Article originally appeared in DTLA Life in July 2014.
By Jim White
In this ongoing section of our monthly online magazine DTLA LIFE, I mentioned that we would continually focus on all the “GOOD” things that are happening in DTLA to address the many challenges that exist within our urban environment. In this month’s section I am going to present you with some examples of how the local community is ‘getting involved’. I would like you to meet Roger and Frances Ridlehoover. They are going to share their story and how they decided to get involved in addressing the social issues that affect all of us in Downtown Los Angeles.
For Nonprofit CASA of Los Angeles, Downtowners Are Close For Comfort. Roger and Frances Ridlehoover moved Downtown in 2011, selecting a home in the Historic Core area after living in Manhattan Beach for over 15 years. Their move has allowed them to easily adopt what Frances refers to as “the walking lifestyle,” as they both work within 10 minutes from their building. The change has been a good one, inspiring new friendships with neighbors and a plethora of new favorite eateries, including Baco Mercat, Bar Amá, The Must and Gelateria Uli, among others.
“We chose the Historic Core because it’s so centrally located and the area has such a great buzz on the street,” said Roger Ridlehoover. “Everything we need is right here. Parks, restaurants, stores and anything else I could want. The Music Center is just a few minutes away walking and has become one of our favorite pastimes,” added Frances Ridlehoover. However, living Downtown has also brought the Ridlehoovers closer to an organization that resides close to their hearts: CASA of Los Angeles. Roger and Frances have been involved with CASA for several years, helping the organization in its mission; to mobilize community volunteers to advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children in foster care. The help is direly needed, as L.A. host the highest number of foster young in the entire country — over 28,000 kids. CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates) often deal with the toughest cases that require special attention beyond what a County social worker can provide.
Roger has been a CASA for over a decade and a board member for the past six years. Frances has been assisting the organization in its development initiatives for five and is poised to take over her husband’s Board position this month. Their involvement with CASA has become one of the most important things in their lives, and in turn, important in the lives of the children they help. “CASA gives people an opportunity to make a big difference in the life of a youth,” said Roger Ridlehoover. “These kids often move from home to home. They feel like transients and those without help often end up on the streets, homeless. CASA offers one adult who is going to transcend all that change and be with them wherever they go. There will always be a person in their lives to show them someone cares and lead them down the right path. “These children, through no fault of their own, find themselves in difficult life situations,” added Frances Ridlehoover. “They’re removed from the home or family because of neglect or abuse and are forces to deal with it. Having someone there to help is huge — even just to talk and listen. It opened our eyes to how fortunate we have been. Not all kids are that lucky.”
CASA’s offices are in the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court, which exclusively deals with dependency cases. From Downtown, it’s a 10-minute drive, which makes volunteering a short trek for a meaningful role. The Ridlehoovers aren’t the only CASAs from the area; volunteers & Board members also drawn from the Downtown offices of Wells Fargo, Doubleline, Capital Group, and Pillsbury Winthrop in addition to individuals through the region.
“We’re about as close as we can be to all the things we enjoy in life, and CASA is at the top of that list,” said Frances Ridlehoover.
Roger Ridlehoover, a former economist who has worked downtown since 1984 is now pursuing a new career in landscape architecture. Frances Ridlehoover is a Managing Partner at Jensen + Parters and will join the CASA Board this month.
For more information on CASA and learn how you can help, please visit www.casala.org