LMU was recently honored by the Al Wooten Jr. Youth Center for long-time service and engagement with the center at their 29th Annual Catch the Vision Awards Dinner. The Wooten Center is a nonprofit agency located in Inglewood that provides free after-school and low-cost summer programs for students in grades 3-12. LMU’s collaborations with the center started in 2016 and have included a range of services including interior design, tutoring, campus tours, donations, and workshops.
In summer 2019, studio arts Professor Saeri Cho Dobson’s design entrepreneurship class partnered with the center to renovate their communal spaces and create a welcoming environment for their clientele. The project resulted from a collaboration between LMU’s Center for Service and Action (CSA), William H. Hannon Library staff, and HKS Architects. HKS Architects was also honored at the ceremony.
The LMU design students visited the center frequently to conduct in-depth field observations, interview staff, and students, and create design plans and renderings, selecting colors, furniture, and educational/recreational materials. The Wooten Center was an incubator space throughout the course, where students developed their ideations with the after-school students and center staff members.
In addition to spearheading the renovation project, Dobson, who also serves as a board member at the center, recently hosted Wooten students at LMU, who participated in a tour of the campus and facilities, learning more about the opportunities and possibilities of higher education. She also met with students serious about art careers, donating professional art supplies to help them build their portfolios.
In the past, LMU CSA and Undergraduate Admissions have also provided volunteer student tutors to the center, as well as space, presenters, and materials for the center’s annual SAT-prep workshops. Hannon Library restocked more than 200 books at the center, under the guidance of Jamie Hazlitt, Hannon’s associate dean. The awards dinner was deferred due to the pandemic, and Dobson accepted the award on behalf of the university.
“This award is a beautiful recognition of our university and college commitment to DEIA and minority communities,” said Bryant Keith Alexander, dean of the LMU College of Communication and Fine Arts, who also attended the ceremony. “I am particularly impressed with Professor Dobson’s involvement on the grassroots level as facilitator-teacher-designer and board member at the Wooten Center. We look forward to future collaborations with the center, including potential art therapy services to be provided by our marital and family/art therapy department.”