In 1996, the national organization “M.A.D. D.A.D.S.” (Men Against Destruction, Defending against Drugs and Social Disorder) elected Gerald Thompson as Inglewood California Director — part of the Los Angeles County Chapter. In 1997, the Inglewood Division was part of a collaborative grant from the California Youth Authorities (CYA) that included the LA County Probation Dept. and the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s (LACOE) LA Dads program. LA Dads’ Male Involvement Intervention Narrative promotes the role of males in the prevention of teen and unintended pregnancies. This program specifically targeted males aged 14 to18 at three juvenile detention centers and six juvenile camps, promoting values and skills that would help them make better choices in their lives and — if they were teen fathers — stay involved in the lives of their children.
After experiencing the positive impact of these programs on the lives of young men, Gerald received a State of California Mentor Award in 1998 from then governor Pete Wilson. He began to focus his attention on homeless youth — 200,000 reported in the state of California — mainly those 16 through 24 years known as Transitional Age Youth (TAY). Statistics showed that on any given day in South Los Angeles, there were over 1,100 homeless TAY with less than 300 beds available. Homelessness in the youth population contributes to school drop outs, mental health problems, tobacco use, alcohol/illegal drug abuse, teen pregnancy, gang involvement — plus overcrowding in jails and prisons. And recidivism rates are high for offenders: A 1994 study estimated that 51.8% of released prisoners were back in prison within three years for new crimes or parole violations.
In 2000, Gerald decided that he wanted to recognize the men of Los Angeles County that have dedicated their lives to fighting every day on the frontlines of society’s and humanity’s wars — in homes and communities, and on the streets of South Los Angeles. Coaches, ministers, law-enforcement, firemen, interventionists, politicians and victims of crimes are often taken for granted, so Gerald founded the Wall of Fame Awards to give these “Frontline Soldiers” special acknowledgment.
Frontline Soldiers (FS) has become an organized network of men and women working to foster unity, solidarity and economic empowerment with the goal of increasing quality of life by reducing violence, gang activity, tobacco use and alcohol/drug abuse. Our street patrol training has also enabled some of our volunteers to become a positive presence in the community. Each year, Gerald brings together former recipients to select worthy candidates who will be inducted onto The Frontline Soldiers Wall of Fame.
Faith-Based Empowerment Team (FBET): There is but one ultimate authority and that one is God. This team is responsible to keep the Frontline Soldiers mission spiritually focused and to keep faith-based communities, churches and efforts involved in all we do.
Unity and Solidarity Empowerment Team (USET): This team is responsible for developing strategies designed to create a climate that promotes unity and solidarity to empower the collective.
Economic Empowerment Team (EET): This team develops insightful economic plans and strategies for identifying and securing financial resources — thus generating economic power.
Event Planning Empowerment Team (EPET): This team is responsible for developing and planning all events and activities rooted in community spirit. This includes activities such as The Gathering of Men Breakfast, unity marches, community protests, rallies and other empowerment activities. This effort includes contacting necessary parties to secure sites, permits and equipment, determine time frame availability, and help with event set-up and logistical arrangements.
Fatherhood Initiative and Mentor Empowerment Team: This team is responsible for implementing President Barack Obama’s Fatherhood Initiative, following his press conference in Washington D.C. on June 21, 2010. The question he put forth was “how can we as a nation — not just government, but businesses, community groups and concerned citizens — all come together to help fathers meet their responsibilities to our families and communities.” The Frontline Soldiers have chosen to research and provide training models and clinics that focus on enhancing skills to support positive transitions into manhood/womanhood and self-sufficiency.
Political Action Empowerment Team (PAET): This team serves as a voice in political arenas for social policy changes that result in building alliances and updating programs.