I have been managing a property in the Park Mesa Heights neighborhood of South Central, Los Angeles for the past three years. After seeing the effects of inner city life take a toll on too many of the residents, I reached out to Share Necessities founder, Arjuna O’Neal, to see if he would like to lease a space at the property. I knew that Share Necessities would help bring community, mindfulness, and yoga to this neighborhood and increase resilience, health equality, and after-school options to kids in the area.
Share Necessities is a nonprofit organization that serves homeless, underprivileged, and at-risk youth. The organization offers a youth development program called “I Make it Count” (IMIC), which is based on the eight limbs of yoga. Share Necessities also provides basic necessities (hence the name) to those in need through backpack drives and spreading awareness through community Lovefeast celebrations.
Arjuna and Share Necessities’ team has been working over the past 10 months to open a community center that offers mindfulness, yoga, and martial arts classes, pre-employment preparation courses, and the IMIC mindful youth development program. The classes are free and open to all.
In a neighborhood where I have seen gang graffiti, smoke shops, liquor stores, and violence, I am now seeing a community garden, yoga classes, business workshops, heartfelt conversations and beautification projects. When I show up at the property, residents are excited to hear what’s happening at the Next Level commUNITY center (NLCC) and how they can get involved. I definitely feel a sense of ownership and hope in the area.
The Next Level CommUNITY Center had its soft opening in November, when many local residents came by to check out the newly remodeled space and to pick up new school supplies as a part of Share Necessities’ annual backpack drive for youth. The excitement continued to grow as the center celebrated its grand opening in January, when youth and parents signed up for the IMIC program and enjoyed healthy food, community interactions, a live drum circle, youth activities, and yoga demos. We were greeted with smiles, hugs, and encouragement by the sergeant and a team of officers of the LAPD’s 77th Division.
The Next Level CommUNITY Center will continue to have monthly events for area residents, where healthy food will be served and school supplies will be handed out.
Many local residents are getting involved and offering their time to be of service to the center. With the support and participation of the local residents and our conscious community friends, Share Necessities is working diligently to help rewrite the stories of gang violence and crime in this once historical gang territory.
If you feel connected to this heart-centered work as much as I do, please contact Share Necessities at [email protected] for more information on how you can share your time and talents. If you would like to make a donation to this cause and help the center bring peace and vibrancy to our inner city neighborhoods of LA, please visit Share Necessities. The center is running on the generous donations from those who have open hearts. All donations are greatly appreciated and are tax deductible.
2503 W. 54th St. Los Angeles, CA. 90043
Support Share Necessities at the Lovefeast: Saturday, April 15. 7-10:30pm. $20 donation. Vinyasa Yoga, Vegetarian Food, Kirtan and Mantra Bath with Govind Das & Radha, Daniel Stewart, Cooper Madison Ladnier, and guests. Veda Yoga Center, 9349 Venice Blvd, Culver City. vedayogacenter.com
Krista Pasquarella earned her YTT certificate from Loyola Marymount University last summer and has been volunteering as a Yoga instructor since then. She currently teaches classes at PATH and Greater Self Yoga and Wellness, and volunteers at Share Necessities’ Next Level CommUNITY Center.