Last week, Nicole Avant, daughter of the late and prolific philanthropist Jacqueline Avant, joined Los Angeles Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, the MLK Health and Wellness Community Development Corporation and over 100 special guests including Ted Sarandos, Clarence Avant, Alex Avant, Holly Robinson-Peete, Rick Caruso, Jimmy Jam and more to commemorate the name unveiling for the Jacqueline Avant Children & Family Center (The Center) located in the Watts-Willowbrook community.
The three-story and 50,000 sq. ft. Center will serve as a national model for programs that address the complex needs of at-risk children struggling with trauma, health, and mental health problems. The first floor is now open, and the second floor will open to the community this summer. The third floor will be finished by the end of this year.
“My family and I are thrilled and honored to celebrate the unveiling of the Jacqueline Avant Children and Family Center,” said Nicole Avant. “For over 50 years, my mom was dedicated to the mental, physical, and spiritual health of the children and families in South Los Angeles and was on a mission to improve the quality of life for those less fortunate. This new state of the art facility is evidence that my mother’s vision and her commitment to serving others has come to fruition and nothing makes me prouder.”
In a written statement, Magic Johnson said: “Good morning. Unfortunately, a last minute change to my schedule would not permit me to be there with you all this morning, but I did want to thank you for coming out to celebrate the official naming of this facility after Jacqueline Avant. I have had the pleasure of knowing and counting Jacquie, Clarence and the Avant family as close personal friends and confidants for as long as I can remember, and knowing them the way that I do, I know that the existence of this building and the services and resources that it will provide to the children and families of this community is a goal that Jacquie worked towards for many, many years. I have no doubt that every time a child walks through these doors, the spirit of Jacquie will be giving them a comforting hug, and that she will be looking down upon them with her loving smile. I want to thank Supervisor Mitchell, for her hard work, and all of you who have supported the building of this center and making it a reality in Jackie’s name. You may never know the magnitude of your contributions, but I can assure you that its impact on the heath and wellness of the children of this community will be felt for generations to come.”
The County of Los Angeles invested $55 million to build the new Center that will serve thousands of children and teens, including many who are entering or involved with the County’s foster care system.
Thanks to the generosity of friends and supporters of Jacqueline Avant, and in partnership with the MLK Health and Wellness Community Development Corporation, furniture, electronics, artwork, books, and equipment were purchased to support the operations of the first floor Pediatric Clinic, and additional funds have been dedicated to support programming, a playground and wrap-around services for the youth served at The Center.
The Center will also house an Autism Wellness Center run by the Special Needs Network and a federally qualified health clinic operated by St. John Well Child Center on the second floor. On the third floor, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health will operate a crisis stabilization unit for children ages 3-12 that will be the first in the County to serve this population.