The History of Legacy Ladies, Inc.
Legacy Ladies Inc. was founded June 21, 2004 in Calabasas, California. The founder of the corporation, Jacqueline Castillo, was inspired by her mother, Lessie McKerson, who established a template of philanthropy and community service for Jacqueline to follow early in her life. As a result of her mother’s influence, she established an organization of women committed to empowering the community and families by providing programs and services to enrich their lives. Working diligently to establish a framework for the organization, the members endeavored to change one life at a time and one community at a time, with the purpose of making their “village,” which they define as the Crenshaw and Leimert Park area, economically self-sufficient.
The first community project initiated by Legacy Ladies was conducted at the Staples Center, the host location for the Los Angeles Black Business Expo and Trade Show. They partnered with African American Citizens for Change and the Los Angeles Urban League Young Professionals to disseminate information and create awareness regarding voter registration and absentee voting.
The organization also initiated a program called Adopt-A-Family, which has been the flagship program. This program identifies a family lacking adequate resources to meet its shelter, food, clothing, educational or transportation needs. The goal is to provide the appropriate assistance to address such needs to improve the quality of their lives. In 2005, The Harris family, residing in Birmingham, Alabama, was identified as a family meeting the criteria. Christopher and Diamond Harris, proud parents of DeWayne, and the only surviving African-American sextuplets in the United States, received a new home courtesy of the television show ABC Extreme Makeover – Home Edition, as a direct result of the efforts of the Legacy Ladies to provide them with a better place to live. Initially, the Harris family was turned down for a “home makeover” until the organization intervened. The President, Jacqueline Castillo, sent a lengthy email to the producer of the show explaining the dire needs of the family. He said, “You tell a compelling story, I want to meet you.” Ladies Jacqueline, Katrina Schauble and Patricia Gibson met with the producer on behalf of the Harris family and the rest is history. The Ladies also provided financial aid in addition to financial consultation and made it possible for the Harris family to receive college scholarships for all seven children, as well scholarships for both parents to complete their higher educational learning. Due to the assistance of Legacy Ladies, Christopher will be able to complete his master’s degree in education and Diamond will be able to complete her degree in nursing.
On April 30, 2005, Legacy Ladies, Inc. held its inaugural fundraiser gala called the Torch Awards. At the Torch Awards, the organization raised money to finance their initiatives, such as SAT workshops, scholarships, the Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program, and other educational programs to name a few. They also honored some of the great legends of our time who epitomize the mission of Legacy Ladies, Inc. The honorees were Ambassador Andrew Young, Bishop Charles E. Blake, Lou Gossett, Jr., Della Reese, Pat Tobin and John Mack. Special guests, 2005 Adopt-A-Family, Diamond and Christopher Harris and family. Music for the evening was performed by Michael Ward and Jeanette Harris and Band.
True to their mission, the Ladies have placed an emphasis on education by providing scholarships for inner city students to take SAT preparatory workshops in order to increase their exam scores for entrance into college and additional educational programs and initiatives. During the first year of service, the organization provided SAT scholarships for 43 students at Crenshaw High School.
Special thanks to Eve Marie Ford, Ci Ci Holloway, Helen Jones, Deanna McGee and Katrina Schauble for their support and assistance in the early stages of Legacy Ladies.
The history continues.