A century of service
The history of Assistance League® of Los Angeles mirrors that of the nation. Taking their cue from major events and social movements, resourceful League member volunteers created programs to address the ever-changing needs of the Los Angeles community. They provided basic needs services, art and cultural enrichment programs, and support for minority groups. More than a century after its humble beginnings, the Los Angeles Chapter continues to improve the community through its dedicated member volunteers. As League founder Anne Banning said: “All for service and service for all.”
Galvanized by a sense of duty after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and WWI, Anne Banning and her best friend Ada Laughlin founded the Assistance League in 1919. Initial programs were characterized by a desire to support children and families with basic resources, and provide relief to low-income individuals, particularly those affected by WWI. As the century continued the League grew alongside the budding film industry, both gaining recognition and prominence. Early Hollywood stars and executives were a ubiquitous feature in League programs often providing support and fundraising for the growing organization.
The second half the century saw the establishment of a host of new services and auxiliaries, many of which would become the League’s core programs. The services were community focused, specialized, and creative. There was a strong focus on safety and supporting senior citizens. The nationwide establishment of the Assisteens signaled the League’s continuing dedication to women’s leadership.
As the Los Angeles community changed, so did the League. Reflecting changing societal needs, the League established a program to aid Asian Americans and expanded its existing programs for counseling, parent education, and the care of children of working parents. Hollywood executives, entertainers, and dignitaries continued to play a large part in the league’s fundraising efforts and public relations.
New century, new name! The national economic downturn of 2008 led to an evaluation and streamlining of League programs and services. The League returned to its original mission and focus of providing services for underserved children. In the second century of service, Assistance League of Southern California became Assistance League of Los Angeles! Today the League has five core programs: Foster Children’s Resource Center, Operation School Bell, Preschool Learning Center, Theatre for Children, and the Assistance League® of Los Angeles College Scholarship Program. These programs are supported by a multi-pronged system of auxiliaries and the League’s service enterprise (“CRVC”), to fulfill one mission: improving the lives of the most vulnerable children in the community.