THE HISTORY OF THE LIBERTY HOUSE OF ORANGE COUNTY
In 1995, there was increased gang violence in Orange County. Many elected officials became concerned including Santa Ana School Board Member Rosie Avila. Gang members were asked what they needed to get out of gangs. “Give us jobs,” they said.
Rosie was also concerned that the low-income children she worked with through the Santa Ana School District were struggling in reading and math and needed help with their homework. When her son was in Little League, she noticed that some boys and girls from single mothers struggled in sports and low-income youth needed more opportunities to engage in structured sports to develop self-confidence, team work, and perseverance. So in 1997, she and concerned friends established the Orange County Youth Commission, a 501c(3) non-profit organization, to provide academic tutoring, structured sports instruction, and character development.
The Orange County Youth Commission created three programs: school-based character clubs in elementary and intermediate schools, neighborhood teen sport centers, and teen entertainment events. Turning over the administration of the Orange County Youth Commission to a new director, Rosie Avila ran for Congress, in 2008.
After an unsuccessful run, her campaign team wanted to continue to work together at their Garden Grove headquarters. Ten sales team members pitched in for rent and together they built the Liberty House Boutique, a unique vintage resale shop on Historic Main Street in Garden Grove (now called “LH Charity Shop”).
The team developed five programs to provide workplace training, youth leadership and an entrepreneurial academy. The goal was “to teach personal responsibility and individual freedom,” helping older youth to become excellent employees, develop leadership and start their own businesses. Members of our Entrepreneurial Academy have now started six different businesses. Our second Liberty House store, o&a (Apples and Oranges), is a high-end home accessory store located at the SOCO center at the OC Mart MIX next to the 405 Freeway in Costa Mesa. Over 400 attended our Grand Opening Party in July of 2012.
Now that there is a continuum of programs to serve low-income youth ages 5 through 25 providing character development, sports discipline, wholesome teen entertainment, job training and entrepreneurial experience we are not ready to call the Orange County community to come and replicate these programs and mentor many more youth.
Thus we have established the Liberty House of Orange County, Inc., another 501c(3) non-profit organization to create a mentoring coalition, the Orange County Mentoring University, a resource library and connecting place. We are currently reviewing and considering the magnificent 1924 YMCA building in the heart of Orange County’s civic center in downtown Santa Ana as a home for the Orange County Coalition.
Rosemarie “Rosie” Avila, Founder and President,
Liberty House of Orange County, Inc.
Rosie Avila has been a Trustee of Biola University for almost 20 years. She has served as an elected official on the Santa Ana School District Governing Board of Education for 17 years, was appointed to the Santa Ana Gang Prevention Commission and was a Congressional Candidate in 2008. Rosie was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the President’s Commission on White House Fellows. She graduated from Biola University with a BA in Missions/Social Science and holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership.
For 15 years, Rosie Avila has been creating programs to serve young people ages 5-25 through the 2 non-profits she founded, e Orange County Youth Commission and Liberty House of Orange County, Inc.