Community Voices
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San Pedro Meals on Wheels (photo: Facebook)

As the leader of a local real estate team, I’m inclined to help lift up our community and find ways to improve it. We call it “Give Where We Live.” Each member of my team has a favorite charity they contribute to — in volunteer hours, monetary donations, and some serve on boards of directors of nonprofits that mean the most to them.

Many years ago, before I could find San Pedro on a map, I was a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show. It was back when she had donated millions of dollars to build a school in Africa. She faced a lot of criticism from people who thought she should spend that money here in America, not knowing how many hundreds of millions she had spent here in support of education, fighting food insecurity, addiction, healthcare, and homeless housing in the towns she once called home. During a commercial break, I asked her, “What do you say to these critics?” She said, “If everyone had a charity or a way to contribute [to something] that mattered most to them, something that touched their heart so deeply that got them out of bed and into action in a meaningful way… can you imagine the world we would live in?”

That moment really touched me and helped bring into focus a lot of the work I had done with my best friend who was born and raised in San Pedro, Otto Schutt. We focused on charities that helped fight cancer, support women’s issues, and educate and lift up children living in poverty. These challenges remain my main focus now that I live in Otto’s hometown, in the house he grew up in. 

More importantly, I’m surrounded by folks doing amazing work here in San Pedro in unique and different ways. Maria’s Closet, founded by Ronna Luna and supported by some of the strongest women in the Harbor Area, has its annual fundraiser on Saturday, February 11. It’s a night of dinner and dancing with some of San Pedro’s best people to hang out with. A party not to be missed with an auction that always gets me into trouble. Maria’s Closet provides prom dresses, makeup, and confidence for young girls to have a prom night filled with happy memories they will carry with them for life. Visit mariasclosets.org for more information and ways to donate.

San Pedro Meals on Wheels (photo: Facebook)

San Pedro Meals on Wheels is a charity close to the heart of my operations manager, Laura Avila, who serves on the board of directors. For $8.50 per day, San Pedro Meals on Wheels can provide a tasty, nutritious lunch and dinner for those who can’t provide for themselves. For many, the volunteer-led deliveries are the only human interaction these folks may have in the day. For them, it’s not just the food; it’s someone caring enough to check in on them and ensure they’re okay. Meals on Wheels is always looking for donations of time and money. Visit sanpedromealsonwheels.org to see how you can contribute.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor is providing bright futures for our children in various ways. What started as a way to give kids something to do after school is now so much more. California Youth of the Year Nicolas Velazquez says the BGCLAH has provided him with a future free of drug and alcohol abuse and gang violence. The club’s work here in the Harbor Area provides the education, skills, and direction that many of our kids will need to remain here as responsible adults with the jobs, families, and community roots that protect the culture of San Pedro. Visit bgclaharbor.org to see how the College Bound and Career Bound programs are making a difference.

The San Pedro Chamber of Commerce is bringing back its Honorary Mayor campaign this month, with candidates winning based on the money they can raise for their favorite charity. If you are interested in supporting your favorite charities and nonprofits here in San Pedro on a grand scale, visit sanpedrochamber.com for details. Your campaign could lead others to contribute to the organizations you love most and help us all give where we live. spt

Lee Williams

Lee Williams leads The Lee Williams Real Estate Group at REAL Broker and is a Los Angeles Harbor Commissioner. He also serves on the board of directors for Boys & Girls Clubs of the LA Harbor, the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Connects, and the San Pedro Education Foundation. He can be reached at lee@lamove.com.

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