By Darlene Donloe
Every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Virginia and Thrinicko Beaboa and a handful of volunteers can be found at Rancho Cienega Park distributing food and other resources to anyone in need.
The Beaboas provide the help through their nonprofit, africActive Foundation, created to work on community projects by offering free resources and services that address immediate and long-term needs in the community.
The organization has a mission to provide relief, serve and help communities by transforming the lives of the vulnerable and anyone who is struggling with poverty and the lack of opportunity, mental issues and education.
There is something special about the Beaboas. They exude genuine joy, pride and excitement when they talk about giving back to their community. While both Virginia, 32, and Thrinicko, 38, relocated to Los Angeles, they quickly immersed themselves into the community, especially where there is an abundance of African Diaspora members.
“What we found in that community was that there was a real need,” said Thrinicko Beaboa. “I just felt the need to do something. There is always something you can do to help others. This is fun for me. I get to help people.”
africActive was launched in 2008 when Thrinicko Beaboa was a student studying English in South Africa. He and some of his fellow students wanted to be involved so they began working throughout the community.
The organization kicked off in Los Angeles in April 2020 after the pandemic hit Los Angeles.
Thrinicko Beaboa, who was raised in France and moved to Los Angeles in 2014, said he launched the organization in Los Angeles because he couldn’t just sit back and watch people suffer during the pandemic.
“I wanted to be useful to the community and give back,” said Thrinicko Beaboa, whose parents are from the Democratic Republic of Congo. “I come from a giving culture. I care about people. I put myself in other people’s shoes.
“In 2020, I wanted to use my energy to do something worthwhile. Even though they were saying, ‘If you go out you might die,’ I wanted to go out and help. There was a real need out there during the pandemic.
“I wanted to use my time to pick up food, deliver it, and help people. So I started picking up food and essential goods and taking it to people’s homes. It became a commitment.”
In addition to food, africActive helps people with essentials like hand sanitizer, masks, feminine products, housing, diapers, mentorships, career advice, resume writing, how to dress for interviews, getting loans, understanding credit and more.
“I believe in africActive,” said Virginia Beaboa, a Jackson, Mississippi native. “I support him because I believe it’s important. We work with a lot of immigrants. The Diaspora is our focus. They are often overlooked and often can’t receive public help. With africActive we have found a way to meet a need in the community.”
The Beaboas, parents of a three-month-old son, chose Rancho Cienega Park as a distribution site because “it’s an African cultural center that has people with low incomes” and has a large contingency of Africans who frequent the location.
“We do a community cookout kind of vibe,” said Thrinicko Beaboa, whose day job is buying and selling used cars. “We want it to be fun and enjoyable for people. It’s about sharing. It’s from my culture. It’s my background. It’s a mentality for me.”
“In Africa, you share what you have,” said Virginia Beaboa. “That’s the vibe we have. Our culture is about giving. It’s a cultural thing. People want to keep their pride and dignity. We are not a charity. We are a culture. When we distribute the food and other resources, we have music playing and there’s dancing.”
Virginia Beaboa, who will graduate from USC with a master’s degree in business administration in May, said her parents taught her to care for everyone around her.
“We would go to nursing homes once a month,” she said. “We always gave back. They taught me to care for people. It’s ingrained in my DNA.
“It’s about speaking out for those who don’t get the opportunity to speak for themselves,” she added. “I can’t change the system. This is the least I can do. It’s a part of who I am. I hope I can do more. Until everyone is on equal footing, we won’t stop.”
Each week they help about 20 “regular” un-housed neighbors in addition to distributing food to 250 people, 80 of whom are also considered “regulars.”
In addition to their regular Saturday event, on Mondays and Wednesdays, the Beaboas deliver food and other resources to 10 to 15 families.
Using their own money, the Beaboa’s spent $12,000 in 2020 and $16,000 in 2021 to fund their operation.
Virginia Beaboa said in 2020, they served more than 4,104 families and 16,504 individuals. In 2021, they served 4,990 families and 18,962 individuals.
Thrinicko Beaboa said he wishes he could do more.
“I did this for fun,” he said. “I go and buy the stuff and I’ll even drop it off at someone’s house. People need food and other essentials. People are waiting.”
The africActive Foundation, which has a vision that no one goes hungry, works with the Dream Center, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at USC, Volunteer Match, as well as other companies, but the majority of the funding still comes from the Beaboas, who are currently looking for more sponsors and grants.
The Rescue Agency and Menemsha Solutions are two of africActive’s 2021 sponsors.
Reportedly, 98.6% of revenues from sponsors go directly to africActive Foundation’s program providing food for children, families, and struggling seniors.
To continue their efforts, the Beaboas said they are in desperate need of a storage facility and a midsize truck for food distribution.
The Beaboas said the impact of africActive spans worldwide including Los Angeles, and various cities within the Democratic Republic of the Congo also known as Congo-Kinshasa.
“Making a Difference” is a weekly feature profiling organizations that are serving their communities. To propose a “Making a Difference” profile, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at email@example.com.