the field of solar energy and perform multiple solar panel installs.

"GRID is a great opportunity for YouthBuild Trainees because it is essential exposure and preparation for entry-level careers in the green construction industry," says YouthBuild Program Manager Rick Solis. "This work fits well with our core construction training as well as supports our mission of working for the benefit of the community."

"Solar installation is one of the green construction fields making the biggest impact in the industry," says Construction Trainer Jesus Rosales. "The GRID program offers our students free training that would cost us thousands of dollars to provide."  



"Now I have the opportunity to get a summer job in solar paneling, know how to get training, have connections and the opportunity to have an interesting, stable career," says YouthBuild student Terrell Alexandria.  

Doing the dirty work: YouthBuild students help make the Walgrove Wildlands a reality 

Venice YouthBuild students volunteered regularly at Walgrove for over a year, hauling dirt and rocks, and literally shaping the Wildlands for their future use.
Walgrove Principal Olivia Adams thanked Venice YouthBuild for the brute, physical activity they contributed to the project. "We could not have done this without you," Adams said. 
"It means a great deal to me to be part of this project, planting the future for generations to come," said Venice YouthBuild student Malik Lane at the Grand Opening of the Walgrove Wildlands. 

Venice Community Housing News & Updates 


LA ordinance prohibiting homeless to live in their vehicles declare unconstitutional 


The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal announced today in Desertrain v. City of Los Angeles that LAMC 85.02, which prohibits the use of a vehicle "as living quarters either overnight, day-by-day, or otherwise," provides "inadequate notice of the unlawful conduct" and "proscribes and opens the door to discriminatory enforcement against the homeless and the poor." Accordingly, the court held that the ordinance violates the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment and is unconstitutionally vague. 


The court concluded:

"For many homeless persons, their automobile may be their last major possession - the means by which they can look for work and seek social services. The City of Los Angeles has many options at its disposal to alleviate the plight and suffering of its homeless citizens. Selectively preventing the homeless and the poor from using their vehicles for activities many other citizens also conduct in their cars should not be one of those options."


We want to thank and honor Carol Sobel, the attorney that represented the plaintiffs in this case. The City has filed an appeal to the U.S Supreme Court, so it is too soon to celebrate this victory, but we anticipate that the Court's decision will ultimately be affirmed.We will keep you posted.


For more information about the history of this case, click HERE. For the entire text of the Court of Appeals Decision, click HERE.


Study Lounge celebrates student achievement for 2013-2014 school year at Oakwood reception 

On June 4th elementary- and middle-school students in our Study Lounge program celebrated the fruits of their labor over the 2013-2014 school year with their tutors, mentors and families at a reception hosted at Venice's Oakwood Community Center. 

Study Lounge Site Coordinator Chela Vallejo and the proud recipient of the Highest GPA award
Study Lounge staff presented certificates to students for their accomplishments, including perfect school attendance, outstanding behavior, highest GPA, and most improved GPA.

Over 100 students participated in Study Lounge this year, receiving tutoring and recreation Monday through Thursday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Oakwood Community Center or our Washington Place apartments.

Study Lounge partners with UCLA's TEACH program to offer individualized, year-long academic tutoring to Study Lounge participants. Bright, successful UCLA students provide participants with one-on-one, focused attention and inspire them to new levels of achievement. 


Supplementary to the Study Lounge program is the Westside Science Club, which provides students with opportunities to explore science and technology through fun, hands-on experiential learning. The biweekly program is led by volunteer mad scientist Ben Dickow.

by  Barbara Milliken


Google volunteers help renovate two VCH buildings

Tenants at VCH's Centinela and Slauson locations will enjoy sparkling new residences thanks to the donated muscle power of ten Google employees in early June.   

Max Harris, VCH's Housing & Asset Director, submitted a request to Google's Venice volunteer coordinator for 10 people to sand, prime and paint tenant residences as part of a restoration program. Google's response was ideal for the job!


Google encourages employees to contribute to their community by paying them for time working with local organizations like VCH. As part of its GoogleServe program, Google posts requests like Max's, and its employees sign up to participate. The happy result for VCH was two days of intense effort by energetic workers who placed drop cloths, climbed ladders, mixed, rolled and brushed paint on walls and fences.The photos below tell the story! For more photos on VCH's website, click here.   


Google volunteers on the job at the Centinela location. [Photo: Jack Prichett]
Max Harris with Google volunteers, ready to "roll" at Slauson location. [Photo: Jack Prichett] 


YouthBuild appreciates volunteer Melodie Meyer  

Melodie Meyer, YouthBuild volunteer at VCH
[Photo: Jack Prichett] 

 Melodie Meyer, a 12-year Venice resident, thinks schools should function like YouthBuild because its lively, engaging format inspires and captures students' interest propelling them to gainful employment. Volunteering weekly, she promotes YouthBuild's Financial Literacy program.


Melodie believes in environmental conservation, recycling and re-purposing to eliminate waste, creating useful items. She lives these principles and demonstrates finding and refashioning things for little or no expense. She relates actual accounts of young people who become successful doing just that. Her mantra is: "Don't think poor. You can have what you need, but it doesn't have to come from Macy's." She believes young people can bring factions together peacefully with creative skills, saving resources. "Melodie embodies and imparts YouthBuild's goals," says Director Omar Muhammad. 


Melodie thanks VCH, a "great place" connecting her to those whose growth and learning she fosters. She hopes others volunteer, discovering this transformation and growing themselves.   


To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Venice Community Housing, visit our web site or contact Barbara Milliken at (310) 399-4100 ext. 134 or   



Martini Monday at Feed 
Monday, June 23rd
11 a.m. - 11 p.m. 
Feed, 1239 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice

Dine or drink at FEED on June 23rd and 10% of your check will be donated to VCH!  

2014 Jazz at Palms Court Fundraiser
Sunday, September 14th
11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
743 Palms Blvd., Venice

Save the date for VCH's 22nd annual Jazz at Palms Court champagne brunch and silent auction! More information, including sponsorship opportunities, is available at  
Until Next Month, 


Venice Community Housing 
720 Rose Ave, Venice, CA 90291 
P: (310) 399-4100
F: (310) 399-1130