By Erin Herriford
EXPOSITION PARK — United Way of Greater Los Angeles celebrated 100 years of serving the community with a centennial festival in Exposition Park May 14.
The celebration featured live music from the Inner City Youth Orchestra, Urban Voices Project, the launch of a new storytelling series, food trucks, games and face painting activities on the South Lawn near the USC campus.
The first 500 people to arrive for the festival were a free T-shirt and $10 to be used at one of the many food trucks on the premises.
Elise Buik, CEO of United Way Greater Los Angeles, used the event as a kickoff to many fund-raising events to be held throughout the summer.
“While our name may have changed in the 1960s to United Way …which is the way we work in the community, our core reason of being and our vision for change has not,” Buik told the crowd in attendance.
United Way was formerly called the Community Welfare Federation. Its goal is to mobilize individuals and organizations to come together to help each other.
Buik said that the organization’s goal is to raise awareness and raise money to improve the community and the people who live here.
Buik used the event to announce a new fundraising goal for the next three years.
She said the goal is to raise $100 million over the next three years to power the United Way into its next 100 years of service.
She added that the United Way will be spreading $5 million to 50 select companies later this year to help to create community hubs that will assist in creating housing, jobs, access to education, support and provide assistance in the event of a natural or economic disaster.
When asked about how much of the money raised will be allocated to South Los Angeles, Chris Ko, vice president of strategy for the local United Way, said South L.A. “will absolutely be one of our targeted communities. We want to see what resources we can collectively bring.
This summer United Way will have a series of community conversations with grassroots organizations throguhout the greater Los Angeles area.
There also will be a Walk United this year at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood with date, details and time to be announced on the organization’s website.