THE MOST FRUITFUL COLLABORATIONS often begin with a spark. When Patrick Allen and Stephen Gabor of Gabor + Allen, Inc. attended our handbook launch party in 2013 at A Place Called Home in South Central Los Angeles, the design build team felt moved by the organization’s success in supporting local youth struggling with challenges ranging from gang violence to inter-generational poverty and homelessness.
Patrick reflects: “What I recognized was that APCH's powerful approach to building community is not contained within the four walls. It expands—you have this population that has gone on to carry the torch of the philosophy of this place, and so the influence ripples far beyond. We saw an opportunity to offer what we know about the world: business, our profession, design, creativity… Possibilities and opportunities that maybe these young people didn’t have an idea was available to them, or didn’t have access to.”
Patrick and Stephen developed an apprenticeship program offering an opportunity for low-income youth to gain some real-world experience in their Westside office. They’ve also donated design services for two separate exterior projects at APCH, as the organization continues to thrive and expand.
We’re super proud of Gabor + Allen’s efforts, and we’ve long felt inspired by the magic that occurs at APCH; so we asked executive director Jonathan Zeichner if he’d take some time to meet with Stephen and Patrick and discuss how such simple acts of generosity benefit everybody involved.
Want to contribute to APCH's great work? Find out more here! A Place Called Home
Looking for a talented, community-minded design build team? Check out Gabor + Allen!
Jonathan: Welcome to A Place Called Home. It's an oasis sitting on the corner of South Central and 29th in South Central Los Angeles. A tough neighborhood, working class neighborhood. Lot of families are struggling with poverty here. Schools aren't what they should be. There's still a lot of gang violence and crime. And there's just a lot of the oppression and challenge that comes along with generational poverty and lack of nutrition.
And here at this place, we open our arms to young people and families all day long, six days a week. And the opportunity is to pursue education all the way to college, get mental health counseling, get involved with the arts, athletics, travel the world even. And we also have a vocational training and career pathways program. We have 81 young people in college right now, 2018. And it's an opportunity to realize yourself as a young person, figure out what your gifts are, no matter what your background is, what zip code you come from, that you have something to offer.
I remember meeting Patrick and Stephen at a Neighbor2Neighbor meeting that we hosted here at A Place Called Home. It was an opportunity for vendors and customers to meet each other in a place that Neighbor2Neighbor was actually supporting. And it was great. It was really fun to have those people on campus, and we ended up cultivating a number of relationships. And one of them was with Stephen and Patrick. I called them and they instantly responded—they're like: "What do you need? We're there." They're donating their time, which is amazing. I didn't even expect that. I felt that in addition to the internal work that needed to happen, we wanted to do some transformation of the physical space.
Stephen: Of the space, uh-huh...
Jonathan: Ecosystem, and you showed up at just the right moment and helped us take what was a warehouse, this monolithic building with no windows, and create an exterior to the building that was inviting and showed life in the middle of the city, right? Brought in flowers and greenery and all of that. So I'm really grateful for that. And I appreciate that everyday when I walk outside the building. And so do a lot of other people, especially when the jasmine is blooming.
Stephen: Yes, every spring...
Jonathan: Yeah. Everybody walks by and they're just like, you could see them, breathing in the jasmine, and it kinda lifts them up as they move.
Patrick: It feels good to do it, and it feels like we have the ability to do that. And not do it would be a crime. It would be not right, not fair, to be able to offer things that we have the ability to offer. I think it's like the definition of community is to support one another. And you are part of a large family, and you do what you can to keep the family healthy and safe and empowered.
Stephen: We knew that we could offer a level of expertise at no cost to him as a donation where our work can impact the lives of so many other kids. We'll do this one time, but every day, hundreds of kids ... how many kids show up here every day?
Jonathan: On a busy day, we'll have about 400 kids on campus.
Stephen: 400 kids show up here every day over the years. It's a small effort that'll impact hundreds and hundreds of children.
Jonathan: Everybody who touches this place gets more than they give and it's a way of inspiring people to be at their best and to use their gifts in a way that benefits other people. And it's the same message we give to the kids. Don't come here as consumers just to get free stuff. Come here and bring your gifts, bring who you are and what you do. You have abundance. You have something to share. And so when they see other professionals, who could be doing anything and could be charging more or working for bigger companies that can pay more than we can, and they see that these folks are investing their time and energy here at A Place Called Home. It's a message, that we're all in this together.
So I just want to acknowledge that I'm grateful. I'm grateful to these guys. I'm grateful to Neighbor2Neighbor, which has consistently been kind of a conduit at A Place Called Home to help us connect with really expert folks in their field, but also people who are open to and interested in doing something that's really meaningful.