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From the trenches


Los Angeles, CA – During a teaching career that spanned 40 years, Millicent Hill estimates she lost more than 2,000 students to violent deaths.

Calling this an unacceptable statistic in a society as opulent as America, Hill created a neighborhood afterschool program designed to show young people that there are alternatives.

Hill, a retired Crenshaw High School English teacher, formally began her work nine years ago, when she opened a service program in her South Los Angeles home. Called Mama Hill’s Help, the program offers neighborhood youth individualized tutoring and other assistance. Her program now includes gang intervention and prevention activities, teen pregnancy prevention and counseling, and assisting battered women as well as helping those whose spouses are incarcerated.

But despite the trials and tribulations she has gone through to keep the program operating, Hill recently discovered that it is still hard to keep the young people who come to her program safe.

In a fundraising letter, Hill recently wrote about an incident that had occurred to one of her organization members.

“A 17-year-old was recently assaulted by a crew of five males on his way to my afterschool program. His sister and a small Latino boy were traveling with him. Although he suffered no broken bones, he was strangled and given a black eye. His sister tried to pull the boys off of him, and the 10-year-old began crying.

“The whole scene occurs too frequently,” continued Hill in the poignant letter. “This type of mayhem breaks the spirit of our children. These children were on their way to do a good thing, despite their circumstances.”

The young man, who is identified as a special education student, recently earned an “A” in geometry; the younger child likes coming to play basketball, while the sister, who wants to be an artist, likes to practice drawing. The siblings take anger management classes twice weekly, which they missed because of the incident.

“These are normal activities,” writes Hill of the children’s interests, adding, “having to fight your way to your destination is not normal.”

Ironically, Hill said the leader of the five youth involved in the assault, has been to her program several times but failed to sign up. “He too is valuable and needs a hug, self-knowledge and guidance.”

In order to keep young people coming to the program and to prevent a recurrence of such incidents, Hill is trying to gain access to a 12-seat van so her members will not be forced to cross gang territory on foot.

Hill said she is seeking someone to either donate a van to them or for people to pledge support so that the program can purchase its own van. In addition to the cost of the vehicle, the organization is seeking funding to cover the insurance fees and the salary of a part time driver.

Those interested in helping can send a donation to Mama Hill’s Help at 755 E. 92nd St. Los Angeles 90002, or go to the Web site and use PayPal:

For additional information, call (323) 696-6910.