Up to 10,000 backpacks loaded with school supplies will be handed out to children in the Northeast Los Angeles area and L.A. neighborhoods this Saturday at Fresh Start 2013, billed as a “working families community festival.”
The free event at Dodger Stadium is open to the public and will feature free haircuts, live performances, entertainment and a children’s play area. It is being presented by the United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW), an arm of the Service Employees International Union, in partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Dodgers Foundation, California Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-51) and others.
More than 60 organizations have signed up to participate in the “huge” health and resource fair, according to Wendy Carillo of ULTCW. The event will also include free health screenings and organizations will provide information about a variety of services and resources, she said.
Carillo said while this is the first time the Fresh Start festival will take place at Dodger Stadium, ULTCW has held the festival almost every year since 2010 in Los Angeles and Oakland. It’s a way for the union to give back to the community, she said.
The union, with 125,000 members in Los Angeles County alone, and 185,000 members statewide, represents in-home care workers for the elderly and disabled, she said. Many of the union members are Spanish speakers, she said.
While cumbia-rock band “Very Be Careful,” Plaza de la Raza’s youth mariachi group and circus performers are expected to draw a large audience; attendees are being encouraged to make their way to the on-site tent where presentations on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its impact on Californians will be presented.
The presentations will be repeated throughout the event with simultaneous translation offered in Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Korean and Armenian, according to Carillo.
“Its an opportunity for them [local residents] to know that health care opportunities will be available, it is a law that will affect the state and the entire nation, everyone needs to be covered,” Carillo said, explaining the presentations will be made by Covered California™, the state’s new health insurance exchange.
“This is our way to give back and inform the community about how health care laws will affect them,” Carillo added.
Assemblyman Gomez says this will be his first large-scale event —which hopes to attract over 20,000 attendees—he is supporting since taking office. He said he will be there in person to hear from his constituents.
“Most parents care about whether their kids have health care options, if there is an opportunity to listen to a presentation on the new health care options, parents will take it,” Gomez told EGP, citing a similar and recent event he held in collaboration with Sen. Ed Hernandez.
“There is a deep, deep hunger for more information,” Gomez said.
Renata Simril, senior vice president of external affairs for the Los Angeles Dodgers and a Dodgers Foundation board member, says the Dodgers have historically held back to school events focused on helping kids and young people.
“The pillars of our programs are sports and recreation, education and literacy and health and wellness benefiting children and families” in Los Angeles, Simril said.
The Dodgers are opening the facility and stadium employees will fill the backpacks, she said. Honda will be donating the cost of the backpacks, she added.
“For us, this is really a great way and a pretty significant way—we are reaching up to 10,000 kids who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a backpack and school supplies,” Simril said, adding the Dodger’s Foundation has a commitment to the surrounding community with its “Community of Schools” program that will be launched formally later this fall.
“There will be a lot of information on affordable care act, but most importantly will be fun for people to come out,” Carillo said.
“This is something that will be a long term priority, getting more and more people covered under the healthcare system,” Gomez concluded.
The Fresh Start festival will be held this Saturday, August. 17, from 12pm to 5pm at Dodger Stadium located at 1000 Elysian Park Ave., Los Angeles 90012. Parking and admission is free.
For more information visit http://www.freshstartfest.org/