By Alexandra Hopkins
till the grande dame of the movie industry to most of the world, Hollywood has been gaining a new, perhaps unexpected reputation as the home of an organization bringing real-life solutions for society’s ills.
It seems only fitting then that what was once the home of the Hollywood Screen Actors Guild on the 7000 block of Hollywood Boulevard is the home to the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE), a promotion and fundraising organization for groups dedicated to solving drug abuse, crime, illiteracy and immorality throughout the world.
ABLE passed its first anniversary in its new headquarters in July 2001. Since opening its doors, visitors have been a good indication of the role ABLE plays locally and internationally. Dignitaries from as diverse locations as Taiwan, South Africa, Mexico and the Gambia have come here to discuss solutions to social ills in their countries.
ABLE, formed in 1988, supports four public benefit organizations which direct programs for literacy, drug rehabilitation, criminal reform and morals: Applied Scholastics, Narconon, Criminon and The Way to Happiness Foundation (see Groups Tackle Social Crises). Directly or through its network of continental offices, ABLE supports, licenses and coordinates the activities of these organizations, and sees to the publication and broad distribution of their books and materials.
ABLE’s Hollywood headquarters, fully funded by private donations and renovated with the help of tens of thousands of volunteer man-hours, came as a result of greatly increased demands for what ABLE and its affiliated organizations have to offer.
“Government and society leaders are increasingly disappointed and frustrated by failures in so many programs today, not to mention costs,” said Rena Weinberg, President ABLE International. “Many of those programs have their heart in the right place, but what makes ABLE and its groups different is having actual workable technologies that get uniform results, no matter where they are used.”
Attesting to those results are officials and social leaders from around the world, among them the Master Ching Yao Shih, Buddhist monk and consultant to the president of Taiwan. Master Ching Yao implemented the Narconon drug rehabilitation program in Taiwan after being asked by President Lee to help uplift morality and reduce drug addiction.
Working in a Taiwanese prison, Ching Yao helped 20 inmates to end their addictions, and addressed the problems which led them to drugs. The demonstration project attracted considerable attention in Taiwan. “It proved that Narconon could really make a drug addict come to a steady and stable recovery,” he said.
Ching Yao attributed the exceptional changes in inmates solely to the Narconon program, and said he and others are establishing permanent Narconon centers in Taiwan and in China.
Similarly successful results are being achieved in criminal rehabilitation in South Africa according to Judge Heinrich W. Moldenhauer, a chief magistrate who presides over 39 magistrates (judges) and 55 courts in the capital city of Pretoria.
In the center of Moldenhauer’s courthouse is a Criminon center where, he says, “we have reconverted jail cells into classrooms especially for Criminon.
“The judges assign all the worst and toughest cases to Criminon for an obvious reason: [It] gets the result. Criminon staff are continually bombarded with overwhelming demand from judges and district attorneys themselves to get more juveniles assigned to the program,” he said.
Moldenhauer described the results with the first 43 former juvenile delinquents to graduate the program. “They had only one goal in mind: that they might be accepted as volunteer staff in Criminon.”
Moldenhauer presented ABLE officials last year with a letter signed by the Minister of Justice of South Africa, commenting on the enormous impact that Criminon has played in rehabilitation.
“The fact of the matter is that this program is so important to us — and to the world,” Moldenhauer said, “that we have brought it to the direct attention of the United Nations so that every courthouse in the world may benefit.”
It is results like those seen by Master Ching Yao and Magistrate Heinrich Moldenhauer which compelled a police official in Mexico to endorse a Criminon-affiliated program that combines both drug rehabilitation and criminal reform.
“We have worked with the most incorrigible and worst prisoners of the entire state,” he said. “And we have seen them change. With the technology of Mr. Hubbard, they recovered their own self-respect. They have converted themselves into productive beings. But not only they have won, also their families and society have won. We are giving them tools so that they, themselves, can create a better future.”
A better future is also the inspiration behind an Applied Scholastics literacy program instituted in the Gambia, one of several similar projects on the African continent which have reached millions of youth.
The Honorable John Bojang, Gambian Ambassador to the United States, has met with ABLE officials in Los Angeles and worked with the president of Gambia to bring an Applied Scholastics program to his country. A Gambian delegation trained under ABLE in England and, after returning to Gambia, Bojang said they are bringing about marked improvements in the country’s educational system.
“Unless the deadly degeneration of mankind, through lack of care for the plight of others, receives genuine, concerted attention,” he said, “our children will inherit mansions through technology but they will live in pools of terror much more than defenseless deer would have experienced living in a den of very hungry wolves.
“You revive Hollywood... you kindle the spirit and determination of those of us who, through our health and our station in life, have an opportunity to work with ABLE to make life better for those who have fallen and are looking for a hand.”
“L. Ron Hubbard has developed and left for this generation and posterity, an idea, a principle, an effective learning technology with the intention of recreating the original peace on this planet and an accommodating and caring human heart to manage it,” he said.
The same learning technology revolutionizing education in the Gambia and other nations is being used in the international tutoring-based literacy drive headed by Los Angeles south side native Reverend Alfreddie Johnson.
Rev. Johnson was a minister at New Morningstar Baptist Church in Lynwood in 1992 when the infamous Los Angeles riots broke out. In the aftermath, Rev. Johnson felt that only drastic action would help his people realize the high hopes voiced by such civil rights leaders as the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Johnson learned of the education methods employed by Applied Scholastics, and undertook a tutoring project in the fellowship hall of his church, then moving to a storefront location. Today, his World Literacy Crusade encompasses 27 chapters internationally.
“Just the Beginning”
The diversity — and the conviction — of those who speak of results through ABLE’s public benefit programs is an indication of the international impact of this Hollywood organization and its social mission.
That impact is also felt locally. ABLE-supported or affiliated programs are evident in Hollywood and the greater Los Angeles area, including not just the international headquarters for Applied Scholastics, Narconon, Criminon and The Way to Happiness Foundation, but the World Literacy Crusade and the Hollywood Education and Literacy Project (H.E.L.P.) — literacy projects which have reached thousands in Los Angeles and hundreds of thousands throughout the world — and Narconon Newport Beach-Southern California, the oldest residential drug treatment program of any organization in Los Angeles (see Never Turning Back related story this issue).
“You revive Hollywood,” said U.S. Congressman Xavier Becerra, when he joined ABLE president Rena Weinberg, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce board chairman Michael John Smith and Honorary Mayor of Hollywood Johnny Grant in a public dedication of the ABLE building to Mr. Hubbard.
“And, perhaps most importantly,” the Congressman continued, “you kindle the spirit and determination of those of us who, through our health and our station in life, have an opportunity to work with ABLE to make life better for those who have fallen and are looking for a hand.
“This is just the beginning.”
And judging by their impact so far, it is an auspicious beginning at that.
For more information contact ABLE International —
phone: (323) 960-3530
or visit www.able.org