Monthly Cultural Corner - September 2023

September 6, 2023

Cultural Spotlight: Kevin Cummings

Hello, My name is Kevin Cummings. I am a Program Manager for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) here at Penny Lane and I supervise the Case Managers at Metamorphosis on Foothill and Mid-Celis in San Fernando. I have been at Penny Lane for 21 years, starting off in the residential program.

My parents were both African American and were born in Birmingham, Alabama. Prior to having children, they moved to Cleveland, Ohio where our family was raised. I have 3 wonderful sisters and 3 awesome brothers. The neighborhood we grew up in was majority African American culture and unfortunately low-income families, including ours. Because of this, everyone in the neighborhood supported each other and assisted each other as much as possible. We would have BBQs on the weekends and share food with each other throughout the neighborhood. We’d also bond together and discuss things going on in our families and in the neighborhood while we were in church. Practically everyone in our neighborhood would be at church every Sunday!!! This is where my team philosophy originated and even today it continues to grow.

My mother and 3 sisters basically raised me and guided me to being a caring and helpful individual.  With their support, I was fortunate to grow and develop into the person I wanted to be. I lost my father to a stroke during my senior year in high school and my mom passed away on 9/11 from cancer.

I began playing football when I was 8 years old. My first year of playing was very difficult, but, after my 1st season of sitting on the bench for most of the season, I was the starting running back on every team I played for over the next 20 years.

I attended elementary school in Cleveland, then we moved to Cleveland Heights, Ohio where I attended middle school and high school. After having a successful athletic career in high school, I received a full scholarship for football to Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. I was the 1st person in my family to attend college and receive a full scholarship. After graduating from Central State in 1987, I played in the Canadian Football League for 3 years and then the Cleveland Browns for 2 years.

After completing my football career and moving to Inglewood, California my wife and I were married and blessed to raise 2 wonderful kids. My son was born in 1990 and my daughter was born in 1993.  Both of my children have excelled in their education and respective professions.  I believe that the foundation of family, tradition, and teamwork, that was instilled in me as a child, has carried on to the next generation and further aided in their personal successes.  Speaking of passing on our values from one generation to the next, I am proud to be a grandfather to two and with one on the way!  I look forward to sharing stories of my upbringing with my grandchildren, so they have a better understanding of where they came from and why it is important to hold on to your roots.  

So many things that my family and I valued while growing up in Cleveland Heights continue today with my kids and their families. Christmas was and still is the best time of the year for my entire family!!! Caring, sharing and quality time spent together is sooooo valuable!!! We also incorporate “Fish Friday” as a day to get together, talk and enjoy our time together. Even when I go back to Cleveland, one of the first things we talk about is “Fish Friday” 😊.

Everything mentioned in this spotlight would not have occurred if there was no caring culture involved or teamwork!!!! As I stated earlier, I began the team culture back when I was in my neighborhood, and it continued to grow as I was fortunate to play sports at all 3 levels. The culture continued in my family and helped my kids to where they are now. I have been at Penny Lane for 21 years and that’s one of the key elements that’s kept me here all this time!!! The collaboration, care, and compassion for the people we work with starting back in residential has been awesome!!! It has continued and will always continue as we work to help as many people and families as we can!!!

-Kevin Cummings, Penny Lane Centers

Check out some photos of me and my family below!