Editor’s note: This is part of a series of collaborations with Las Fotos Project, an Eastside-based organization that inspires teenage girls through photography, mentorship, and self-expression. 

‘Con Safos’ is a visual documentation project in which members of Las Fotos Project’s Digital Promotoras program use photojournalism and multimedia techniques to promote awareness of disparities and stigmas facing their communities. These stories address  key issues such as gentrification, access to green spaces, security, physical wellbeing, and punitive school measures.

See other stories and read about the Con Safos project here.

Kelli Jackson, owner of Hank’s Mini Market, in front of the “Stronger Together” mural on the side of her store.

Kelli is a prime example of a person who cares deeply about her community. This sincere and kind-hearted person is the current owner of Hank’s Mini Market in Hyde Park (in South Los Angeles). Hank was the original owner; he has lived in the community for over 50 years. Hank dreamt about having his own business, and in 1997, he opened the store. His daughter, Kelli, grew up watching her father and admired how much he truly cared about people’s well-being. He would always instill in her, “why work for someone else when you can work for yourself.” Kelli never thought about taking over, but soon realized that her community didn’t have access to healthier foods, to art, and even to safe spaces. Kelli chose to be the solution.

Many people talk about being healthier and eating fresh produce, especially living near L.A. However, far too many people, specifically low-income communities and people of color aren’t provided that option. In order to have access to fresh food you have to travel long distances and pay exorbitant prices.

Kelli has one of the most beautiful gifts. She does not just treat you as customer, but makes you feel as if you are her friend despite knowing you for such a short amount of time and it’s completely sincere. This characteristic makes people want to show up for her and be there when she needs help too.

Hank’s Mini Market originally started as a normal liquor store, but Kelli believes in changing the narrative of what a liquor store or corner store can be. As children turn the corner to buy a snack, Kelli wants them to see that they have more options. She said something that really changed my perspective: “Everyone is at a different place in their life, I don’t judge someone based on what they purchase, I just want them to have options.”

“My heart is with the community.”

Take a look at this story on its Spark page.

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