Winter Winds

February 1, 2016

What’s New

YDAPP Announces #WEEDecide Pledge and Social Media Campaign

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Did you know that 26% of Koreatown, Pico-Union and Westlake youth whom YDAPP surveyed said they have used marijuana? That’s almost four times the national average.

On Jan. 21, YDAPP held a press conference at KOA to report these findings and announce their #WEEDecide pledge and social media campaign to encourage youth to live a marijuana-free lifestyle.

Gilbert Mora, Prevention Coordinator from Behavioral Health Services, and Dikran Melkonian, Senior Lead Officer from the LAPD-Olympic Division, joined three YDAPP youth—Paul Kim, Esther Yu and Robert Camacho—to discuss the growing trends and negative effects of marijuana on the community.

“We’re making sure we have a spotlight to cure this problem and pay attention to our youth,” Mora said.

With the discussion of marijuana legalization in California, rapid openings of new dispensaries in Los Angeles, and the increase in marijuana use by youth, KYCC’s YDAPP members hope to encourage youth in their community to change social norms that influence engagement in illicit drugs. Through multiple social media channels (Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook), YDAPP is seeking to build dialogue with their peers on youth marijuana use.

Be sure to check out their latest VLOG!

Also, a great piece by LA18 who covered this story.

ES Receives Water from The Spirit Guild

Industrial District Green, one of ES’s community partners, connected KYCC with a new Arts District distillery, The Spirit Guild. The distillery uses 1,500 gallons of water in an enclosed recycled cooling system each month, and they wanted to find an environmental solution to dispose of this clean, non-potable water.

KYCC will be transferring this water, which will be used during our monthly tree waterings. Each young tree we plant needs 15 gallons of water for each visit.

“Pumping the water was a breeze,” said Ryan Allen, ES Manager. “It only took about 10 minutes to get set up and fill the tank for our maintenance run. In a time when water conservation is a high priority in Los Angeles, this partnership demonstrates that outside of the box thinking is needed throughout L.A. to reduce our water use.

We All Need Parks

Koreatown has a great opportunity on Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m., at Seoul International Park to let the City and County of Los Angeles know that we need more green and open space.  L.A. County completed a Parks Needs Assessment in the City and County to see what is needed in the community.  The follow up to the assessment is community meetings throughout Los Angeles to hear input from residents.

Originally, Koreatown wasn’t slated to have its own meeting, but we were able to arrange one at Seoul International Park.  Now we need to show the City and County we are serious about our green space! We’re aiming to have at least 200 people at this event.

Here’s how to help:

  1. SPREAD THE WORD! Event flyers are available in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese. Please share with anyone in the meeting area.   As you see, it extends to Melrose and Pico.
  2. HELP AT THE MEETING! We need TRANSLATORS!!! At least 10 Korean and 10 Spanish. Contact Ryan Allen to volunteer to translate. Translation will be conducted in groups of approximately 10 people, in breakout conferences after the main speech.
  3. COME AND VOICE YOUR OPINION You are a stakeholder in the Koreatown community, and your opinion needs to be heard!

KYCC Restaurant Map

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Ever have to answer the question, “What’s good around here?” Well now we’ll have our own map of KYCC-approved restaurants in our neighborhood. This is a just-for-fun project to consolidate staff recommendations into one easily accessible map. For now the map will be located here, but once we get a decent amount of content we’ll move it to our main external website. If you’d like share your favorite restaurant(s) please fill out this form.


New Hires

Alice Kim
CED – Economic Development Specialist

Alice Kim was born in Korea, raised in Cerritos, and educated in North Carolina (Go Tarheels)! She began as the Economic Development Specialist at KYCC on Dec. 28. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, running, pilates and doing absolutely nothing. She is a fan of Jane Austen, admirer of Colin Firth and lover of cats.

Ima Figueroa
CED – VITA Site Supervisor

Ima Figueroa is a new addition to the VITA program. She will take on the role of VITA Site Supervisor at LA Trade Tech. Before coming to KYCC, she began her career in banking at the age of seventeen. She moved between a few institutions and found a home at Union Bank, where she was promoted to Branch Service Manager. After having her second child, she decided that she needed a change. She wanted to work in the community that she grew up in. When she was told of the opportunity to work for KYCC, she was excited to join the team. Her favorite place to eat is In-N-Out. She loves it so much she once ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner…don’t judge her.


Seojin Lee

Dear KYCC,

It has been an honor to have worked for this organization. I have built wonderful memories, friendships and experiences with all of you. As many of you know, I will be leaving my position as Youth Services Instructor to relocate and return to Miami. I have only been here for a short period, but I gained so much working with our youth, community and staff. I’d like to thank Prevention Education for always having an open door and welcoming me with smiles and hugs. Thank you to Environmental Services for giving me the chance to plant in the L.A. community. Thank you to Kids Town for always supporting me and offering me the chance to work with our preschoolers. And thank you to Youth Services for inspiring me to become a positive role model in our community. Thank you all for being a family. It brings me joy to know I will have your love and support during my travels back home.

Thank you,


Employee Spotlights

Nayon Kang
Assistant Division Director

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Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Nayon Kang and I have been working at KYCC for almost eight-and-a-half years. I am a wife and a mother to two rambunctious rescue Chihuahuas. I am an introvert and a hardcore night owl. Things I love in life are pretty simple: coffee, rain, spicy food, beautiful clouds, the ocean, sarcasm, good conversations, staying up all night, and anything creative and artistic like drawing, writing, photography, singing and making things with my own hands. 

My pet peeves are loud noises/people, making small talk, and MORNING.

One of my favorite quotes is: “It is more important for me to know you than to like you.” In essence, trust is more important than loyalty.

My favorite word is propinquity (nearness in time and space).

What do you love the most about your job?
I love doing what I love with the people I love. We are fortunate to be able to help others for a living, but it’s a rarer blessing to do this kind of work with people you care about. I have succeeded and failed at many things during my time here, but KYCC has always given me a safe space to figure things out and “grow up” in my own timeline. I have also gone through painful losses and celebrations of important milestones in my personal life and KYCC has been a part of all those moments.

What I love most is that I learn something new every single day—about myself, other people’s workstyle, a new skill, how other programs are run, the evolving community…it never ends. Over time, my work at KYCC has humbled me and taught me the complexities of running an organization and the difficult “business” of helping others. One of the coolest things is that I got to experience and see KYCC from very different vantage points: as a program participant, volunteer and staffmember in four different positions. I realize that this is a rare luxury and know that it will only help me be better at my job.

What inspires you to do the work you do?
My journey into social work started from self-interest—out of desire to figure out the world around me and in search of help for myself. Like many kids we serve, I had a troubled childhood surrounded by a lot of poverty, violence and addiction. I began studying people at a very early age in an effort to make sense of why people behave the way they do and how they cope with their circumstances. I decided in middle school that I wanted to study the human psyche and help others. In 8th grade, I borrowed an Intro to Psychology book from my friend’s older sister who had just finished a college summer course. I read the whole book in wonderment even though I didn’t understand what I was reading. I have kept that same book for over 25 years as a reminder to myself of why I got into this work. I am still inspired by the following principles: that you can better the world by healing yourself; that you can affect generations by helping one person; and that empathy, mercy, and self-reflection are solutions to most problems.

What do you tell other people about KYCC?
In short, I say that we are a group of good people doing great work. KYCC is truly a dynamic and evolving agency. I also often tell people that “KYCC helped raise me” and that “I am a product of KYCC,” because KYCC has been my second home and family since childhood.

What stands out the most about KYCC? 
The people. I say this because of not only the wonderful people I work with now, but because when I look back at KYCC during my childhood years, I remember the kind staff first and how they made me feel.

With the new promotion, can you tell us about your short and long-term goals?
We are still in the transition phase and figuring out the details. In the meantime, my short-term goals are: to get to know KYCC programs and staff more in depth; provide supervision and support for division managers; and assist Sam with managing external relationships and sustaining programs. 

My long-term goal is to be a positive, supportive and stable leader for staff.

What is your vision for KYCC?
Truly integrated and effective staffing and services for the evolving Koreatown community and beyond.

Ernie Yoshikawa
Senior Manager

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Please tell me about yourself.
Hmmm, I don’t know why, but this is always a hard question for me. I feel like I’m putting myself in a box and I don’t like boxes, so maybe that tells you something about me. Well, I grew up in Canada until I was 11, after which I moved to the Sacramento area. I actually first came to KYCC after college for a summer job working with kids on probation. Those kids ran game on me all day but I learned a lot and I was sad to leave them and KYCC after my term was up. On the outside they looked like really tough kids, all tatted up and many with some serious criminal charges, but they were super sweet once I got to know them. I really liked building relationships with them, and had serious second thoughts about going to grad school since I wanted to stay at KYCC. 

After grad school in the Bay Area, I came back to L.A. and ended up finding a studio a block away from the Wilton office. I can see my building as soon as I’m out of the office! It’s literally 1 minute and 51 seconds from when I step out of my apartment to get to the Wilton office, so aside from dodging dog poop on the sidewalk, I have a nice commute. 

Other than that, I love the outdoors, playing sports, donuts and living a simple life. My dream is to get an RV so I can drive around the continent, visit national parks and live a carefree life with little to no responsibility. Julio promised he’d buy me an RV if he won the recent Lotto, but he didn’t win, so I’m still working on this goal. For now, I’ll settle with little road trips when the bosses allow.

What do you love the most about your job?
I’m lucky to work with such a great team of people who care about what they do and are just genuinely good folks who enjoy helping others. They’re exceptional at what they do, don’t complain about long hours, stressful situations, or all the hoops they have to jump through to get the job done. They motivate me to do and be better.

What inspires you to do the work you do?
Definitely the KYCC staff and the families we work with. Even though I think my job is stressful at times, our families deal with way more than I have to so it helps me to keep my life in perspective. We also have some really amazing kids here. I love how carefree the younger kids are and how resilient our teens are, and I really admire them. I learn a lot from our kids and I’m most inspired when I see them come back to work at KYCC. I now have three Youth Services staff who used to volunteer at KYCC when they were younger, and seeing how they’ve come back really makes me feel like we’re making an impact.

What do you tell other people about KYCC?
People often ask me why I’ve been at KYCC for so long, and my response is always that I like the culture of the agency and the people here. I think we’re big enough that we’re recognizable and have a long history in the neighborhood, but we’re not so big that we can’t, as individuals, also make a big impact on the future and direction of the organization. 

What stands out the most about KYCC?
I’m very proud of how diverse our staff and clientele are. I think that’s pretty rare when you look at most agencies in L.A.–I don’t think many other organizations can say that they can competently provide all their services in three languages. Out in the community, I feel like we also have a very solid reputation for doing good work. There’s been quite a few occasions where staff from other agencies have told me about how much they’ve enjoyed working with KYCC, so it really speaks to the quality of everyone’s work here.  

With the new promotion, can you tell us about your short and long-term goals?
Hmmm…well since I’ll be overseeing PE, the first year is all about getting familiarized with the contract, budget, programs and staff. It’s challenging since I don’t want my current duties to suffer, so I have learn to balance things. Long term, I also need to get acquainted with other new PE programs like Best Start and seeing how to grow and sustain both PE and YS units. We have amazing staff, so I have a lot of confidence that we’ll continue to grow.

What is your vision for KYCC?
Oh man, that’s a hard question…I want us to be the go-to agency for anything dealing with Koreatown and Korean Americans. I see us already on that path and I think we have all the potential and ability to do it. I also hope that one day we can have all our services available at a single site, I do want us to be more deeply integrated as an agency and that’s one way to make that happen. We’ve managed to grow tremendously in the past 10 years and I’m definitely excited to see how KYCC is going to look like another 10 years from now.

Volunteer Spotlight

Paul Kim
YDAPP Co-President

What’s your first memory of KYCC?
I never knew of a community center like KYCC, or even heard of KYCC until I was a high school student. I knew of SAT-prep classes, but not KYCC. When I was a freshman, a senior from my school, who was the president of one of the programs at the time, encouraged me to join the KYCC volunteer program. I looked up their mission on their website, saw posts of the various things they were doing and was shocked how I never knew of this program until then.

What do you wish other people knew about KYCC?
KYCC is not a center where students are able to gain community service hours, but where they have the ability to make change. So many students and teenagers serve community centers for hours, but there’s so much more to take from here. From teaching children basic mathematics to speaking in news conferences and town halls, there is an expansive amount of opportunities available.

What do you think makes KYCC /KYCC staff special?
Most of my greatest experiences at KYCC come from its staff. Many of the staff members come from diverse backgrounds and each have stories, lessons and advice to give. Each and every one are supportive and are willing to listen to my situations, my stories and my questions. It is definitely a privilege to work alongside with them and I am very thankful that they helped me and so many others grow as a person.

How did you get involved in volunteering at KYCC?
I first volunteered for BRIDGE because I really enjoyed working with children and helping them. I helped my mother with her preschool business and felt confident enough to bring my experience to BRIDGE. While volunteering in BRIDGE, a friend of mine who was in YDAPP, another program at KYCC, recommended I try out for it because of my interest in public speaking. The mission of YDAPP stuck out to me, because of experiences of people who have fallen victim to drug abuse, and led me to joining YDAPP, while volunteering at BRIDGE.

What keeps you coming back?
Mentoring children, helping them with their homework and making public service announcements is definitely tiring. But the people I interact with at KYCC gives me energy, passion and reason for being here. I am excited for the future, especially the future of Koreatown. Every homework packet I help with, and every video I edit, is for the betterment of Koreatown and its residents. It is such a blessing to help and encourage the youth through the things I do, and the possibility of doing more, further invigorates me.

Why should other people volunteer with KYCC?
I definitely recommend KYCC as a place for people to volunteer in. Volunteering has helped me be more confident in my abilities. Without it, I would have not met the wonderful staff and fellow volunteers. Volunteering at KYCC has helped me become adept at helping people and being a leader. KYCC has given me opportunities and experiences that no ordinary classroom can give, and I am truly grateful for them. If volunteers take full advantage of what KYCC has in store, they will not leave empty-handed.

Birthdays and KYCC Anniversaries


  • Feb. 16 – Seojin Lee
  • Feb. 18 – Seung On Yoon
  • Feb. 18 – Mayra Jimenez
  • Feb. 26 – Vince Leus
  • Feb. 26 – May Nanhoon Kim

Work Anniversaries

  • Feb. 2 – 7 years – Byron Shinyama
  • Feb. 3 – 2 years – Jae Eun Shin
  • Feb. 4 – 3 years – Joanne Kim
  • Feb. 5 – 1 year – Dustin Cole
  • Feb. 5 – 14 years – Jerry Velasquez
  • Feb. 23 – 6 years – Sharon Paik
  • Feb. 26 – 3 years – Susan Cho

Community News

ALERT ALL FOODIES! Do you like Korean-Mexican fusion cuisine? Well then you’ll like this too…Japanese-Mexican cuisine is coming to Koreatown this spring.

Another foodie freebie: the famous Halal Guys chain that began in New York City is coming to Koreatown on Wilshire and Mariposa. Vince from Prevention Education recommends the white sauce with lamb.

Every person has a story, The Jewish Journal talks with folks living in a homeless encampment in Koreatown.

Hopefully you didn’t buy or receive a hoverboard as a holiday gift, because they are all bursting into flames! Check out this video of a hoverboard bonfire on Vermont and 8th St.

Open Positions

Have some talented and driven friends? Let them know about our open positions.

  • YS - Academic Assistant Instructor
  • CS - Counselor III
  • PE - Prevention Education Coordinator
  • KT - Kids Town Preschool Director
  • CED - VITA Site Assistant
  • ES - Clean Streets Specialist
  • ES - Energy Conservation Trainee

Take Note!

Take Charge of Your Professional Development this New Year! Part 2

If you missed it last month we ran the first part in a 10-part series on how to pursue professional development. Here are 5 more opportunities to take charge of your professional development this year.

  1. Shadow a colleague. Find workers within your company who do something you want to learn, and stop by their office occasionally to ask questions, Rueff suggests. You don't need an official shadowing program to accomplish this, just your own initiative. "You will learn a lot by listening and watching, and a little bit by osmosis," he says.
  2. Find a mentor. Take that find-a-successful-person goal one step further and identify someone who's willing to give you guidance and advice. Even if you don't feel comfortable calling that person a mentor, having someone to run ideas by who has more experience than you can go a long way toward helping you make the right decisions. The key here is that they have to have an interest in helping you.
  3. Read. Devour books and articles and blogs within your niche, but also pick reads that are outside of your normal professional box, Rueff says. "Read things that are outside of your own industry and experience, and then stop and think about, how can I relate that and apply it to my business?" he says.
  4. Attend a conference. Figure out which conference is most worthwhile for people who work in your target industry and go, even if it means using vacation time. Not only will you learn new skills, you'll also make new contacts. Research who's going and connect with those people on social media before the event, so you can arrange an in-person meeting and facilitate a stronger connection.
  5. Don't neglect your "soft skills." Most of us know our weaknesses, whether we need to be more organized or do a better job of meeting deadlines or simply prioritizing in a smarter way. Putting effort into improving those skills will make you more marketable no matter what field you're in.

The Center for Nonprofit Management, based in downtown Los Angeles, has weekly classes on many subjects including volunteer management, fundraising, and budget building.

If you have any comments, suggestions, concerns, or questions feel free to contact us. Or join the discussion and leave a comment in the box below!

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