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Community men: Giving back through sports

Blurrying speed | Grandmaster Walter Goode, who runs the World Championship Karate Sports Academy, is so fast our cameras couldn't even keep up.
Doucette and Wireless Accessories | On the outside it look like a printing and cell phone shop, but once inside, Bill Doucette's shop has another product line you might not expect.
TEXT_GOES_HERE Jefferson Library: A Home with a History
The Jefferson Branch Library is the only structure along Jefferson Boulevard featured on the National Register of Historic Places. The building, with its rich history, was frequented by distinguished members of the African-American community while they were growing up. Today, the library remains a second home to the children in the Jefferson Park area.
TEXT_GOES_HERE Harold & Belles: Gather, Greet and Grub
Harold & Belle’s is a Creole restaurant on Jefferson that serves as a local hangout for people who have lived in the community for years. The restaurant was opened by Harold and Belle Legaux in 1969 and is still owned and run by the same family.
TEXT_GOES_HERE Leslie N. Shaw Park
Leslie N. Shaw Park on Jefferson Blvd. provides community members with a place to relax, focus and interact with each other.

By Josh Jovanelly

Bill Doucette, Bill Smith and Walter Goode don’t know one another.

Their stores are not in close proximity along Jefferson Boulevard. They are all salesmen in a way, but they make their living in selling different products. Doucette owns a cell phone accessories store that doubles as a skateboard shop, Smith runs a used bicycle store in the same location where he once fixed cars and Goode teaches Ninjitsu to anyone willing to learn.

Although these men likely have never met, together they uphold the fabric of the sporting community on the diverse street in South Central Los Angeles. The one thing they have in common is sports — some sell the equipment, others teach the trade.

But more important than the sports themselves are the men behind the counters. Doucette, Smith and Goode are actively affecting positive change in the Jefferson community just by showing up to work every day. These are their stories.

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Trophies, ribbons and plaques adorn the walls of Grandmaster Walter Goode’s World Championship Karate Sports Academy. The former champion martial arts fighter — who still competes regularly — has been involved in karate since 1965 and has owned his karate academy for three years.

Goode’s academy services over 500 people, from kids as young as 3 to full-grown adults, helping them master the arts of ninjitsu, Korean hapkido and kick boxing.

Goode strives to teach more than just karate, however. He tries to inject Christian teachings into his methods to bring spiritual guidance to his students.

“I try to bring something positive to the neighborhood by uplifting the community,” Goode said. “By giving people hope, we can bring the community up because we can do all things through Christ.”

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Inside Doucette and Wireless Accessories, its clear that Bill Doucette has always been able to change with the times.

At 65 years old, Doucette has been in the same location for 21 years, but his products have never gotten stale. What began as a printing store soon evolved into signs, then to cell phone accessories and most recently, in 2007, to skateboards.

It may seem an odd juxtaposition — printers in the back of the store, Bluetooth headsets behind the counter and skateboards on the wall — but Doucette says don’t look at him; the skateboards weren’t his idea.

“The kids in the neighborhood asked me to put a skateboard shop in, so I tried it,” he said. “Skateboards is for the community, it’s not really for me. I’m not a skateboarder. I’m much too old to be skateboarder.”

Local kids apparently had an eye for Doucette’s entrepreneurship. A few years ago, they came to the shop owner asking if he could add skateboards to his list of products as he had added so many before that.

“The kids in the neighborhood they came in like, ‘Well you started this, and you started this, how come we don’t get skateboards because we don’t have one in the neighborhood,’” Doucette said. “They came in with a list of what you should have and whatever and it like became their shop.”

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At Bill’s Bike Shop, Bill Smith can do anything from fix your broken chain to install new tires to your beach cruiser. But Smith is really used to working with much larger modes of transportation.

A native of Detroit, the 74-year-old Smith was once an auto mechanic in the same shop where he has sold used bikes since the early 1990s. He began as an oil distributor and owned his own gas station at one time, but transitioned to bikes when everything became electronic.

People come to Smith for more than just bikes, however. The bike salesman who also works as a handyman on the side says he gives people advice as well.

“People come to me, they say, ‘Bill, I’ve got to get my car smogged, do you know anybody who’s trustworthy?'” he said. “'Bill, I’ve got to get this done, can you recommend me a body shop?’”

Bill's son Aaron is regulary on hand to help out his active father. Aaron witnesses his father's livliness and his impact on the Jefferson community first hand.

"He's one of those guys who can't sit still," Aaron said. "He's a pillar of the community."