Late benefactor to Watts community
Elected officials and community leaders celebrated recently the renaming of the MLK Child and Family Well-Being Center in the Watts-Willowbrook community in honor of Jacqueline Avant, a prolific philanthropist and a long-time supporter of children and low-income families in South Los Angeles.
Avant, the wife of celebrated music executive Clarence Avant, was killed during a brazen burglary at the couple’s home in Beverly Hills in April 2022. The center, now the Jacqueline Avant Children and Family Center, was renamed in an official ceremony attended by her daughter Nicole, county Supervisor Holly Mitchell, Laker legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson and others.
“My family and I are thrilled and honored to celebrate the unveiling of the Jacqueline Avant Children and Family Center,” Nicole Avant said. “For over 50 years, my mom was dedicated to the mental and 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.”
The three-story, 50,000-square-feet building 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, officials said. The first two floors of the center will be open to the community this summer, and the remaining floor is slated for completion by the end of the year.
The county invested $55 million to build the center that is intended to serve thousands of children and teens, including many who are entering or involved in the foster care system.
“I cannot think of a better way to uplift Jacqueline Avant’s legacy, she dedicated her life to supporting and investing in a brighter future for the children of South L.A.,” Mitchell said.
Friends and supporters of Jacqueline Avant, in partnership with the MLK Health and Wellness Community Development Corporation, helped acquire furniture, electronics, artwork, books and equipment for the operation of the first floor pediatric clinic. Additional funds will be allocated for youth programming, a playground and youth services at the center.
The center will also house an Autism Wellness Center and a health clinic on the second floor. The third floor will eventually house a crisis stabilization unit for children ages 3-12 operated by the county’s Department of Mental Health.