Mass Deployment

Operation Watts Is Worth It

June 23-27, 2018 | Los Angeles, California

Event overview

Operation Watts Is Worth It, our third Mass Deployment, connected over 500 volunteers including veterans, corporate partners, and local organizations for a week of community impact in Los Angeles’s Watts community. From June 23-27, the team, led by veteran volunteers from across the country, took part in five consecutive days of high-energy, transformative projects.

Our service in Watts has been steadily growing since 2016, and in the year leading up to Operation Watts Is Worth It we amped up our engagement in a significant way. To ensure that the impact achieved would directly benefit the community’s needs, we attended regular meetings led by city council members, community leaders and local police enforcement. Out in the neighborhoods, our Los Angeles service platoons expanded existing partnerships and planted seeds for new service projects. Operation Watts Is Worth It is a culmination of all these efforts and brought to life by our veteran leaders.

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Great Streets | June 23, 2018

We kicked off our first of five project days on a central corridor in the heart of Watts. Veterans, community members and Target volunteers fanned out across four blocks branching off from 103rd Street. The area is part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative, a city-wide program that aims to re-imagine neighborhood centers by activating streets as public spaces. Our mission: to help restore and revitalize the blocks with an overhaul of color, greenery and activities. A local mural artist guided volunteers in their painting of butterflies, wrapping block after block of cement planters which were cleared of debris and filled with sustainable plants. Within the corridor, we added sidewalk games and chess tables for all ages to engage in together. The project’s high-traffic location at Great Streets set the tone for the coming week’s service projects in the Watts community, and the beautification of a local shared space for passerby to enjoy.

What We Accomplished

Landscaped & Pruned:

  • Native plants in 80 cement planters


  • 1 outdoor seating, trash cans, 2 lending libraries, and 2 outdoor chess tables


  • 4 city blocks and sidewalk games

Nickerson Gardens | June 24, 2018

For project day two, we set up camp in the recreational area of Nickerson Gardens, one of four public housing developments in Watts. With over 1,000 units, the development is home to many families and youth who lack access to safe outdoor play areas. Our mission: to create more outdoor opportunities for positive community engagement and well-being. The veterans along with scores of VoluntEARS from The Walt Disney Company joined in the efforts, along with mural artists and local youth excited to help. A concrete skate park and handball courts were transformed with colorful murals and the grounds were landscaped with sustainable plants and walking paths. To support team activities, the softball field and blacktop received a complete overhaul. Throughout the day, children came out by the dozens to pitch in, marvel at the work and best of all, enjoy their new play spaces.

What We Accomplished


  • 1 Boys and Girls Club entrance and installed 1 new walking trail


  • 1 basketball court in preparation for resurfacing and built 1 set of outdoor seating


  • 2 murals and 1 public skate park

Jordan High School | June 25, 2019

Jordan High School has undergone an incredible renovation in the past few years. For project day three, we joined in the efforts to lend an extra group of capable hands. The school serves local youth from the neighboring four public housing developments. Our mission: veterans and community members serving together to create a positive example of civic engagement. Volunteers from Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center supported the service along with former players from the Los Angeles Dodgers. We built dugouts at the softball field, repainted the basketball court, installed an indoor gym and more. Students attending summer school were excited to see the mass of volunteers making a visible difference across their campus. This project is another step forward in our continued investment in Jordan High School.

What We Accomplished


  • 1 outdoor classroom with 1 chicken coop


  • The school’s iconic “love” mural


  • 2 courtyards with trash cleanup, new landscaping, and outdoor seating

99th Street Elementary | June 26, 2018

What a difference a group of volunteers can make! Project day four was a major overhaul at 99th Street Elementary School. Joined by our partners from CarMax, we divided and conquered throughout the learning center, schoolyard and an overgrown garden. In 2008, the school entered the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools as one of their original 10 schools.

Since joining the Partnership, they’ve seen an influx of returning students and community engagement. Our mission: set the stage to further the ongoing efforts by the school to foster a connection with students and their families. Among the many projects, volunteers brought a neglected garden back to life by clearing the brush, landscaping and building outdoor teaching and gardening areas. Students returning in the fall will be greeted with a beautiful new outdoor space to learn and play.

What We Accomplished


  • 1 sensory garden that includes 1 outdoor classroom, 1 rainbow river and 1 wishing well


  • 21+ new seating areas, including tree benches and adirondack chairs


  • 1 playground area and 1 large mural

Joyner Elementary | June 27, 2018

Florence Griffith-Joyner Elementary School serves nearly 700 students in the Watts community. Through its participation in Turnaround Arts: California, the school is making strides to support its students with an educational focus on the arts. Our final project day provided an added boost, with the help of volunteers from CarMax and the LA Galaxy, in achieving the academic goals of Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary. Our mission: to elevate the emphasis on the arts while infusing energy through service to create appealing and safe areas for students. Three outdoor classrooms were built, complete with bleacher seating and mobile chalkboards. An old classroom was transformed into a dance studio, outdoor murals elevating the arts covered the handball courts and a soccer field was painted in the schoolyard. Local youth decorated rocks for a garden built in the atrium, so they could leave a lasting impression of their individual impact on the school’s beautification.

What We Accomplished


  • 3 outdoor classrooms


  • 25,000 sq feet of asphalt to create a full-sized soccer field, and 4 large murals


  • 1 old classroom into a dance studio

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