Groundwork Fitness in downtown Long Beach is not just a gym, it's a community. Giovanna Ferraro opened the place in 2013 because of a lifelong passion for fitness.
The gym has some 'Ground Rules,' they're posted on the wall. They read:
- Finish what you start
- Get uncomfortable to get comfortable
- Obstacles and failure feed the soul to succeed
- Groundwork = Teamwork
- Radiate positivity and respect no matter what
- Be a better person today than you were yesterday....repeat!
Pretty good advice to live by in general, right?
Giovanna says she didn't want the gym to exist solely for people to work out. Inspired by her parents who were small business owners and were active in their local community, she wanted her gym to become a hub for the community, to bring people together to help others.
And it has.
She formed a non-profit organization called 'Keep LBC Fit.' Their goal, to get the fitness community together to give back.
Tragically, her father passed away 14 years ago while living on the streets in Palm Springs, and that experience really pushed her to do something to help those who were homeless in her community. So she started passing out cards to them that had information about resources and services that could help.
While a well meaning gesture, she would often find the cards on the ground or left on benches around town.
As she tried to figure out a better way to get this info across, Giovanna told ABC7 that suddenly, she had an idea.
"Socks is something in high demand out there, so I figured, what if we printed these resources on a pair of socks? They're not going to leave those behind."
So she raised money to purchase two textile printers and started making socks in an office above the gym. They print and assemble the socks and hand them out to people in need and also offer them for sale to customers. For every pair of socks purchased, a pair goes to someone in need.
And not only that, on their website they describe what else they do:
We offer homeless individuals part-time work through our mentorship program making the very sock we distribute. This helps employ the very community in need of work through guidance, mentorship, and coaching. We collaborate with our city workforce programs to help establish their employment to help them get one step closer in their journey to success. We also work directly with our resource providers to assure we help lift those in need to programming, counseling and eventually employment.
Derek Meekins told ABC7 that Giovanna helped him by giving him a job at Keep LBC Fit, and because of that, he was able to get an apartment.
"I've just been granted a second chance at being productive at life. I believe in Keep LBC Fit."