Started in 2017, Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff D’Andre Lampkin’s foundation in Ontario has helped families through the pandemic with hot meals and free groceries.
Boxes of canned and non-perishable goods clogged the hallways. The volunteer room was too small. As needs for food, job placement services and recovery efforts from a widening pandemic escalated, space at the D’ Andre D. Lampkin Foundation in Ontario was cramped.
On a June day in 2020, self-described evangelist Loretta Gilbert began to prophesy that the fledgling nonprofit packed into an office suite on East Convention Center Way would expand.
“She said to me: ‘You just watch,’ remembered D’Andre Lampkin, founder and CEO of the nonprofit that he started in February 2017. A week after Gilbert shared her message, she was shown a door cut through the walls that added the adjoining suite to the nonprofit’s space. By September, the headquarters had fully expanded, complete with a room for the pantry supplies and money to pay the expanded rent.
“I’m learning if you just stay engaged in the work, the resources will come when you least expect it,” Lampkin said.
Beginning in March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic hit and business and school shut-downs began, the nonprofit went into high gear. Last year, the nonprofit helped 1,100 families get free groceries. From March to July 2020, it distributed 1,265 hot meals, Lampkin said. The foundation also provides college scholarships to civic-minded high school graduates, conducts blood drives and organizes recovery efforts after storms and fires.
Originally, Lampkin figured the food pantry would close at the end of 2020. But it continued through 2021, with giveaways from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. And as long as funding lasts, the program will continue into 2022, Lampkin said.
“A big part of what we do here is having faith,” he added. “No matter what disasters strike a community, we say we will be all right if all of us are working together.”
Lampkin, 36, has been a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff for 16 years. One might say that’s his day job, though he works the evening shift while handling foundation business in the day.
The foundation sprung from the streets, from his upbringing dodging gangs in South Los Angeles and more recently, as a deputy sheriff, he said. In his experiences, he’d seen too many domestic violence incidents and gang shootings where people were desperate — out of answers. He felt there was a need for nonprofits to step in where law enforcement could not.
In 2016, he started the for-profit Caring Staffing Professionals, a nurse registry with a bent toward mental health. Like the nonprofit, it took off during the pandemic, hiring 106 people out of work into health-care jobs. The company added 187 nurses to its registry, he said. The business reached $6.4 million in gross sales in 2021.
During the Woolsey fire in Agoura Hills and Malibu in 2018, he’d seen donations of water and diapers just dropped off haphazardly. He used foundation volunteers to swoop in and organize donations, so that people who needed them could walk in and find supplies more easily. They also helped restore a low-income neighborhood of trailer homes.
Growing up, he said, he’d seen too many friends get shot. Gangs were a part of life. But a strong mother, Rosalyn Lampkin, raised Lampkin and his two brothers with a steady hand, always providing for her boys yet never indulging.
“She was a superwoman. Very strict. She made it very clear, she’d say ‘if I can go to work every day, you guys can go to school every day,’ ” Lampkin remembered during a Dec. 3 interview.
During the 1992 Los Angeles riots, his mother went into a local market to bring back supplies, just before it was burned down by rioters, Lampkin said.
“She got what she needed, plus had stuff for the neighbors, like baby formula. My mom was a go-to lady,” he said.
The Rev. Sylvia Lee Mann of Bethel Congregational Church in Ontario volunteers with the Foundation as a chaplain. She said that Lampkin’s background shapes his work, giving him drive, perseverance and heart to succeed.
“When a person grows up with a lot of challenges, and you found a way to move through those challenges, those people find a way to keep paying that forward,” Mann said.
The unusual pairing of Lampkin the sheriff’s deputy and the nonprofit creator has attracted attention from corporate and political life. Amazon, Facebook, Target, Google, Transitional Work Solutions and Sempra Energy have contributed grants. The foundation received $56,735 in donations so far in 2021, Lampkin reported.
One year ago, Ontario Mayor Paul Leon appointed Lampkin to the city’s Planning Commission. Lampkin the first African-American man to serve on that body.
“He is a mentor. He is a trainer. He is patient with people. For someone that young, he’s accomplished so much,” Gilbert said. “I believe the mayor saw something in him.”
Lampkin, who is also vice chair of the Los Angeles Region Community Recovery Organization, said he doesn’t focus on labels.
“We are always reminding people it is about the work and not about titles,” he said.
In January, the foundation will expand again, adding another 1,300 square feet of space. On Feb. 12, it’s hosting a blood drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its headquarters, 2151 E. Convention Center Way, Ontario.
“It is not hard work, it is heart work,” Lampkin said. “You have to really have it in your heart to do this.”
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