We Love Long Beach (WLLB) was started in March of 2008 when Scott Jones found the courage to canvas a four block area of his Belmont Shore neighborhood and ask his neighbors to come over for a free breakfast. As Scott admits, “I was terrified as I approached each of their doors. We were neighbors, but to them I was nothing more than a stranger. I figured only a few people would show and the rest would just think I was crazy.”
Robin Jones provided her capable support and the sibling pair watched that Saturday morning as 10 neighbors quickly became 25 and eventually 50. It was a simple event, but the results were profound. Again, Scott recalls, “We ate breakfast. We listened to each other’s stories and we started new relationships. My family has been in Long Beach for four generations. That morning I met more of my neighbors in two hours than I had in the previous 27 years of my life.”
In April of 2008 Scott, Robin and friends held another breakfast with more than 100 of their neighbors. Later that year, We Love Long Beach hosted two Community BBQ events. The first one, at Livingston Park, included 500 people and then another at Bixby Park with more than 700. In addition, the WLLB Club at Wilson High School was established providing service learning education and opportunities for students to support the community, the faculty/staff and their fellow students.
Adam Ferry joined the effort in January of 2009 working to help clarify the mission and support the ongoing development of the organization. WLLB received its designation as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) on April 23, 2009 and has since produced numerous events throughout the city designed to facilitate new relationships and encourage active service by people in each of Long Beach’s nine districts.
photo credit: Samuel Lippke
The two-fold process of knowing and serving is the backbone of WLLB’s progress in the city. The partnerships and efforts we make begin with a commitment to learn first and identify the strengths and possibilities in a given area. In our experience, effective service is the natural bi-product of understanding and sincere commitment.
Long Beach has nearly 1,000 nonprofit, charity and community based organizations. We recognize and celebrate the legacy of those faithful people who have been, and currently are, working to benefit the quality of life in each area of the city. For our part, We Love Long Beach has chosen to concentrate on three things:
We Love Long Beach will actively promote service learning in every Long Beach high school. Through in-class presentations, campus clubs, student lead service events and a formal curriculum, our goal is that students will grow to understand how their interests and innate giftings can make a difference in the lives of others.
We will host service focused, community events in each of the city’s nine districts. These events will promote strong relationships between neighbors and celebrate the communities in which they take place.
We will form strategic partnerships with like-minded individuals, organizations, civic leaders and businesses who view their time and resources as an opportunity to serve others. Partnerships are essential to everything we do. They provide the ongoing education and support required to understand the possibilities in the city and the proactive role we can play to address them.