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The LA Rakers was founded in the same way most social movements are formed: as an informal collective of young people determined to address social problems. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The LA Rakers at a recent community clean up

A recent community clean up organized by The LA Rakers.

HOLA senior, Emanuel Honorato, is one such individual — thoughtful, committed, and determined to change the world. Currently interning at City Council where he is working to address local homelessness, Emanuel attributes the conversations he’s had at HOLA and support from his loving community for shaping him into the critical thinker and activist he is today. As a founding member, he named the “The LA Rakers” and has contributed to the hundreds of community service hours the group has invested into projects of their choosing.

From the beginning, the group members engaged in critical thinking. “A lot of us were coming to HOLA every day, seeing these people living on the streets who aren’t that different than us and thinking: Why isn’t anyone helping them? Maybe people tend to think they’re superior to other people instead of realizing everything has a reason to it; everything has a cause. So we started contacting shelters and educating ourselves about what can be done.

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Gathering for one of their many outings, The LA Rakers decipher an historic based mural.

He adds, “Right now, I’m working on finding leaders in the community who can help work together to address chronic
homelessness.”

PAT coordinator Luis Ramirez, who has been an advocate for the activists, believes the LA Rakers have the correct strategy for making an impact.”I believe that real change happens when people get together, one-on-one and in small group community forums, to hash out what needs to be done. It’s those personal connections and that community investment that we see here at HOLA, and hope to encourage in our students.”

This year boasts a particularly engaged group of seniors, helping the group maintain its leaderless infrastructure. “There is so much potential in all of us to do something to better the lives of others. I want to see an expanding of public awareness — of people questioning things and saying something when something’s wrong. We all are equal, we all have a voice,” says Emanuel.

Emanuel’s and his peers’ vision has come to fruition, as was quite apparent at last week’s Rakers interest meeting. Attended by 23 students, the group had a chance to welcome new members, hear and give announcements, discuss which areas of impact they most wanted to focus on for this coming year, and share opportunities for community engagement.

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PAT Coordinator Luis Ramirez helps The LA Rakers continue the beautification efforts in HOLA’s neighborhood.

Manuel Flores (Westlake Advocacy) encouraged students to invite their parents to a Tenants Rights Workshop series at LAAAE high school every Friday from 6-8 p.m. A youth leadership conference called “Conferencia de Liderazgo de Juventud Centroamericano” was announced. One student, Itayu, explained her involvement in a clothing drive with local organization “PATH.” Students were also invited to attend a beach clean-up at Venice beach, an author talk at a nearby college by Junot Diaz (world-renowned Dominican-American writer), an Alivio Open Mic, and a Public Lands Day at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument.

Every mention ended with, “Spread the word!”

The LA Rakers are most inclusive to any and all community members who are interested in joining the cause, from neighborhood beautification projects to food drives and everything else in between.

When asked about future plans, Emanuel shared that he hopes to attend a private university next fall where he will study engineering.

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Luis, The LA Rakers and Westlake Advocacy enjoy some well deserved ice cream after a long day of work.

“I want to build things that are efficient, money-saving, and good for the environment — infinity energy! I’ll create it.”

For now, he will continue using that engineering mind-frame to address deep social problems. “You have to think of society like a system — you can’t think about one part without addressing its connections. You ultimately have to find a way to unite the whole system.”

 
 
 

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