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Antoinette Reynolds, Ashe Center

  • By Michael Stone, Reed Hutchinson
  • Published Dec 1, 2002 8:00 AM

Talk with Antoinette Reynolds, administrative specialist in the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, and you immediately sense she seizes life's challenges with great passion. That's especially evident during the holiday season when she takes part in Angel Tree, a project to provide gifts for children on behalf of their parents in prison.

"Being a link between parent and child is such a blessing," says Reynolds, a single mother of a 15-year-old son and a volunteer for the past 13 years. "When these children receive a present from a parent who is in jail, it opens a door and fills a missing space. We're then able to interact with these children on so many levels."

Reynolds began volunteering for this nationwide prison fellowship program with her mother. When her mother died eight years ago, Reynolds stayed on, enlisting the help of friends as well as campus colleagues. She also recruited 14 congregants from her Gardena-based church, Liberty Tabernacle Ministry, which adopted the program two years ago.

On Dec. 13, some 200 children will come to her church for a holiday celebration. With gifts provided by individuals and corporate sponsors, Angel Tree volunteers will bring holiday cheer, along with food, clothing and other basic necessities, to, all told, some 31,000 Los Angeles County children with parents in California prisons. "It's awesome," Reynolds says.

Giving and caring come naturally to Reynolds, whose family, especially her mother and grandmother, were always hosts and caretakers. In honor of that tradition, she plans to create the Mildred Cursh Foundation, named after her mother, to extend Angel Tree's outreach to many other churches and to provide math and computer-skills tutoring to the children of prisoners.

"I always see the vision and the possibilities for what needs to get done, and I find a way to make it happen," she says.