Business is thriving at the Neighborhood Framery, a new custom-framing service that is also a new concept for the Neighborhood Youth Assn. in Mar Vista.
The association is a nonprofit organization that provides free services, such as tutoring and counseling, to young people and their families.
The framery, which occupies part of the ground floor of the association's building at 3877 Grand View Blvd., is the organization's first attempt at running a for-profit business. Its employees are neighborhood youths who are earning $3.25 an hour as they learn how to run a business.
Adelle Martinez, executive director of the Neighborhood Youth Assn., opened the framery last fall with the help of a $20,000 gift from Mattel Corp. Martinez provided all the framing tools and expertise. An artist and former art teacher, she has been at the Mar Vista branch of the association since 1972 and has been operating her own custom framing business out of her Manhattan Beach home for the past five years.
Another Leader Trained
Martinez has trained another artist and teacher, Elizabeth Curry, to run the framery, but Martinez still works with the young employees.
The young man at the counter is Adolphus Jones, 15, a student at Mark Twain Junior High School in Mar Vista. He had been working weekends, but this summer he is working full time. He already knows how to cut glass and is learning pricing and the art of framing.
Jones and Felicia Williams, 17, have shown a special aptitude for this kind of work, Martinez said. Both plan to go into art-related fields.
Jones said he plans to graduate from high school, spend four years in the Army, then go to college, where he will study architecture.
Williams, who just graduated from Venice High School, has enrolled at Brooks College in Long Beach, where she will major in fashion and interior design.
Nearly Breaking Even
"This is not only a good training program," Martinez said, "but we also are moving toward making the agency more self-sufficient. Right now we are just about breaking even, but when we start making a profit, the money will go back into the business and into the Neighborhood Youth Assn.'s other programs."
So far, most of the framery's clients have been people who have some contact with the Neighborhood Youth Assn. But Martinez said the framery also has done large, custom jobs for the Venice Chamber of Commerce, the Veterans Administration, Union Hall in Santa Monica and the UCLA School of Social Welfare.
Encouraged by the progress of the framery, Neighborhood Youth Assn. staffers are planning another profit-making venture, a janitorial service, under the direction of Carlos Ramos.
Founded in 1906 as the Neighborhood Settlement House, the association receives funding from the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, United Way and the county Drug Abuse Office and justice system's Subvention Program.
Its services include drug prevention programs and treatment, computer tutoring, employment programs, after-school services for elementary children in Venice, family counseling and recreational and cultural activities.
A children's clubhouse provides after-school care at 904 Pacific Ave., Venice. Similar services are provided in the Los Angeles Harbor area at 1323 N. Avalon Blvd., Wilmington.