The Impact of Operation Watts Is Worth It

September 12, 2018

This summer was FULL of impact, from the Summer Service Slam, Mass Deployment, a jam-packed schedule of service projects throughout the country (rockin’ it, as usual), and a ton of impressive Service Leadership Corps applications. 

Mass Deployment 2018–Operation Watts Is Worth It was a unique service opportunity, and we wanted to share the results with you. See for yourself what veterans accomplished in Watts!

Thank you to all the veterans who stepped up to SERVE AGAIN this summer! Know that you are leading positive change through your commitment to your communities. We can’t wait to see you for our September United In Service campaign!

Continue reading “The Impact of Operation Watts Is Worth It”

CarMax Cares About Operation Watts Is Worth It

August 7, 2018

A Slice of Life from Operation Watts Is Worth It

Hundreds of gallons of paint covering walls with colorful murals, tools of all kinds shuttling between busy arms, and coolers of donated water and stockpiles of sunscreen keeping volunteers protected in the waning summer sun were all part of a typical scene at this year’s weeklong Mass Deployment.

Called Operation Watts Is Worth It, this year’s Mass Deployment was a community service project of grand proportions, with over 100 veterans serving arm in arm for a week of nonstop service. Veterans along with community partners and sponsors transformed five different project sites across the Watts community in Los Angeles.

CarMax employee volunteer at Operation Watts is Worth It.

All throughout the commotion of each busy project day, our volunteers remained focused on the mission with the support of our trusted partners there serving alongside them.

Partners like CarMax, for the second year in a row, stepped up to support a Mass Deployment. As the 2018 Platinum Sponsor for Operation Watts Is Worth It, CarMax made this opportunity for community impact and connection among our veterans a reality.

Take a look at what this unique service experience was like and the work accomplished with the support of volunteers from local CarMax branches who showed up in force! Continue reading “CarMax Cares About Operation Watts Is Worth It”

Why Watts Is Worth It

June 29, 2018
By Regan Turner, West Region Executive Director

The Mission Continues launched our service platoon program in Los Angeles just over four years ago. Since then, we have engaged more than 1,000 local veterans and community members in service with our three service platoons, and have grown our local staff from two remote employees to seven full-time staff in an office in the LA Promise Zone.

It was actually right here in Los Angeles that The Mission Continues piloted our very first “operation,” which has now become our national model for collaboration and community impact.

Thanks to encouragement and introductions made by our friends at Bad Robot and The Wasserman Foundation, we connected with an organization called the Partnership for LA Schools more than three years ago.

The Partnership serves some of LA’s most under-resourced schools in Watts, Boyle Heights and South LA by providing their staff and community with additional resources to improve educational outcomes.

Local volunteers at Operation Watts Is Worth It

In speaking with the Partnership staff, we realized that they had not just one school in need of renovation work, but an entire portfolio of almost 20 schools that could use the help of The Mission Continues and our veterans.

Since our first project at Stephenson Middle School in 2015, The Mission Continues has performed more than 15 projects at Partnership Schools. We were honored to receive their Community Partner of the Year award in 2016.

Many of those school projects were in Watts, at Markham Middle School, Grape Street Elementary, Gompers Middle School, and 107th Elementary School, among others.

So last year, when The Mission Continues began looking across the country to determine the location of our 2018 Mass Deployment, Los Angeles — specifically Watts — was a natural choice. Continue reading “Why Watts Is Worth It”

Meet Your Mass Deployment 2018 Ambassadors

June 18, 2018

Meet the Ambassadors — veterans familiar with the ropes of Mass Deployment — who are going to lead teams of veterans to accomplish all of this impact! Taking on a leadership role involves fostering camaraderie, making sure their team accomplishes their tasks, and embodying what The Mission Continues family is all about.

So let’s see what they’re all about! Continue reading “Meet Your Mass Deployment 2018 Ambassadors”

Help Us Close a $10,000 Gap for Mass Deployment

June 6, 2018 
We’re coming to Los Angeles for our third annual Mass Deployment, Operation Watts Is Worth It (OWW)! Over the course of one week, The Mission Continues will deploy more than 80 military veterans from across the country to join forces and tackle tough challenges in the historic LA neighborhood of Watts.

In Watts, the median household income is $28,465, with 44% of households living below the poverty line, and 49% have no high school diploma or equivalent.

Participants will spend over five intense days of service at a variety of community sites; working alongside community partners, local youth and volunteers to create visible change.

There’s just one problem: we’re roughly $10,000 shy of our fundraising goal. Donate today to help us close our fundraising gap!

Continue reading “Help Us Close a $10,000 Gap for Mass Deployment”

The Mission Continues to Deploy Veterans to Help Revitalize Los Angeles’ Watts Neighborhood

PRESS RELEASE

The veterans’ nonprofit seeks to create ongoing improvement to strengthen historic LA neighborhood with its third-annual Mass Deployment, “Operation Watts Is Worth It”

The veterans are volunteers with The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans to find growth, purpose and connection through community impact. Although the nonprofit has been active in the neighborhood for years, the week-long service marathon, dubbed Operation Watts Is Worth It, will provide a surge of resources to benefit under-resourced schools, aging public housing, under-utilized community spaces and much more.

“The Watts neighborhood has a long-established and vibrant identity, and it has preserved it in the face of a wide range of challenges,” said Spencer Kympton, U.S. Army veteran and president of The Mission Continues. “Through their service, our veterans, partners and community volunteers seek to help the Watts community sustain its identity well into the future.” Continue reading “The Mission Continues to Deploy Veterans to Help Revitalize Los Angeles’ Watts Neighborhood”

A 40 Year Journey for Unity in My Childhood Community

February 27, 2018
By Derrick Clark, Platoon Leadership Team Member


As a child growing up in the inner city of Pittsburgh, I was always made aware of the importance of Black History Month. So when February came around, we students knew there was going to be some cool classroom projects, autobiographies, and pictures surrounding the classroom that month for us to learn more about African American culture and Black History.

We learned about Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, and a host of other well-known African American leaders. Some of us would even get to dress up and reenact their life stories in plays, skits and musicals.

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Although it is not blatantly obvious, the undertones of segregation and racial discrimination are prevalent throughout Pittsburgh. To get a glimpse of how separated Pittsburgh can be, one would only have to step one foot into my childhood community, Homewood.

Homewood is a predominately African-American neighborhood in Pittsburgh. When I was a young boy in Homewood, the neighborhood was fun and recreational – there were plenty of activities for children to do around the neighborhood – a skating rink, sports programs, and the like. But the effects of poverty, low-income housing, underemployment, and the drug crisis of the 90’s have since crippled the community.

Pittsburgh has invested millions of dollars into infrastructure and community development, but Homewood was left out of the redeveloping plan. The community still provides programs for youth, but they are not well supported anymore — they have less funding, less manpower, and fewer resources.

Crime is still prevalent in the area and many children and residents have little to no one to look up to. A lot of its residents share the sentiment that no one outside Homewood cares about them.

The struggles of the community and its children resonate with me on a personal level. Like many children in the community today, I grew up with no father in the home. I had a single mother who was addicted to drugs, and it seemed at times that no one cared about the harsh realities of poverty-stricken families in less affluent, drug polluted, communities.

All we had was each other, and with the community being almost completely African American, it seemed as if the outside world simply did not want to deal with the issues in Homewood.

And yet, in the face of this adversity Homewood has always been a proud community. Continue reading “A 40 Year Journey for Unity in My Childhood Community”

I Felt Like Myself Again at Mass Deployment

February 9, 2018
By Heather Cereste, Mass Deployment volunteer

Veteran Heather Cereste volunteering at Mass Deployment with The Mission Continues

My first experience with The Mission Continues was as a participant of Mass Deployment, which was dubbed Operation Westside Surge (OWS), and took place in Atlanta, Georgia that year. My volunteer work up until OWS, while enjoyable, hadn’t yet filled the void in me, or given me a new life’s purpose.

I sought something more in my life, but, until OWS, wasn’t quite sure what.

Today I share this journey with you. Continue reading “I Felt Like Myself Again at Mass Deployment”

Now Accepting Mass Deployment 2018 Applications

February 5, 2018
Mass Deployment Applications are Open

If you want to spend an intensive week volunteering alongside civic-minded veterans from across the country, Mass Deployment is the service opportunity for you!

Join us June 21-28 2018 as we bring veterans together to show how veteran determination and skills can make a positive difference in a community in need. From this week you will forge bonds with fellow volunteers, learn and grow, and reignite your sense of purpose.

Applications are now open for our third annual Mass Deployment, Operation Watts Is Worth It.

We will select 80 veterans from across the country to help lead this mission. Throughout this week of high-octane volunteerism, emerging veteran leaders such as yourself will give their all as they take on tough community challenges in the Watts area. Continue reading “Now Accepting Mass Deployment 2018 Applications”

Our Next Mass Deployment: Operation Watts Is Worth It

The Mission Continues -- Operation Watts is Worth It

Next Stop: Watts, Los Angeles

On June 21-28 2018, we’re deploying 85 veteran leaders to Watts in Los Angeles for our third Mass Deployment, Operation Watts Is Worth It (OWW).

Veterans are a powerful force when called upon to serve. Since leaving the military, tens of thousands have continued to serve in their local communities. They bring hard-earned leadership, exemplary training, and a mission-focused work ethic that is in short supply today.

For the veterans who attend, Mass Deployment is a week of personal growth and community impact. They forge new connections that become lifelong bonds of friendship and support. They undergo technical skill training and team building exercises.

And June is just the beginning of their impact. These leaders will deploy back home and get to work in their own communities.

We’re making an ongoing commitment to Watts — and the more than 500 local veterans of The Mission Continues — who will be at the heart of sustaining our progress.

The Mission Continues veteran volunteers
The Mission Continues veteran volunteers in Watts.

Mass Deployment in a Nutshell

The Mission Continues’ Mass Deployment program is a team-based event that mobilizes veterans alongside local partners and volunteers in a single city for a week of community impact.

We select areas that will benefit from an influx of resources, and that have the potential for sustainable change, ensuring our efforts have a long-term impact.

The Mission Continues volunteers
Youth volunteers at a service project with The Mission Continues in Watts.

Why Watts?

A community with a history older than the state of California, Watts has been called the most powerful neighborhood in Los Angeles. As with many urban areas in America, residents face daily trials related to under-resourced schools, depopulation, disinvestment and underemployment.

The capacity and resources of social services organizations in the area are spread thin, so those who need assistance most often find it hard to access help.

Through it all, Watts has maintained a unique and vibrant identity and its residents deserve a brighter future.

Now more than ever, reasons to hope abound. City officials, corporate leaders and philanthropic organizations are coming together to make investments in the neighborhood and positive progress is on the horizon.

Local community groups have been actively engaged in creating a better tomorrow for themselves and the families who live there.

Now, veterans are responding, too. By reporting for duty alongside The Mission Continues, residents can take part in creating solutions to address these challenges and ensure positive progress continues.

Los Angeles Platoon
The Los Angeles Platoon

Here Are the Facts

  • Watts is a community in transition, yet decades after the 1965 riots, it remains a community still dealing with poverty, unemployment and crime.
  • Watts — a historically black community of roughly two square miles and home to about 40,000 residents — has grown more multiracial. About 70 percent of the people here are Latino, 28 percent are black or African-American, and 2 percent are from other ethnic groups.
  • Roughly 1 out of 4 current Watts residents holds a high school diploma or GED, resulting in underemployment and limited economic opportunities.
  • Unemployment in California has improved since the latest recession, recently averaging about 5.8 percent. Nevertheless, the unemployment rate around Watts has lagged, hovering around 7 percent.

How to Get Involved

Applications for veteran participants open February 2018. Interested in applying? Visit missioncontinues.org/deployments to sign up for application alerts.

For information on how to make a financial contribution to OWW, please contact development@missioncontinues.org.