Written by Laura Roe Stevens | Photographed by Vincent Rios
Hawthorne-based Mychal’s Learning Place (MLP) is much more than a
tutoring and mentoring organization for people with disabilities. In fact,
for some South Bay residents MLP is a game changer—fostering career
opportunities, confidence and friendships, within its supportive community.
Through a host of MLP programs, children and adults with developmental
disabilities learn to master skills, meet challenges and foster independence,
says Anna Garalde, MLP community relations and events director.
“They encourage each child and adult to develop their individual
talents and the skills necessary for them to interact and contribute to
society,” Garalde says. “We believe no disability should ever
hinder the growth, passion, success or independence of those who are willing
MLP, with Hawthorne and Culver City locations, is state-funded, so it is
free for its participants, ages 8 to 30. Funding comes from donations
and grants, as well as money raised via Mychal’s Prints, Mykie’s
Café, Mykies bakery and coffee trucks—operated by MLP students
(see sidebar for cafe and food truck locations).
MLP also offers enrichment activities via after-school teen programs with
82 participants—and adult programs assisting 45 people. “After-school
programs have kids typically between 13 and 22 years of age,” says
Garalde, who has been with MLP since 2007. “They provide social
and recreational work, cooking classes and performances like High School
Musical. This month they are performing The Lion King at Hawthorne Memorial
The adult programs teach “all the things you and I should have learned
in high school,” Garalde says. Students learn about banking, meal
prep and proper social norms.
“We teach them not say, ‘Hi, dude’ to their boss,”
she explains. “We show entertaining videos that give the right message
in a way they can be easily understood, like why it’s not appropriate
to go up to a girl and stare at her without speaking. We work with various
schools too, partnering with USC occupational therapy interns and Pepperdine
marriage and therapy counseling trainees.”
Clearly these programs are working! Just ask Brooke Schottenhammer, a MLP
student and a paid intern with Kinecta Federal Credit Union. Three months
into her internship, Brooke was awarded employee of the month—earning
the prized “work flow duck.”
Torrance Memorial has been assisting MLP for three years. After receiving
a California Community Foundation grant in 2016, Torrance Memorial partnered
with South Bay Children’s Health Center, forming the Community Health
and Wellness Partnership, explains Anita Chun, community services coordinator
for health education at Torrance Memorial.
“We help find primary care doctors and dentists for MLP students
and staff,” she says. “We organized two health fairs, a nutrition
series and provided mental health counseling. MLP students tend to be
overlooked due to their physical or mental challenges. It was important
that Torrance Memorial filled this void.”
Helping others meet their potential uplifts the entire community. Please
consider donating to this wonderful organization.
Supporting Mychal’s Learning Place is Delicious and Easy!
Mykie’s Cafe at 4901 W. Rosecrans Avenue in Hawthorne is open Monday
through Friday, serving hot coffee and fresh baked goods. Vegan, dairy-free
and gluten-free options are available. Catering orders can be phoned in
to 310-956-9020 or made online at
Mykie’s bakery and coffee trucks are on the road! Here’s where
to find them:
- Davinci High School, El Segundo: Tuesdays & Thursdays
- Mother’s Market: Manhattan Beach: Wednesdays 8 to 10 a.m.
- Mattel Design Center, El Segundo: Mondays through Thursdays 1 to 4 p.m.
- Anna Garalde, Mychal’s Learning Place, firstname.lastname@example.org, (310) 297-9333
- Anita Chun, Torrance Memorial, email@example.com, (310) 517-4638