LA Red Shield celebrates 50

HUELL HOWSER SERVED as MC at the Los Angeles Red Shield 50th Anniversary Celebration.


More than 200 people gathered in the gymnasium at Southern California’s Los Angeles Red Shield Youth and Community Center recently for a 50th anniversary luncheon. Every seat was filled as community leaders, volunteers, donors and friends of the Red Shield honored all those who have helped make the Red Shield what it is today ­ an “oasis for youth” in a gang-troubled Los Angeles neighborhood.


We will intentionally reach out in service and ministry to people of every generation, within all races and cultures.

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan welcomed the guests and praised The Salvation Army and the Red Shield for caring about the children of Los Angeles, “our most precious resource.” He congratulated Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Alfred Van Cleef and Red Shield Executive Director Irene Lewis for their success in transforming lives in the face of obstacles like gang violence, poverty, delinquency and despair.

Local television personality Huell Howser (from PBS Affiliate KCET) served as Master of Ceremonies. The Squires Club, a local service organization, was honored for the $1 million worth of financial and volunteer resources they have contributed in their 35-year affiliation with the Red Shield. Long-time Advisory Board member Donn Brown was also recognized for his 48 years of service and for his guiding influence on the center.

One of the high points occurred when Staples Center President Timothy J. Leiweke presented Van Cleef with a $500,000 contribution toward the expansion of the Red Shield, already underway. The Staples Center–home to the Lakers, Clippers and Kings–is located several blocks from the Red Shield and is significantly involved in the ongoing work of the Red Shield and other local charitable organizations.

Three people whose lives were impacted by their own involvement with the Red Shield enthusiastically told their stories. During the 1950s, Ray Scott and his brothers considered the center their second home. Maritza Gentry, retired from the Los Angeles Police Department, shared that it was a place of calm for her during a youth characterized by abuse and neglect. Richard Vaughn credits the Red Shield with saving him from the gang lifestyle, and maybe even saving his life.

As it should be, the true highlights of any event at the Red Shield are the kids. They charmed the audience with a performance by the Red Shield Choir and even a rousing dance routine by the Red Shield Drill Team. The kids even had a hand in creating a video looking back at 50 years of the Red Shield and a glimpse of the center as it is today.

In a moving tribute to the staff and volunteers of the Red Shield Center, the kids choir sang, R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly”, expressing the confidence and hope of each boy and girl who have called the Red Shield Youth and Community Center home during the last 50 years.

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