Words That Inspire Us
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge and Service – WORKS – was formed in 1998 by five women committed to meaningful action to help disadvantaged families and communities build lives for themselves that work. The founders’ extensive experience in affordable housing, community development, health care, finance and advocacy convinced them that safe affordable housing was both a fundamental need and, potentially, a springboard for families and individuals to articulate, organize and fulfill their needs and aspirations as part of a larger community. Together people can learn and achieve more than they can alone.
WORKS began by leveraging the experience of key staff and founders in developing high quality affordable rental housing for families in Los Angeles County. The founders were committed to including the features they knew mattered. They built community centers in each development that fostered collaborative child care and education; shared computer, health and financial learning classes and access; community garden plots and edible landscaping that supported healthy food access and connection to the land; and community celebrations that fostered connection and a sense of trust.
WORKS strives continuously to improve the relevance and effectiveness of its model of housing and services – to expand opportunity for its residents and for the surrounding communities. WORKS pioneered on-site pop-up organic food markets and sourcing affordable organic food delivery for residents and area schools and churches. They fostered learning about nutritious re-inventions of traditional dishes and possible community food processing ventures. These experiments continue – though some will require greater capital investment to be viable. WORKS remains committed to linking housing and health through fostering environments and community resources that enable healthy living.
WORKS’ focus on community building, positive and generative interaction among residents, and shared gardening (and cultural) opportunities in the Los Angeles climate – have informed housing and landscaping design. WORKS has won several awards for its innovative and thoughtful designs.
Most recently, leveraging their experience with service-supported housing, WORKS has expanded its product mix to address those with special needs: transitional aged youth – 18 to 25 years old – who need housing with services in a compatible community as they learn to function as independent, self-sufficient adults; and adults and families with special needs including formerly homeless veterans, persons with developmental disabilities, and others with special needs, who need case management and assistance with accessing the community services they need to function effectively.
Passionate about changing opportunity for the most economically challenged among us, the WORKS team, and the residents they serve, advocate for policies and funds that will be meaningful in reversing the trend toward increasing lack of housing affordability in Los Angeles County. And they push for programs that recognize that health, healthy food access, and sustainable environments must go hand in hand with safe and decent housing to support those in need and our communities as a whole.