History of LOT318
In 2005, Letty was volunteering in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District and was introduced to the La Jolla neighborhood in Placentia. There was a strong gang presence, and with that, a strong sense of fear within the community members.
“I felt like I was in a third-world country, in Orange County! I went home and felt this question tugging at my heart: ‘What are you going to do about it?’ So I went back. I remember riding up on my motorcycle and asked to join a game of stickball. I hit the ball so far that I lost their ball and ended the game! The next day, I brought new equipment like tennis balls and a bat and started to build relationships in the neighborhood.”
Letty continued to build relationships and soon gained trust in the community. She offered new experiences to high school students like serving the homeless in Los Angeles, field trips and other trust-building activities, and later helped them get involved in youth groups and retreats. Letty introduced them to a new way of living, away from gangs, drugs, anger, and hopelessness.
Letty went on a relief trip to New Orleans, Louisiana in 2007, after Hurricane Katrina. There she met Savana. Savana and Letty bonded during the trip, and Savana listened as Letty spoke all about the La Jolla community. Savana connected with Letty’s heart for service and knew that she wanted to be involved!
Savana remembers: “One of the first events I attended in the community was a movie night. I was so impressed by the coming together of the families and the desire everyone had to be together. From the very beginning, I felt welcomed and I was given a chance to become a part of the community.”
With Letty’s tenacity, Savana’s can-do attitude, and their shared vision for the potential growth for the La Jolla neighborhood, there were more opportunities for community-wide experiences. Just 6 months later, the 1st annual Thanksgiving Day Feast took place on Cypress Street, serving 100 meals to community members! This was a huge success as families and volunteers came to share a meal together. (This has become an annual tradition that has grown from 100 meals in 2007 to 1,500 in 2019.)
Letty and Savana both valued education and wanted change to happen in the lives of community members. As a result, Homework Club began in 2008, investing in the next generation. Homework Club offered a safe place for elementary school students to work on their homework, math, and reading skills after school. This has been beneficial for them as they are learning to value their education and hard work!
Later that year, the Placentia Police Department asked Letty and Savana to create another community-wide event for the springtime. The spring season is important for gangs because it becomes “recruitment season.” This event would that bring people in from the La Jolla community to participate in a positive weekend, including the Memorial Day Street Soccer Tournament! Competing for bragging rights, 15 teams participated in 2008 and 30 teams in the 10th annual tournament in 2017
Having worked under another nonprofit organization for the past six years, Letty and Savana were challenged to take the next step. The programs created were growing and more people wanted to become involved! While creating the nonprofit and its brand, Letty and Savana recalled their spiritual backgrounds and were inspired by a Bible verse: 1John 3:18 which states “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” Loving Others in Truth. This encompassed what Letty and Savana were accomplishing and the LOT318 brand was created and LOT318 was established as an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2011 - three years after Homework Club began!
10 years later, LOT318 has over 5 programs and over 45 active students who, with their families, are striving for a brighter future! The children are no longer asking themselves “What gang am I going to join?” but instead are asking “What college am I going to attend? What career can I go into?” Parents and community members see the positive change happening and the LOT318 team is Loving Others in Truth every day and together, we all dream of the growth that is to come through LOT318!