Venice LAPD Officer Making A Difference Through Badge Of Heart

Above: The Rotary Club of Westchester along with Field Deputy to Councilmember Mike Bonin, Frederick Sutton (second from right), present an award to Badge of Heart. Officer Victor Perez (center) accepts an award as one of the two officers who braved a burning house to save a family. Captain Alberca stands next to Officer Ken Lew (far left).

Badge of Heart is a local Venice charity that sees the officers of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Division partnering with the Westside community to provide relief to those victimized by crime and family hardship.

The charity has been running for less than a year but already it has made a difference in many local lives.

Founder, the charismatic, Officer Ken Lew of LAPD Pacific Division, who regularly tweets as @LAPDKenLew, talks about the inspiration behind setting up Badge of Heart.

“In 25 years I’ve seen a good amount of bad,” he said. “Probably more bad than good because obviously, we all know that the police department, often sees the bad. I spent the first eight years of my career in south L.A., and then 11 years in downtown L.A. where I saw a lot of poverty. Single moms raising two, three, or four kids. We’d often see moms and dads working multiple jobs trying to provide for their family. Pretty much never home to see their kids because they’re working so much. So I thought throughout the years, wouldn’t it be pretty cool to try to make a difference in somebody’s life. About a year ago I came up with the idea to start a charity to do this.”

To begin with, even though he had the charity set up and ready to go, Lew wasn’t sure of the best way to help people. Then a tragedy struck and Lew knew he could step in and help ease the burden on the family affected.

“There was a house fire about a block and a half away from the Police Station three days before Christmas,” he said. “It was a family of five and their house caught on fire in the middle of the night. They were woken up by a couple of officers from Pacific Division. Their lives were saved and they went into safety housing. However, they lost everything inside their house, including their beloved birds, they lost everything.”

Arriving at work the next day, Lew heard about the tragedy during roll call.

“I found out they were a hard working, decent family who had just lost everything,” he said. “So I told my Captain, ‘Give me a few hours, let me try to see if I can do something.’ So the next thing you know I made some phone calls to the media and Channels 2, 5, 7 all responded and came down and did an interview with my Captain about the family.”

The media wanted to know how the general public might be able to help the family.

“My boss came up to me and said, ‘Ken, your idea was to help this family which is great but we can only take clothes and furniture. We can’t take any money.’ I asked, ‘What do we need to do that?’ She said, ‘Well we need some kind of non-profit who can take the money and get it to the family.’ I knew then and there that this was a way Badge of Heart could step up and help.”

While the LAPD has a policy that they can’t take money from the public, Badge of Heart was ready to go so Lew and LAPD Pacific Division ran with it.

“When the media aired the story, all the stations, at the end told people if they wanted to help the family they could go to BadgeofHeart.org and make a monetary donation,” Lew said. “Next thing I knew, Badge of Heart was in business.”

LAPD Pacific Division officers donated around $800 of their own money in a matter of three days.

“You know, it was before Christmas,” he said. “It was heartbreaking. The family was homeless living out of a shelter facility. Badge of Heart raised $2,500 all up, in three days, thanks to the media, the general public, and the officers.”

The following February there was another tragedy.

In south L.A. a father and son lost their lives trying to chase after a robbery suspect, after the family business got robbed.

Lew called 77th Street Police Station as he knew the Detective who was handling the case and wanted to see if Badge of Heart could do anything to help the family.

“Next thing you know I made some phone calls and they put me on TV again,” he said. “We raised an undisclosed amount of money for that family. We mailed them off a check because they didn’t want any publicity.”

While Badge of Heart has so far kept a relatively low profile Lew said slowly but surely they have been helping people here and there.
In March this year Lew decided to step it up.

“I said ‘You know what? I want to feed 500 families for Thanksgiving. I want to give a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and dessert,’” Lew said.

Badge of Heart started campaigning in May and has so far raised half of the $15,000 needed to feed the 500 families.

Most of this money has come selling merchandise, T-shirts, and apparel through their online store, and fundraising within the LAPD.
Now they’re ready to reach out to the wider community, local businesses, and residents who are a part of the LAPD Pacific Division, from Palms to Mar Vista to Venice.

Lew hopes this year’s Turkey giveaway will set a precedent and be the first of many.

Ultimately he hopes Badge of Heart will be able to extend its reach beyond helping those in need within Pacific Division.
Helping the family in south L.A. was just one example of how the charity would be able to expand its reach more and more in the future.

For now though, the focus is on the Turkey Giveaway and with Thanksgiving only a few months away.

Lew said Badge of Heart is ready for locals to open their hearts to the cause.

“Everyday in Pacific Division we handle hundreds and hundreds of calls; these officers are going to peoples homes, their schools, they’re going to establishments where they see family hardship, victims of crime, and a lot of these officers have actually reached into their own pockets to help these people,” he said. “How do I know this? Because I’ve done it myself and I’ve seen other officers do it. That doesn’t get noticed out in the public. You often only see the bad side of us but there’s a lot of good that we do that’s not talked about or seen and I am here to let the public know that this is what we do.”
Lew said a lot of the time these good deeds go unnoticed out of respect for those the officers help.

“In my 25 years of being an officer I have paid for people’s meals, I have bought them clothes, I have got them groceries and I have seen other officers do this as well, but we don’t say anything. We just do it and that’s it, we leave. We don’t talk about it because it can be embarrassing for people that they can’t afford to feed their kids or buy new clothes.”

As a rule, Badge of Heart works along the lines of this model, giving quietly to those in the community who need it most. However, at a time of the year when being thankful is something that is shared Lew wants Badge of Heart to make some noise and make a difference, helping the community.

To give and help feed a family a Turkey dinner this Thanksgiving, go to BadgeofHeart.org and help support a great local charity.

Parachute Lands On Abbot Kinney With First-Ever Pop Up Shop

By Mariella Rudi

Run don’t walk to Venice staple Milkmade on Abbot Kinney where Parachute has opened their first-ever pop up shop featuring the online retailer’s core collection of bedding essentials, their recently launched linen collection, cashmere throws, and more.

Rejoice: Parachute is now offering customers the opportunity to discover its bedding basics in person for the first time.

Whitney Leigh Morris, creative director and lifestyle consultant specializing in simple style for small spaces and gatherings, designed the pop up shop to mirror Parachute’s own color palette and tactile sensibilities.

Designed in L.A. and manufactured in Italy, Parachute delivers premium quality, non-toxic bedding at an accessible price. Launched in January 2014, the direct-to-consumer retailer prides itself on the softest, comfiest, longest-lasting and most affordable bedding around – and you can now experience that feeling firsthand at their Pop Up Shop through Sept. 7.

The brand’s origins began in Italy, where Ariel Kaye’s sleeping experience was forever changed one night on a set of supremely soft hotel sheets. When she came back home to the States, however, she was left chasing that same feeling she couldn’t find elsewhere. So at 29 years old, Kaye started her own bedding brand, Parachute.

Her e-commerce company began to debunk the myth of the all-mighty thread count as purveyor of quality and luxury. Thread count is not synonymous with quality – or even comfort or softness – as only about 400 pieces of thread can fit into a specific space. Manufacturers began to market 1,000-plus numbers in the early 2000s in attempt to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Parachute, however, focuses on the caliber of the thread and the manufacturing process. They use Egyptian long-staple fibers and the highest quality cotton. Those fibers translate to a stronger thread and lower thread count, but ultimately bedding that is softer and will last much longer than sheets made from a lower-quality fiber with a higher thread count.

Their manufacturing partners are artisans who employ an Italian tradition and heritage 60 years in the making. They treat every step in the process – from selecting the fabric, removing impurities, dyeing fabrics naturally – with great care, resulting in sumptuous sheets with a craftsman’s touch.

Bedding sizes range from Twin to California King and fabrics include Percale, Sateen, and Linen. Parachute’s selection of bedding colors reflects the natural beauty of their Venice headquarters: white, ash, powder blue, slate, and navy. The brand’s signature bedding set, The Venice, bundles one fitted sheet, one duvet cover, and pillowcases in all of the above options from just $199. Added bonus: for every Venice set sold, Parachute donates a life-saving malaria bed net to The United Nations Foundation Nothing But Nets campaign, a grassroots initiative that distributes and teaches proper use of mosquito bed nets in Africa.

Parachute’s entire collection of duvet covers, pillowcases, decorative shams, top sheets, and fitted sheets can also be purchased individually as separates for customization and convenience.

Ever-expanding in their search to bring comfort into the home, Parachute has a home decor category with ultra cozy cashmere throws in earthy tones. They even produce their own custom collection of natural scented candles, available in glass vessels or travel tins.

Discover the Parachute difference firsthand at their Pop Up Shop today.

The Parachute pop up shop is located at 1413 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice. They are open Monday through Saturday 11 am to 7 pm and Sunday 12 pm to 7 pm.

For more information visit parachutehome.com, follow them on Instagram @parachutehome or keep up with their Pop Up hashtag #californiadreaming.

Go Topless Day: Equal Rights Advocates Take To Venice Boardwalk

Men and women alike marched topless (save nipple pasties) Sunday along the Venice Beach boardwalk as part of an annual call for equal rights for women who want to go bare-breasted in public.

“We’re working toward freeing women’s nipples and obtaining equal gender topless rights that are enforced worldwide,” according to Lara Terstenjak, head of the Los Angeles branch of GoTopless, the sponsor of the event.

The annual topless march drew counter-protests from evangelists touting inflammatory picket signs and a throng of police and spectators. But the topless crusaders danced around their own protestors and commenced their march at around 2:15 pm, walking from the northern end of Ocean Front Walk to the center of the boardwalk at Windward Circle, where a rally was held urging lawmakers to allow women to go topless.

Similar marches will be held in dozens of cities across the country as part of the eighth annual GoTopless Day, organizers said.

On Friday night, organizers of the Venice march held a “pre-rally party extravaganza” in West Los Angeles, featuring a screening of the film, “Free the Nipple.”

Terstenjak noted that the Venice Neighborhood Council recently approved a resolution in support of women going topless, but such a change would require action by the city and the county.

“The Venice Neighborhood Council’s approval is a hopeful step forward after our eight years of activism on Venice Beach,” Terstenjak said. “Now it’s time for the city and county to follow up by making equal gender and topless rights a priority.”

For more information about the cause visit gotopless.org.

Return Protections To Venice Residents…

Columnist Mark Ryavec.
Columnist Mark Ryavec.

By Mark Ryavec

Back in the mid-80s, when I was serving as the chief deputy to the Los Angeles County Assessor, my boss Alex Pope came to me with a “Homeless Bill of Rights.” An ACLU attorney had given it to him over lunch and asked him to get the Los Angeles county supervisors to adopt it.

The attorney told Alex that it would help attorneys for the homeless advance their lawsuits, including those against the city and county. If my memory serves me, the document was similar to Senate Bill 608, the “Right to Rest” bill, which recently stalled in Sacramento, but also with a provision protecting the personal possessions of the homeless. This latter right was later the subject of the Superior Court’s Lavan decision, which required the city to give notice of removal of personal items from sidewalks and to store them for 90 days.

Fast forward 30 years and we can see that the cumulative effect of recent court decisions, including Lavan, has had the same effect as that long ago ACLU proposal: the voiding of vagrancy laws that have for many years protected residents from the negative effects of transient campers. In addition to the usual hot spots for transient encampments, we now see them throughout the city. I would suggest that this was the real goal of the homeless advocates. It’s a form of extortion, though residents in some areas of the city bear this burden far more than others.

The result of the Lavan Decision (hands off homeless possessions), Jones settlement (sleep anywhere you want), and the Desertrain Decision (sleep in your vehicle anywhere you want), is three fold.  First, vagrancy laws are gutted and transients can live outside anywhere they want. Second, there is no pressure at all to leave the street. Third, it is much more attractive to live on the street in Los Angeles, with its moderate weather (and lack of regulations), than in Detroit or Chicago and other points east and north, with their extremes of heat, cold, and rain.

So, it should not come as a surprise that the homeless population here has increased, that more and more of the population is not from L.A., and that they have spread all over the city. For example, the Pacific Palisades has gone from almost no homeless to having them camping on their beaches, bluffs, and parkways. And predictably the response of some people is to start raising funds to counsel and house those newly on their doorstep.  That’s exactly the result the homeless advocates want: to put the homeless in everyone’s face so that the “housed” public acts to succor them and pressure their elected officials to house them. It’s a brilliant strategy but callous in the extreme.

It attracts homeless individuals, which includes the drug addicted, mentally ill, and criminally-inclined, to our city in large numbers, in some instances from homes they were living in before coming to L.A. We know this in Venice from the large number of campers for whom our organization has provided bus fares to return home to welcoming family members in distant states.

The loss of vagrancy laws also puts a huge burden on residents and businesses in the popular venues – think Hollywood and Venice, for example. It exposes some to assault; remember the transient that bit off part of the finger of restaurateur Clabe Hartley, and others to home invasion; we had five within six blocks of my home last year.
And it results in the tragic death of those who in their drug or mental derangement tangle with the police; already two dead in Venice this year, who were not from L.A.

The cry from homeless advocates to not “criminalize the poor” is fatuous. Societies have rules to protect themselves from noxious behavior. Certain situations – urban encampments of homeless near residents, public defecation, urination and inebriation, frequent late night noise, drug use and sales – all set the stage for worse: theft, trespass, assaults, and home invasions.

Due to the misguided efforts of Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmen Mike Bonin and Gil Cedillo, the potential of two new ordinances to restore some balance to the situation is on hold and at risk.
The mayor has directed city departments to not enforce the new ban on storage of personal items overnight in city parks.  This allows the Venice Beach Recreation Area to remain a highly desirable campground for hundreds of “travelers” from all over the country and abroad. The mayor’s delay on the parks ordinance is inexplicable since no council members have proposed to amend it.

The mayor also asked city departments to not enforce the new, tighter restrictions on storage of personal items on sidewalks and asked the City Council to remove the misdemeanor penalty for violations. Bonin and Cedillo’s motions to accomplish this will gut the sidewalks ordinance by, among other measures, removing luggage, backpacks, clothing, documents, and medication, and household items from the definition of items that can be collected by the Department of Sanitation if not removed after 24 hours.  Neither Sanitation workers nor LAPD officers have the time to sort through piles of “stuff” to find all the items that would get a pass from collection by city workers.

The mayor apparently fails to understand that under the Lavan Decision and the new ordinance, personal documents and medication will not be disposed of; they will be stored for 90 days and a notice left at the collection site with details of how to retrieve them.

With no possibility of a misdemeanor violation campers will not move their stuff for city cleanups or after the 24-hour grace period.
With no ability for the city to collect luggage, backpacks, clothing, documents, medication, and household items, the encampments in Venice on walk streets, on Third Street, and occasionally along Venice Boulevard will continue and spread, as we have already seen them creep into the Oakwood neighborhood.

With a stalemate on the language of amendments at the City’s Homelessness Committee, the mayor should get out of the way and tell city department heads to enforce both ordinances immediately. The pendulum has swung so far in recent years that the inmates are now running the asylum. It’s time to return some protections to our long-suffering residents who right now feel powerless to protect themselves.

Mark Ryavec is the president of the non-profit Venice Stakeholders Association.

Want To Study Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine? Yo San University Offers Wide Ranging Courses

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Yo San University is located at 13315 W. Washington Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine just a stone’s throw away from Venice is a professional graduate university at the forefront of interactive healthcare education. The university offers the master of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine or the doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine.

“We have a commitment to service, both teaching and caregiving,” said Christina Andrick, YSU’s Director of Enrollment Management. “Through our clinic and programs we offer the community more than 21,000 free or subsidized treatments annually. We’re proud to be a trusted provider of health care services and education to L.A.’s Westside.”

Masters level students may choose from three concentrations to focus their studies to their desired career pathways. They are:

1) Acupuncture orthopedics and 
pain management.

2) Women’s and Children’s Health

3) Qi cultivation and taoism.

Doctoral students, upon choosing YSU, pick a specialty either healthy aging and internal medicine or women’s health and reproductive medicine. Furthering the mission of the university is the YSU Community Clinic.

The clinic is a resource for students and all members of L.A.’s Westside who seek affordable wellness and holistic healthcare options. Yo San’s community clinic is a teaching and healing facility ready to serve you daily. It is located on the second floor of the Yo San building.

The clinic provides experience-proven, centuries-old holistic medicine practiced in a professional modern setting. Treatments are provided by licensed acupuncturists or supervised interns in the final phase of a rigorous four-year program.

Treatment options range from acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to modalities such as cupping, Tui Na Bodywork, Qigong practice, and nutritional counseling. Patient care is highly personalized to restore and maintain health and wellness.

Whether you choose the community clinic or a specialty clinic, be assured that the excellent care you receive is safe, effective and affordable.

Yo San University is located at 13315 W. Washington Blvd. in Los Angeles. Visitor parking is available.

For more information or to book an appointment, call 310.577.3006. Mention Yo! Venice to receive $5 off your first treatment.

To enroll or for more information, email admissions@yosan.edu or call 310.577.3000 (ext. 124).

Yo! Venice! Is the #1 local news, forum, information and event source for Venice Beach, California.